Spring in Northants – A name, but not a rose



There is lots of cow parsley in flower by the roadsides at the moment. As a hopeless botanist – or plant-identifier – I like cow parsley because I usually recognise it and know what it is.

James Allan [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Cow Parsley has a variety of other names – like most of our plants, it seems. The nicest, which is what I remember my rather severe paternal grandmother calling this plant, is Queen Anne’s Lace. That is a lovely name and seems very appropriate for the pretty delicate umbels of this plant.

Another name, far less pretty, is ‘Kek’. There’s something about words that end with a hard ‘k’ sound that seems unpleasant. Although I don’t know any of them, there seem to be a disproportionately high number of swear words that end with ‘k’. I don’t expect you can think of any of them either.

Kek sounds rude, Cow Parsley sounds fittingly agricultural but rather dull, whereas Queen Anne’s Lace sounds delightful. But I am enjoying the look of this plant strung along the roadsides at this time of year.

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name… Do you have favourite or least favourite wildlife names?

Mark Avery is an independent environmental expert and writer. He spent 25 years working for the RSPB in the UK – the last 12 years of that time as the Conservation Director. Mark writes a daily blog about wildlife issues in the UK and has written several books including one which will be published in August.

Mark Avery

Mark Avery

Dr Mark Avery is a biologist by training and a naturalist by inclination. He worked for the BirdLife International UK partner, the RSPB, from 1986-2011, with the last 12 years of that as Conservation Director. He lives in the UK in east Northamptonshire and often sees red kites over his garden. He is now a freelance writer and consultant.

Mark Avery

Mark Avery

Dr Mark Avery is a biologist by training and a naturalist by inclination. He worked for the BirdLife International UK partner, the RSPB, from 1986-2011, with the last 12 years of that as Conservation Director. He lives in the UK in east Northamptonshire and often sees red kites over his garden. He is now a freelance writer and consultant.

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