Cuckoo bells

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

I discovered this week that in Welsh bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are known as Clychau’r Gog (“cuckoo bells”), which I really like the sound of. They are also known as Bwtias y Gog (“cuckoo’s boots”), Croeso Haf (“welcome summer”), Cennin y Brain (“crows’ leeks”), Clychau’r Eos (“nightingale’s bells”), Glas y Llwyn (“green blue of the grove”), hosanau’r Gwcw (“cuckoo’s socks”).

In Breton bluebells are known as bokidi-koukou (“cuckoo flowers”) or pour-bran (“crows’ flowers/pears”).

In French they are known as jacinthe des bois (“wood hyacinths”) or jacinthe sauvage (“wild hyacinths”).

Other names for them in English include common bluebell, English bluebell, British bluebell, wild hyacinth, wood bell, fairy flower and bell bottle.

Do they have interesting names in other languages?

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This entry was posted in Breton, English, French, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases.

7 Responses to Cuckoo bells

  1. acutia says:

    In Irish, it seems to be “Coinnle Corra” (see http://www.irishwildflowers.ie/pages/15a.html) Although, I bet there’s other names.

  2. acutia says:

    Also, have a look at pg. 80, item 2, top of page, in this text at archive.org https://openlibrary.org/books/OL24821341M

  3. Rauli says:

    The plant isn’t native in Finland, but its name is englanninsinililja, or ‘English blue lily’. Sinililja is the name of the genus Scilla, in which this plant used to classified.

    The specific epithet, non-scripta, means ‘unmarked’. The name was given to this flower to distinguish it from the hyacinth in Greek mythology. When Hyacinthus died, the flower sprang up from his blood, and the god Apollo shed tears which marked the flowers with the letters “AIAI” (‘alas’) as a sign of his grief. [Wikipedia]

  4. Zeppelin says:

    Apparenty they are called Hasenglöckchen (little rabbit bells) in German, which is kind of a nice name.

  5. David Eger says:

    “Glas y Llwyn (“green of the grove”)”

    Or ‘blue of the grove’? This seems a more fitting translation (to us Anglophones, who cannot easily grasp the concept of blue and green being merely shades of the same colour), since it is the blue that marks them out. There are all kinds of green things springing up in groves at that time of year but not so many blue ones and not in such numbers.

    “… they are called Hasenglöckchen (little rabbit bells) in German …”

    Doesn’t Hase translate more accurately as ‘hare’? Harebells are something different in English, Campanula rotundifolia – also with small, blue, bell-shaped flowers, but botanically unrelated, and more a meadow plant than woodland one. I believe, in Scotland, C. rotundifolia are sometimes known as ‘bluebells’.

  6. Zeppelin says:

    “Doesn’t Hase translate more accurately as ‘hare’? Harebells are something different in English, Campanula rotundifolia – also with small, blue, bell-shaped flowers, but botanically unrelated, and more a meadow plant than woodland one. I believe, in Scotland, C. rotundifolia are sometimes known as ‘bluebells’.”

    I suppose it does! As a city boy I guess I don’t usually bother to distinguish between rabbits and hares, but you’re right, rabbit is Kaninchen in German.
    The Source Of All Sources gives Hasengöckchen as the common name for Hyacinthoides non-scripta though, not Campanula rotundifolia (which are called just Glockenblumen, “bell flowers”, in German).

    Foxglove is called FIngerhut (thimble, literally “fingerhat”) in German, by the way, while we’re on the subject of animal-themed plant names. Which is a bit unfortunate because it rather encourages children to stick their fingers in them and they are pretty toxic.

  7. Rauli says:

    Foxglove is usually said to derive from earlier “folk’s glove”, folk referring to fairies. But I guess you can call fairies animals as well. After all, humans are animals, too.

    In Finnish, Campanula rotundifolia is kissankello, ‘cat’s bell’.
    In Japanese, it is itoshajin, where ito means ‘thread’, and shajin refers to the genus Adenophora (ladybell).

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