Archive: August 2013

Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris)

Prunella is from the German brunella, quinsy, a severe form of tonsillitis, for which the plant was used, possibly because of its throat-shaped flowers. Known as Sicklewort and Hookweed, after the hook shaped upper lip of the flower, it was used for ‘ all green wounds to close the lip of them’, earning another name, Carpenter-herb, from its use in treating tool injuries. The Scots boiled it in milk and butter, dried it and stored it over the winter to treat chest ailments, calling it Heart o’ the earth. It was also popular in Wales in the 18th C. for colds and respiratory difficulties. To cure fevers in Irish children, the leaves were rubbed on temples to cure a headache, and finds uses as a general strengthener, a treatment for internal bleeding and piles, and a gargle for sore throats. A cold water infusion of the young leaves makes a refreshing beverage. The flowers and stems yield an olive green dye.

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata)

Also called Buckbean and Marsh trefoil, and known in Yorkshire as Threefold and Gulsa-girse, and Jaundice grass in the Shetland Isles.The leaves and roots were used as an ancient treatment for jaundice, scurvy, malaria and rheumatism. An infusion of it was given, particularly in Scotland, as a general tonic, to strengthen the heart and to help increase weight and vitality. It helps open the tubes for asthma sufferers. In the Highlands it was used to clean fisherman’s rope burns and as a general pain killer. the bitter leaves were used as a flavouring for beer in northern Britain and Europe, as well as a herb tobacco. In Ireland, the roots were boiled for a spring tonic to cleanse the system, assist digestion and cure boils and other skin problems, the plant yields a green dye and the roots a brown one.

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

Devils-Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis)

Believed to get its name because the Devil reputedly bit away part of the root to reduce it’s beneficial powers. Known as Fire Leaves, as it was used to test moisture in hay to prevent natural combustion, Blue kiss in Sussex and Bitin’ billy in Ireland. in Scotland it was known as Curly dodd and used to summon a brownie or imp to clean the house and the dungheap: “curl-doddy, do my biddin, soap my house and hool my midden”. Water steeped in it was used to draw out arrowheads and bathe wounds, after the bruised leaves had been applied to check the bleeding. A tea made from the dried leaves was used for coughs and fevers, and a decoction was applied to sores and dandruff. A remedy for curing any affliction involved infusing nine plants, including devils-bit, and boiling them in urine before drinking. Picking it was thought to summon the Devil to your bedside. it is the birthday flower for the 8th August

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Commonly grown as a forage crop this lovely plant has over 70 local names, including Eggs-and-Bacon,for the flower colours, Dutchman’s clogs and Lady’s boots after the flower shape, and Devil’s claw and Granny’s toenails, for the long, black claw-like seed pods. For the same reason, it was called Tom Thumb, a godchild of the Queen of the fairies, who was a restless goblin with dry, black fingers ending in a claw! in the Outer Hebrides an infusion of it was used as an eyewash. In many areas it was considered unlucky to pick, but children in the South of Ireland used to take it to school believing it would save them from punishment, In the language of flowers, it signifies revenge.

Posted in Mountain Flora & Fauna

Older Entries »