Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cow Mumble

This post was brought about by a post of Karen's from An Artist's Garden. Her post is called 'GBBD in an alternative universe' and shows some of the beauty of what we call weeds in our carefully tended gardens (or not so carefully tended, in my case). Her photo of cow parsley reminded me that a colleague I used to work with in Suffolk always referred to cow parsley as Cow Mumble. He assured me that it was commonly called that where he came from and not just a random name that he alone used.

Thanks to Karen's memory jog and the power of the internet, I discover that he wasn't having me on. This website dedicated to umbellifers (or apiaceae as we now have to call them) lists some of the local names for cow parsley. And lo - cow mumble appears! And it's been in use since 1822 or perhaps even earlier.

I've been searching on the internet to see if there is a website which has collated lots of local names for wild flowers, but haven't been able to find anything. Do you know of any great websites? Alternatively, what local names do you have for wild flowers?

According to this web site, now I live in Cheshire, I should be calling cow parsley Devil's Parsley. I prefer cow mumble.

13 comments:

Alice Joyce said...

This is most definitely ranks high on my list of 'common names' for plants. Can't really imagine topping it!

Anna said...

I'm sticking with umbifellers :) As a fellow Cheshire resident - well at least still by postal address these days I much prefer cow mumble. These are just coming into flower on the lane up to the main road from our house and will be a picture in a few days.

Good Food Shopper said...

Have you ever seen the Postcode Plants Database? It's done by the Natural History Museum and you put in the first half of your postcode and get a list of native flora in your area. They tell you what they consider to be "Garden Worthy" (which sometimes is debatable). Unfortunately they only give one common name.
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/life/plants-fungi/postcode-plants/

Arabella Sock said...

When I was a kid my mum used to take us for long rambling, invariably muddy walks in the countryside and she taught us the names of all the wildflowers. Ragwort, speedwell, cuckoo pint, cowslip even now the names conjure up lovely memories of those walks. Cow mumble would have been an absolute favourite!

Nutty Gnome said...

I like that name - I think I might start calling it cow mumble. Do you think it could start a trend in Derbyshire?!:)

James A-S said...

Is it called that because it is the sound a cow would make if talking with her mouth full? or just because it is an Umbel?

Juliet said...

This site lets you select common English name or Latin name (or Italian name, if you're so inclined!), but I think it only has one English name for everything. One with all the local names would be really interesting.

HappyMouffetard said...

It looks like we should all band together and start a movement to rename cow parsley cow mumble.
Bill, I have seen that but a while ago, so thanks for reminding me.
Juliet - thanks for the link.

It looks as if there's an opportunity to waste immense amounts of time producing a website of local plant names. Any volunteers?

VP said...

Or you could just get a copy of Richard Mabey's book Flora Britannica where cow parsley is listed as Queen Anne's Lace, Lady's Lace, Fairy Lace, Spanish Lace, Kex, Kecksie, Queque, Mother-die, Mummy-die, Step-mother, Grandpa's pepper, Hedgeman's parsley, Badman's oatmeal, Blackman's tobacco, Rabbit meat BUT NOT Cow Mumble. Apart from that glaring error which should be corrected immediately, it's a rather fine book - full of quaint names and tales.

HappyMouffetard said...

Good point, VP - I'd forgotten about Richard Maybe's book. One of those books that I always meant to buy but never got round to it.

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

I have totally fallen in love with the name "cow mumble", and so glad that my image prompted your post as it is fascinating. So are all the comments.
K

alex216 said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.
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Anonymous said...

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