Hey, Virginia — Or Is That “Ave”?

The weekend found me playing with three wildlings that have “Virginia” in their Latin names. What does it all mean?

I. Virginia Blue.

First, a moth. A couple of weeks ago I had found its fuzzy yellow cocoon stuck to a weed, and placed it in a sauerkraut jar on the kitchen counter. The creature emerged Friday morning. I had expected butterfly serenity, pendulous from a fading leaf, but this beast was pacing the jar like a tethered dog watching skateboarders.

When I took the jar outside, however, the lepidopterus settled on the glass wall to sun itself. “What an interesting butterfly,” I thought.


See? Horizontal wings, feathery antennae: it’s a moth. Please give a warm welcome to Virginia Ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica).

II. Virginia Pink.

Yesterday morning, as I did my Sunday Seven A.M. Survey of weekly plant growth and landscaping accomplishments on our property, some rose bushes beckoned from the City wasteland over the fence.

Since I was wearing deer-tick-resistant rubber boots, I decided to investigate.

Pretty, no? This, I do believe, is Rosa virginiana, a wild rose found throughout most of eastern North America. She’s about six feet tall, lean and lanky with an honest, open face. Her cousin, diminutive and shy, was in the field too; she whispered to me to fetch the collander.

III. Virginia Red.

I fetched. I crouched. I picked. An hour later, transferred from collander to sieve, lay just over a cupful of wild strawberries — Fragaria virginiana. This is the mother of 90% of all cultivated strawberries.

None of which are as tasty as their ma.

An entire morning spent picking might yield enough for a jar of jam…

…but served with a little milk, wild strawberries are too scrummy to last until the canner comes to a boil.



Both on the property and over the fence, the berries are starting to plump on the Prunus virginiana — more commonly known as chokecherries. These I will make into jam once they’re fully ripe; I’ve already asked my mum for her recipe.

Hey, Virginia, a lot of lovely things are named for you.

11 Responses to Hey, Virginia — Or Is That “Ave”?

  1. S. Le says:

    Beautiful snaps!

    I picked 2 QUARTS of wild black raspberries and made freezer jam. SO good!!

  2. lavenderbay says:

    Sounds yummy, S. Le! There are some overrun raspberry canes around here; not sure how many berries the birds will leave for us.

  3. eyegillian says:

    While reading your post, I had the definite impression of three elements, or senses, represented: the moth represents air and the sense of touch; the flower represents the sun and the sense of smell, and the strawberry represents the earth and the sense of taste (with the chokecherry promising a taste of future deliciousness). Perfect! And I think it’s really cool that “virginia” is part of all those names… what does Virginia mean, anyway?

  4. lavenderbay says:

    Beats me. But I think it may mean “of the eastern part of North America”, because the state of Virginia is pretty much smack halfway up the eastern seaboard of the United States, and because all these virginiana and virginica are in no way restricted to that state.
    I hope the future deliciousness lives up to its promise!

  5. Is the Virginia Blue like the Norwegian Blue? Pining for the fjords, beautiful plumage!

  6. Tony says:

    What a beautiful coloured moth. Welcome Ctenucha virginica!!! [applause & cheering inserted here]

  7. lavenderbay says:

    The things you make me google, James! I’m sure Mr Python could make a connection between freshly alive moths and freshly dead parrots somehow or other.

    I’m glad you understand about these things, Tony.

  8. Alyson says:

    I’m afraid I have gotten obsessed by the idea of your deer-tcik resistant boots!

  9. lavenderbay says:

    They’re green, Alyson, but not quite Lyme-coloured. (Tick-borne Lyme Disease is now a possibility in the southern part of most Canadian provinces.)

  10. lolarusa says:

    There is nothing to compare with wild strawberries. Yum.

  11. lavenderbay says:

    You’ve got that right, Lolarusa.

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