September 17, 2009

foppish flowers and men

I always see these flowers on the farmers' market in late summer, but I could never be bothered to look up their name. (I'm not very good at remembering plant names, so there seemed to be no point.) Last Saturday, however, a seller's sign indicated that they are called "Cockscomb", and that made immediate sense, of course, if you imagine a rooster with a furry comb.

(Their botanical name is Celosia cristata, which sounds almost like a spell from Harry Potter.)

Spelled with an X, coxcomb refers to the human version of the rooster with the furry comb. Jane Austen heros are just the opposite of them.

"Do you know Mr. Robert Ferrars?" asked Elinor.

"Not at all--I never saw him; but I fancy he is very unlike his brother--silly and a great coxcomb."

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