Face to face: Pulmonaria apennina

Pulmonaria apennina

Undergrowth in purple.

I’m BAAAAAACK! There are no excuses for such a long absence, but I have been a little busier than usual with the university – and I’ll be in the immediate future too! Recently, I’ve attended a course called “Ecosystemic Laboratory”, which includes a series of excursions in natural parks, and I had the opportunity to learn a lot about the local flora. Here’s Pulmonaria apennina, a protected species that is not very common everywhere, but in some places can be very abundant. The flowers are pink at first, and then become purple, and the leaves present many white spots (the green parenchyma in those spots is reduced). The function of the spots, if they have any, is unknown (it could be for protection from insects, like some exotic plants in which the leaves look like they’ve already been infested, thus prompting the insect to search some other plant) but in the middle ages people believed that, since the spots vaguely looked like alveoli in a lung, the plant was a miraculous cure for respiratory problems. It isn’t, of course, but the trichomes (“hair”) of the leaves caused expectoration, reinforcing the belief. It’s a plant that grows in shadowy places, like the underwood, and flowers around march-april, and its main pollinators are bumblebees (genus: Bombus)