Clyde: Name that May flower

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 14, 2023

“Whan that April with his showres soote

The droughte of March hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veine in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flowr”


— Canterbury Tales Prologue


After the relentless rain, there is nothing more forgiving than copious bouquets of fresh cut garden flowers brought indoors, put into vases given to share with sick friends, or put on altars. Many named for no rhyme or reason or reference to their phylum, genus, or species in the plant kingdom. “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth” (from Song of Solomon).

Here are a few cultivars for you to ponder. Answers are at the end of the quiz. Rose is not on the list.

  1. Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, its varied colors provide a border in every old garden. This fleur-de-lis mostly comes in translucent violet blue with a distant smell. Easy to propagate as the rhizomes grow on top of the dirt.
  2. Every old house placed since 1929 has clumps of these in shades of purple with obtuse spikes. Their ephemeral morning 3 petal blooms close up by noon and look odd like their name. Rare white ones survive just a single day.
  3. Hardy, herbaceous, with strong aromas, they attract butterflies and are used for their oils. Rachael called it “Sweet Annie” in wreaths, others nicknamed it “ol” man green.   An herb by any other name smells so sweet.
  4. Old homes and cemeteries are apt to have these among the periwinkle ground cover. The shamrock leaves look like clover and showy pink borders dance in circles around the Murdoch-Wiley brick house.
  5. Chartreuse milky stems abound, once used as a source for drugs. Spreads like wild fire, nicknamed mother-in-law plant because it’s hard to get rid of them, but we are glad to see them come back once a year.
  6. Stella pubera with the tiniest white florets, this edible plant is in your grass. When you are not cussing it, you could be eating it like sprouts or in sandwiches, wraps and as a great base for salads. Cooked, it makes a good substitute for spinach and it’s free.
  7. Their seed pods resemble a coin but the Latin word for moon, also fits “lunaria.” The wind pollinated seeds fall from the silver dried pods to cover any unused space.
  8. Nurtured for generations for incredibly long-lived luscious huge blooms, they have an elegant and delicate, unforgettable perfume while being arranged in Nancy’s old Paris vases.
  9. Its name derives from the edible sweet nectar at the base of its tubular blossoms. Every child knows how to follow the 15 foot long invasive strands and addictive fragrance. Yankees can’t pronounce “paeonia.”
  10. Revered by southern mothers, this vine is blanketed with the sweetest scented trumpet flowers, perfect for wreaths for the monument on May 10.
  11. Every fallow field is a painting with these namesakes of Anne of Scotland. Perfect for weddings or add cake coloring for mud pie decorations. Called a weed, this wild carrot has 1000’s of little lacey flat topped umbels with a purplish center that is not a bug or chigger.
  12. Hated by some, loved by many, named for Caspar Wistar in 1818, these wrap around anything they can find and can smother entire hillsides or houses. Chinese “alba” white ones have racemes over a foot long and have a musky smell.

“M” is for Mother’s Day which started in 1908. Give her a flower if you have one.




  1. Bearded Iris
  2. Spiderwort
  3. Artemisia
  4. Oxalis
  5. Spurge
  6. Chickweed
  7. Money Plant
  8. Peony
  9. Honeysuckle
  10. Confederate Jasmine
  11. Queen Anne’s Lace
  12. Wisteria

Clyde is an artist in Salisbury.