PlantNet and me: yellow blooming shrubs around Florence

Orange Zone. Ick. Covid. Ugh. Florence, almost endlessly interesting, even without museums, churches and libraries. Almost. I am doing the best I can to stay interested in things.

And, upon another walk in the sunny spring, I came upon this.

What is that little shrub with the yellow blooms, you might ask. I did. No, it isn’t forsythia. That would be too easy.

Checking my trusty app, PlantNet, and I believe it would be called Genista scorpius. Interestingly enough, Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry on this plant, but there are plenty of other references if you Google it.

OK, how about another one: What’s that yellow blossom on this invasive little plant?

According to PlantNet it is ranunculus lanuginosus L. and Wikipedia says this:

“The generic name ( Ranunculus), passing through the Latin, derives from the Greek Batrachion, and means “frog” (it is Pliny the Latin writer and naturalist, who informs us of this etymology ) as many species of this genus prefer the humid, shady and marshy areas, natural habitat of amphibians.


“The specific epithet (lanuginosus) derives from the Latin and means “woolly” and refers to the characteristic down of this plant similar to wool.


“The currently accepted scientific binomial (Ranunculus lanuginosus) was proposed by Carl von Linné (1707-1778), Swedish biologist and writer, considered the father of the modern scientific classification of living organisms, in the publication Species Plantarum of 1753.”

And finally, perhaps the most commonly seen yellow blooming shrub in my native USA, is also, sometimes located in Florence. But, not as often as you would think.

I saw this on my walk. What’s unusual to me is that I don’t see forsythia much in Florence. Until this particular outing, I had never seen it here. What does PlantNet say its real name is?

From Wikipedia we learn:

“Forsythia suspensa (Traditional Chinese: 連翹; simplified Chinese: 连翘; pinyin: liánqiáo, weeping forsythia or golden-bell) is a species of flowering plant in the family Oleaceae native to Asia. It is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. It contains the lignans Pinoresinol and phillyrin.

“Characteristics
Forsythia suspensa is a large shrub. It can be grown as a weeping shrub on stream banks and can be identified by its pale flowers. Garden cultivars can be found. It is a spring flowering shrub, with yellow flowers. It is grown and prized for its toughness.”

For once, Wikipedia was rather silent on a topic, but Kew Science had more to say:

“Geography and distribution
Native to China, where it occurs in Anhui, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi and Sichuan provinces, at 300-2,200 m above sea level. It has long been cultivated in China and Japan.

“Description
A straggling, deciduous shrub, with many spreading, pendulous, branches. Weeping forsythia grows to around 3 m high as a free-standing shrub, and higher if trained against a wall. The golden-yellow flowers are about 3 cm across, and appear before the leaves, singly, or in small groups, in March to April. The opposite, broadly ovate, green leaves are usually simple (undivided), but are occasionally three-lobed, and have toothed margins, except at the base. They measure about 4-8 cm in length and about 3-5 cm in diameter. The narrow capsules (fruits) appear from July to September.”

I saw a lot of forsythia while walking through this tony section of Florence. Even inside the grounds of the ASSI sports club:

Why look, there’s forsythia blooming near Michelangelo’s David. Nah, that’s a copy (and a bad one at that) of the David in a private garden.

But, my favorite viewing of forsythia on that day was it growing quasi naturally, with less trimming. What a glorious day to be out looking at shrubs!

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