A Leprechaun on my plot

Can you be captivated by a lettuce?

This is what I’m currently asking myself. I love trying different varieties, and every year there is something new to try. Cimmaron lettuce is standing out from the pack(ets) this year, and is my current favourite

I bought the seeds from Baker Creek and they describe it as “65 days. Very nice, deep red, romaine-type heads with good resistance to bolting. Crisp, juicy texture and delicious flavor. This heirloom dates from the 18th century.”

But I don’t think their photo image does this lettuce any justice – it’s a far better looking than that, it has dark red, almost bronze coloured leaves and has splashes of bright green on the inside. It’s colour, texture, and taste are making it stand out. So much so I’ve marked it out for seed saving for my Seed Saving Circle, and I’m sure they will love this variety as much as I do.

Of all the lettuce I planted out at the end of June it has been the best to survive initial dry hot weather, and the current warm damp weather we are having. And every time I go to the plot and I marvel at it’s colour, looks and robust health.

But what I couldn’t understand was why I couldn’t find anything out about this lettuce, it seems popular enough in the US and Canada, but no references in the UK. Well it turns out it is also known as Little Leprechaun and it seems to be known by this name in the UK.

This naming malarky is winding me up at the moment as Seed Savers Exchange list it as Red Leprechaun, as do other suppliers. It makes it so confusing when deciding on new varieties to try. While The Seeds of Kokopelli refer to it as Cimmaron, and give a bit of a hint as to it’s origins in that it has grown the USA since the 18th centrury.

Which then prompted me to look up the word Cimmaron,

  • and I’ve found Cimarron, a river rising in northeast New Mexico and flowing about 1,123 km (698 mi) eastward across southwest Kansas to the Arkansas River in northern Oklahoma, and then there’s this
  • 1840–50; < American Spanish ( carnero ) cimarrón wild (sheep); Spanish: wild, probably equivalent to cim ( a ) peak, summit (< Latin cȳma spring shoots of a vegetable < Greek; see cyme) + -arrón adj. suffix; compare maroon

So, looking at that it comes from the Greek – learn something new every day eh?

Moaning aside, it’s name “Leprechaun” got me thinking, as a leprechaun is a folklore image, even described as a type of fairy and usually takes the form of an old man, wearing a red or green coat, “who enjoys partaking in mischief”. So I can see where the red and green come into the description of this lettuce, but not where the mischief comes in.

Perhaps it’s captivation of me is where the mischief comes in; but my latest theory is that the mischievous part lies in the different names – all these seed suppliers are causing me mischief!

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