Flowers at My Feet: Western Wildflowers in Legend, Literature and Lore


171 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88839-394-6
DDC 582.13'09712




Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is the executive director of the Canadian Museum of
Nature in Ottawa.


This pleasant book draws together accounts of some 80 wildflower
species—accounts that were originally written as newspaper articles by
a regional naturalist who wishes to share the enjoyment of flowers in
nature. The mixture of natural history, social history, myth, and
literature is a pleasant one. The material contains touches of botany
(introduced species, types of pollination, etymological and eponymous
nomenclature), a large human cast (mythological, Native, biblical, and
exploring), related topics (medicinal uses, homeopathy), and plenty of
literary allusions. Items in the articles include juniper and gin,
clover and Hercules’ club, Dioscorides herbal from the year 512, the
thistle as Scottish emblem, Jefferson’s treasonous search for chicory
seeds, St. John’s wort flowering near the saint’s day, nettles and
sciatica, serviceberry and pemmican, and the reputed anti-flatulence
power of yerba buena. The text is supplemented by small line drawings.
The book is a convenient reference for all those who would like some
background on west-coast flowers.


Simpson, Brenan M., “Flowers at My Feet: Western Wildflowers in Legend, Literature and Lore,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,