Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Here's another one from my parents' place in Virginia: Pulmonaria angustifolia, or lungwort.

This particular lungwort species is different from other plants in the genus, which are characterized by light green spotting on the leaves' surfaces. In any species, however, all lungworts have very scratchy leaves.

You can see that more flower buds are forming and will possibly unfurl soon, which is odd because this plant usually flowers in late spring. Perhaps it's confused, like the cherrylaurels I mentioned two weeks ago.

No doubt, you can determine there is a connection between the genus name and the common name. Pulmos is Latin for lung, and historically people thought the spotted leaves of Pulmonaria indicated that this plant was a cure for diseased lungs. The plant has no modern medicinal uses.

When a common name ends in -wort, you can usually assume that it has had (or still does) a therapeutic reputation. St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum), woundwort (Stachys palustris) and barrenwort (Epimedium) are other examples that illustrate this point.

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