Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cowbane/ Water Hemlock/ Gifttyde

Cicuta virosa

Water Hemlock, Aqua Mose, Silkeborg

Cicuta virosa /Cowbane/Northern Water Hemlock is native to Northern and Central Europe, Northern Asia and Northwestern North America.It is a perenniel herbaceous plant which grows up to 1–2 m tall. The stems are smooth, branching, swollen at the base, purple-striped, and hollow except for partitions at the junction of the leaves and stem. In cross section the stems have one flat side and the other sides are rounded. The leaves are alternate, tripinnate, only coarsely toothed, unlike the ferny, lacy leaves found in many other members of the family apiaceae. The flowers are small, white and clustered in umbrella shaped inflorescences typical of the family.

The poisonous qualities of these plants have long been known. In ancient Greece, the philosopher Socrates died in 399 BCE after drinking a potent solution of poison hemlock, which was favoured by his countrymen as a “humane” method of execution.

The “bane” in cowbane comes from the Anglo-Saxon word bana, meaning “murderer ” or “destroyer.” This and other old English names like fleabane, dogbane, and baneberry reflect the creatures that it was thought would be killed or repelled by the plants.

Aqua Mose, Silkeborg

Warning: Cowbane or Water Hemlock grows in wet meadows, along streambanks and other wet and marshy areas. The whole plant and especially its fruits have an almost cellery-like smell and a parsley-taste caused by the contents of etheric oil, which increases the danger of fatal mistakes, some say the liquid has a rank smell resembling that of parsnips, carrots or mice. The plant may be mistaken for parsnip due to its clusters of white tuberousroots. The rhizome's sweetisch taste has been reason for a confusion with cellery or Hamburg parsley. Immature plants often resemble the familiar garden plants. It is the most poisonous flowering plant in the Danish flora and it has to be handled with care. Knives and alike, which have been used to cut the plant, have to be cleansed, and you'll have to wash if you have touched it.

The plant is still poisonous after drying.

In humans, cicutoxin rapidly produces symptoms of nausea,emesis and abdominal pain,typically within 60 minutes of ingestion. A single bite of the root (which has the highest concentration of cicutoxin) can be sufficient to cause death. In animals the toxic dose and the lethal dose are nearly the same. One gram of water hemlock per kilogram of weight will kill a sheep and 230 grams is sufficient to kill a horse. Due to the rapid onset of symptoms, treatment is usually unsuccessful.  

NB: Accidental consumption by livestock, by children who are attracted by the flowers, or by adults who mistake poison hemlock or water hemlock for caraway, which it resembles. It pays to take care in identifying the edible members of this plant family. If you are in any doubt, bruise the plant in question; water hemlock will give off a strong, unpleasant odour said to be like that of mice. The plants are more likely to be fatal for children than adults.

Water Hemlock, Aqua Mose, Silkeborg August 2009: grethe bachmann

Archangelica /Kvan

Archangelica officinalis (Angelica)

Strandkvan, Archangelica ssp. litoralis; Hals Færgehavn (Ferry harbour) North Jutland

Angelica is a very large and tall umbellifer with a strong spicy scent and green flowers in a round umbel, exists in many forms.

In Denmark are only the species Vandkvan or Strandkvan,( Archangelica litoralis), found at water streams and brooks mostly close to the coast.

Common English names: Garden Angelica, Holy Ghost, Wild Celery, Norwegian Angelica.

The two sub-species Strand-Kvan (Angelica archangelica ssp. litoralis)= (England: beach-Angelica) and Fjeld-Kvan (Angelica archangelica ssp. archangelica officinalis ) have various habitats. Strand-Kvan is found in moist beach meadows in the North and in Greenland, while Fjeld-Kvan is mostly known from cultivation. Strand-Kvan grows in sand at i.e. Ebeltoft Færgehavn (Ferry-harbour) where it is found together with chichory, parsnip, orpine, sea wormwood, reed and groundsel.

In Norway, Iceland, on the Faroe Islands and in Greenland the contents of C-vitamin were used to counteract scurvy. In the Middle Ages the plant was possibly the most used means against the plague. The root was considered especially active. Angelica breaks down the oxal -acid in rhubarbs. Diabetics should not eat the plant. Wild-growing angelica should only be collected by experienced herbalists since some similar looking umbellifers are poisonous. The stalks can be blanched and cooked as a vegetable, they can be crushed and cooked together with fruit for marmalades. Candied stalks are delicious. The seeds are used as a flavouring in vermouth, chartreuse and gin. Angelica leaves added to aquavite for a well-tasting snaps. Angelica is the characteristic flavour in Benedictine-liqueur.

In Denmark the Skov- og Naturstyrelsen recommends to replace Giant Hogweed with Angelica archangelica officinalis (Fjeld-Kvan) - which is an ancient Nordic cultural plant with a similar growth.
The real kvan with the eatable stalks is the sub-species , which is not found in the Danish flora, but is growing wild (also cultivated) in the northern Scandinavia, at the Faroe islands, Iceland and Greenland; it is mentioned the first time (as Angelica ) in the physician Henrik Harpestræng's transcripts from ab. 1300 and was cultivated in Denmark in the late Middle Ages.

The name Kvan is old Norse hvonn /hvannir and of uncertain origin.
In Denmark in 1546: Kvan was known overall in the country; everyone wants it in their garden. In 1750 is mentioned "The Angelik -plantation as a part of Vistoft vicarage-garden where the plant probably grew wild after earlier cultivation. In 1802 Angelica grows in some gardens in Thy.

At the Faroe Islands: The pale shots were eaten like celery and used as a spice in salads. At the Faroes was angelica cultivated in almost all kitchen gardens. In 1670 the plant was found in large numbers in the gardens and at church yards. One century later angelica was cultivated in small fenced places at the houses, somewhere the stalks were eaten with whipped cream, or in junket with sweet cream and sugar. In 1880: a household was no good if it hadn't got a "hvanngård", besides they found wild kvan/angelica if it was growing nearby.

Greenland: Angelica/Kvan was very sought after by the Greenlanders, who were eating the young stalks raw, they often went on long tours by land or by sea to gather the plant. The stalks gave a very important C-vitamin supplement to the Greenlanders' food. The stalks were preserved with seal-blubber and kept during winter in skin-bags. The dried leaves were smoked as tobacco.

Folk Medicine: 1400s: eaten in the morning the root helps against poisoning caused by food or drinks; water-decoct cleanse the breast,; upon a bite from a mad dog is put the crushed root boiled with honey.
Henrik Smid 1546: drives out poison, warm the blood, this goes for water destilled from the root and not from the leaves. Against the plague: crushed angelica mixed with teriak in angelica water - also helps against malaria,; in times of plague people were protected against infection, if they sniffed to the softened root in vinegar and mixed it in their drink. Angelica water and the powder from the root was good for all internal diseases - and against the same diseases wine or honey water-decoct from the root. The juice put in a hollow aching tooth, and in the ear for ear ache, in the eyes to make them clear - destilled water and the juice and powder from the plant to heal old deep wounds, make the flesh grow - the destillate was used as a painkilling means against podagra.
Simon Paulli 1648: Especially the root was used as an antidote, "there is no better advice or a better herb against the plague than angelica"; the pulverized root was strewn in the clothes against infection; in times of plague people rubbed the temples, wrists and the breast at the heart with angelica-balm. The root held in the mouth counteracts bad breath and breathlessness.

Officinalis 1772: Root and seeds were stated in the pharmacopoiea in 1772. The best quality roots and most of the roots were bought abroad by the pharmacists . The root was a part of a universal means for diseases of unknown nature and in a incense. It was a part of "Tycho Brahe's" prescriptions against the plague (1500s); and in a profylactic plague-aquavite (1700s). Wine-essence from angelica, alant and kalmus root as a drink against angst and giddiness; the root pulled on a red silken band and worn around the neck protected against both angst and giddiness. The root was in a tea against consumption and in a cake against jaundice, in snaps for internal pain. The root was considered good for the stomach, angelica was in a medicine " A Wise Man's Stomach Drops".

Magic: The root was worn against exorcism, (1400s) ; it was used in incense or wine essence as a protection in diseases caused by witchcraft; it was a part of a magic means against witchcraft in the cattle; it was given in the fodder to bewitched chickens and put in the churn to get butter from bewitched cream.

At the Faroe Islands: When an infectuous disease came to the village, people eat angelica or had some in the pocket; this was especially for those, who brought the bodies to the church yard; in 1915 a garland of angelica was bound around the neck of bad-smelling corpses; people also placed stalks and leaves in the door-opening or in the front-room as a protection against infection, they planted it by the outhouses and at the church yards. If people had warts, they should one evening grib around a dewy angelica upon a church yard. The root was placed under the pillow against insomnia, but the root had to be removed as soon as the sleep had come or else would the person never wake again.

Source: V. J. Brøndegaard, Folk og Flora, Dansk Etnobotanik 3, 1979

Angelica floating in the inland water stream

photo Hals Færgehavn 2008: grethe bachmann

Wild Angelica/ Skov-Angelic

Angelica sylvestris

Although there is only one Angelica-species in Denmark it is often named Skov-Angelik (skov=forest). The plant is up to 2 m high. The stem is coarse, tunular and violet at the bottom, with broad leaf shafts. At the top the stem has fine hairs.The white or pale pink flowers are found in compact round heads at the top of densely hairy leaf stalks. This is a plant of damp grassland, marshes and wet open woods. In the garden, it is an excellent addition to the back of a border or by a pond or stream.

Angelica is unusual for its special aroma which is quite unlike that of other umbellifers like fennel, parsley, anise, caraway or chervil. Some garden writers liken it to musk, others to juniper. The seeds of angelica, which are bitter to taste, are used to produce a distillate employed in the flavouring of alcoholic beverages such as Vermouth, and of liqueurs, like Chartreuse. Angelica contains many vitamins, various essential oils and other biologically active substances - therefore it is used in folk medicins and as vegetable plant. It is eaten by cattle.

Medicine and Magic:
Like a surprising number of plants, Angelica was unknown to the ancients. Although found in the northern and temperate regions of Europe and eastward all the way to the Himalayas, it does not seem to have attracted attention until the 15th century and first appeared in European herbals in the early 1500's. Its name reflects the legend that an angel revealed its special virtues to a monk during a time of plague. Angelica wasn't believed to cure the plague but protect against it; a piece of root was held in the mouth as an antiseptic. In Germany, it was known as the root of the holy ghost and was believed to eliminate the effects of intoxication and also to render witchcraft and the evil eye harmless. In England, where it was also known as bellyache root, dried angelica roots were made into powder and mixed into wine to "abate the rage of lust in young persons." The plant was also given symbolic qualities: angelica stands for magic and poetic inspiration.

(Read the warning below). This herb is excellent in diseases of the lungs, gout, stomach troubles, heartburn, colic,dyspepsia and stomach upsets, sciatica and the heart. It is useful for skin lice, relieves itching, swelling, and pain. Regular users of Angelica root develop a distaste for alcoholic beverages. Chewing the root is recommended for people suffering from a hangover after excessive alcohol consumption. An infusion should be made from the leaves and chopped stems. This will also provide an excellent gargle for the treatment of sore tonsils and throats.

According to one legend Angelica (European Angelica) was revealed in a dream by an angel to cure the plague. All parts of the plant were believed effective against evil spirits and witchcraft. It was held in such esteem that it was called 'The Root of the Holy Ghost.' In America it was used by the Iroquois and other tribes as Witchcraft Medicine, and infusion of smashed roots was used as wash to remove ghosts from the house.

With blossoms scheduled to appear annually on the 8th of May, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, angelica is said to possess mystical powers against disease and evil. One reference claims this herb was named after the Archangel Raphael, who according to a 10th century French legend, revealed the secrets of this herb to a monk for use during a plague epidemic. In old-world Latvia, peasants would march into town with armloads off the fragrant herb and suddenly burst into song in languages that no one, not even the singers, understood.

Food: (Read the warning below)
It is said that the plant is useless for food, however it is known that it was used as a vegetable until the 20th century. The plant prevents scurvy and it can be stored. The stem was eaten fresh, and the leaves could be boiled to a stew for storage. It could later be cooked up with milk into a tasty dish. In dire times Wild Angelica has been an important source of nutrition. Angelica raw stalks are delicious when eaten with a little cream cheese, and the washed roots are also quite tasty. This plant is used to flavor many alcoholic drinks and its candied stem has long been used in confectionery.

The flowers of the plant were used for dyeing wool yellow.

Angelica Oil:
The roots and fruits yield angelica oil, which is used in perfume, confectionery, medicine (especially Asian medicine), in salads, as teas, as a flavoring for liqueurs, and as the source of yellow dye. This robust and sweet-tasting plant is best known for decoration of cakes and puddings. Angelica lessens the need for sweetener when making pies or sauces. It can also be cooked and eaten as a fresh herb, used for seasoning fish, or made into syrup for pudding and ice cream toppings. The Norwegians make a bread of the roots. In the Lapland region, the stalks are regarded as a delicacy. A popular tea, tasting much like China tea, is infused from fresh or dried leaves.

Wasps and Queen Wasp upon Angelica

Warning: All members of this genus contain furocoumarins which increase sensitivity to sunlight and may cause dermatitis. Do Not take angelica if you are pregnant or have severe diabetes. Angelica has a tendency to increase the sugar in the urine. Angelica archangelica has been identified as a suspected carcinogen in recent years. This drug will render you sensitive to light. Use of angelica for a fairly long time, will cause contraindicate ultraviolet or tanning salon treatments as well as strong sunlight for the duration. Large doses can affect blood pressure, heart action, and respiration. To avoid these problems, do not exceed recommended dose.

Please Note: Angelica belongs to the Apiaceae Umbelliferae, a family with many poisonous members that can be mistaken for this medicinal plant. Wild angelica (Angelica Sylvestris) can be confused with European Water Hemlock, which is extremely poisonous. Do Not collect angelica yourself under any circumstances! It is recommended that angelica not be harvested unless positively identified by a trained botanist, habitat being the same as for the poisonous varieties.

Source: V.J. Brøndegaard, "folk og flora", Dansk Etnobotanik, Rosenkilde og Bagger 1980; Danmarks fugle og natur, Felthåndbogen 2012. 

photo Høstemark Skov, Lille Vildmose, North Jutland september 2007: grethe bachmann.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rosenborg Castle - The Crown and the Crown Jewels

Christian 5.s Crown of the Absolute Monarch

The best known of the Danish crowns is Christian 5.s crown, which was made for Denmark's second absolute monarch Christian 5. in 1671. It was used by all absolute monarchs of Denmark from Christan 5. till Christian 8. The crown is also depicted in the top of the Danish royal coat of arms and the Danish national emblem of arms.

The goldsmith behind the more than two kilo heavy crown (total weight 2080gr.)  was the German goldsmith Paul Kurtz, who worked in Copenhagen. The crown is made in gold, decorated with flat square taffelsten (table-cut stones) and enamel decorations. The round bow of the crown  forms a closure, which was inspired by the crown of the absolute monarch of France, Louis 14., and it symbolizes the monarch's absolute power. The bows of the crown meet at the top in a globe or rigsæble (orb), which is a sign of power and dignity of the monarch.(insignia).  Above the globe is a little cross, it shows in the symbolic language of that period that the church is the only power above the royal power. 

The crown is decorated with several precious stones, like winding rows of diamonds, saphires and garnets. At the top of the cross is a socalled korund: a saphire with a stripe of ruby, and upon the front part of the crown is a square block-stone with Christian 5.s monogram in gold thread. The precious stones in the crown are supposedly re-used from earlier jewelry, like the saphire on the front of the crown, which is  traced back to Frederik 1. It was probably a gift to his father Christian 1. from the Duke of Milan in 1474. 

Christian 5.'s crown was latest used at Christian 8.'s anointment in 1840. The crown became redundant for ceremonial use, since the constitutional monarchy was introduced in Denmark in 1849, the absolute monarchy was abolished and the regent was no longer crowned or anointed. Christian 5.'s crown is still used at the monarch's death, where it is placed upon the coffin in the socalled castrum doloris. Last time the crown was used was at Frederik 9.'s death in 1972. 

The Queen's Crown. 
The queens crown was made for Christian 6.'s queen, Sophie Magdalene, by court jeweller Frederik Fabritius in 1731. It was used until 1840. The taffelsten (table-cut stones) origin supposedly from Sophie Amalie's crown from 1648. The new crown was made for Sophie Magdalene, because she denied to wear a crown, which had been worn by the hated Anna Sophie Reventlow, the second wife of Frederik 4.

Christian 4.s Crown

Christian 4.'s crown was made by goldsmith Dirich Dyring in Odense 1595-96. It is gold with enamel, taffelsten (table-cut stones) and pearls, total weight 2895 gr. The figures in the big points of the crown show the virtues of the good regent. In front, above the king's forehead and repeated above the king's ear, is a pelican which pecks its own chest to feed its chicks, originally a symbol of the death of Christ, but here it is the symbol of the king's obligation to protect his people with his own blood. Above the king's right hand is Fortitudo, the horsewoman upon a lion, a symbol of the king as a warlord, and above the left hand Justitia, the woman with sword and scale, a symbol of the king as the supreme judge; above the king's neck Caritas, the mother with a suckling child, a symbol of the king as the head of the church, his love for God and for his subjects.
Inside the points of the crown are the coat of arms of the king's kingdoms and countries; the crown is open, although the fashion prescribed a closed crown at that time. The Nordic Union-kings had used open crowns, and by following his forefathers example Christian 4. marked that he was the heir of a united North. The crown was used for the last time by Frederik 3. in 1648. The coat of arms were re-newed, and a bow was put on, which closed the crown. Frederik 3. even had to redeem the crown from a banker in Hamburg, where Christian 4. had pawned it in his late years. Christian 5. let the bow and closure remove and melt and re-used the gold and diamonds for the closed crown of the absolute monarch

The Crown Jewels.
The crown jewels history goes back to Christian 6.'s queen Sophie Magdalene. She decided in her will from 1746 that her jewels should not be inherited by one person, but always be available to the queen of the country. Her reasoning was that "there were so few jewels and no crown jewels at all in this royal house". Sophie Magdalene's crown jewels were among others dimond studded hairpins, earrings and pearl necklaces, but most of her original jewelry was remade by the following queens according to changing fashion. Today the crown jewels are primarily four big jewelry sets or garnitures : a brilliant garniture, an emerald garniture, a pearl-ruby garniture and a rose stone garniture. All four garnitures consists of necklaces, earrings and broches, and one has a tiara. (the emerald). The jewelry can be disassembled and be combined in various ways.

The four Garnitures.


 The Emerald garniture  (with tiara)

Set of emeralds and brilliants with diadem, necklace, brooch and earrings. Made in 1840 by C.M. Weisshaupt. The emeralds were originally a gift from Chr. VI to Sophie Magdalene in 1723.

The four garnitures have the form which Christian 8.'s queen Caroline Amalie gave them in 1840. With a re-use of Sophie Magdalene's original jewels, supplemented with extra precious stones, she had made four garnitures according to the fashion. Besides the four big garnitures the crown jewels consist of additions to the collection by later queens, fx Frederik 8.'s queen Lovisa's pearl "Bayadere", a very long pearl necklace with pearl tassels, and her three pearl bracelets with brilliant- and emerald-locks.

 The Brilliant garniture

Set of brilliants consisting of necklace with seven pendants, brooch in form of a floral bouquet, and earrings. Made in 1840 by C.M. Weisshaupt. The jewelry dates back to Queens Sophie Magdalene, Caroline Mathilde and Juliane Marie.

The crown jewels belong to the Danish State, but are available to the Danish queen, who usually wear them when it's galla time at the New-Year's Banquet or in connection to State Visits or other big events in the royal house. It is customary that the crown jewels stay in Denmark, which means that the queen cannot wear them on visits abroad. When the crown jewels are not in use, they are kept in the Skatkammeret (Treasury) in the cellar at Rosenborg slot and in "Guldburet" (the Golden Cage ) at the Amalienborg Museum. The Danish crown jewels are the only in the world, which are both on exhibition as museum pieces and used by the queen of the country.
The queen and the other women in the royal family have also a collection of private jewels for their own disposal, among these a ruby garniture from the Napoleonic period, which the crownprincess has used several times. The private jewels are not exhibited, but can be seen when they are used at big galla-events in Denmark and visits abroad. 

The Pearl-Ruby garniture

Set of pearls, rubies and diamonds with necklace, brooch and earrings. Made in 1840 by C.M. Weisshaupt. The pearl necklace belonged to Chr. V's consort Charlotte Amalie.

Rosenborg Slot

photo september 2008: grethe bachmann, Rosenborg slot, København.

Rosenborg Castle - The Silver Lions and the Throne.

 Riddersalen, Rosenborg slot

The three silver lions were made in Copenhagen 1665-70 by Ferdinand Küblich. They had - like the monarch's throne - their model in the old Testament's story about the wise king Solomon which throne was protected by 12 golden lions.The silver lions were used in offical events like fx anointments and they are still used today in the royal family at the "Castrum Doloris".  At the monarch's death the coffin is publicly accessible for a few days, and during this period the lions guard the king or the queen. 

The silver lions stand in the Great Hall (Riddersalen)  at Rosenborg castle. In the great hall is also a fine collection of silver furniture, mainly from the 1700s.

The silver-clad throne, ( used for audience) made by A.F. Holling in Copenhagen for Christian 6.'s Audience Chamber at Christiansborg castle.  Silver furniture symbolized greatness and power, and they were indispensable requisites in a princely residence of the Baroque. The main part of the exhibited furniture was made at Christianborg, which was the absolute monarchy's new residence. It was finished in 1740, but when the new castle burnt down in 1794, the furniture was saved and found a place at Rosenborg. Several pieces of furniture at Rosenborg origin from Christian 6.'s Audience Chamber.

The anointment throne (to the left)  was used for the Danish kings from 1671-1840. Frederik III ordered in the 1660s a throne - and this throne was made even more legendary when it was told that it was made from the horn of a unicorn. The throne is actually made from narwhal tusk, which the king possessed because of his supremacy of the Faroes and Iceland. The throne is made by Bendix Grodtschilling and was used for the first time at Christian 5.'s anointment in 1671. The crowning of Christian 8. in 1840 was however the last use of the throne, since it was also the last coronation upon Danish ground. In 1848 Frederik 7.. became king and signed the first Danish constitution in the start of his rule, in 1849. Since regents are not crowned in Denmark anymore, the next regent is proclaimed at the same time as the prime minister proclaims the old regent's death from the balcony at Christiansborg castle.  
photo september 2008: grethe bachmann

Rosenborg Castle - The Flora Danica Porcelaine

Flora Danica is a magnificent handpainted  porcelaine-set decorated with pictures of Danish plants, copied  from the coloured planches in the botanic-work Flora Danica. The porcelaine-set consists of a dinner- and dessert-service and was from 1790-1802 made by den Kongelige Porcelænsfabrik, now Royal Copenhagen, 

Disputed origin.
Very little is known about the background of the origin of the set. It is known that the order came from the Danish royal house, but it is not known why or how big the original order was. The purpose has been disputed.  According to a very discussed tradition the set was meant to be a diplomatic gift from the Danish royal house to the Russian empress, Catharina the Great, at a time where Denmark needed a close connection to Russia in an alliance against the common enemy Sweden. According to the tradition Catharina's death in 1796 meant that the not finished set was never sent to Russia, but stayed in the Danish royal house.

Making the set
For the performance of the set an already existing set-form was chosen, the so-called Perlemodel (Pearl model) in classicistic style, equipped with gold edges. The set was decorated with pictures of 700 whole wild plants, which were copied from the unique botanical work Flora Danica. The scientific reproductions of Denmark's plants in this planche-work which had begun in 1761, was copied till the last detail upon the porcelaine. The making of the set became a life's work for one of the period's greatest porcelaine-painters, Johann Christoph Bayer, who decorated 1.644 pieces from the 1802 pieces of the whole set.

The work with the set started in 1790 and went fast in the beginning. 988 pieces were finished in 1792- and 363 more pieces came to in 1794. The same year crownprince Frederik ordered the set expanded from 80 till 100 place settings. Up till 1802 were made 370 pieces more. 93 pieces lacked in 1802 when the work was stopped on royal orders. In January 1803 the fabric delivered a set with 1802 various handshaped and handpainted porcelaine-pieces.

The Flora Danica-set was used for the first time at Christian 7.'s birthday 29. January 1803 at Amalienborg castle. The set has since been used at ceremonial events in the royal house, like weddings, birthdays, New Year's Banquets etc. Today it is used very rarely, the last time was at queen Ingrid's birthday in 1990.

From the original 1802 pieces exist still 1530 pieces. Some are exhibited at Christiansborg castle, Rosenborg castle and in Christian 7.'s Palæ at Amalienborg.

New Production:
In 1862 Den kongelige Porcelænsfabrik took up the production of Flora Danica in connection to princess Alexandra's wedding in 1863 to the British heir to the throne, the later king Edward 7.  The couple was given a set of 60 place settings (765 pieces) as a wedding gift.

The production of the set has continued since, and the Flora Danica-set is thereby the only set from the big porcelaine-sets from the grand time of the porcelaine in the 1700s which is still being produced.

The Flora Danica set is in the kulturkanonen (cultural canon) of Danish design and arts and crafts.

Rosenborg Slot

photo september 2008: grethe bachmann, Rosenborg Slot, København

Friday, May 25, 2012

Green Hairstreak/ Grøn Busksommerfugl

photo: stig bachmann nielsen,

 Callophrys rubi

Green Hairstreak is an early butterfly species. They might be seen already at the end of March, the flight time usually extend until the end of June, sometimes they were seen in July and early August, but they usually flies from late April until mid June in one generation and overwinters as a cocoon upon the surface of the soil. The genus name Callophrys is a Greek word meaning "beautiful eyebrows", while the species Latin name rubi derives from Rubus, one of the hostplants. This butterfly is often called rubi among butterfly collectors.

Callophrys rubi is found in most of Europe, from the Arctic Ocean till the south of Spain. Outside Europe from North Africa till Sibiria. 

Wingspan: 22-27 mm. It is easily recognized because of its small size, quick flight and the green underside. The green colour of the underside varies from golden green till grass green or verdigris green, and the white spots can form an almost continuous line or lack completely.  The upperside of the wing is a uniform dull brown with two paler patches on the male's forewings made up of scent scales. The Green Hairstreak is almost always seen with folded wings and therefore you can usually only see the pretty green underside.

Early butterfly collectors thought that the only foodplant was Bramble (blackberry), Rubus fruticosus, but as its habits became better understood the list grew and will probably continue to do so. Depending on the habitat it will use: Common Rock Rose (Helianthemum nummularium), Bird's Foot-Trefoil ( Lotus corniculatus), Gorse (Ulex europaeus), Broom (Cytisus scoparius), Dyer's Greenweed (Genista tinctoria), Bilberry ( Vaccinium myrtillus), Dogwood ( Cornus sanguinea), Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), Cross-leaved heather (Erica tetralix) and Bramble. The larva is also recorded as feeding on Birch (Betula), Raspberry (Rubus idaeus), Bird vetch (Vicia cracca), Zigzag clover (Trifolium medium), Common heather (Calluna vulgaris), Spiraea, Siberian pea tree (Caragana), Sweetvetch (Hedysarum) and Hawthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) in different parts of its range. The wide range of foodplants means that this butterfly is able to use a wide range of habitats including chalk downland, heathland, moorland and clearings in woodland.  It is present in wetlands as well as on poor dry meadows, at an elevation of about 0–2,300 metres.

The eggs are laid singly. The caterpillars are not known to be tended by ants like some lycid larvae but the pupae, which are formed at ground level, emit squeaks which attract ants and it is thought that ants will always bury any that are found. The whistling squeaks can be heard by humans. Green Hairstreaks overwinter as pupae and are univoltine, having one generation of adult butterflies per year.  The larvae is ab. 15 mm long. It is green yellow and has short light hairs, the larvae itself seems transparent. Upon its back it has two rows of yellow spots and a yellow stripe upon the side.

The flight is lightning fast and restless, but even in flight the green colour is visible. The butterflies however spend much of the time resting upon leaves of small birch trees and other low trees or bushes, where the males maintain territories. The resting places of the males are maintained through most of the flight time, but they are used by many other various butterflies, since each male only use the resting place for an hour or two. In cool sunshine the species rest with its side tilted towards the sun - it looks like the butterfly lies upon its side and it is seen upon willow catkins, various composites, marsh daisy and other flowers, but it is not especially seeking nectare. The Green Hairstreak is very shy and fast, and you'll have to be more than good to follow its flight with the eyes if it gets scared and flies up. It often comes back to the same spot after a short flight. That's worth to remember if you want to take a photo!

In Denmark: 

The Green Hairstreak (DK: Grøn Busksommerfugl)  is impossible to confuse with any other Danish butterfly. The green colour is very marked and the black and white stripes of the tentacles and the legs are very distinct. The backwing has a little tip. 
The fodderplant of the larvae in Denmark: The larvae may live upon a number of low bushes, but it seems to prefer bog bilberry ( Vaccinium uliginosum), cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris) alder buckthorn  (Frangula alnus), broom (Sorothamnus scoparius) and blackberry  (Rubus fruticosus )lotus corniculatus birds' foot trefoil. the geeen hairsteak is spread and common in Jutland, but  rare on the Isles and not existing at Bornholm.It's habitat are various pandscapes from dry hills and pastures with broom till heaths and heath moors or peat bogs. On the Isles the species are mostly found in peat bogs and raised bogs.

Source: Dagsommerfugle i Danmark, Michael Stoltze, 1998; Danmarks insekter 2012.

photo Gammel Ry, 24. maj 2009: grethe bachmann
photo Kongsø hede, April 2006: stig bachmann nielsen,

Orange Tip/ Aurora Butterfly

Orange tip/ Aurora
Anthocharis cardamines

The Orange Tip flies from late April until late June and overwinters as a cocoon in low vegetation. It is named Orange tip because of the male's bright orange tips to his forewings. The males are a common sight in spring flying along hedgerows and damp meadows in search of the more reclusive female which lacks the orange and is often mistaken for one of the other 'White' butterflies. The female is - while resting - recognized by its large round spot on the forewing and the grey-black pointed forewing. Both sexes have upon the underside a moss-green marbling, which actually consists of a mix of yellow, black, grey and white scales. The male is able to hide his orange tips by tucking the forewings behind the hindwings at rest.

The wing span is 37-47 mm. The middle spot of the forewing varies in size and the border between the male's orange and white wing colour can differ, relative to the middle spot.

The flight is lively and jumpy. The females often rest for a long time in the vegetation, while the males patrol the terrain and only sit briefly on the plants or suck nectare.

The Orange tip is found across Europe, and eastwards into temperate Asia as far as Japan. The past 30 years has seen a rapid increase in the range of the Orange Tip in the UK, particularly in Scotland and Ireland, probably in response to climate change.

Orange tip, underside.

The habitats are flowery and often moist places with crucifers, like damp pastures and meadows. The Orange tip also lives in more dry pastures, along forest roads and glades and in residential districts - and along riverbanks, ditches, fens, country lanes. 

Both sexes are attracted especially to cruciferous where the female later place the eggs. The caterpillar's fodderplants are siliques from the Cuckoo flower (Cardamines pratensis), Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata),  Mouse-ear cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), Rock cress (Arabis), Tower cress, (Turritis glabra) and many other cruciferous.

The eggs are white to begin with but change to a bright orange after a few days before darkening off just before hatching. Because the larvae feed almost exclusively on the flowers and developing seedpods there is rarely enough food to support more than one larva per plant. If two larvae meet one will often be eaten by the other to eliminate its competitor. Newly hatched larvae will also eat unhatched eggs for the same reason. To stop eggs from being laid on plants already laid on the female leaves a pheromone to deter future females from laying.

Pupation occurs in early summer in scrubby vegetation near the foodplant, where they stay to emerge the following spring. Recent research suggests that the emergence of the butterfly may be delayed for as much as two years, thus insuring the species against unfavourable conditions in a given season.

In Denmark:
The Orange Tip (DK: Aurora)  is spread and few in numbers in West Jutland, but else widespread and common in the rest of the country. The species have spread and been more common in many places during the latest years because of the nitrate-tolerant Garlic mustard, which has replaced the Cuckoo flower as the most important host plant. .

Source: Michael Stoltze, Dagsommerfugle i Danmark, Gyldendal 1998., 2012.

photo Egtved, 9. May 2009: grethe bachmann
photo Skaade May 1999: stig bachmann nielsen, 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What children say -

 What do children say about summer?

 I've found some stuff about kids and their summer holidays. They are American kids, but they are like kids all over the world, and I think their thoughts and wishes about the summer holidays are the same. The guy Hyder who wants to take his mom with him to Norway because he loves her very much - and the little girl Ashlei, who won't take anyone with her on vacation, because she wants all the chocolate for herself. I think they ar marvellous!

Tiannah, 11, said her best trip was to Vermont, the home of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. In addition to the ice cream, she liked lying on a comfortable hammock and sleeping under the stars.

Sophie, 11, liked her trip to Colorado best because she learned to cast a fishing rod in a wobbly canoe. She also learned the backstroke in the hotel pool.

Hawaii was a favorite spot for a number of kids:
Diana, 11, liked it so much she wants to move there. "I went to the beach, saw snakes, fish, and a sailfish in the ocean, ate great food, got sunburned, and rode in the new rented car we got."

Where you vacation is important, but as kids described their favorite trips, it was the people that seemed to matter most. In fact, more than half of kids said fun people were the most important ingredient — more important than a great place or fun stuff to do.

Mabembe, 12, said her best trip was a couple years ago when her family took a very long drive to Toronto for a wedding. "What made the trip sooo fun was that we drove," she said. "Yes you heard right, we drove! Two and a half days long. I tell ya, it was all worth it because we did it together as a family."

Lucie, 11, said her best vacation was when her family went to Tanzania in Africa. "I went not to have a safari adventure, but a family one. We went because all my family lives there except my mom, dad, my brother, me, and my sister. That was the best part because I could meet my distant family."

Family and friends also were important as kids described where they'd go on a dream vacation. Some kids chose popular vacation spots, but others said they wanted to visit other planets or go back in time!

Jen, 12, wants to visit 1960s. Why? To see the Beatles live in concert. "I am a big fan of the Beatles and am disappointed that I wasn't even alive when they were together. I'd take my parents so they could tell me about the '60s so I would know how to act in a different decade!"

Nina, 15, would take her best friend, Kathy, to the moon so they could float around in zero gravity.
Madeline, 8, wants to take her dog, Captain, on a trip to Saturn.

Megan, 10, would like to take her family and her cats, Marcie and Buster, on a trip to see volcanoes. She'd stop in Hawaii and Yellowstone National Park — two volcanic spots — to get a head start on her career. "I want to study volcanoes when I grow up," she said.

Hyder, 12, wants to go to Norway to see how it stays light for 6 months of the year and dark for the other 6. Who would he take? "My mom because I love her very much."

Matt, 10, says he wants to go to Washington, DC, to see his uncle and to see the new Major League Baseball team, the Nationals. He'd take his family "because they have done so many things for me."

Alaina, 13, says she's always wanted to visit Queensland, Australia. She'd visit the Sydney Opera House and explore Australian culture. Who would she bring? "My mom, dad, and . . . no one else. Ha-ha, just kidding. I'd take along my little brother, too."

It's hard to tell if Ashlei, 10, was kidding when she said she'd take no one with her on a dream vacation to Hershey, Pennsylvania.
 Why go alone? "I want all the chocolate to myself," she said.

Photo Strands, Mols, 2007: grethe bachmann

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alternative Building - Living Houses

Nørre Snede


built in cedar wood
blue mussels on the roof.
the round corners show the use of straw.


In a parcelling in the southern outskirt of the town Nørre Snede in Mid Jutland is an interesting building project of sustainable houses. Living houses. Materials like straw, clay, cedar, blue mussels etc.

blue mussels on roof

In the local plan for the parcelling "Skovdalen" is  determined that the buildings must be built according to sustainable principles. The building must in material-production, establishment and daily use affect the environment as little as possible, evaluated from a comprehensive accounting.

It is not allowed to use impregnate wood, glass fiber- or rockwool products and other materials, which can affect the environment.

The heating must be CO2 neutral, like: passive solar heating, non-polluting heating with straw, wood etc. Primary heating sources must not be based on fossil fuels or electricity from the public net.

Local sustainable sanitation must be established by the help of root zone systems, sand filter, willow-cleansing systems or alike effective cleansing systems, which comply the existing environment requirements. The amounts of wastewater, which have to be cleansed, can be  minimized by the use of composting toilet and/or WC, which use grey wastewater. WC can also be established by using collected rainwater.

Several property owners can join in establishing a common solution.

The Grundejerforeningen (property owner union) establishes local sorting and collecting of waste and a possibility for local recycling.

The starting point is that pesticides, insecticides and fungicides must not be used in the area.

The present town Nørre Snede lies upon a large hillside, but the Iron Age people built their village downside the hills. 
From the new building area in Skovdalen you've got a view to the place where an Iron Age village was found in an excavation some years ago. The longhouses in Nørre Snede were a little smaller than the wellknown houses from the Iron Age village in Vorbasse. ( the biggest was 36 meter long)  Each longhouse stood in the middle of a square fencing together with one or two small buildings, and the farms were placed in long rows. The stables were in the west end of the house, the living section to the east, which is contrary to the usual Iron Age house There are six building stages of this village, where they have moved the village to the next place,close to the previous - and the houses are the same from ab. year 400 until the 600s.

photo: grethe bachmann

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Landscape in Viborg district in May

The landscape in May is lightgreen - and if the weather is fine and sunny , it is so nice and lovely everywhere. And I love the month of May.  But the days of May this year have been very cold, and today on the 18th of May it is still cold. I have turned up the heat in the rooms.
The day I was in the district around Viborg the weather was also rather cold, it had been frost a couple of nights ago -  and if I compare to photos from other years in May there are usually goats and ponies in the fields by the Dollerup brook. It was obvious that the soil here was too moisty. Some of the blooming hedgerows are holding back their flowers. Maybe next week-end will be better -  I really long for the butterflies!     

There is a sweet song, which tells about this mild and gentle landscape in May.

Kom, maj, du søde, milde!
Gør skoven atter grøn,
og lad ved bæk og kilde
violen blomstre skøn.
Hvor ville jeg dog gerne,
at jeg igen den så!
Ak, kære maj, hvor gerne
igen i marken gå.

I'm sorry I cannot sing it for you - and I'm not sure you would like it! You know the tune, it's a wellknown Mozart melody. da da da da di diii da - da da da da didi da ..........etc!!!

Dolllerup Bakker, the heath

View from Dollerup Bakker to Hald Sø

Beech in May

rape field and dandelions

Lake at Klosterlund

Lake at Klosterlund

Orienteering race

Kærmysse/ Bog Arum

Klosterlund, colour by the edge of the lake

Good friends
Testrupvej, Viborg district

Testrupvej and Hald Sø, Viborg district

Iceland Ponies

Dollerup brook, Viborg district.

Dolllerup brook, Viborg district.

at Dollerup brook, Viborg district

photo May 2012: grethe bachmann