Wednesday, March 23, 2011


click photo to enlarge
I have written elsewhere in this blog that, whilst I recognise the usefulness of Latin names for plants, I much prefer using the English names for their beauty, descriptiveness and heritage. Leopard's Bane is so much more interesting than Doronicum orientale, and Snapdragon trumps Antirrhinum any day. However, there are one or two English names that conjure up a picture which, to my mind, sit ill with the plants they describe. I was photographing one such today - Lungwort (Pulmonaria).

In my garden there are four varieties of this plant. One has pink flowers, another has blue flowers, there is a white flowered variety, and finally one manages to produce flowers that are both pink and blue. All of them, however, have green leaves with light-green or white spots. They are a useful plant, very hardy, thriving in shade and the open, and producing their flowers in early spring. There is something of the wild flower about them, and there is a species native to Europe, Narrow-leaved Lungwort (Pulmonaria longifolia) known in Britain as Joseph and Mary. It is the plant from which several garden varieties have been bred. But, much as I like the Lungwort, I've never liked its name: it strikes me as a particularly ugly name for such an attractive plant. However, many of its names across Europe derive from the likeness of the spotted leaves to diseased lungs, as of course does its Latin name (pulmo is Latin for lung), and the association has well and truly has stuck. Consequently its many other English colloquial names - Soldiers and Sailors, Spotted Dog, Jerusalem Cowslip and Bethlehem Sage among others - are fast disappearing.

I composed my photograph with the attention on a group of pink Lungwort, and moved so that a blue variety was out of focus in the background.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Manual
Focal Length: 100mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec
ISO: 160
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: Off