Svengelska bloggen

Svengelska bloggen

Om bloggen/About the Blog

I aim to use this blog to keep up my English and maybe give others some insights in Swedish language. It's not a diary - well not quite...


Växter/PlantsPosted by Gunvor 2013-05-21 14:24:52

Jordärtskocka, Heliantus tuberosus, is ‘Jerusalem artichoke’. The etymology is a mess.

As one can feel a similarity in structure and taste of the tuber and the artichoke bud, the plant has got part of its name from the artichoke. Artichoke comes from an arabic word, al-hursufa via Spanish and Italian. The word has been twisted and turned in many folk etymologies; in Swedish it is kronärtskocka, krona – ‘crown’ probably because of the stately flower, and ärt – ‘pea’, from the taste, the rest is unintelligible.

Swedish jordärtskocka, becomes ‘earth artichoke’ – that’s simple, much simpler than the English term: Jerusalem in this case has nothing to do with the town, instead it comes from Italian girasole ‘sunflower’.

Yes, the jordärtskocka is closely related to the sunflower, Helianthus annuus; a difference here up north is that the warm season is not long enough for them to flower, instead they proliferate by the tubers (that’s why the Latin species name is tuberosus). The plant originates from North America, where it was cultivated before the Europeans arrived.

We dug these up yesterday, very late in Spring, they have already started to grow; they are not very big, should have been better fertilised. This year we will plant a few in another place, but however careful you are when digging up the tubers, you always miss some, and in autum there will be tubers to dig up together with the potatoes we have planted there now.


Växter/PlantsPosted by Gunvor 2013-05-02 22:36:49

Hästhov, Tussilago farfara, is ‘coltsfoot’. Both the Swedish and the English words relate to the green leaves of the plant, as they look a bit like a horse’s hoof. Those will show up later, long after the flowers have disappeared.

However, the Latin name, tussilago, is now used more often in Sweden than the old Swedish one. It is said to be created from tussis, ‘cough’ because it should have been used as a medicine against that, which is not verified. The species name farfara is of unknown origin.

(This picture was taken on April 18; the world is a little greener now)


Växter/PlantsPosted by Gunvor 2012-07-08 00:05:51

Fläder, Sambucus nigra, is ‘elder’. The Swedish word comes from Low German vleder with the same meaning, but current German Flieder means ‘lilac’, Swedish syren, Syringa vulgaris. ‘The German word for elder is Holunder, related to Swedish dialect and Norwegian hyll, Danish hyld and Old Swedish hylle. I thought those might be related to English holly, but found no indication to that.

English elder is also of unknown origin, possibly related to alder.


Växter/PlantsPosted by Gunvor 2012-07-04 20:31:45

Palsternacka is ‘parsnip’, Pastinaca sativa. Both the Swedish and the English words originate from the Latin term, and that is created from pastinum ‘garden hoe’ and acer ‘sharp’, ‘pointed’, referring to the shape of the root.

The parsnips are showing up everywhere in my garden. They are biennials and I let some of them stay in the ground during winter. I love to see the yellow flowers the next summer.

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