Sunday, 20 July 2008

Chalkland wildflowers

Centaura nigra - Common Knapweed
In classical legend the centaur Chiron healed wounds with this plant, hence the generic name. The plant has many country names including knopweed, knobweed, horse-knot, horse-nobs, bottle-weed, bull-weed, hardheads, Harry head, iron knobs, shaving-brush and topknot. Botanical books refer to it as a 'bad weed among grass' and it should be avoided by cattle.
Centaury is an obvious weather oracle, closing in damp weather, or when the sky is overcast. It symbolizes felicity and delicacy and astrologically it is under the sign of the sun. (taken from The Illustrated Plant Lore by Josephine Addison)
Centaurea cyranus - Cornflower
(I think the lighter flowers in this picture are cornflowers)
Cyranus refers to the beautiful blue colour of the cornflower. In Greek mythology Cyranus was a young devotee of the goddess Flora, who passed his days weaving garlands of flowers in cornfields for the various floral festivals. On his death, as a reward for his devotion, Flora transformed his body into a cornflower, the flower he believed to be the most beautiful of all and which lay scattered about him when he died. In the language of flowers it means delicacy, and a dweller in heavenly places. (taken from The Illustrated Plant Lore by Josephine Addison)
I took these pictures while walking up to Windmill Hill out at Avebury today. The fields on each side of the narrow chalk track were full of ripening wheat and barley. On a warm, peaceful Sunday morning it did indeed feel like a 'heavenly place'.