Long run botanising


Snuck off from WOMAD on Sunday morning to do my long run, had been a rather disturbed night. A lot of drumming and teenagers at 4am; a young man trying to explain to someone that they had a ‘very beautiful and intelligent daughter’ in a tone that implied they were keeping said daughter locked in a high tower; a girl with a friend called ‘LEWIS!!!!’ who had apparently promised ‘LEWISSS!!’ that she would be really quiet if she came over here, and had broken that promise.

It was very warm and dusty, but I had my mission. A slow amblet with the gadget and looking for members of the Scrophulariaceae family. Now the scrophs are named after Scophularia (Figwort) which I thought I had a photo of but I don’t. It is a very common, but un-showy plant in the UK. The plant is named for scrophula the disease which you can find more than you ever wanted to know about by clicking on the book page below.


Now, despite going out to look for scrophs and vaguely feeling I had found some (according to Rose); it turned out I hadn’t. Scrophulariaceae has been sliced and diced (it was rather a large family) and most of the plants I found have now been tidily popped elsewhere. This is quite a common thing to happen as people find out more about how plants are actually related to each other using DNA analyses, rather than just grouping them together because they have similar physical attributes.

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Cymbalaria murialis

First up, some toadflax; Cymbalaria murialis was a scroph, is now in Plantaginaceae (yes there is a connection with the Plantagenets, but let’s not explore that today).

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Linaria purpurea

Next, a little more toad. Linaria purpurea, the Purple toadflax. As with the first toad it is now a Plantagenet.

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Veronica chamaedrys

This small Veronica, Germander Speedwell has also joined with the houses of Lancaster and York, leaving the delights of the King’s Evil behind it.

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Struggling a bit on the plant front (and not realising that I hadn’t actually got what I was supposed to be looking for) I found a nice amenity planting in Malmesbury (do go if you are ever passing, it is a lovely little town, just don’t drive through it). These Diascia (not sure if they have a common name) actually proved to still be hanging around in Scrophulariaceae. Hooray!

On the way back I also took a picture of this:

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Odontites verus


And I realise that the term picture is generous, but picture me about half a mile from a festival, in lycra shorts by the side of the main road taking a picture of a random plant with my bum in the air. I didn’t hang around too much. I took the pic because I didn’t know what it was at all. Turns out Odontites (Red Bartsia), is something that used to be a scroph. I had clearly got my eye in for plants formerly known as… This one however defected somewhere far more interesting, the Orobanchaceae, which contains a lot of parasitic and hemi-parasitic plants.

At this point I decided it was time to return – no more scrophs would be found. 5 ish miles (feeble, I know)




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