The Wumen Bridge in Suzhou, China, crosses the Grand Canal and has done so for a thousand years. Chinese emperors built the Grand Canal from Hangzhou in the south to Beijing in the north to ship grain, salt, wood and other goods by water, because China's rivers all run east-west.
The bridge is attractive. Of course it has been repaired many times in the last millennium, those are not the original bricks. The views were pretty.
Then I looked down and spotted a flower.
|Corydalis incisa (poppy family Papaveraceae) |
native to Asia, English common name incised fumewort
A yellow buttercup. If my id is right, genus Ranunculus, buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Alas there are 125 species of buttercup in China. This one had spread out far enough from the step to be trampled.
An old friend! Shepherd's purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris, (mustard family Brassicaceae) was gathered and eaten in medieval Europe (and probably earlier) and is found all across North America.
|shepherd's purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris. You can enlarge the photo to|
see better, but it is pretty battered from the foot traffic. But with flowers and seeds.
An Oxalis, wood sorrel (wood sorrel family, Oxalidaceae). There are many species and you can find them all over the world. They have a spicy taste because they contain oxalic acid--which takes its name from them (link).
|wood sorrel, Oxalis|
There were others, with really tiny flowers, for example. This one (white buds) might be a weedy alyssum (genus Alyssum), mustard family Brassicaceae. The jagged leaves are probably wild lettuce, maybe dandelion.
And two others with even smaller flowers which did not photograph even as well the ones in as these photos.
I looked over the bridge down at the water, admiring corydalis (Corydalis incisa poppy family Papaveraceae). In addition to being pretty, dried flowers of this plant were used as a minor medicine in China, as treatment for an abscess or a prolapsed rectum.
Then I took a panoramic shot from the base of the bridge--that's corydalis decorating the bridge.
Another look down the canal: so scenic!
In conclusion, there is no telling where you'll find interesting plants! Keep your eyes open.
Comments and corrections welcome.
Li, Shih-Chen. 1973. Chinese Medicinal Herbs. F. P. Smith and G. A. Stuart, translators. (originally 1911) Dover Publications, New York.
Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist
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