Ragged Robin - Lychnis-cuculi - Pink Hebrides Wildflowers
Ragged Robin - Hebrides Wildflowers
The ragged robin wildflower, a member of the carnation family - is a lovely pink flowering plant that likes damp places and can be readily seen on The Western Isles and indeed throughout Scotland
The ragged robin is a Perennial plant that likes amp meadows, marshes, ditches and damp woodland and flowers from May - August. It is a native plant of the Western isles
Ragged Robin Related to Campions
It is a member of the carnation family and its height is between 1ft and 2ft (30 - 60cm) and is also closely related to the campions.
The ragged robin seems to have many "nicknames" - you may see it called any one of the following - Meadow Spink, Polly Baker, crow Flower, Shaggy Jacks, Thunder Flower, Bachelor's Buttons or The Cuckoo Flower.
Lychnis - Like a Lamp
The first part of the botanical name "lychnis' comes from a greek word meaning 'lamp' - which the bright pink flowers have been thought to stand out in the landscape like a lamp.
Famous Verse - Tennyson
Tennyson used the word "ragged robin" loosely to mean a pretty damsel in ragged clothes. He wrote in Idylls of The KIng ; Enid "The prince hath picked a ragged robin from the hedge"
Click pictures below for larger photographs
Ragged Robin Flowers
It is the flowers whose petals give the plant its name as they are rather "ragged" and have a tattered appearance.
The pink flowers comprise five petals, each being divided into 4 linear lobes. The basal leaves are stalked and oblong, the stem leaves are narrow stalkless. The flowers are in a loose cluster. and are usually a shade of pink - from a pale shade to a deeper shade of pink. Occasionally a white one can be seen
Loved By Butterflies, Bees, Moths
The flower is loved by butterflies, particularly the common blue butterfly (of which there are many in The Western isles) , also it is the food plant for long - tongued bumblebees and several types of moths.
Resists attack by Insects
It. resists attacks by crawling insect, like ants, as its stems are barbed and have downward pointed hairs, preventing the insects crawling up the stalk and attacking the bloom
Cuckoo Flower Derived From 'Cuculi'
The name the Cuckoo Flower - derives from the fact that the second part of the botanical name 'cuculi' translates as 'the flower of the cuckoo'
Cuckoos First Calling - Flowers in Bloom
- and also the fact that it comes into flower when the cuckoos are first calling. (There is actually another plant called the "cuckoo flower" the lady's smock - this plant is unrelated).
Folklore - Success in Love
In days gone by gentlemen carried the plant in their pockets and if the plant survived it was deemed that they would be successful in love
Folklore - Choose the Man you will Marry
In the 17th century girls placed the plant in their aprons, giving each plant a name of a local gent - the flower that opened first would bear the name of the man she would marry.
Goblins and Evil Spirits
This lovely wildflower also has sinister associations with goblins and evil spirits, the goblins said to have a "ragged" appearance
Western Isles Wildflower used for Soap
The ragged robin plant root contains saponis - a soap substitute that can be used for washing clothes and hair. It is extracted by boiling the roots in water ( I don't think that anyone ever bothers to use the plant in this way now - but in times gone by it was used as a soap)