Flowers for use in a Flower Clock

 

NASS Member Robert Terwilliger recently drew the attention of the Sundial Mail List to an article in the NY Times about how certain flowers may be arranged to indicate clock time according to when they open or close during the day.  All that is needed is to identify a selection of a few dozen flowers that open and close at regular hours. They can be old friends like lilies, marigolds and primroses. Next, plant them in an organized fashion ó perhaps in the segmented shape of a dial or clock face. It became fashionable in Europe as a result of the work of Swedish biologist Carl Linnaeus, in 1751.

The plants suggested for use by Linnaeus are given in the table below, ordered by recorded opening time; "-" signifies that data are missing.

Botanical name

Common name

Opening time

Closing time

Tragopogon pratensis

Goat's-Beard

3 a.m.

-

Leontodon hispidum L.

Rough Hawkbit

by 4 a.m.

-

Helminthotheca echioides (L.) Holub

Bristly ox-tongue

4-5 a.m.

-

Cichorium intybus L.

Chicory

4-5 a.m.

-

Crepis tectorum L.

Hawk's Beard

4-5 a.m.

-

Reichardia tingitana (L.) Roth

False Sow thistle

by 6 a.m.

10 a.m.

Sonchus oleraceus L.

Sow thistle

5 a.m.

12 p.m.

Taraxacum officinale Weber

Dandelion

5 a.m.

8-9 a.m.

Crepis alpina L.

Hawk's beard

5 a.m.

11 a.m.

Tragopogon hybridus L.

Goat's beard

5 a.m.

11 a.m.

Rhagadiolus edulis Gaertner

-

5 a.m.

10 a.m.

Lapsana chondrilloides L.

-

5 a.m.

-

Convolvulus tricolor L.

Bindweed, Morning Glory

5 a.m.

-

Hypochaeris maculata L.

Spotted cat's ear

6 a.m.

4-5 p.m.

Hieracium umbellatum L.

Hawkweed

6 a.m.

5 p.m.

Hieracium murorum L.

Hawkweed

6 a.m.

2 p.m.

Crepis rubra L.

-

6 a.m.

1-2 p.m.

Sonchus arvensis L.

Field milk-thistle

6 a.m.

-

Sonchus palustris L.

Marsh Sow-Thistle

by 7 a.m.

2 p.m.

Leontodon autumnale L.

Hawkweed

7 a.m.

3 p.m.

Hieracium sabaudum L.

Hawkweed

7 a.m.

1-2 p.m.

Cicerbita alpina (L.) Wallr.

Blue sow-thistle

7 a.m.

12 p.m.

Lactuca sativa L.

Garden Lettuce

7 a.m.

10 a.m

Calendula pluvialis L.

-

7 a.m.

3-4 p.m.

Nymphaea alba L.

White Waterlily

7 a.m.

5 p.m.

Anthericum ramosum L.

St. Bernard's Lily

7 a.m.

-

Hypochaeris achyrophorus L.

-

7-8 a.m.

2 p.m.

Hedypnois rhagadioloides (L.) Schmidt
subsp. cretica (L.) Hayck

-

7-8 a.m.

2 p.m.

Trichodiadema babrata (L.) Schwartes

-

7-8 a.m.

2 p.m.

Hieracium pilosella L.

Mouse-ear Hawkweed

8 a.m.

-

Anagallis arvensis L.

Scarlet pimpernell

8 a.m.

-

Petrorhagia prolifera (L.) Ball & Heywood

Proliferous Pink

8 a.m.

1 p.m.

Hypochaeris glabra L.

Smooth cat's-ear

9 a.m.

1 p.m.

Malva caroliniana L.

-

9-10 a.m.

1 p.m.

Spergularia rubra (L.) J. & C. Presl

Sand spurrey

9-10 a.m.

2-3 p.m.

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum

Ice-Plant

9-10 a.m.

3-4 p.m.

Cryophytum nodiflorum (L.) L. Bol.

Ice-Plant

10-11 a.m

3 p.m.

Calendula officinalis L.

Pot marigold

-

3 p.m.

Hieracium aurantiacum

Hawkweed

-

3-4 p.m.

Anthericium ramosum L. (syn. Anthericum album)

-

-

3-4 p.m.

Alyssum alyssoides L.

-

-

4 p.m.

Papaver nudicaule L.

Iceland poppy

-

7 p.m.

Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus L.

Day-lily

-

7-8 p.m.

Some 30 years before Linnaeus' birth, such a floral clock may have been described by Andrew Marvell, in his poem "The Garden" (1678):

How well the skilful gardener drew
Of flow'rs and herbs this dial new;
Where from above the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run;
And, as it works, th' industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flow'rs!

 

There is also a mention of this approach in the early BSS Bulletin Vol 91.3 p4.  The plants suggested in that 1991 article together with their opening and closing times were:

Spotted Catís Ear opens 6am
African Marigold opens 7am
Mouse-ear Hawkweed opens 8am
Prickly Sowthistle closes 9am
Common Nipple-wort closes 10am
Star of Bethlehem opens 11am
Passion Flower opens Noon
Childing Pink closes 1pm
Scarlet Pimpernel Closes 2pm
Hawkbit closes 2pm
Small bindweed closes 4pm
White Water Lily Closes 5pm
Evening Primrose opens 6pm

Why not give it a try?


29.01.15

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