Alchemilla mollis. A satisfying plant we grew in Columbus OH. Handsome ground cover. Photographer’s joy. Etymologist’s delight.

(Thanks to Ann Burlingham for reminding me.)

From Wikipedia:

Alchemilla mollis, the garden lady’s-mantle or lady’s-mantle, is an herbaceous perennial plant [in the rose family] native to southern Europe and grown throughout the world as an ornamental garden plant. It grows 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in) tall, with leaves that are palmately veined, with a scalloped and serrated margin. The stipules are noteworthy in that they are fused together and leaf like. The chartreuse yellow flowers are held in dense clusters above the foliage. … The plant self-seeds freely and can become invasive.

… The plant is often grown as a ground cover, and is valued for the appearance of its leaves in wet weather. Water beads on the leaves due to their dewetting properties. These beads of water were considered by alchemists to be the purest form of water. They used this water in their quest to turn base metal into gold, hence the name.

(It grows in light shade, in full sun only in cooler climates. Suitable pretty much everywhere except the hottest zones. So fine in the Midwest and also in the Mediterranean climate of coastal California.)

Alchemist’s plant!

The dewetting that promotes that photogenic beading of water could be seen as an argument for Intelligent Design: the Designer clearly built that property in so that the plant would be useful to photographers. Such a forethoughtful being, that Designer!


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