Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pasque flowers, April 19th

I never really thought I'd ever see such a rarity. Last year I heard reports of a couple of flowers at the Hartslock Nature Reserve. My wife and I went along on the 17th, and though we saw an unhybridised Lady Orchid, no Pasque flowers were to be seen.

Better information came via a friend who had found a FB group. The directions took me off the nature reserve, and round into the neighbouring sheep pasture. There were 25 or 26 flowers on maybe 15 different plants. I love that moment of disbelief: you see a flower of the right colour, approach half expecting it to be a violet (in this case), but there they were.

Gerard's Herbal:

The herball or Generall historie of plantes. Gathered by Iohn Gerarde of London Master in Chirurgerie very much enlarged and amended by Thomas Iohnson citizen and apothecarye of London (1597).


CHAP. 79. Of Bastard Anemones, or Pasque floures. 

The Description.

1 The first of these Pasque floures hath many small leaves finely cut or jagged, like those of Carrots: among which rise up naked stalkes, rough and hairie; whereupon doe grow beautifull floures bell fashion, of a bright delaied purple colour: in the bottome whereof groweth a tuft of yellow thrums, and in the middle of the thrums it thrusteth forth a small purple pointell: when the whole floure is past there succeedeth an head or knop compact of many gray hairy lockes, and in the solide parts of the knops lieth the seed flat and hoarie, every seed having his owne small haire hanging at it. The root is thicke and knobby, of a finger long, running right downe, and therefore not like unto those of the Anemone, which it doth in all other parts very notably resemble, and whereof no doubt this is a kinde.

2 There is no difference at all in the leaves, roots, or seedes, betweene this red Pasque floure and the precedent, nor in any other point, but in the colour of the floures: for whereas the other are of a purple colour, these are of a bright red, which setteth forth the difference.

3 The white Passe floures hath many fine jagged leaves, closely couched or thrust together, which resemble an Holi-water sprinckle, agreeing with the others in rootes, seedes, and shape of floures, saving that these are of a white colour, wherein chiefely consisteth the difference.

†† 4 This also in shape of roots and leaves little differs from the precedent, but the floures are lesser, of a darker purple colour, and seldome open or shew themselues so much abroad as the other of the first described, to which in all other respects it is very like.

5 There is also another kinde with leaves lesse divided, but in other parts like those already described, saving that the floure is of a yellow colour something inclining to a red. ††

The Place. Ruellius writeth, that the Passe floure groweth in France in untoiled places: in Germanie they grow in rough and stonie places, and oftentimes on rockes.
Those with purple floures doe grow verie plentifully in the pasture or close belonging to the parsonage house of a small village six miles from Cambridge, called Hildersham: the Parsons name that lived at the impression hereof was Mr. Fuller, a very kind and loving man, and willing to shew unto any man the said close, who desired the same.

The Time. They floure for the most part about Easter, which hath mooved mee to name it Pasque Floure, or Easter floure: and often they doe floure againe in September. †† The yellow kinde floures in May. ††

The Names. † Passe floure is called commonly in Latine Pulsatilla: and of some, Apium risus, & herba venti. Daleschampius would haue it to be Anemone Limonia & Samolus of Pliny: in French, Coquelourdes: in Dutch, kneckenschell: in English, Pasque floure, or Passe floure, and after the Latine name Pulsatill, or Flaw floure: in Cambridge-shire where they grow, they are named Couentrie bels.

The Temperature. Passe floure doth extremely bite, and exulcerateth and eateth into the skinne if it be stamped and applied to any part of the body; whereupon it hath been taken of some to be a kinde of Crowfoot, and not without reason, for that it is not inferiour to the Crowfoots: and therefore it is hot and drie.

The Vertues. There is nothing extant in writing among Authours of any peculiar vertue, but they serve onely for the adorning of gardens and garlands, being floures of great beautie.

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