There are a dozen species of Melampodium and I wonder which one Linnaeus was looking at when he honored Melampus with the genus name. And I wonder when the genus name started being misinterpreted to mean blackfoot and not honoring the mythological soothsayer. The genus translated as blackfoot sure had (and has) a lot of folks scratching their heads about the meaning. “What or where is the blackfoot on this plant?”
But listen, the neat thing I learned about Melampus, besides him being a “legendary soothsayer” was that he was “reputed to understand the speech of all creatures.” My kind of guy. Er…god.
This was a fun discovery for me in the old paperback booklet of plant names.
If you are a total plant geek and interested in plants named from Greco-Roman mythology (not me, of course), the book Gods and Goddesses in the Garden by Peter Bernhardt is a fun read and though Melampus isn’t mentioned, there are plenty other mythological characters and botany through out. Yay!
The photos are mine. The little purple flower peeking through is the wonderful Allionia.