Archiver > FOLKLORE > 1999-05 > 0925683110

From: Kath <>
Subject: [FOLKLORE-L] Celtic Herbs
Date: Sun, 02 May 1999 15:11:50 -0700

Latin: Anemone Pulsatilla
Scottish Gaelic: Bainne Bo Bliatain
Other Names:
Wood Crowfoot, Smell Fox, Flawflower, Passover Flower

Medicinal Uses:
Effective against disorders of the mucous membranes,
indigestion, catarrhhal affections of the eye, catarrhal
diarrhea, menstrual difficulties, swolen testicles, bladder
difficulties relating to age, spasmodic and whooping cough,
bronchitis, headache, indolent ulcers, and incipient

The flower petals of the plant foretell storms by closing
up. They also close up at night, and it was commonly
believed that this was because fairies nestled within and
pulled the curtains 'round them. To gather the first
anemones is considered protective. The plant was made into
a pottage that was eaten at sacrificial feasts.

Other Uses:
The flower petals have been used as a dye.

Tested Properties:
Contains amemonin (pulsatilla camphor) and anemonic acid.

Latin: Pyrus Malus
Medicinal Uses:
Thought to restore the powers of mind and body. Used
specifically as a purgative of toxins (esp. of the liver),
to quicken sedentary folk, for jaundice, skin eruptions,
gout, burning and running eyes, weak or rheumatic eyes,
constipation, dry and rough skin, stomach acidity, warts,
and stones. Cider was believed to promote longevity.

The fruit was hailed as the food of the Sidhe folk ('fruit
of life of the Sidhe'); also seen as a passport to the
Otherworld. Used in divination, especially at Samhain. It
was said that apples would shrump up if picked when the moon
was on the wane.

Other Uses:
Obviously, the fruit is a very popular food of widespread
Made into a Celtic 'lambswool' (rather like applesauce and
ale, mixed). A good skin ointment has traditionally been
made of the fruit ("pomatum"). Made into beverages,
desserts, dinner dishes and even breads.

Tested Properties:
Nutritive, Mucilaginous, Aromatic, Astringent. Contains
much phosphorous.

Latin: Prunus spinosa
Other Names:
Sloe, Snag. The fruit are called Winter-picks or Prunelles.

Medicinal Uses:
An astringent medicine, also used for nosebleeds,
constipation, eye pain and inflammation/ciliary neuralgia.
Thought to improve vision.

The tree in bloom is considered an emblem of life and death
in unison, as the beautiful white flowers appear when the
tree has no leaves but only black bark and thorns; to carry
or wear Blackthorn in blossom is thought to signify bringing
a death token. Markings made upon linen with the fresh
juice will never wash out. If three thorn trees are found
growing closely together it's considered wise to make a wide
berth of them. This was a tree often beloved of the Sidhe
(although the location of a tree was important to the Sidhe
folk; it had to be growing within a rath or fairy ring, in a
rocky field of rough grass, or by a large boulder or
spring); anyone who harmed, or even disturbed a tree beloved
of the Sidhe risked their wrath (which often came in the
form of illness).

Other Uses:
The weather that prevails about the time of the tree's
flowering is called "Blackthorn Winter". The wood was
traditionally used as a flail and bludgeon. The leaves make
a pleasing tea. The red juice imparts the colour and
sub-acid roughness to port wine; Winter-pick wine takes the
place of port for the common man. A desert liqueur and
cordial is made provincially. The dried juice is Gum

Tested Properties:
Astringent, Nutritive, Mucilaginous. A styptic.

Latin: Anthemis Nobilis
Scottish Gaelic:
Athair Talamh

Other Names:
Earth Apple, Manzanilla, Father of the Ground Medicinal
As a treatment for nervous excitability, spasmodic coughs,
indigestion, distal neuralgia, nervous colic, stomach
disorders, fatigue, delerium tremens, wounds; effective as a
sedative, mosquito-repellant and intestinal wormer.

The herb's ability to drive away flies was seen as evidence
of its magical nature. Some commentary is made of the fact
that Chamomile is regarded as a 'plant physician'; if
another plant is dying it will usually recover when
Chamomile is planted near it, which was seen as a 'magical'
ability. It dispels and prevents nightmares. The wild
variety is far superior to the cultivated one.

Tested Properties:
Aromatic, Bitter. Anti-inflammatory.

Latin: Alsine, Stellaria Media
Irish Gaelic:
Fliodh, Seamair Mhuire, Luibh Nabh Francach Or Fleac
Medicinal Uses:
Used for swellings, and whooping cough. Urinary infections.

Effective against childrens' fits and gripes, scurvy,
swellings, whooping cough, urinary infections, rheumatusm,
stitches in the head and eyes, pressure and soreness about
the liver, burning and bilious indigestion, general soreness
(and specifically sore legs).

Seen as being 'under the dominion of the moon'. The flowers
have a strange, and well noted nighttime behaviour; they
lean together in pairs when darkness falls and 'protect'
small buds between them, which is seen as evidence of
magical goings-on.

Other Uses:
Serves as food for a variety of small birds.

Tested Properties:
Contains earthy salts and potash. Emollient and cooling.

Latin: Eupatorium Perfoliatum
Irish Gaelic:
Lus Na Gcn'amh Briste
Other Names:
Consound, Knit-Back, Bone-Set, Blackwort, Symphytum
Medicinal Uses:
Widespread use followed a faith in its ability to promote
the healing of any bruised and broken parts. Used for
wounds, the pain of inflammation, tenderness, broken bones,
fractures and sprains, raw indolent ulcers, wounds of the
nerves, tendons and arteries, cracked nipples, bleeding from
the lungs or bladder. A useful preventative of foot and
mouth disease in cattle.

Other Uses:
The herb has been used in tanning leather. In cooking it
has served as an ingredient in aspic and a flavouring in
cakes and panada. As well, a glue can be extracted from the

Tested Properties:
Astringent, Nutritive, Mucilaginous.

Latin: Taraxacum Leontondon
Scottish Gaelic: Garbh Lus
Other Names:
Rough Herb (in Scotland), Blowball, Time Table, Milk Gowan,
Milk Golden, Wiggers, Swinesnout, Dashelflower, Priest's
Crown, Caput Monachi, Schoolboys' Clock

Medicinal Uses:
As a treatment for ailments of the heart, hypertension,
indigestion, coated tongue, night sweats, itching, cachexy;
to prevent or stave off consumption, to remove warts, and to
stimulate the liver and biliary organs.

Used for fanciful divination; the pattern of spores left
when the crown was blown against was considered telling.
The herb was also used to make protective wreaths or magical

Tested Properties:
Aromatic, Mucilaginous, Nutritive, Bitter. A good diuretic.

Latin: Anethum Graveolins
Other Names: Anet, Soyah

Medicinal Uses:
Considered effective against wind in children and adults,
hiccough, swolen and cold limbs, indigestion, rheumatic
pain, sciatica, and constipation. It was also used as a
tranquilizer and to increase mothers' milk.

Often spoken of as an ingredient in love charms; it is
supposed that dill strips a witch of her will. The herb was
used to make protective wreaths or magical hoops.

Other Uses:
Widely used as a spice, especially in pickling.

Tested Properties:
Latin: Sambucus Nigra
Other Names:
Arn, Akte, Bourtree (in Scotland), Eldrun, Burtre, Scovies,

Medicinal Uses:
Credited as being a complete medicine chest in itself. Used
as a purgative, fly repellant, for eye ailments, ill
pigmentation, colds, constipation, asthma, sweating, croup,
wheezing and cough, quinsy, sore mouth and throat,
strangulations, congestion, fever, skin ailments, 'serious
humours of the blood', haemorrhoids, nervous headache, burns
and scalds, sprains, piles, swelling, dropsy, and epilepsy.
Thought to induce longevity.

Second sight is imbued if the tree sap is applied to the
Elder was cultivated around cottages as it afforded
Growing or harvested crops beaten about with a green, leafy
elder branch are immune to all depridations of blight and
pest (except moths); the flowers are fatal to domestic
fowl. The ability of the plant to repel flies is seen as
magical. The flowers are somewhat narcotic and may
therefore have been used in divination. It was believed the
lightning never struck it, and therefore it afforded
propection in a storm. A bough was buried with a corpse for
protection; even now the traditional hearse driver's whip is
made of Elderwood. Beating with an elder rod was thought to
arrest the growth of boys who were becoming too lanky or
'weedy'. A cross of the wood, affixed to stables and
cow-houses, afforded the livestock propection from possible
harm; a cross made of Elder and Sallow was hung about
children's necks for protection against illness (especially
where red thread was employed in the making of these
charms). Folk belief held that the Dwarf Elder would only
grow where blood had been shed in battle or murder. This
was a tree often beloved of the Sidhe (although the location
of a tree was important to the Sidhe folk; it had to be
growing within a rath or fairy ring, in a rocky field of
rough grass, or by a large boulder or spring); anyone who
harmed, or even disturbed a tree beloved of the Sidhe risked
their wrath (which often came in the form of illness).

Other Uses:
The hollow branches made tubes to blow through for
brightening up a dull fire. Young branches were made into
musical pipes.
The flowers, when placed among apples, impart an agreeable
odour and flavour to the fruit (like muscatel). Used to dye
hair (black). The 'rob' of the buds and berries was made
into preserves, cakes, and a capital wine (the 3-year old
wine constitutes English port). The buds were made into
pottage and small ale. The flowers have been distilled into
perfume. Summer was traditionally marked from the flower of
the Elder to the fruit. Sheep cure themselves of foot-rot
by eating the bark and shoots.

Tested Properties:
Astringent, Bitter, Mucilaginous, Aromatic, Nutritive. A


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