tempus fugit

By ceridwen

Navels of Venus

Plants play an important part in my personal history and this is one of the first with which I became familiar, mainly because the fleshy round leaves of navelwort, Umbilicus rupestris, grow in great abundance on the damp walls and rocks of Wales, Ireland and other parts of the south-west where the soil is acid and the air is moist.

Navelwort grew all along the dry stone walls of the lane where I lived as a small child (it's also called wall pennywort) and I can remember my father explaining to me that both the common name and the botanical name for this plant referred to the depression in the center of the leaves - similar in the shape to a belly button. (I'm sure I did not hesitate to check this out.)

Herbalists still use the earlier Latin name Cotyledon umbilicus-veneris which harks back to the old idea that these dimpled green discs resembled the belly-button of Venus herself! Anyway, they make a cool little pads to place upon abrasions and are also edible as salad leaves.

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