Wednesday, March 26, 2008

what's in a name?

The bloodroot of three days ago (See March 23 posting) has a neighbor. Trout lilies are beginning to show themselves adding their golden yellow, five-petal flowers to the woodlands. Trout lilies prefer dampish hillsides, generally near a steam or pond. Their leaves are smooth, leathery and have greenish brown blotches that resemble the mottled coloration of trout hence their most generally accepted common name.

Admittedly, it's a rather odd name. Yet, as a testament to our poetic nature, trout lilies have not always been called such, it’s just the folk name that has somehow survived. At various times and in various places the same plant has been called fawn lily, adder's tongue, rattlesnake violet, snakeleaf, lamb's tongue, Easter lily, lillette, amberbell, adderleaf and deer's tongue.

“But what’s in a name?” As Shakespeare's Juliet pondered: “that which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet.” And trout lily would if trout lily were not called retain its dear perfection.

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