The deep purples of the stem, the vibrant yellow flowers, and the soft focus in most parts of the photo make it feel like a scene from a dream world. I can imagine taking a nap in a verdant meadow, and half-awakening to these meadow rues towering above me.
Thalictrum (pdf) is a diverse genus of perennial herbs, many of which are popular garden species in temperate climates. The meadow rues have small flowers that lack petals, and in Thalictrum flavum, the sepals covering the unopened flower buds fall off shortly after the flower begins to open. The shaggy yellow flowers shown in today’s photo are composed only of clusters of many stamens and fewer (6-9) pistils. They are held on tall, grooved stems (40-100cm) that are un-branched until flowering. Once pollinated (likely by the wind), Thalictrum flavum‘s flowers develop long, stalkless achenes that float, helping this species to establish along watercourses and in other wet habitats such as ditches and marshes.
Meadow rues are similar to common rue (Ruta graveolens) only in appearance, and are neither related nor do they posses the same medicinal or symbolic qualities. The petioles (stalk attaching leaf blade to stem) of Thalictrum species are once or twice-divided, giving the leaf a similar quality to that of the compound Ruta graveolens leaf. Thalictrum species can be found growing wild in most temperate parts of the world, but are absent from Australasia.