Monday, 21 September 2009

Devil's Bit

Thought that title might grab your attention! I'm still trying to extend my knowledge of wild flowers so when I discovered a beautiful blue one along the old railway line, I immediately consulted my wild flower books. Most of these were published in the 19th and early 20th Century but wildflowers were the same then as now and the hand-drawn illustrations in these vintage books is excellent. Thus I discovered that this delicate little plant has a really ugly name as it's known as Devil's Bit Scabious.
Apparently the reason for this is that the stem terminates abruptly but it's also rumoured that "the Deville, envying the good that this herb might do to mankind, bit away part of the root of it, and thereof came the name of Succisa and Deville's Bit".

The book from which I garnered all this information is called British Wild Flowers and was written in 1910 by the Reverend Professor Henslow (illustrations of which the one above is one, by Grace Layton). Most of the flora as well as fauna books written in the 19th and early 20th Century were written by reverends. As this post was still in the gift of wealthy landowners at that time, and the actual work was mostly done by lowly curates, presumably these reverends had ample leisure time to roam the countryside! I love their books so am grateful to them for these careful studies.


Lenna Andrews said...

so cool! thank you frieda, for a bit of beauty & history . . .

JP said...

I love these too and always put some in the garden - we havwe a nursery near us where you can get wildflower plants and we have a good group growing in the garden


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