“ … fairies, like witches, have a strange antipathy to yellow flowers, and rarely frequent localities in which they grow.”
The Folk-lore of Plants (1889)
Lysimachia – loosestrife – will it lead
to harmony or peril, its yellow petals
a balm or an opening onto strange paths?
Creeping Jenny or Siani Lusg runs along
the ground, petals upright as if only half open,
and so half closed, concealing a secret
not to be revealed. Or call it
Llys y Ffynnon because it grows
in the damp ground around wells
and springs, bearing their messages
from the Deep, flowing out into the world.
Yellow Pimpernel, so similar but the petals
open flat along paths marking their edges,
subtle cairns for the wayfarer, winding
By the waterside,
Yellow Loosestrife, stands tall like a beacon
drawing the gaze deeper into its dream of yellow.
I saw a swathe once growing in a wet meadow
by a stream and was entranced, sure that
whatever witches would do, faeries would not
avoid this place but could inhabit it gladly
though a human might fear to step too close.
– ❖ –
Varieties: Latin / English / Welsh
L.nummularia: Creeping Jenny/ Siani Lusg /Llys y Ffynnon
L.nemorum: Yellow Pimpernel / Gwlydd Melyn Mair / Seren Felen
L.vulgaris and its garden form L. punctata: Yellow Loosetrife/Trewynyn
L.thyrsiflora: Tufted Loosestrife / Trewynyn Sypflodeuog ( in fens)
– ❖ –
Dyer’s assertion about yellow flowers does not quite match his citations elsewhere in the same book that marigolds were used for divination or that witches rode on ragwort stems which were also known as ‘fairies’ horses’, a reference which also occurs in poems in Scots by Robert Burns and James Hogg.
May it be, rather, that yellow is a perilous colour not to be encountered without significant outcome?