Botanical Trivia

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John J

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #30 on: December 25, 2016, 06:33:59 AM »
What could be more representative of Christmas than the holly and the ivy. However, this was not always the case. For centuries holly had been associated with pagan rituals and this led to the church banning its use in Christmas decorations. Not until the 1600s, when tales emerged linking it to Christ in a number of ways, did it become acceptable.
In fact ivy may have been an equally appropriate candidate for a ban due to its chequered past. According to a variety of stories, too numerous to mention, it was associated with the Greek god Dionysus (Roman Bacchus) and had come to symbolize unrestricted drinking and feasting. (Been a few decades since I last indulged in one of those Christmases  ::)).
Wherever you may be in the world if you are celebrating at this time do it wisely and well, and may 2017 be a good year for you.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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John J

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #31 on: January 03, 2017, 06:17:58 AM »
It may be a little late for this year but perhaps one to remember for the future, especially for those who dislike cabbage. It seems that having one in the house at New Year was once thought to be a sign of bad luck for the coming year.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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Alisdair

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #32 on: January 03, 2017, 09:36:42 AM »
I hope red cabbage is exempt, John, as we had it (with goose, yum!) for supper on New Year's Eve and the left-overs are still in our fridge.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and current president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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John J

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #33 on: January 03, 2017, 10:38:42 AM »
Alisdair, my source only mentions Brassica oleracea capitata it doesn't differentiate between Common, Savoy or Red, I'm afraid. So maybe you'll have to keep your fingers crossed and hope that it's an 'Old Wives' Tale', or possibly a propaganda ploy used by people who didn't like cabbage.  ;)
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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JTh

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #34 on: January 03, 2017, 06:41:13 PM »
I'm not overly worried, I always make a lot of 'surkål', a traditional Norwegian cabbage recipe with vinegar, sugar and caraway seeds, a must with our Christmas meal, and I always make far more than we can digest during this season, so I have to freeze the leftovers for later use. I have survived, so far. Maybe it's only unprocessed cabbage that brings bad luck?
Veterinary surgeon by training with a phD in parasitology, worked as virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS and Branch website editor. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.

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John J

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #35 on: January 11, 2017, 10:10:52 AM »
In a different thread David Dickinson in Rome mentions the sad fate that has befallen his Canna plants due to the cold, wet weather they have been experiencing in that part of the Med.
According to a tale from Burma (or should that be Myanmar?) the Canna originally sprang from the blood of the Buddha. It came about because of the envy felt by his cousin, Dawadat, due to the Buddha's popularity. Dawadat attempted to kill his cousin by rolling a stone down the hill below which the Buddha was meditating. However, before it reached its intended target it shattered into small pieces, one of which cut the Buddha's toe. It was from the blood of this cut that the Canna arose. That's all very well for the red one but where did the other colours come from?
Anyway, David, here's hoping that your plants recover without you having to resort to bloodletting.  ;D
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

David Dickinson

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #36 on: January 12, 2017, 12:44:15 AM »
And there is still some of the blood in there it seems. I collected some seeds from a pink Canna wondering what might come out if any of the seeds germinated. The resulting pale yellow flowers were a surprise. A very pleasant one though. The blood is still there in the pinkish streaks in them. Not quite as full blooded as the original red varieties but still blood traces there nonetheless.

Let's hope that with the onset of warmer weather the blood liquefies just like that of San Gennaro http://www.miraclesofthechurch.com/2010/10/blood-miracle-of-st-januarius-gennaro.html It would be a shame to lose what I think is my nicest Canna plant with beautiful pale green/grayish leaves to set off the yellow/smoky pink.
I have a small garden in Rome, Italy. Some open soil, some concrete, some paved. Temperatures in winter occasionally down to 0C. Summer temperatures up to 40C in the shade. There are never watering restrictions but, of course, there is little natural water for much of June, July and August.

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John J

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #37 on: January 25, 2017, 08:18:00 PM »
One list that I came across claims the Rose as the National Flower of Cyprus. As far as I am aware this has never been the case. It was only relatively recently that the endemic Cyclamen cyprium was chosen to fill that position.
Perhaps the compiler of the list was suffering from the 'diffidence' and 'indifference' said to be associated with the genus as a whole.
On the plus side the growing of cyclamen is also believed to provide an effective shield against harmful spells.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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John J

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #38 on: February 25, 2017, 11:03:16 AM »
Today's MGS Facebook cover photo is of a mandrake growing in the Society's garden, Sparoza. Alisdair, who edits the Facebook page, mentions that they seem to be quite prolific this year. That would certainly appear to be the case in Cyprus as the ones we have found so far are among the largest and most floriferous I have ever seen.
There are many stories associated with the mandrake, several related to its alleged response to any attempt to uproot it as alluded to by Alisdair. Not all of the early 'botanists' believed these stories of madness and even death being suffered by those who tried to collect the herb. Theophrastus (370-255BC) described the elaborate rites associated with collecting the plant as 'humbug'. John Gerard, who was not averse to subscribing to some rather odd beliefs, called the tales ridiculous and advised that they be cast out of "your bookes of memorie".
In ancient Greek mythology it is said that Circe, the daughter of Hecate, included mandrake as an ingredient in one of her brews that was reputed to turn men into swine. Several modern alcoholic beverages can possibly lay claim to having a similar effect!   ;D
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

cerg

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #39 on: February 25, 2017, 01:06:25 PM »
It is possible that those who collected the herb also consumed it, in particular the berries, hence the tales ....

Best

Corrado & Rina

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John J

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #40 on: May 17, 2017, 10:25:25 AM »
I haven't posted anything on this thread for a while due to a variety of reasons but an incident yesterday prompted me to return.
Fellow MGS member and good friend, Yiannos Orphanos, stopped by my house with a beautiful Paphiopedilum orchid he had acquired. This genus was established by Ernst Hugo Heinrich Pfitzer in 1886. They are commonly known as Lady's Slipper orchids and the story goes that the gentleman in question gave a lot of thought as to who might be considered to have been the most beautiful 'Lady' in the history of the world. The answer he came up with was Aphrodite (Venus). The area of Paphos in Cyprus is sacred to Aphrodite, being the place of her birth, hence Paphio. The pedilum derives from the Ancient Greek pedilon, a slipper. So, although this genus of orchid is unknown on the island, or in the Mediterranean, being native to the Far East, this particular plant is Venus' slipper orchid.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

Hilary

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #41 on: May 19, 2017, 06:53:37 PM »
I have just come across a drawing by Megan Bozkurt of Paphiopedium venustum on the last page of
 THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN issue number 67, January 2012.
Is this the same plant?
MGS member
Living in Korinthos, Greece.
No garden but two balconies, one facing south and the other north.
Most of my plants are succulents which need little care

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John J

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #42 on: May 20, 2017, 05:36:10 AM »
Hilary, I should make it clear that the Paphiopedilum genus as a whole are known as Venus slipper orchids. There are 80 accepted taxa in the genus with Paphiopedilum insigne being the type species. I looked up the drawing you mentioned in TMG 67 of Paphiopedilum venustum (a printing error missed the l out of the genus name). The species name was apparently given to it due to the beauty of its flower. The Paphiopedilum that I have is not this particular plant and is, I believe, a hybrid. Possibly one of the 'Miya' hybrids produced by T Ozawa about whom I can find very little information.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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John J

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #43 on: September 09, 2017, 01:24:36 PM »
I was reminded recently that I had not posted on this thread for quite a long time, and this return may not feature one of the most spectacular of plants. Beta vulgaris the common beetroot may not be one of the first vegetables to spring to mind when discussing mediterranean gardening. However, it has been cultivated for many hundreds of years and was in fact included in the offerings made to the god Apollo at his temple in Delphi.
Possibly equally hard to believe is that it was once thought to have aphrodisiac qualities. The juices being used as an ingredient in love potions. One folkloric tradition states that two people who eat from the same beetroot will fall in love. You have been warned!  8)
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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John J

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Re: Botanical Trivia
« Reply #44 on: September 10, 2017, 08:38:00 AM »
Hilary's latest post on Wild flowers of Greece on postage stamps, under Miscellaneous, features Laurus nobilis. Here in Cyprus the plant is known as Daphne.
Daphne was the beautiful daughter of Peneos, a river god. For some reason she was singled out by Cupid as a recipient for one of his acts of mischief and she became the target for one of his arrows. Not, as we are accustomed to, one of his arrows of love but quite the opposite. His arsenal of ammunition was not confined to just one type of arrow, he also possessed ones made of lead that caused their target to reject all thoughts of love and vow to live a life of chastity. It was with one of these that he struck Daphne. To compound the mischief he fired a more conventional arrow at the god Apollo causing him to pursue Daphne with amorous intent. The poor girl approached her father for protection and he transformed her into a laurel tree. Even this did not quell Apollo's ardour and he declared that from thence forward he would wear a laurel wreath on his head and would decorate his lyre with laurel leaves. Prior to this his emblem had been the oak but he abandoned it and demanded that his followers do likewise. His oracle was located in a grove of laurel trees.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)