HERB - Wormwood and Other Random Thoughts

Kathleen Keeler kkeeler at unlserve.unl.edu
Wed Apr 4 06:37:31 PDT 2001

Caro asked

> Are marigolds period?
> Does woad have a scented flower?  I've never seen one, so I was wondering
> if anyone else knows.
I'll bite on the questions
  Are marigolds period?
    The name is.  It depends on what plant you mean.
    The common marigolds of the annual flower seeds are the genus _Tagetes_,
which is [I believe] New World.  It is probably late Period because the
explorers in the early 1500s brought lots of pretty flowers back for their
    Marigold in early period was _Calendula_ and those are northern European
natives, definately Period.
    Gerard's Herbal (I have the 1629 Parkinson edition borrowed from the
library) lists Marigold also called Calendula, African Marigold, and Marigolds
of Peru (pp. 167-173)  Marigold of Peru is also called Floure of the Sun, and
the picture looks like a sunflower.

> Does woad have a scented flower?  I've never seen one, so I was wondering
> if anyone else knows.
Woad is in the Mustard or Cabbage Family, Brassicaceae (also called
Cruciferae).  It has the standard flowers of the family -- little yellow
four-petal flowers.  Probably not much scent.

[Plants are grouped in families by shared characters.  Botantists tell you the
family all the time so that if you can picture one member of that family, you
are picturing many characteristics of the plant in question.
Consider--Sunflower Family vs Pea Family.]

[The flowers on a plant evolved to facilitate pollination.  The flower (in
animal pollinated species) advertises the location of a reward (pollen or
nectar) which are food for pollinators.  If the animals use scent to locate the
flower (especially, night-flying species) then a strong scent is needed.  If
the animals use sight, a bright color.  There are some generalists out there
that want both kinds of flower visitors, but most plants keep their
"advertising budget" down by investing only in one or the other.  Plant
breeders, exercising artificial selection, can and have produced plants with
both color and odor.

I'll pass on the gillyflower question because I don't know quite what you mean.

       And Caro, be patient.  For a potentially explosive situation they're all
being very restrained in their rhetoric.  That's very promising.


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