Leaf of the Day: Water Plantain and Carl Doddies

A leaf from the lake at Shady Park on Morse Avenue in Winter Park. It’s not very shady.. at least the lakes aren’t. I walked there today and again there were some delightful birds. This time a little flock of very skittish white ibis. They were rushing about, up and down the banks of the lake and unlike the herons they move very quickly. A big grey heron floated backwards and forwards across the water casually avoiding an annoying yappy poodle. Charlie’s owner admitted that despite his bravado he is quite nervous of these big regal birds. I can see his point.

This rather simple leaf is not so simple to draw, with those long, simply curving lines! The vein pattern was interesting and of course, learning that it was a plantain, I could see the leaf resemblance to the common plantain which reminded me of Carl Doddies, a game we used to play when we were young.

Water Plantain

Carl Doddies

The game of Carl Doddies is played with the flower heads and stalks of the common plantain. My mother was brought up in Scotland and she must have taught us. It was said to have originated from a ” beheading” game played in the Jacobite times, the names derived from Bonnie Prince Charlie, “Carl” and King George, “Doddie“. You and your opponent each take a plantain flower and take it in turns to try to knock the head off their opponent’s stem. Whoever beheads first is the winner. A variation is to loop the stem over itself and shoot the head as far as possible. The one that lands farthest away is the winner! .. a more civilized version of shot putting.
A more prosaic explanation of the name is simply “curly headed”