Buttercups and Primroses

Rudolph C Troike rtroike at U.ARIZONA.EDU
Fri Jun 22 06:09:21 UTC 2001

I was interested to see that one of the ships Jim Landau reported on (Jim,
I'd be fascinated to know where you are turning up all of this esoteric
information) was the USS Primrose. Growing up in South Texas, I learned to
call the Pink Evening Primrose (which blooms all day) a "buttercup",
although it always puzzled me as to why it would carry this designation.
The only "butter" in it is the profuse yellow pollen. Only in recent years
have I seen a yellow primrose which clearly merits the label "buttercup".
But perhaps there is a British flower called by this name that more
closely resembles a daffodil/jonquil (both varieties of narcissus, a bulb
which blooms in the Spring). If you look in a bulb catalog, you will see
that there is a great variety of these flowers. The classic yellow
daffodil is the King Alfred. But I have seen jonquil used both for smaller
trumpeted flowers as well as larger ones, so there may be some instability
in the naming. But we have been indulging in ethnobotany rather than in
botany here, since no one who has weighed in on the discussion is an
expert botanist, apparently. It's the sort of thing that dInIs can add to
his Perceptual Dialectology -- impressionistic regional ethnobotany.


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