"the wise toad who squats among the kingcups by the stream"

Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeKingcups - Credit: Patrick Mackie
 Kingcups (also known as marsh marigolds) are very pretty, yellow flowers which grow near ponds, streams and marshes in the Northern Hemisphere.  They are believed to be one of the oldest native English plants; there is evidence that they have survived several ice ages.  They are a member of the buttercup family, and poisonous.  They have some delightful common names, such as Water Bubbles, Pollyblobs, Mollyblobs and May Blobs.

 Toads sometimes have negative associations in folklore, in part because they were believed to be the familars of witches.  In many tales, however, they can represent good fortune and protection.  When Carter spent some time in Japan, she may have come across the legend of Gama-Sennin; it tells of an old man who wanders through the land with his wise toad companion, who teaches him about the power of herbs.  In many cultures, the life cycles of frogs and toads have led to them being symbols of transformation and recreation, and keepers of the secret of life.

More information about the folklore of toads.