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

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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.

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Round leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)

A rare insectivorous plant, also known as Moor-gloom in Yorkshire, Oilplant in Ireland, Red rot in Scotland and Flycatcher in Devon. the latter reflecting its ability to catch prey by using fine hairs on its leaves tipped with fluid, which resembles a dew drop. the ‘dew’ was thought to be good for the heart. By relaxing the muscles of the respiratory tract, it eases breathing and relieves wheezing for sufferers of asthma, whooping cough and bronchitis. Externally the leaves were used to treat corns and warts, and reduce freckles and sunburn. Lancastrians called it youthwort, as it was a key ingredient in a youthful elixir called Rosa Solis. it has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, and apparently ‘makes cattle lusty’. Known as a love charm for its ability to lure insects it was secreted in girls clothing by amorous men. The ancient Celts used it as a hair dye, it was valued in the Highlands for ridding the hair of lice.

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Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)

Probably called hare-, or hair-, bell because of its delicate stem, rather than because it grows where hares frequent! it is the bluebell of Scotland, known there as Gowk’s thimbles, or Fool’s thimbles and Aul’ mans bell, the flower is to be regarded with dread, and certainly never to be picked. To counteract this myth, it also had a pious name, Our lady’s thimble. the root was once chewed to alleviate heart and lung problems, and infusions and decoctions helped treat sore ears and eyes. in the language of flowers it is a symbol of humility and constancy, but also considered a symbol of prosperity. there is a common belief that by wearing it one is compelled to tell the truth.

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