I am not sure whether it is a suitable question here, but I could not find any other good place to ask it.

In the story "The Five Jars" by Montague Rhodes James, its hero dreams of a strange plant. I cannot understand its description well.

The plant was not one I should have thought much about, though certainly it was not one that I knew. It had no flowers or berries, and grew quite squat in the ground; more like a yellow aconite without the flower than anything else. It seemed to consist of a ring of six leaves spread out pretty flat with nine points on each leaf.

I searched "yellow aconite" on the Internet and found two.

1.Aconitum Lycoctonum

2.Eranthis Hyemalis

#1 has name of Aconitum and its color is yellow. #2 seems to be called "winter aconite" and not "yellow aconite."

A ring is a circle, so I can imagine the leaves are somehow making a circle.

The sentence says "without the flower," so I suppose it would have only one flower like #2 if it did not lack the flower.

But if it is "a ring," there should be no leaves in the middle. But #2 seems to have leaves spread out from its center. So, I am confused.

Thank you very much for your help!

  • 1
    Flowers often have more than one common name, which is why botanists use the Latin name to avoid confusion! I'm pretty sure M.R. James means the winter aconite with its collar of leaves. Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 14:00
  • @KateBunting Oh, I see! The leaves are actually like a collar under the flower. Then, even when it doesn't have a hole in the middle, would you call it a ring or a collar?
    – Nigutumok
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 7:27
  • 1
    He uses ring to indicate that the leaves make a round shape. It doesn't have to mean that there is a hole in the middle. I used collar because, in the aconite, they are under the 'head'. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 8:53
  • @KateBunting Oh, I understand well! Thank you so much!
    – Nigutumok
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 9:28

1 Answer 1


It's kind of like (vaguely like) a yellow aconite without the flower. The description of the plant in the dream says it is 'more like a yellow aconite without the flower than anything else'. If we say that A is more like B than anything else we are saying that A is like B to some, maybe small, degree, and that B is the only thing that we can think of that is even a bit like A in some way.

Imagine this without the flower (I don't think the leaves have to 'make' a circle like a wreath):

enter image description here

My friend is a (very) amateur artist. He shows me a painting he has done of his mother. I say 'That's great!', but I secretly think to myself 'It looks more like a monkey than anything else'. I do not mean that it looks exactly like a monkey, or that his mother does, only that it looks more like a monkey than a cat, or a dog, or a person, or any other creature.

  • Thank you very much for your answer! I understand. Then, if the leaves are arranged radially, you can call it a ring?
    – Nigutumok
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 0:40
  • 1
    @Nigutumok - I personally would not use 'ring', and would prefer e.g. 'halo'. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 9:01

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