Friday, June 03, 2011

Cowslips Before And After

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Budding marsh marigolds on May 7, 2011 in the orchard

John gets upset when I call these cowslips. He's from New Hampshire and they call them by their proper name of marsh marigolds. But everyone I know here in Vermont calls them cowslips (if you live here in northern Vermont and call them marsh marigolds, then I probably don't know you!). John tells me that the early colonists called these bog flowers cowslips because they looked like the British cowslips, but they are an entirely different species of flower. So there is no confusion, these marsh marigolds are Caltha palustris. I don't know what the British cowslips are or look like (I've never bothered to look it up). I rejoice when the cowslips bloom in spring. We have a few plants in the boggy part of the apple orchard and a lot in the beaver bog. You have to put on your barn or wading boots to see them in the bog and you sink deep in the mud, perhaps losing your boot, while you battle black flies. The blooms don't even last a week. I had seen the flowers for two days until I wandered over on day three for the photographs. The next day they were gone! A violent storm that we had that night could have downed them. I don't know. I'm glad I caught them when I did.

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A large bunch of cowslips in bloom in the bog on May 19.

My question: are they cow's lips or cow slips? There’s a huge difference in meaning. But I'm betting on cow's lips.

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Cowslips (marsh marigold) (Caltha palustris)-7.jpg

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  1. they are pretty! Edible tooo, before they flower, pass through a couple waters.

  2. Pass through a couple waters? You are brave. I don't like new stuff to eat. But I love knowing what's edible. Thanks for stopping by, Mary.


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