Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ll be using manicules (those pointing finger symbols) to direct your attention to something I’m pondering that delights or interests me. Each entry is somehow related to an unusual, obscure, or simply charming to me word.
U is for…
Umbel – in botany an inflorescence that consists of a number of short flower stalks (called pedicels) which spread from a common point, somewhat like umbrella ribs. The word was coined in botanical usage in the 1590s, from Latin umbella “parasol, sunshade”.
That’s such a ridiculously technical definition, let me move us along to a photo for clarification.
See the ribs like an umbrella – you get the idea. This is the dried umbel from a carrot plant. I think most of us tend to think of carrots with their lacy green tops, but if allowed to grow to maturity, from the green leafy part grow umbels with tiny white flowers which later mature into the seed pods from which future generations of carrots can be grown.
Here’s a photo of another umbel flower – Alliums.
While I find the structure of the plants, and the flowers themselves fascinating, the thing I’m actually musing about is umbrellas. I’ve had a number of dreams which start with being out on a busy street on a rainy day, surrounded by people carrying umbrellas. In a couple of these dreams, as I’m watching the umbrellas turn into flowers, and in the very next moment the flowers become the heads of the people. It all happens in the deliciously seamless motion that only dreams can manage so beautifully.
I can only say I love dream-walking amidst flower-headed people. It’s magical. When I wake up, I wonder if I have a flower head in the dream too, but I just can’t see it. I like to imagine I do.
Last week, and ad from a favorite plant store, indicated they had a new shipment of umbrella plants. I wasn’t sure what exactly that was, and a google search sent me down a rabbit hole of various plants so named, and even trees called umbrella trees.
And somehow that reminded me a children’s book, so I headed over to my shelves and dug out The Paper-Flower Tree by Jacqueline Ayer. It’s a delightful tale from Thailand starring a little girl named Miss Moon who has a charming encounter with a peddler selling paper flowers adorning a tree he’s carrying. While she can’t afford it, Miss Moon wishes for nothing more than to have a paper flower tree of her own. The kind-hearted man gifts her with a flower and tells her, while he can’t promise, if the flower happens to have a seed and she plants it, it might well grow into her own tree. I, of course, encourage you to read the story to find out what happens, but in keeping with my practice of awarding book review ratings based on floriography, the language of flowers, giving a hint at the plot as well as my appraisal, I offer an Orange Tree (generosity); surrounded by White lilac (youthful innocence); Swamp Magnolia (perseverance); and Lily of the Valley (return of happiness).
I seem to have taken us on a bit of a rambling meander in today’s post, but luckily we had umbrellas and parasols on hand so hopefully no one got wet or too much sun. But now that we’re at the end of the path, it’s your turn. Tell me, do you love carrots or Allium? Use umbrellas or parasols, or both? Love kid’s books? Have an umbrella plant? Do tell – you know I love.