Monday, June 1, 2009

Fox and Cubs




This dazzler is the plant variously known as orange hawkweed, Grim-the-collier, fox-and-cubs and botanically as Hieracium aurantiacum. It’s a naturalised garden escape, establishing itself on stony ground and sending out creeping runners until it becomes a dense eye-catching colony. The reference to foxes is obvious enough, with the tawny orange ‘cubs’ grouped around a central ‘vixen’, but the reference to coal miners is a bit more cryptic. I’ve always assumed that the name comes from the ease with which it colonised coal mine spoil tips, thanks to its ability to thrive in such unpromising soils, but I recently read that it’s to do with the black hairs in the flower head. A closer look reveals that they do resemble sooty black whiskers, so maybe that's the reason. Whatever the derivation of the name, the flower colour is stunning.....

8 comments:

  1. What a stunning colour. I'd love a garden full of those, so vivid.

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  2. Thanks Dean, Last week's clear blue skies made a perfect background

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  3. Thanks Keith, They do seed themselves around a bit and can be invasive but there aren't many flowers with a colour like that..

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  4. They're known as Devil's Paintbrush here in New England...perhaps because one has a devil of a time getting rid of them once they're going strong. Good thing they're so pretty, I guess!

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  5. Hi Marilyn,I can certainly understand why you call it that - I introduced just one plant to my garden about ten years ago and others pop up all over the place. Those little plumed seeds that it produces are very mobile!

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  6. Hi yer ,I live in an old victorian vicarage with a grave yard close by, and this flower grows well "devils paint brush" makes you think !!

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  7. Hi John, Certainly does! Graveyards are fascinating refuges for plants, especially if they're not too tidily managed. I once found the largest population of deadly nightshade I've ever seen amongst the timbstones in a Sussex graveyard.

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