Sunday, 22 April 2012

Corydalis: Crested Lark to Clouded Apollo

Late last year I planted out several Corydalis plants - blue and white - cultivated forms of the pretty weed Yellow Corydalis or Yellow Fumitory (a lovely sleepy word, that - Fumitory...). Now my Corydalis are flowering happily and livening up the spring garden. Why the name, I wondered - where does that come from? From the Greek for the Crested Lark, Korydalis - very apt for the little crested flowers. Corydalis, I was delighted to learn, is also the food plant of the gloriously named butterfly Parnassius Mnemosyne, the Clouded Apollo. Nabokov's original title for his memoir Speak, Memory was Speak, Mnemosyne (the Greek personification of Memory and mother of the Muses. His publisher persuaded him to think again). I wonder if the Clouded Apollo was also flying about somewhere in Nabokov's mind when he came up with his intended title...