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News and views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
Issue 3 Summer 2007

Hairy Bittercress and other friends

Names convey a great deal, which is why they are used. Just think of Spring Beauty, Lords and Ladies, Forget-me-Not and Sweet Violet. Then contrast the mental image collectively conveyed with Black Spleenwort, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Medic and Black Horehound. Good and evil, perhaps? Now try Shepherds Purse, Herb Robert, Hoary Willowherb, Common Cats Ear, the picturesque Jack-by-the-Hedge, the wonderful Pellitory-of-the-Wall and Feverfew all graphic and utilitarian names, lying midway between the first groups of examples.

plants found in St. Mary's Churchyard Woodbridge Suffolk

All the plants to which these names belong, together with fifty more, can be found in St Marys Churchyard, Woodbridge and on a detailed list of flora prepared by Miss Heather Paxman over many months of careful, loving and professional observation.

This dedicated lady has also listed the Latin names of the flora, producing some more delightful surprises and contrasts. For instance, who would have supposed that the English Feverfew would equate to the musical-sounding Chrysanthemum parthenium (try it to the opening bars of Gaudeamus igitur!) or that the gentle Comfrey would be the same as Symphytum officinale, or that the Latin name for Groundsel should convey the impression of a rude Roman philosopher as Senecio vulgaris, but that Hairy Bittercress should also be Cardamine hirsuta should surprise no-one.

Copies of the list are available in St Marys Church, Woodbridge, on the table lying to the right of the North door upon entry, should the reader be interested. But for those who are not familiar with this wonderful, lively parish church, beware of two steps down immediately inside this door