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Flowers & Plants - Meadowsweet & Marsh Marigold
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Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

Another tall and conspicuous plant (1-2m tall) and again very common in the wetter parts of Dubwath Meadows. Meadowsweet has delicate, graceful, creamy-white flowers clustered close together with a very strong, sweet smell (after which the plant gets its name). The plant flowers from June to September.

The green parts of the plant are aromatic and possess an almond-like fragrance. Because of this, the plant was traditionally spread on floors to give rooms a pleasant odour. Gerard, the great herbalist, noted that: "the leaves and flowers of meadowsweet farre excelle all other strowing herbs for to decke up houses, to strawe in chambers, halls and banqueting houses in summer-time, for the smell thereof makes the heart merrie and joyful and delighteth the senses."

The plant is also used to flavour wine, beer and vinegars. It is also a source of salicin and the drug asprin was named after the old botanical name for meadowsweet - Spiraea.

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

The bright, glowing flowers of this clump forming plant are amongst the first to appear in spring. This welcome early flush of colour is reflected in the large number of colloquial names the plant has attracted, including, kingcup, mollyblobs, water-bubbles and may blobs, although it may flower as early as March or April.

The flowers are cup-shaped and stand tall on long, hairless stems. Marsh marigold has large, glossy, dark green leaves. The plant grows in very damp areas, alonside streams and ponds. It is an early pollen source for a variety of insects, and provides good shelter for frogs and other pond-side creatures.

The scientific name Caltha derives from the Greek word calathos meaning cup or goblet, and refers to the shape of the flowers. All parts of the plant are poisonous and can be a skin irritant (like many members of the buttercup family of which it is part). The name marigold refers to its use in churches in medieval times at Easter time as a tribute to the Virgin Mary, as in Mary gold.