Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yellow Fields - Rapeseed/Raps

Brassica napus

Rapeseed, a large oil crop with a bright yellow flowering is a member of the Brassica family and related to mustard, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and turnip. Rapeseed (Brassica napus) is also known as rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rapaseed . The name rapa derives from the Latin for turnip = rapum or rapa, and is first recorded in English at the end of the 14th century.

A golden oil from golden fields.
Rapeseed is grown for the production of animal feed, vegetable oil and biodiesel. Processing of rapeseed for oil production provides animal meal as a by-product which is a high-protein animal feed for cattle and pigs, and a little less for chickens.
There is a big production of cold-pressed rapeseed oil (otherwise known as canola-oil) and rapeseed oil is now the third most important vegetable oil in the world after soybean and palm oil. Rapeseed oil contains omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids and is one of the most heart-healthy oils. It has been reported to reduce cholesterol levels.

Rapeseed is a heavy nectar producer and honey bees produce a light coloured but peppery honey from it, usually blended with milder honeys.

Brassica crops may be among the oldest cultivated plants to man. In India Brassica rapa is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit literature from ca. 1500 BC. Rapeseed production has a long history in China. The Chinese word for rapeseed was first recorded ca. 2500 years ago, and the oldest archaeological discoveries may date back as fas as to ca 5000 BC. Brassica rapa seems to have the widest distribution of Brassica oilseeds. At least 2000 years ago it was distributed from northern Europe to China and Korea.

photo May 2008: grethe bachmann

A Funny Butterfly Car -

photo May 2008: gb

Summer in the Country - Horse Waggon

 - the traffic on the small roads is very cosy 


A horse waggon on a narrow path through grass and chervil.

photo Strandkær, Mols Bjerge 250508: grethe bachmann

Common Broom/ Gyvel

Cytisus scoparius, syn. Sarothamnus scoparius

All brooms (shrubs) and their relatives are natives of Europe, North Africa and southwest Asia. It is a group of evergreen, semi-evergreen and deciduous shrubs. Most of the species have yellow flowers, a few have white, orange, red, pink or purple flowers.
The most widely familiar is common broom (gyvel) which is a native of north western Europe where it is found on sunny sites, usually on dry sandy soils at low altitudes. It grows fast and is very hardy. It makes plant-societies together with fx common hair-grass (bølget bunke), heather (lyng) and bearberry (melbærris), but else it is almost impossible for other plants to grow where the broom has spread, it changes the soil-conditions and outdoes the natural light-loving vegetation and suppresses the re-planted forest. In some places it has been cleared with machines and afterwards kept down by grassing.

It is difficult to think of these disadvantages when those butter-yellow flowers bloom so beautiful vigorously in the countryside in May. Broom is also widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in the garden with several cultivars selected for variation in flower colour.
In the old days the common broom was used both culinary and medicinal. The flower buds and flowers of Cytisus scoparius have been used as a salad ingredience raw or pickled and were a popular ingredience for salma grundi and 'grand sallet' during the 17th and 19th century. It was also used as a spice and a coffee substitute. Today people are more careful, since broom can be poisonous.
In medicine ashes of broom were used to treat dropsy, and among other things it was used as a cardiac stimulant and was said to be able to neutralise adder poisoning. As for veterinary use it made sheep immune to snake bite. (according to Liber Herbarium)

Dyers broom (Genista tinctora) provides a useful yellow dye and was grown commercially for this purpose in parts of Britain into the early 19th century.
In folklore and myth broom was known have magic power. It could handle witchcraft and was said to prevent fire and lightning and to protect against evil eyes and demons. In Welsh Mythology Bloodeuwedd is the name of a woman made from the flowers of broom, meadowsweet and the oak. Her story is part of The Fourth Branch of the Mabigoni.

It was common to include a decorated bundle of broom at weddings , and in Sussex a traditional rhyme says:
Sweep the house with blossed broom in May
Sweep the head of the household away.

The surname of the House of Plantagenet rulers of England in the Middle Ages was derived from common broom, which was known as 'planta genista' in Latin. It was originally the emblem of Geoffrey of Anjou , father of Henry II of England.

photo 250508: grethe bachmann, Strands, Helgenæs

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Bouquet in May

photo: gb

Hoary Cress /Hjertekarse

Lepidium draba, former Cardaria draba

Hoary cress is a member of the Mustard family. The Latin draba is from Greek drabe = sharp, bitter. It produces numerous white flowers at the top of the plant which has given it the name of 'white-top'. The Danish name Hjertekarse alludes to Hjerte (Heart), since the seedpods are heart-shaped. The flowers serve as pollen and nectar sources for many insects, and livestock will usually eat hoary cress.

It is native to western Asia and eastern Europe, from where it has spread. Indicating seed may have been in the soil that was used as ballast for sailing ships. It is relatively rare in Denmark but is seen in some coastal areas.

In its native lands it was used as a culinary herb and as a substitute for pepper, and in medicine for diseases as scurvy and as a carminative.

It is a highly competitive weed, and it has become a serious problem in the United States. Idaho has listed hoary cress as a noxious weed.

photo 250508: grethe bachmann , Kalø, East Jutland

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bird-Migration at Skagen in May 2008

'Flagbakken' Skagen

Birdwatchers at 'Flagbakken', Skagen


Osprey, sparrowhawk, buzzard


Rough-legged buzzard/Fjeldvåge

Red kite/Rød glente

White-tailed eagles/Havørne

White-tailed eagle/Havørn


Photo 100508: grethe bachmann, Flagbakken, Skagen

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

May - Henrich Heine


Sweet May hath come to love us,
Flowers, trees, their blossoms don;
And through the blue heavens above us
The very clouds move on.


Heinrich Heine
photo:gb, Mindeparken, Århus