marsh marigold defined in 1912 yearmarsh marigold - MARSH MARIGOLD (Caltha palustris);
marsh marigold - Kingcups! Royal in their golden splendour, king-like in their blazing magnificence, the Kingcups or Marsh Marigolds display their golden cups by quiet pool or sluggish stream, or perhaps make brilliant oases in marshy meadows. The picture shows that wherever they are their brilliancy "jumps to the eye," they could not be overlooked. Though their gold lacks the burnishing of the buttercup, it is of peculiar depth and purity, and each single cup, like some rare jewel in happiest setting, flashes out with distinctness against the vividness of the green that ever characterises the herbage of waterside or marsh. Of this flower it has been said -
"She Phoebus loves, and from him draws her hue,
And ever keeps his golden beams in view,"
and so the Italians prettily call it "Sposa di Sole" - the Bride of the Sun.
It is a plant of keen contrasts and simple and direct line; there is no subtlety or finesse anywhere about it. The green stems, a foot or more in height, are lush and hollow, silver-lined within, and specially adapted in their texture for carrying up in their walls those currents of water so necessary to the well-being of the plant. Here and there they thicken; the tube is divided by a stout partition, and a branch with a heart-shaped leaf arises. The leaves, too, speak of water-logged meadows, for they are of thickened, juicy texture, glossy and deepest green above, paler in colour beneath, and traversed throughout by a network of veins. If their structure is examined by the aid of a microscope, we discover that there is a special enlargement of those cells which are filled with the little green bodies which give the green colour to the leaf as a whole. Their margins are usually somewhat waved, sometimes they even show a definite toothed edging, but the general impression the leaf gives is of bold outline and simple form. Their size when the plant is blossoming is moderate; were it otherwise they would tend to overshadow and hide the flowers, and thus neutralise their attraction, but when the flowering season is over they become very large and almost coarse.
The flower, too, is remarkable for its simple structure; it even lacks one of the four sets of floral leaves that are usually found in flowers, for, strange as the assertion seems in view of the golden gayness, the petals have disappeared completely. The sepals, however, do duty for both calyx and corolla, and protect and attract at the same time, and it is they, and not real petals, that have become so brilliant and so large. Their normal number is five, but frequently there are six. Within the sepals are a host of stamens, fragile, golden, and club-shaped, and they stand in rings round the centre, maybe half a hundred strong. In the heart of the flower there are several columns - the number varies - there may be five, six, or even ten, green and thick below but tapering to a yellow tip. Each of these is a single carpel containing several seeds, and later they will swell and lengthen, and when the golden cup and the fragile stamens have slipped away they will stand proudly up a group of erect little pods each with a peaked lip and splitting down its back to set free its contents. Thus every part of the flower is distinct and separate from every other; even the carpels, which are usually fused into a seed-box, are each isolated, and hence the Marsh Marigold is placed among the simplest order of flowers - the Ranunculaceæ.
At first sight it seems as if there were no arrangement for honey in the flower, but honey is present all the same, for it is found in the walls of the carpels and oozes out therefrom, therefore the promise of the brilliant sepals is not belied, and flies, beetles and even bees are supplied.
Though the leaves and flowers of this plant stand out rigidly enough when a copious supply of water is at their command, yet if it be cut off from them for even but a short time they wither very rapidly and fall flabbily enough. Restore it to them within reasonable time, and they are quickly themselves again. This dependence upon a plentiful water supply has in some parts of the West Country secured for these flowers the ugly name of "Drunkards," "because they are always drinking"; but a poet who found them once gaily flourishing in the late autumn touched even this name with the finger of romance, and spoke of them as -
"Drunkards of Sun and Summer
They keep their colour clear,
Flaming among the marshes
At waning of the year."
Arid so we are once more back to the idea of the Bride of the Sun. "Water-blobs," "Mere-blobs," or simply "Blobs" are familiar enough country names - "Water-dragon" is less known - all having reference to their love of water. "Bull-flowers," a Somerset name, is probably a rustic rendering of "Pool-flowers," though some prefer to see a reference in it to the size of the flowers, "bull" being a general term for anything specially large. Their other name of "Bull's-eyes" bears out this contention. "Horse-blob," the name by which the Northamptonshire poet Clare knew it - "The Horse-blob swells its golden ball," he says - is another reference to its unusual size as compared with its relative and contemporary, the buttercup. It is to this flower that Shakespeare is supposed to allude when he says, "Winking Marybuds begin to ope their golden eye," and if Shakespeare's boyhood were really passed in Stratford the Kingcups dotted all over the low-lying fields on the banks of the Avon must have been one of the most familiar of sights to him.
The whole plant is permeated by an acrid juice, so that cattle will not eat it if they can help it; indeed, it is sometimes asserted that if eaten by them it is very injurious. Country cookery, however, uses, or did use in the days when all things were home-made, the tiny flower-buds as a substitute for capers, pickling them in vinegar, their acrid juices providing the necessary piquancy. It is also stated that the leaves can be cooked and eaten with satisfaction after the fashion of spinach. A more romantic property of the Kingcup is its alleged power to save the wearer of it from making unkind remarks himself, or from suffering such remarks from others. The practice of carrying it might perhaps therefore with advantage be suggested to the leaders of the political party which happens to be in power.
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marsh marigold defined in 1956 yearmarsh marigold - MARSH MARIGOLD;
marsh marigold - Looks like a thick-set Buttercup, making a brilliant splash of gold in the wet spring meadows; a hairless tufted perennial, with fat hollow stems up to 18 in. high, and glossy, dark green, kidney-shaped leaves, the lowest well stalked. Flowers glossy yellow, an inch or more across, with no green sepals. Especially on mountains, it may be slenderer, and prostrate, and have narrower petals (actually sepals). Fruit a head of many-seeded pods. Habitat: Widespread, common in marshy places. March-June. Kingcup.
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