Sunday, April 27, 2008

Marsh Marigold/ Engkabbeleje

Caltha palustris

Marsh Marigold grows in wet boggy places, marshy fens, ditches and wet woodlands. Its flowers are showing early in the middle of March. The generic name is derived from the Greek calathos , (meaning a cup or goblet) from the shape of its flowers, the specific name from the Latin palus ( a marsh) in reference to its place of growth. It has also been called Solsequia and Sponsa solis because the flower opens at the rising of the sun and closes at its setting.

The English name Marigold refers to its use in church festivals in the Middle Ages as one of the flowers devoted to the Virgin Mary. It was also being strewn before the cottage doors and made into garlands on May Day festivals. But Marsh Marigold has other names. Kingcup, Mayflower, May-blobs and Water-bubbles etc. The name Mayflower comes from the custom - which is still practized in the Isle of Man - of bringing the flowers into the house and strewing them on doorsteps on Old May Eve.

Shakespeare refers several times to this flower :
'Winking Marybuds begin to open their golden eyes.' (Cymbeline).

In medicine Marsh Marigold has been used to remove warts and in treatment of fits and anaemia. But as is the case with many members of the Ranunculaceae all parts of the plant can be irritant or poisonous. The cattle/animals do not eat Marsh Marigold because of its evil-tasting poison, but it changes into a harmless substance in hay and silage.

photo 260408: grethe bachmann

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