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Title: Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics - Embracing the Myths, Traditions, Superstitions, and - Folk-Lore of the Plant Kingdom
Author: Folkard, Richard
Language: English
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[Illustration: The Garden of Eden

_from John Parkinson’s “Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris.”




  Myths, Traditions, Superstitions, and
  Folk-Lore of the Plant Kingdom.


  Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington,
  Crown Buildings, 188, Fleet Street.


  [_All Rights Reserved._]



Having, some few years ago, been associated in the conduct of a
journal devoted to horticulture, I amassed for literary purposes
much of the material made use of in the present volume. Upon the
discontinuance of the journal, I resolved to classify and arrange the
plant lore thus accumulated, with a view to its subsequent publication,
and I have since been enabled to enrich the collection with much
Continental and Indian lore (which I believe is quite unknown to the
great majority of English readers) from the vast store to be found in
Signor De Gubernatis’ volumes on plant tradition, a French edition of
which appeared two years ago, under the title of _La Mythologie des
Plantes_. To render the present work comprehensive and at the same
time easy of reference, I have divided the volume into two sections,
the first of which is, in point of fact, a digest of the second; and
I have endeavoured to enhance its interest by introducing some few
reproductions of curious illustrations pertaining to the subjects
treated of. Whilst preferring no claim for anything beyond the exercise
of considerable industry, I would state that great care and attention
has been paid to the revision of the work, and that as I am both author
and printer of my book, I am debarred in that dual capacity from even
palliating my mistakes by describing them as “errors of the press.” In
tendering my acknowledgments to Prof. De Gubernatis and other authors
I have consulted on the various branches of my subject, I would draw
attention to the annexed list of the principal works to which reference
is made in these pages.


Cricklewood, _August, 1884_.

Principal Works Referred to.

_Adams, H. C._ ‘Flowers; their Moral, Language, and Poetry.’

_Albertus Magnus._ _De Mirabilibus Mundi._

_Aldrovandus._ _Ornithologia._

_Bacon, Lord._ ‘_Sylva Sylvarum_,’ and ‘Essay on Gardens.’

_Bauhin, C._ _De plantis a divis sanctisve nomen habentibus_ (1591).

_Brand, J._ ‘Popular Antiquities.’

_Bright, H. A._ ‘A Year in a Lancashire Garden.’

_Campbell, J. F._ ‘Tales of the Western Highlands.’

‘Choice Notes from _Notes and Queries_.’

_Coles, W._ ‘Adam in Eden’ (1657); and ‘The Art of Simpling’ (1656).

‘The Compleat English Gardener’ (1683).

‘The Countryman’s Recreation’ (1640).

_Croker, T. C._ ‘Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland.’

_Culpeper, N._ ‘British Herbal.’

_Cutts, Rev. E._ ‘Decoration of Churches.’

_Darwin, E._ ‘The Botanic Garden’: a Poem.

_Dasent, Sir G. W._ ‘Popular Tales from the Norse.’

_Daubeny, C._ ‘Trees and Shrubs of the Ancients.’

_Day, Rev. Lal Behari._ ‘Folk-Tales of Bengal.’

_De Gubernatis, A._ _La Mythologie des Plantes; ou les Légendes du
Règne Végétal._

_Dixon, W. G._ ‘The Land of the Morning: Japan.’

‘The Dutch Gardener’ (1703).

_Dyer, Rev. T. F._ ‘English Folk-lore.’

_Ennemoser, J._ ‘History of Magic.’

_Evelyn, J._ ‘_Sylva_: a Discourse of Forest Trees’ (1662); ‘The French
Gardener’ (1658); and ‘_Kalendarium Hortense_’ (1664).

‘The Expert Gardener’ (1640).

‘The Fairy Family.’

_Farrer, J. A._ ‘The Names of Flowers’ (In ‘Cornhill Magazine,’ Vol.

_Fitzherbarde, Sir Anthony._ ‘Boke of Husbandry’ (1523).

_Fleetwood, Bishop._ ‘Curiosities of Nature and Art in Husbandry and
Gardening’ (1707).

‘Flower Lore’ (M’Caw & Co., Belfast).

_Gerarde, J._ ‘The Herbal; or, General Historie of Plantes.’ Edited by
Johnson (1633).

_Grimm, J._ ‘Teutonic Mythology’ (Translated by Stallybrass.)

_Henderson, W._ ‘Folk-lore of the Northern Counties.’

_Hunt, R._ ‘Popular Romances of the West of England.’

_Ingram, J._ ‘_Flora Symbolica_.’

_Jameson, Mrs._ ‘Sacred and Legendary Art’; ‘Legends of the Monastic
Orders’; and ‘Legends of the Madonna.’

_Karr, Alphonse._ ‘A Tour Round my Garden.’

_Kelly, W. K._ ‘Curiosities of Indo-European Tradition and Folk-lore.’

_Kent, Miss._ ‘_Flora Domestica_,’ and ‘Sylvan Sketches.’

_King, R. J._ ‘Sketches and Studies.’

_Kircherus._ _De Luce et Umbra, Ars Magnetica, &c._

‘The Language of Flowers’ (Saunders and Otley).

_Liger, Louis._ ‘The Retired Gardener’ (1717).

_Loudon, J. C._ ‘Encyclopædia of Gardening.’

_Loudon, Mrs._ ‘Companion to the Flower Garden.’

_Macer Floridus._ _De Viribus Herbarum_ (1527).

_Mallet, M._ ‘Northern Antiquities.’

_Mannhardt, Prof._ _Baumkultus der Germanen_; _Germanische Mythen_; and
_Wald- und Feld-Kulte_.

_Marmier, X._ _Légendes des Plantes._

_Marshall, S._ ‘Plant Symbolism’ (In ‘Natural History Notes,’ Vol. II.).

_Martyn, Thos._ ‘Miller’s Gardener’s and Botanist’s Dictionary.’

_Matthiolus._ _De Plantis_ (1585).

_Maundevile, Sir John._ ‘Voiage and Travaile’ (Edit. 1725).

_Mentzelius, C._ _Index Nominum Plantarum Multilinguis_ (1682).

_Moore, T._ ‘Lalla Rookh.’

_Müller, Max._ ‘Selected Essays.’

_Murray, E. C. G._ ‘Songs and Legends of Roumania.’

_Newton, W._ ‘Display of Heraldry.’

_Nork._ _Mythologie der Volkssagen._

_Oldenburg, Dr. H._ ‘Buddha: his Life, Doctrine, and Order.’

_Parkinson, J._ ‘_Paradisi in Sole: Paradisus Terrestris_’ (1656).

_Paxton, Sir Joseph._ ‘Botanical Dictionary.’

_Percival, Rev. P._ ‘The Land of the Veda.’

_Phillips, J._ ‘_Flora Historical._’

_Pirie, M._ ‘Flowers, Grasses, and Shrubs.’

_Plat, Sir Hugh, Knt._ ‘The Garden of Eden’ (1600).

_Pliny._ ‘Natural History.’

_Porta, J. B._ _Phytognomica_ (1588).

_Pratt, A._ ‘Flowering Plants and Ferns of Great Britain.’

_Prior, Dr._ ‘Popular Names of British Plants.’

_Ralston, W. R._ ‘Forest and Field Myths’ (In ‘Contemporary Review,’
Vol. XXXI.).

_Rapin, R._ _De Hortorum Cultura_ (Gardiner’s trans., 1665).

_Rawlinson, Rev. G._ ‘The Religions of the Ancient World.’

_Reade, W. W._ ‘The Veil of Isis; or, the Mysteries of the Druids.’

_Rea, J._ ‘Flora, Ceres, and Pomona’ (1665).

_Rimmel, E._ ‘The Book of Perfumes.’

The ‘Royal and Imperial Dream Book.’

_Sawyer, F. E._ ‘Sussex Folk-lore and Customs.’

_Shway Yoe._ ‘The Burman: his Life and Notions.’

_Thorpe, B._ ‘Yule-tide Stories.’

_Tighe, W._ ‘The Plants’: a Poem.

_Timbs, J._ ‘Popular Errors;’ ‘Curiosities of History;’ and ‘Things Not
Generally Known.’

_Turner, Robert._ ‘_Botanologia_: The Brittish Physician; or, the
Nature and Vertues of English Plants’ (1687).

_Turner, W._ ‘The Herball.’

_Tusser, Thomas._ ‘Five Hundred Points of Husbandry’ (1562).

_White, Rev. Gilbert._ ‘Natural History of Selborne.’

_Wilkinson, Sir G._ ‘The Ancient Egyptians.’

_Zahn, J._ _Speculæ Physico-Mathematico-Historicæ_ (1696).



INTRODUCTION                                                       xiii.


  THE WORLD-TREES OF THE ANCIENTS. -- The Scandinavian Ash --
  The Hindu World-Tree -- The World-Tree of the Buddhists -- The
  Iranian World-Tree -- The Assyrian Sacred Tree -- The Mother Tree
  of the Greeks, Romans, and Teutons                                   1


  Paradise -- The Paradise of the Persians, Arabians, Hindus,
  Scandinavians, and Celts -- The Mosaic Paradise -- Eden and the
  Walls of its Garden -- The Tree of Life -- The Tree of Knowledge
  -- The Forbidden Fruit -- Adam’s Departure from Paradise --
  Seth’s Journey to the Garden of Eden -- The Death of Adam -- The
  Seeds of the Tree of Life -- Moses and his Rods -- King David and
  the Rods -- Solomon and the Cedars of Lebanon -- The Tree of Adam
  and the Tree of the Cross                                            9


  SACRED PLANTS OF THE ANCIENTS. -- The Parsis and the Cypress --
  The Oak -- Sacred Plants and Trees of the Brahmans and Buddhists
  -- Plants Revered by the Burmans -- The Cedar, Elm, Ash, Rowan,
  Baobab, Nipa, Dragon Tree, Zamang, and Moriche Palm -- The
  Nelumbo or Sacred Bean -- Plants Worshipped by Egyptians -- The
  Lotus, Henna, and Pomegranate -- Sacred Plants of the Græco-Roman
  Divinities -- Plants of the Norse Gods                              21


  Gods -- Flowers, Fragrant Woods, and Aromatics -- Incense --
  Perfumes -- Ceremonies of the Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, and
  Romans -- The Roman Triumphs -- Festivals of the Terminalia
  and Floralia -- May-day Customs -- Well-flowering -- Harvest
  Festivals -- Flowers and Weddings -- Floral Games of Toulouse and
  Salency -- The Rosière -- Rose Pelting -- Battle of Flowers --
  Japanese New Year’s Festival -- Wreaths, Chaplets, and Garlands     26


  PLANTS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. -- The Virgin Mary and her
  Flowers -- Joseph’s Plants -- The Plants of Bethlehem -- Flora
  of the Flight into Egypt -- The Herb of the Madonna -- Plants of
  the Virgin -- The Annunciation, Visitation, and Assumption -- The
  Rosary -- The Plants of Christmas -- The Garden of Gethsemane
  -- Plants of the Passion -- The Crown of Thorns -- The Wood of
  the Cross -- Veronica -- The Plants of Calvary -- The Trees and
  the Crucifixion -- The Tree of Judas -- Plants of St. John the
  Baptist -- Plant Divination on St. John’s Eve -- Flowers of
  the Saints -- The Floral Calendar -- Flowers of the Church’s
  Festivals -- Decoration of Churches -- Gospel Oaks -- Memorial
  Trees -- The Glastonbury Thorn -- St. Joseph’s Walnut Tree -- St.
  Martin’s Yew                                                        40


  PLANTS OF THE FAIRIES AND NAIADES. -- The Elves and the Oak --
  Elves of the Forest -- The Elf of the Fir-tree -- The Rose Elf
  -- Moss or Wood Folk -- The Black Dwarfs -- The Still Folk --
  The Procca -- English Fairies -- The Fairy Steed -- Fairy Revels
  -- Elf Grass -- Fairy Plants -- The Cowslip, or Fairy Cup --
  The Foxglove, or Lusmore -- The Four-leaved Clover -- The Fairy
  Unguent -- The Russalkis -- Naiades and Water Nymphs -- The
  Fontinalia -- Fays of the Well                                      64


  and Hamadryads -- The Laurel Maiden -- The Willow Nymph -- The
  Sister of the Flowers -- Sacred Groves and their Denizens -- The
  Spirits of the Forest -- The Indian Tree Ghosts -- The Burmese
  Nats -- The African Wood Spirits -- The Waldgeister of the
  Germans -- The Elder-mother -- German Tree and Field Spirits        74


  PLANTS OF THE DEVIL. -- Puck’s Plant -- Pixie-stools -- Loki’s
  Plants -- The Trolls and the Globe-flower -- Accursed and Unlucky
  Plants -- Plants connected with the Black Art -- Plant-haunting
  Demons -- The Devil and Fruit Trees -- Tree Demons on St. John’s
  Eve -- Demons of the Woods and Fields -- The Herb of the Devil --
  Poisonous and Noxious Plants -- Ill-omened Plants -- The Devil’s
  Key -- Plants Inimical to the Devil -- The Devil-Chaser -- The
  Deadly Upas -- The Manchineel -- The Oleander -- The Jatropha
  Urens -- The Lotos -- The Elder -- The Phallus Impudicus -- The
  Carrion Flower -- The Antchar -- The Loco or Rattle Weed -- The
  Aquapura -- Deadly Trees of Hispaniola and New Andalusia --
  Poisonous Plants                                                    82


  PLANTS OF THE WITCHES. -- The Herbs of Hecate, Circe, and
  Medea -- Witch Powder -- Witches and Elders -- Sylvan Haunts
  of Witches -- Witches’ Plant-steeds -- Witches’ Soporifics
  -- The Nightmare Flower -- Plants used in Spells -- Potions,
  Philtres, and Hell-broths -- The Hag Taper -- Witch Ointment --
  The Witches’ Bath -- Foreign Witches and their Plants -- Plants
  used for Charms and Spells -- Witches’ Prescriptions -- Herbs of
  Witchcraft -- Plants Antagonistic to Witches                        91


  MAGICAL PLANTS. -- Plants producing Ecstasies and Visions --
  Soma -- Laurel -- The Druids and Mistletoe -- Prophetic Oaks
  -- Dream Plants -- Plants producing Love and Sympathy -- The
  Sorcerer’s Violet -- Plants used for Love Divination -- Concordia
  -- Discordia -- The Calumny Destroyer -- The Grief Charmer --
  The Sallow, Sacred Basil, Eugenia, Onion, Bay, Juniper, Peony,
  Hypericum, Rowan, Elder, Thorn, Hazel, Holly -- The Mystic
  Fern-seed -- Four-leaved Clover -- The Mandrake, or Sorcerer’s
  Root -- The Metal Melter -- The Misleading Plant -- Herb of
  Oblivion -- Lotos Tree -- King Solomon’s Magical Herb Baharas --
  The Nyctilopa and Springwort -- Plants influencing Thunder and
  Lightning -- The Selago, or Druid’s Golden Herb -- Gold-producing
  Plants -- Plants which disclose Treasures -- The Luck Flower --
  The Key-Flower -- Sesame -- The Herb that Opens -- The Moonwort,
  or Lunary -- The Sferracavallo -- Magic Wands and Divining Rods
  -- Moses’ Rod                                                      105


  Man-bearing Trees -- The Wak-Wak, or Tree bearing Human Heads
  -- Chinese and Indian Bird-bearing Tree -- Duck-bearing Tree
  -- The Barnacle, or Goose Tree -- The Serpent-bearing Tree
  -- The Oyster-bearing Tree -- The Animal-bearing Tree -- The
  Butterfly-bearing Tree -- The Vegetable Lamb -- The Lamb-bearing
  Tree -- Marvellous Trees and Plants -- Vegetable Monstrosities
  -- Plants bearing Inscriptions and Figures -- Miraculous Plants
  -- The Tree of St. Thomas -- The Withered Tree of the Sun -- The
  Tree of Tiberias -- Father Garnet’s Straw                          116


  Birds as Almanacks -- The Cuckoo and the Cherry Tree -- Augury
  by Cock and Barley -- The Nightingale and the Rose -- The Robin
  and the Thorn -- The Missel-Thrush and Mistletoe -- The Swallow
  and Celandine -- The Hawk and Hawkweed -- Life-giving Herb --
  The Woodpecker and the Peony -- The Spring-wort and the Birds
  -- Choughs and Olives -- Herb of the Blessed Virgin Mary -- The
  Eyebright and Birds -- Plants named after Birds and Animals        136


  THE DOCTRINE OF PLANT SIGNATURES. -- Illustrations and Examples
  of the Signatures and Characterisms of Plants -- The Diseases
  Cured by Herbs -- General Rules of the System of Plant Signatures
  supposed to Reveal the Occult Powers and Virtues of Vegetables
  -- Plants Identified with the Various Portions of the Human Body
  -- The Old Herbals and Herbalists -- Extraordinary Properties
  attributed to Herbs                                                154


  PLANTS AND THE PLANETS. -- When to Pluck Herbs -- The Plants of
  Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, the Sun, and the Moon --
  Sun Flowers -- The Influence of the Moon on Plants -- Times and
  Seasons to Sow and Plant -- The Moon and Gardening Operations --
  The Moon-Tree -- Plants of the Moon-Goddesses -- The Man in the
  Moon                                                               164


  PLANT SYMBOLISM AND LANGUAGE. -- Plant Emblems of the Ancients
  -- The Science of Plant Symbolism -- Floral Symbols of the
  Scriptures -- The Passion Flower, or Flower of the Five Wounds --
  Mediæval Plant Symbolism -- Floral Emblems of Shakspeare -- The
  Language of Flowers -- Floral Vocabulary of the Greeks and Romans
  -- A Dictionary of Flowers -- Floral Divination                    176


  FUNERAL PLANTS. -- The Ancient Death-Gods -- The Elysian Fields
  -- Death Trees -- Funereal Trees -- Aloe, Yew, Cypress, Bay,
  Arbor-Vitæ, Walnut, Mountain Ash, Tamarisk -- The Decorations of
  Tombs -- Flowers at Funerals -- Old English Burial Customs --
  Funeral Pyres -- Embalming -- Mummies -- Plants as Death Portents  189


  giving their Myths, Legends, Traditions, Folk-Lore, Symbolism,
  and History                                                        205

List of Illustrations.

  GATHERING THE SELAGO (_drawn by Louis Absolon_)                 Cover.

  THE GARDEN OF EDEN (_Parkinson’s Paradisus_)             Frontispiece.

  YGGDRASILL, THE MUNDANE ASH (_Finn Magnusen_)                        2

  RELICS OF THE CRUCIFIXION (_Maundevile’s Travels_)                  45

  THE TREE OF JUDAS ISCARIOT (_Maundevile’s Travels_)                 49

  THE BARNACLE TREE (_Aldrovandi Ornithologia_)                      118

  THE GOOSE TREE (_Gerarde’s Herbal_)                                119

  THE BAROMETZ, OR VEGETABLE LAMB (_Zahn_)                           121

  THE LAMB TREE (_Maundevile’s Travels_)                             122

  DEAD SEA FRUIT (_Maundevile’s Travels_)                            125

  THE STONE TREE (_Gerarde’s Herbal_)                                126

  ARBOR SECCO, OR THE WITHERED TREE (_Maundevile’s Travels_)         131

  THE MIRACULOUS TREE OF TIBERIAS (_Maundevile’s Travels_)           132

  FATHER GARNET’S STRAW (_Apology of Eudæmon Joannes_)               135

  PIOUS BIRDS AND OLIVES (_Maundevile’s Travels_)                    143

  THE PASSION FLOWER OF THE JESUITS (_Parkinson’s Paradisus_)        182

  THE TREE OF DEATH (_Maundevile’s Travels_)                         190

  THE GRANADILLA, OR PASSION FLOWER (_Zahn_)                         487

The head and tail pieces on pp. xiii., xxiv., 1, 8, 20, 21, 26, 40,
64, 74, 116, 136, 164, 175, 200, 592, and 610, are reproductions from
originals in old herbals, &c.

Part the First.



The analogy existing between the vegetable and animal worlds, and
the resemblances between human and tree life, have been observed
by man from the most remote periods of which we have any records.
Primitive man, watching the marvellous changes in trees and plants,
which accurately marked not only the seasons of the year, but even the
periods of time in a day, could not fail to be struck with a feeling
of awe at the mysterious invisible power which silently guided such
wondrous and incomprehensible operations. Hence it is not astonishing
that the early inhabitants of the earth should have invested with
supernatural attributes the tree, which in the gloom and chill of
Winter stood gaunt, bare, and sterile, but in the early Spring hastened
to greet the welcome warmth-giving Sun by investing itself with a
brilliant canopy of verdure, and in the scorching heat of Summer
afforded a refreshing shade beneath its leafy boughs. So we find these
men of old, who had learnt to reverence the mysteries of vegetation,
forming conceptions of vast cosmogonic world- or cloud-trees
overshadowing the universe; mystically typifying creation and
regeneration, and yielding the divine ambrosia or food of immortality,
the refreshing and life-inspiring rain, and the mystic fruit which
imparted knowledge and wisdom to those who partook of it. So, again,
we find these nebulous overspreading world-trees connected with the
mysteries of death, and giving shelter to the souls of the departed in
the solemn shade of their dense foliage.

Looking upon vegetation as symbolical of life and generation, man,
in course of time, connected the origin of his species with these
shadowy cloud-trees, and hence arose the belief that humankind first
sprang from Ash and Oak-trees, or derived their being from Holda, the
cloud-goddess who combined in her person the form of a lovely woman
and the trunk of a mighty tree. In after years trees were almost
universally regarded either as sentient beings or as constituting the
abiding places of spirits whose existence was bound up in the lives of
the trees they inhabited. Hence arose the conceptions of Hamadryads,
Dryads, Sylvans, Tree-nymphs, Elves, Fairies, and other beneficent
spirits who peopled forests and dwelt in individual trees--not only
in the Old World, but in the dense woods of North America, where the
Mik-amwes, like Puck, has from time immemorial frolicked by moonlight
in the forest openings. Hence, also, sprang up the morbid notion of
trees being haunted by demons, mischievous imps, ghosts, nats, and
evil spirits, whom it was deemed by the ignorant and superstitious
necessary to propitiate by sacrifices, offerings, and mysterious rites
and dances. Remnants of this superstitious tree-worship are still
extant in some European countries. The _Irminsul_ of the Germans and
the Central Oak of the Druids were of the same family as the _Asherah_
of the Semitic nations. In England, this primeval superstition has its
descendants in the village maypole bedizened with ribbons and flowers,
and the Jack-in-the-Green with its attendant devotees and whirling
dancers. The modern Christmas-tree, too, although but slightly known in
Germany at the beginning of the present century, is evidently a remnant
of the pagan tree-worship; and it is somewhat remarkable that a similar
tree is common among the Burmese, who call it the _Padaytha-bin_. This
Turanian Christmas-tree is made by the inhabitants of towns, who deck
its Bamboo twigs with all sorts of presents, and pile its roots with
blankets, cloth, earthenware, and other useful articles. The wealthier
classes contribute sometimes a _Ngway Padaytha_, or silver Padaytha,
the branches of which are hung with rupees and smaller silver coins
wrapped in tinsel or coloured paper. These trees are first carried in
procession, and afterwards given to monasteries on the occasion of
certain festivals or the funerals of Buddhist monks. They represent
the wishing-tree, which, according to Burmese mythology, grows in the
Northern Island and heaven of the nats or spirits, where it bears on
its fairy branches whatever may be wished for.

The ancient conception of human trees can be traced in the
superstitious endeavours of ignorant peasants to get rid of diseases
by transferring them to vicarious trees, or rather to the spirits who
are supposed to dwell in them; and it is the same idea that impels
simple rustics to bury Elder-sticks and Peach-leaves to which they have
imparted warts, &c. The recognised analogy between the life of plants
and that of man, and the cherished superstition that trees were the
homes of living and sentient spirits, undoubtedly influenced the poets
of the ancients in forming their conceptions of heroes and heroines
metamorphosed into trees and flowers; and traces of the old belief
are to be found in the custom of planting a tree on the birth of an
infant; the tree being thought to symbolise human life in its destiny
of growth, production of fruit, and multiplication of its species;
and, when fully grown, giving shade, shelter, and protection. This
pleasant rite is still extant in our country as well as in Germany,
France, Italy, and Russia; and from it has probably arisen a custom now
becoming very general of planting a tree to commemorate any special
occasion. Nor is the belief confined to the Old World, for Mr. Leland
has quite recently told us that he observed near the tent of a North
American Indian two small evergreens, which were most carefully tended.
On enquiry he found the reason to be that when a child is born, or
is yet young, its parent chooses a shrub, which growing as the child
grows, will, during the child’s absence, or even in after years,
indicate by its appearance whether the human counterpart be ill or
well, alive or dead. In one of the Quādi Indian stories it is by means
of the sympathetic tree that the hero learns his brother’s death.

In the middle ages, the old belief in trees possessing intelligence
was utilised by the monks, who have embodied the conception in many
mediæval legends, wherein trees are represented as bending their
boughs and offering their fruits to the Virgin and her Divine Infant.
So, again, during the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, trees are
said to have opened and concealed the fugitives from Herod’s brutal
soldiery. Certain trees (notably the Aspen) are reputed to have been
accursed and to have shuddered and trembled ever after on account of
their connexion with the tragedy of Calvary; while others are said
to have undergone a similar doom because they were attainted by the
suicide of the traitor Judas Iscariot.

Seeing that the reverence and worship paid to trees by the ignorant
and superstitious people was an institution impossible to uproot, the
early Christian Church sought to turn it to account, and therefore
consecrated old and venerated trees, built shrines beneath their
shade, or placed on their trunks crucifixes and images of the Blessed
Virgin. Legends connecting trees with holy personages, miracles, and
sacred subjects were, in after years, freely disseminated; one of the
most remarkable being the marvellous history of the Tree of Adam,
in which it is sought to connect the Tree of Paradise with the Tree
of Calvary. Evelyn summarises this misty tradition in the following
sentence:--“Trees and woods have twice saved the whole world: first, by
the Ark, then by the Cross; making full amends for the evil fruit of
the tree in Paradise by that which was borne on the tree in Golgotha.”
In course of time the flowers and plants which the ancients had
dedicated to their pagan deities were transferred by the Christian
Church to the shrines of the Virgin and sainted personages; this is
especially noticeable in the plants formerly dedicated to Venus and
Freyja, which, as being the choicest as well as the most popular,
became, in honour of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady’s plants. Vast numbers
of flowers were in course of time appropriated by the Church, and
consecrated to her saints and martyrs--the selection being governed
generally by the fact that the flower bloomed on or about the day on
which the Church celebrated the saint’s feast. These appropriations
enabled the Roman Catholics to compile a complete calendar of flowers
for every day in the year, in which each flower is dedicated to a
particular saint.

But if the most beautiful flowers and plants were taken under the
protection of the Church, and dedicated to the memory of her holiest
and most venerated members, so, also, certain trees, plants, and
flowers--which, either on account of their noxious properties, or
because of some legendary associations, were under a ban--became
relegated to the service of the Devil and his minions. Hence we find a
large group of plants associated with enchanters, sorcerers, wizards
and witches, many of which betray in their nomenclature their Satanic
association, and are, even at the present day, regarded suspiciously as
ill-omened and unlucky. These are the plants which, in the dark days of
witchcraft and superstition, were invested with mysterious and magical
properties,--the herbs which were employed by hags and witches in their
heathenish incantations, and from which they brewed their potions and
hell-broths. Thus Ben Jonson, in his fragment, ‘The Sad Shepherd,’
makes one of his characters say, when speaking of a witch:--

                “He knows her shifts and haunts,
  And all her wiles and turns. The venom’d plants
  Wherewith she kills! where the sad Mandrake grows,
  Whose groans are dreadful! the dead-numming Nightshade!
  The stupefying Hemlock! Adder’s-tongue!
  And Martagan!”

The association of plants with magic, sorcery, and the black art dates
from remote times. The blind Norse god Hödr slew Baldr with a twig
of Mistletoe. In the battles recorded in the Vedas as being fought
by the gods and the demons, the latter employ poisonous and magical
herbs which the gods counteract with counter-poisons and health-giving
plants. Hermes presented to Ulysses the magical Moly wherewith to
nullify the effects of the potions and spells of the enchantress
Circe, who was well acquainted with all sorts of magical herbs. The
Druids professed to know the secrets of many magical plants which
they gathered with mysterious and occult rites. The Vervain, Selago,
Mistletoe, Oak, and Rowan were all said by these ancient priests and
lawgivers to be possessed of supernatural properties; and remnants of
the old belief in their magical powers are still extant.

In works on the subject of plant lore hitherto published in England,
scarcely any reference has been made to the labours in the field
of comparative mythology of Max Müller, Grimm, Kuhn, Mannhardt, De
Gubernatis, and other eminent scholars, whose erudite and patient
investigations have resulted in the accumulation of a vast amount
of valuable information respecting the traditions and superstitions
connected with the plant kingdom. Mr. Kelly’s interesting work on
Indo-European Tradition, published some years ago, dealt, among
other subjects, with that of plant lore, and drew attention to
the analogy existing between the myths and folk-lore of India and
Europe relating more especially to plants which were reputed to
possess magical properties. Among such plants, peculiar interest
attaches to a group which, according to Aryan tradition, sprang from
lightning--the embodiment of fire, the great quickening agent: this
group embraces the Hazel, the Thorn, the Hindu _Sami_, the Hindu
_Palasa_, with its European congener the Rowan, and the Mistletoe:
the two last-named plants were, as we have seen, employed in Druidic
rites. These trees are considered of good omen and as protectives
against sorcery and witchcraft: from all of them wishing-rods (called
in German _Wünschelruthen_) and divining-rods have been wont to be
fashioned--magical wands with which, in some countries, cattle are
still struck to render them prolific, hidden springs are indicated,
and mineral wealth is discovered. Such a rod was thought to be the
caduceus of the god Hermes, or Mercury, described by Homer as being
a rod of prosperity and wealth. All these rods are cut with a forked
end, a shape held to be symbolic of lightning and a rude effigy of the
human form. It is interesting to note that in the _Rigveda_ the human
form is expressly attributed to the pieces of Asvattha wood used for
kindling the sacred fire--a purpose fulfilled by the Thorn in the chark
or instrument employed for producing fire by the Greeks. Another group
of plants also connected with fire and lightning comprises the Mandrake
(the root of which is forked like the human form), the Fern _Polypodium
Filix mas_ (which has large pinnate leaves), the Sesame (called in
India Thunderbolt-flower), the Spring-wort, and the Luck-flower. The
Mandrake and Fern, like King Solomon’s _Baharas_, are said to shine at
night, and to leap about like a Will-o’the-wisp: indeed, in Thuringia,
the Fern is known as _Irrkraut_, or Misleading Herb, and in Franche
Comté this herb is spoken of as causing belated travellers to become
light-headed or thunder-struck. The Mandrake-root and the Fern-seed
have the magical property of granting the desires of their possessors,
and in this respect resemble the Sesame and Luck-flower, which at
their owners’ request will disclose treasure-caves, open the sides
of mountains, clefts of rocks, or strong doors, and in fact render
useless all locks, bolts, and bars, at will. The Spring-wort, through
the agency of a bird, removes obstacles by means of an explosion caused
by the electricity or lightning of which this plant is an embodiment.
Akin to these are plants known in our country as Lunary or Moonwort and
Unshoe-the-Horse, and called by the Italians _Sferracavallo_--plants
which possess the property of unshoeing horses and opening locks. A
Russian herb, the _Rasrivtrava_, belongs to the same group: this plant
fractures chains and breaks open locks--virtues also claimed for the
Vervain (_Eisenkraut_), the Primrose (_Schlüsselblume_), the Fern,
and the Hazel. It should be noted of the Mistletoe (which is endowed
by nature with branches regularly forked, and has been classified
with the lightning-plants), that the Swedes call it “Thunder-besom,”
and attribute to it the same powers as to the Spring-wort. Like the
Fly-Rowan (_Flög-rönn_) and the Asvattha, it is a parasite, and is
thought to spring from seeds dropped by birds upon trees. Just as the
Druids ascribed peculiar virtues to a Mistletoe produced by this means
on an Oak, so do the Hindus especially esteem an Asvattha which has
grown in like manner upon a Sami (_Acacia Suma_).

It is satisfactory to find that, although the Devil has had certain
plants allotted to him wherewith to work mischief and destruction
through the agency of demons, sorcerers, and witches, there are
yet a great number of plants whose special mission it is to thwart
Satanic machinations, to protect their owners from the dire effects
of witchcraft or the Evil Eye, and to guard them from the perils of
thunder and lightning. In our own country, Houseleek and Stonecrop
are thought to fulfil this latter function; in Westphalia, the
_Donnerkraut_ (Orpine) is a thunder protective; in the Tyrol,
the Alpine Rose guards the house-roof from lightning; and in the
Netherlands, the St. John’s Wort, gathered before sunrise, is deemed
a protection against thunderstorms. This last plant is especially
hateful to evil spirits, and in days gone by was called _Fuga dæmonum_,
dispeller of demons. In Russia, a plant, called the _Certagon_, or
Devil-chaser, is used to exorcise Satan or his fiends if they torment
an afflicted mourner; and in the same country the _Prikrit_ is a
herb whose peculiar province it is to destroy calumnies with which
mischief-makers may seek to interfere with the consummation of lovers’
bliss. Other plants induce concord, love, and sympathy, and others
again enable the owner to forget sorrow.

Plants connected with dreams and visions have not hitherto received
much notice; but, nevertheless, popular belief has attributed to some
few--and notably the Elm, the Four-leaved Clover, and the Russian
_Son-trava_--the subtle power of procuring dreams of a prophetic
nature. Numerous plants have been thought by the superstitious to
portend certain results to the sleeper when forming the subject of his
or her dreams. Many examples of this belief will be found scattered
through these pages.

The legends attached to flowers may be divided into four classes--the
mythological, the ecclesiastical, the historical, and the poetical. For
the first-named we are chiefly indebted to Ovid, and to the Jesuit René
Rapin, whose Latin poem _De Hortorum Cultura_ contains much curious
plant lore current in his time. His legends, like those of Ovid, nearly
all relate to the transformation by the gods of luckless nymphs and
youths into flowers and trees, which have since borne their names. Most
of them refer to the blossoms of bulbous plants, which appear in the
early Spring; and, as a rule, white flowers are represented as having
originated from tears, and pink or red flowers from blushes or blood.
The ecclesiastical legends are principally due to the old Catholic
monks, who, while tending their flowers in the quietude and seclusion
of monastery gardens, doubtless came to associate them with the memory
of some favourite saint or martyr, and so allowed their gentle fancy to
weave a pious fiction wherewith to perpetuate the memory of the saint
in the name of the flower. For many of the historical legends we are
also indebted to monastic writers, and they mostly pertain to favourite
sons and daughters of the Church. Amongst what we have designated
poetical legends must be included the numerous fairy tales in which
flowers and plants play a not unimportant part, as well as the stories
which connect plants with the doings of Trolls, Elves, Witches, and
Demons. Many such legends, both English and foreign, will be found
introduced in the following pages.

It has recently become the fashion to explain the origin of myths and
legends by a theory which makes of them mere symbols of the phenomena
appertaining to the solar system, or metaphors of the four seasons and
the different periods in a day’s span. Thus we are told that, in the
well-known story of the transformation of Daphne into a Laurel-bush,
to enable her to escape the importunities of Apollo (see p. 404), we
ought not to conceive the idea of the handsome passionate god pursuing
a coy nymph until in despair she calls on the water-gods to change her
form, but that, on the contrary, we should regard the whole story as
simply an allegory implying that “the dawn rushes and trembles through
the sky, and fades away at the sudden appearance of the bright sun.”
So, again, in the myth of Pan and Syrinx (p. 559), in which the Satyr
pursues the maiden who is transformed into the Reed from which Pan
fashioned his pipes, the meaning intended to be conveyed is, we are
told, that the blustering wind bends and breaks the swaying Rushes,
through which it rustles and whistles. Prof. De Gubernatis, in his
valuable work _La Mythologie des Plantes_, gives a number of clever
explanations of old legends and myths, in accordance with the “Solar”
theory, which are certainly ingenious, if somewhat monotonous. Let us
take, as an example, the German story of the Watcher of the Road, which
appears at page 326. In this tale a lovely princess, abandoned for a
rival by her attractive husband, pines away, and at last desiring to
die if only she can be sure of going somewhere where she may always
watch for him, is transformed into the wayside Endive or Succory. Here
is the Professor’s explanation:--“Does not the fatal rival of the
young princess, who cries herself to death on account of her dazzling
husband’s desertion, and who even in death desires still to gaze on
him, symbolise the humid night, which every evening allures the sun to
her arms, and thus keeps him from the love of his bride, who awakens
every day with the sun, just as does the flower of the Succory?” These
scientific elucidations of myths, however dexterous and poetical they
may be, do not appear to us applicable to plant legends, whose chief
charm lies in their simplicity and appositeness; nor can we imagine
why Aryan or other story-tellers should be deemed so destitute of
inventive powers as to be obliged to limit all their tales to the
description of celestial phenomena. In the Vedas, trees, flowers, and
herbs are invoked to cause love, avert evil and danger, and neutralise
spells and curses. The ancients must, therefore, have had an exalted
idea of their nature and properties, and hence it is not surprising
that they should have dedicated them to their deities, and that these
deities should have employed them for supernatural purposes. Thus Indra
conquered Vritra and slew demons by means of the Soma; Hermes presented
the all-potent Moly to Ulysses; and Medea taught Jason how to use
certain enchanted herbs; just as, later in the world’s history, Druids
exorcised evil spirits with Mistletoe and Vervain, and sorcerers and
wise women used St. John’s Wort and other plants to ward off demons and
thunderbolts. The ancients evidently regarded their gods and goddesses
as very human, and therefore it would seem unnecessary and unjust so to
alter their tales about them as to explain away their obvious meaning.

Flowers are the companions of man throughout his life--his attendants
to his last resting place. They are, as Mr. Ruskin says, precious
always “to the child and the girl, the peasant and the manufacturing
operative, to the grisette and the nun, the lover and the monk.”
Nature, in scattering them over the earth’s surface, would seem to
have designed to cheer and refresh its inhabitants by their varied
colouring and fragrance, and to elevate them by their wondrous beauty
and delicacy; from them, as old Parkinson truly wrote, “we may draw
matter at all times, not onely to magnifie the Creator that hath given
them such diversities of forms, sents, and colours, that the most
cunning workman cannot imitate, ... but many good instructions also to
our selves; that as many herbs and flowers, with their fragrant sweet
smels do comfort and as it were revive the spirits, and perfume a whole
house, even so such men as live vertuously, labouring to do good, and
profit the Church, God, and the common wealth by their pains or pen,
do as it were send forth a pleasing savour of sweet instructions.” The
poet Wordsworth reminds us that

  “God made the flowers to beautify
  The earth, and cheer man’s careful mood;
  And he is happiest who hath power
  To gather wisdom from a flower,
  And wake his heart in every hour
          To pleasant gratitude.”

In these pages will be found many details as to the use of these
beauteous gems of Nature, both by the ancient races of the world and
by the people of our own generation; their adaptation to the Church’s
ceremonial and to popular festivals; their use as portents, symbols,
and emblems; and their employment as an adornment of the graves of
loved ones. Much more could have been written, had space permitted,
regarding their value to the architect and the herald. The Acanthus,
Lotus, Trefoil, Lily, Vine, Ivy, Pomegranate, Oak, Palm, Acacia, and
many other plants have been reproduced as ornaments by the sculptor,
and it is a matter of tradition that to the majestic aspect of an
avenue of trees we owe the lengthy aisle and fretted vault of the
Gothic order of architecture. In the field of heraldry it is noticeable
that many nations, families, and individuals have, in addition to their
heraldic badges, adopted plants as special symbols, the circumstances
of their adoption forming the groundwork of a vast number of legends: a
glance at the index will show that some of these are to be discovered
in the present work. Many towns and villages owe their names to trees
or plants; and not a few English families have taken their surnames
from members of the vegetable kingdom. In Scotland, the name of Frazer
is derived from the Strawberry-leaves (_fraises_) borne on the family
shield of arms, and the Gowans and Primroses also owe their names to
plants. The Highland clans are all distinguished by the floral badge
or _Suieachantas_ which is worn in the bonnet. For the most part the
plants adopted for these badges are evergreens; and it is said that the
deciduous Oak which was selected by the Stuarts was looked upon as a
portent of evil to the royal house.

The love of human kind for flowers would seem to be shared by many
members of the feathered tribe. Poets have sung of the passion of the
Nightingale for the Rose and of the fondness of the Bird of Paradise
for the dazzling blooms of the Tropics: the especial liking, however,
of one of this race--the _Amblyornis inornata_--for flowers is worthy
of record, inasmuch as this bird-gardener not only erects for itself
a bower, but surrounds it with a mossy sward, on which it continually
deposits fresh flowers and fruit of brilliant hue, so arranged as to
form an elegant _parterre_.

We have reached our limit, and can only just notice the old traditions
relating to the sympathies and antipathies of plants. The Jesuit
Kircher describes the hatred existing between Hemlock and Rue, Reeds
and Fern, and Cyclamen and Cabbages as so intense, that one of them
cannot live on the same ground with the other. The Walnut, it is
believed, dislikes the Oak, the Rowan the Juniper, the White-thorn
the Black-thorn; and there is said to be a mutual aversion between
Rosemary, Lavender, the Bay-tree, Thyme, and Marjoram. On the other
hand, the Rose is reported to love the Onion and Garlic, and to put
forth its sweetest blooms when in propinquity to those plants; and a
bond of fellowship is fabled to exist between a Fig-tree and Rue. Lord
Bacon, noticing these traditionary sympathies and antipathies, explains
them as simply the outcome of the nature of the plants, and his
philosophy is not difficult to be understood by intelligent observers,
for, as St. Anthony truly said, the great book of Nature, which
contains but three leaves--the Heavens, the Earth, and the Sea--is open
for all men alike.





The World-Trees of the Ancients.

It is a proof of the solemnity with which, from the very earliest
times, man has invested trees, and of the reverence with which he
has ever regarded them, that they are found figuring prominently in
the mythology of almost every nation; and despite the fact that in
some instances these ancient myths reach us, after the lapse of ages,
in distorted and grotesque forms, they would seem to be worthy of
preservation, if only as curiosities in plant lore. In some cases
the myth relates to a mystic cloud-tree which supplies the gods with
immortal fruit; in others to a tree which imparts to mankind wisdom
and knowledge; in others to a tree which is the source and fountain
of all life; and in others, again, to the actual descent of mankind
from anthropological or parent trees. In one cosmogony--that of the
Iranians--the first human pair are represented as having grown up as
a single tree, the fingers or twigs of each one being folded over the
other’s ears, till the time came when, ripe for separation, they became
two sentient beings, and were infused by Ormuzd with distinct human

But besides these trees, which in some form or other benefit and
populate the earth, there are to be found in ancient myths records of
illimitable trees that existed in space whilst yet the elements of
creation were chaotic, and whose branches overshadowed the universe.
One of the mythical accounts of the creation of the world represents
a vast cosmogonic tree rearing its enormous bulk from the midst of
an ocean before the formation of the earth had taken place; and
this conception, it may be remarked, is in consonance with a Vedic
tradition that plants were created three ages before the gods. In India
the idea of a primordial cosmogonic tree, vast as the world itself,
and the generator thereof, is very prevalent; and in the Scandinavian
prose Edda we find the Skalds shadowing forth an all-pervading mundane
Ash, called Yggdrasill, beneath whose shade the gods assemble every day
in council, and whose branches spread over the whole world, and even
reach above heaven, whilst its roots penetrate to the infernal regions.
This cloud-tree of the Norsemen is thought to be a symbol of universal

The accompanying illustration is taken from Finn Magnusen’s pictorial
representation of the Yggdrasill myth, and depicts his conception of

The Norse World-Tree.

According to the Eddaic accounts, the Ash Yggdrasill is the greatest
and best of all trees. One of its stems springs from the central
primordial abyss--from the subterranean source of matter--runs up
through the earth, which it supports, and issuing out of the celestial
mountain in the world’s centre, called Asgard, spreads its branches
over the entire universe. These wide-spread branches are the æthereal
or celestial regions; their leaves, the clouds; their buds or fruits,
the stars. Four harts run across the branches of the tree, and bite the
buds: these are the four cardinal winds. Perched upon the top branches
is an eagle, and between his eyes sits a hawk: the eagle symbolises
the air, the hawk the wind-still æther. A squirrel runs up and down
the Ash, and seeks to cause strife between the eagle and Nidhögg, a
monster, which is constantly gnawing the roots: the squirrel signifies
hail and other atmospherical phenomena; Nidhögg and the serpents that
gnaw the roots of the mundane tree are the volcanic agencies which
are constantly seeking to destroy earth’s foundations. Another stem
springs in the warm south over the æthereal Urdar fountain, where the
gods sit in judgment. In this fountain swim two swans, the progenitors
of all that species: these swans are, by Finn Magnusen, supposed to
typify the sun and moon. Near this fountain dwell three maidens, who
fix the lifetime of all men, and are called Norns: every day they draw
water from the spring, and with it sprinkle the Ash in order that its
branches may not rot and wither away. This water is so holy, that
everything placed in the spring becomes as white as the film within
an egg-shell. The dew that falls from the tree on the earth men call
honey-dew, and it is the food of the bees. The third stem of Yggdrasill
takes its rise in the cold and cheerless regions of the north (the
land of the Frost Giants), over the source of the ocean, typified by a
spring called Mimir’s Well, in which wisdom and wit lie hidden. Mimir,
the owner of this spring, is full of wisdom because he drinks of its
waters. One day Odin came and begged a draught of water from the well,
which he obtained, but was obliged to leave one of his eyes as a pledge
for it. This myth Finn Magnusen thinks signifies the descent of the
sun every evening into the sea (to learn wisdom from Mimir during the
night); the mead quaffed by Mimir every morning being the ruddy dawn,
that, spreading over the sky, exhilarates all nature.

[Illustration: [TO FACE PAGE 2.

Yggdrasill, the Mundane Tree.

_From Finn Magnusen’s ‘Eddalæren.’_]

The Hindu World-Tree.

The Indian cosmogonic tree is the symbol of vegetation, of universal
life, and of immortality. In the sacred Vedic writings it receives
the special names of _Ilpa_, _Kalpadruma_, _Kalpaka-taru_, and
_Kalpavriksha_, on the fruits of which latter tree the first men
sustained and nourished life. In its quality of Tree of Paradise, it
is called _Pârijâta_; and as the ambrosial tree--the tree yielding
immortal food--it is known as _Amrita_ and _Soma_. This mystic
world-tree of the Hindus, according to the Rigveda, is supernaturally
the God Brahma himself; and all the gods are considered as branches
of the divine parent stem--the elementary or fragmentary form of
Brahma, the vast overspreading tree of the universe. In the Vedas
this celestial tree is described as the _Pippala_ (Peepul), and is
alluded to as being in turns visited by two beauteous birds--the one
feeding itself on the fruit (typifying probably the moon or twilight);
the other simply hovering, with scintillating plumage, and singing
melodiously (typifying perhaps the sun or daybreak).

Under the name of _Ilpa_ (the _Jamboa_, or Rose-apple) the cosmogonic
tree is described as growing in the midst of the lake Ara in Brahma’s
world, beyond the river that never grows old, from whence are procured
the waters of eternal youth. Brahma imparts to it his own perfume, and
from it obtains the sap of vitality. To its branches the dead cling and
climb, in order that they may enter into the regions of immortality.

As the _Kalpadruma_, _Kalpaka-taru_, and _Kalpavriksha_, the Indian
sacred writings describe a cloud-tree, which, by its shadows, produced
day and night before the creation of sun and moon. This cosmogonic
tree, which is of colossal proportions, grows in the midst of flowers
and streamlets on a steep mountain. It fulfils all desires, imparts
untold bliss, and, what in the eyes of Buddhists constitutes its chief
sublimity, it gives knowledge and wisdom to humanity; in a word it
combines within its mystic branches all riches and all knowledge.

As the _Soma_, the world-tree becomes in Indian mysticism a tree
of Paradise, at once the king of all trees and vegetation, and the
god Soma to be adored. It furnishes the divine ambrosia or essence
of immortality, concealed sometimes in the clouds, sometimes in
the billows of the soft and silvery light that proceeds from the
great-Soma, the great Indu, the moon. Hence this mystic tree, from the
foliage of which drops the life-giving Soma, is sometimes characterised
as the Hindu Moon-Tree. Out of this cosmogonic tree the immortals
shaped the heaven and the earth. It is the Tree of Intelligence, and
grows in the third heaven, over which it spreads its mighty branches;
beneath it Yama and the Pitris dwell, and quaff the immortalising
Soma with the gods. At its foot grow plants of all healing virtue,
incorporations of the Soma. Two birds sit on its top, one of which eats
Figs, whilst the other simply watches. Other birds press out the Soma
juice from its branches. This ambrosial tree, besides dropping the
precious Soma, bears fruit and seed of every kind known in the world.

The World-Tree of the Buddhists.

The Sacred Tree of Buddha is in the complex theology of his followers
represented under different guises: it is cosmogonic, it imparts
wisdom, it produces the divine ambrosia or food of immortality, it
yields the refreshing and life-inspiring rain, and it affords an
abiding-place for the souls of the blessed.

The supernatural and sacred Tree of Buddha, the cloud-tree, the Tree
of Knowledge, the Tree of Wisdom, the Ambrosia-tree, is covered with
divine flowers; it glows and sparkles with the brilliance of all
manner of precious stones; the root, the trunk, the branches, and the
leaves are formed of gems of the most glorious description. It grows
in soil pure and delightfully even, to which the rich verdure of grass
imparts the tints of a peacock’s neck. It receives the homage of the
gods; and the arm of Mâyâ (the mother of Buddha) when she stretches
it forth to grasp the bough which bends towards her, shines as the
lightning illumines the sky. Beneath this sacred tree, the Tree of
Knowledge, Buddha, at whose birth a flash of light pierced through
all the world, sat down with the firm resolve not to rise until he
had attained the knowledge which “maketh free.” Then the Tempter,
Mâra, advanced with his demoniacal forces: encircling the Sacred Tree,
hosts of demons assailed Buddha with fiery darts, amid the whirl of
hurricanes, darkness, and the downpour of floods of water, to drive
him from the Tree. Buddha, however, maintained his position unmoved;
and at length the demons were compelled to fly. Buddha had conquered,
and in defeating the Tempter Mâra, and obtaining possession of his
Tree of Knowledge, he had also obtained possession of deliverance.
Prof. De Gubernatis, in explaining this myth, characterises the tree
as the cloud-tree: in the clouds the heavenly flame is stored, and it
is guarded by the dark demons. In the Vedic hymns, the powers of light
and darkness fight their great battle for the clouds, and the ambrosia
which they contain; this is the identical battle of Buddha with the
hosts of Mâra. In the cloud-battle the ambrosia (_amrita_) which is in
the clouds is won; the enlightenment and deliverance which Buddha wins
are also called an ambrosia; and the kingdom of knowledge is the land
of immortality.

There is a tradition current in Thibet that the Tree of Buddha received
the name of _Târâyana_, that is to say, The Way of Safety, because it
grew by the side of the river that separates the world from heaven; and
that only by means of its overhanging branches could mankind pass from
the earthly to the immortal bank.

The material tree of Buddha is generally represented either under the
form of the _Asvattha_ (the _Ficus religiosa_), or of the _Udumbara_
(the _Ficus glomerata_), which appeared at the birth of Buddha; but in
addition to these guises, we find it also associated with the _Asoka_
(_Jonesia Asoka_), the _Palasa_ (_Butea frondosa_), the _Bhânuphalâ_
(_Musa sapientum_), and sometimes with the Palmyra Palm (_Borassus

Under one of these trees the ascetic, Gautama Buddha, one momentous
night, went through successively purer and purer stages of abstraction
of consciousness, until the sense of omniscient illumination came
over him, and he attained to the knowledge of the sources of mortal
suffering. That night which Buddha passed under the Tree of Knowledge
on the banks of the river _Nairanjanâ_, is the sacred night of the
Buddhist world. There is a Peepul-tree (_Ficus religiosa_) at Buddha
Gayâ which is regarded as being this particular tree: it is very much
decayed, and must have been frequently renewed, as the present tree
is standing on a terrace at least thirty feet above the level of the
surrounding country.

The Iranian World-Tree.

The world-tree of the Iranians is the Haoma, which is thought to be
the same as the _Gaokerena_ of the Zendavesta. This Haoma, the sacred
Vine of the Zoroastrians, produces the primal drink of immortality
after which it is named. It is the first of all trees, planted in
heaven by Ormuzd, in the fountain of life, near another tree called
the “impassive” or “inviolable,” which bears the seeds of every kind
of vegetable life. Both these trees are situated in a lake called
Vouru Kasha, and are guarded by ten fish, who keep a ceaseless watch
upon a lizard sent by the evil power, Ahriman, to destroy the sacred
Haoma. The “inviolable” tree is also known both as the eagle’s and
the owl’s tree. Either one or the other of these birds (probably the
eagle) sits perched on its top. The moment he rises from the tree,
a thousand branches shoot forth; when he settles again he breaks a
thousand branches, and causes their seed to fall. Another bird, that
is his constant companion, picks up these seeds and carries them to
where Tistar draws water, which he then rains down upon the earth with
the seeds it contains. These two trees--the Haoma and the eagle’s or
“inviolable”--would seem originally to have been one. The lizard sent
by Ahriman to destroy the Haoma is known to the Indians as a dragon,
the spoiler of harvests, and the ravisher of the Apas, or brides of the
gods, Peris who navigate the celestial sea.

The Assyrian Sacred Tree.

In intimate connection with the worship of Assur, the supreme deity
of the Assyrians, “the God who created himself,” was the Sacred
Tree, regarded by the Assyrian race as the personification of life
and generation. This tree, which was considered coeval with Assur,
the great First Source, was adored in conjunction with the god; for
sculptures have been found representing figures kneeling in adoration
before it, and bearing mystic offerings to hang upon its boughs. In
these sculptured effigies of the Sacred Tree the simplest form consists
of a pair of ram’s horns, surmounted by a capital composed of two
pairs of rams’ horns, separated by horizontal bands, above which is a
scroll, and then a flower resembling the Honeysuckle ornament of the
Greeks. Sometimes this blossoms, and generally the stem also throws
out a number of smaller blossoms, which are occasionally replaced by
Fir-cones and Pomegranates. In the most elaborately-portrayed Sacred
Trees there is, besides the stem and the blossoms, a network of
branches, which forms a sort of arch, and surrounds the tree as it were
with a frame.

The Phœnicians, who were not idolaters, in the ordinary acceptation of
the word--inasmuch as they did not worship images of their deities,
and regarded the ever-burning fire on their altars as the sole emblem
of the Supreme Being,--paid adoration to this Sacred Tree, effigies of
which were set up in front of the temples, and had sacrifices offered
to them. This mystic tree was known to the Jews as _Asherah_. At
festive seasons the Phœnicians adorned it with boughs, flowers, and
ribands, and regarded it as the central object of their worship.

The Mother Tree of the Greeks, Romans, and Teutons.

The Greeks appear to have cherished a tradition that the first race of
men sprang from a cosmogonic Ash. This cloud Ash became personified
in their myth as a daughter of Oceanos, named Melia, who married
the river-god Inachos, and gave birth to Phoroneus, in whom the
Peloponnesian legend recognised the fire-bringer and the first man.
According to Hesychius, however, Phoroneus was not the only mortal to
whom the Mother Ash gave birth, for he tells us distinctly that the
race of men was “the fruit of the Ash.” Hesiod also repeats the same
fable in a somewhat different guise, when he relates how Jove created
the third or brazen race of men out of Ash trees. Homer appears to have
been acquainted with this tradition, for he makes Penelope say, when
addressing Ulysses: “Tell me thy family, from whence thou art; for thou
art not sprung from the olden tree, or from the rock.” The Ash was
generally deemed by the Greeks an image of the clouds and the mother of
men,--the prevalent idea being that the Meliai, or nymphs of the Ash,
were a race of cloud goddesses, daughters of sea gods, whose domain was
originally the cloud sea.

But besides the Ash, the Greeks would seem to have regarded the Oak as
a tree from which the human race had sprung, and to have called Oak
trees the first mothers. This belief was shared by the Romans. Thus
Virgil speaks

  “Of nymphs and fauns, and savage men, who took
  Their birth from trunks of trees and stubborn Oak.”

In another passage the great Latin poet, speaking of the _Æsculus_, a
species of Oak, sacred to Jupiter, gives to it attributes which remind
us in a very striking manner of Yggdrasill, the cloud-tree of the

  “_Æsculus in primis, quæ quantum vortice ad auras
  Ætherias, tantum radice in Tartara tendit._”--_Georg._ ii.

  “High as his topmost boughs to heaven ascend,
  So low his roots to hell’s dominion tend.”--_Dryden._

In the Æneid, Book IV., speaking of the Oak as _Quercus_, Virgil uses
the same expression with regard to the roots of Jove’s tree descending
to the infernal regions. Juvenal, also, in his sixth satire, alluding
to the beginning of the world, speaks of the human race as formed
of clay or born of the opening Oak, which thus becomes the mystical
mother-tree of mankind, and, like a mother, sustained her offspring
with food she herself created. Thus Ovid tells us that the simple food
of the primal race consisted largely of “Acorns dropping from the tree
of Jove;” and we read in Homer and Hesiod that the Acorn was the common
food of the Arcadians.

The belief of the ancient Greeks and Romans that the progenitors of
mankind were born of trees was also common to the Teutons. At the
present day, in many parts of both North and South Germany, a hollow
tree overhanging a pool is designated as the first abode of unborn
infants, and little children are taught to believe that babies are
fetched by the doctor from cavernous trees or ancient stumps. “Frau
Holda’s tree” is a common name in Germany for old decayed boles; and
she herself, the cloud-goddess, is described in a Hessian legend as
having in front the form of a beautiful woman, and behind that of a
hollow tree with rugged bark.

But besides Frau Holda’s tree the ancient Germans knew a cosmogonic
tree, assimilating to the Scandinavian Yggdrasill. The trunk of this
Teutonic world-tree was called _Irminsul_, a name implying the column
of the universe, which supports everything.

A Byzantine legend, which is current in Russia, tells of a vast
world-tree of iron, which in the beginning of all things spread its
gigantic bulk throughout space. Its root is the power of God; its head
sustains the three worlds,--heaven, with the ocean of air; the earth,
with its seas of water; and hell, with its sulphurous fumes and glowing

Rabbinic traditions make the Mosaic Tree of Life, which stood in
the centre of the Garden of Eden, a vast world-tree, resembling in
many points the Scandinavian Ash Yggdrasill. A description of this
world-tree of the Rabbins, however, need not appear in the present
chapter, since it will be found on page 13.




The Trees of Paradise and the Tree of Adam.

Amongst all peoples, and in all ages, there has lingered a belief
possessing peculiar powers of fascination, that in some unknown region,
remote and unexplored, there existed a glorious and happy land; a
land of sunshine, luxuriance, and plenty, a land of stately trees and
beauteous flowers,--a terrestrial Paradise.

A tradition contained in the sacred books of the Parsis states that at
the beginning of the world Ormuzd, the giver of all good, created the
primal steer, which contained the germs of all the animals. Ahriman,
the evil spirit, then created venomous animals which destroyed the
steer: while dying, there sprang out of his right hip the first man,
and out of his left hip the first man’s soul. From him arose a tree
whence came the original human pair, namely _Mâshya_ and _Mashyôî_
who were placed in _Heden_, a delightful spot, where grew _Hom_
(or _Haoma_), the Tree of Life, the fruit of which gave vigour and
immortality. This Paradise was in Iran. The woman being persuaded by
Ahriman, in the guise of a serpent, gave her husband fruit to eat,
which was destructive.

The Persians also imagined a Paradise on Mount Caucasus. The Arabians
conceived an Elysium in the midst of the deserts of Aden. The pagan
Scandinavians sang of the Holy City of Asgard, situated in the centre
of the world. The Celts believed an earthly Paradise to exist in the
enchanted Isle of Avalon--the Island of the Blest--

  “Where falls not hail or rain, or any snow,
  Nor even wind blows loudly; but it lies
  Deep-meadow’d, happy, fair, with orchard lawn
  And bowery hollows.”

The Greeks and Romans pictured to themselves the delightful gardens
of the Hesperides, where grew the famous trees that produced Apples
of gold; and in the early days of Christendom the poets of the West
dreamt of a land in the East (the true Paradise of Adam and Eve, as
they believed) in which dwelt in a Palm-tree the golden-breasted
Phœnix,--the bird of the sun, which was thought to abide a hundred
years in this Elysium of the Arabian deserts, and then to appear in
the Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis, fall upon the blazing altar, and,
pouring forth a melodious song from or through the orifices of its
feathers (which thus formed a thousand organ-pipes), cremate itself,
only to rise again from its smoking ashes, and fly back to its home
in the Palm-tree of the earthly Paradise. The Russians tell of a
terrestrial Paradise to be sought for on the island of Bujan, where
grows the vast Oak tree, amidst whose majestic branches the sun nestles
to sleep every evening, and from whose summit he rises every morning.

The Hindu religion shadows forth an Elysium on Mount Meru, on the
confines of Cashmere and Thibet. The garden of the great Indian god
Indra is a spot of unparalleled beauty. Here are to be found an
umbrageous grove or wood, where the gods delight to take their ease;
cooling fountains and rivulets; an enchanting flower-garden, luminous
flowers, immortalising fruits, and brilliantly-plumed birds, whose
melody charms the gods themselves. In this Paradise are fine trees,
which were the first things that appeared above the surface of the
troubled waters at the beginning of the creation; from these trees drop
the immortalising ambrosia. The principal tree is the _Pârijâta_, the
flower of which preserves its perfume all the year round, combines in
its petals every odour and every flavour, presents to each his favorite
colour and most-esteemed perfume, and procures happiness for those who
ask it. But beyond this, it is a token of virtue, losing its freshness
in the hands of the wicked, but preserving it with the just and
honourable. This wondrous flower will also serve as a torch by night,
and will emit the most enchanting sounds, producing the sweetest and
most varied melody; it assuages hunger and thirst, cures diseases, and
remedies the ravages of old age.

The Paradise of Mahomet is situated in the seventh heaven. In the
centre of it stands the marvellous tree called _Tooba_,[1] which is so
large that a man mounted on the fleetest horse could not ride round
its branches in one hundred years. This tree not only affords the most
grateful shade over the whole extent of the Mussulman Paradise; but its
boughs are laden with delicious fruits of a size and taste unknown to
mortals, and moreover bend themselves at the wish of the inhabitants
of this abode of bliss, to enable them to partake of these delicacies
without any trouble. The Koran often speaks of the rivers of Paradise
as adding greatly to its delights. All these rivers take their rise
from the tree _Tooba_; some flow with water, some with milk, some with
honey, and others even with wine, the juice of the grape not being
forbidden to the blessed.

[1] The name of “_Tooba_” applied to this tree, originated in a
misunderstanding of the words _Tooba lahum_, “it is well with them,” or
“blessedness awaits them,” in Koran xiii., 28. Some commentators took
_Tooba_ for the name of a tree.

We have seen how the most ancient races conceived and cherished
the notion of a Paradise of surpassing beauty, situate in remote
and unknown regions, both celestial and terrestrial. It is not,
therefore, surprising that the Paradise of the Hebrew race--the Mosaic
Eden--should have been pictured as a luxuriant garden, stocked with
lovely flowers and odorous herbs, and shaded by majestic trees of every

We are told, in the second chapter of Genesis, that at the beginning
of the world “the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden,” and
that out of this country of Eden a river went out “to water the
garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.”
These “heads” or rivers are further on, in the Biblical narrative,
named respectively Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates. Many have
been the speculations as to the exact site, geographical features,
&c., of Eden, and the Divinely-planted Paradise in its midst, and
the subject has been one which has ever been fruitful of controversy
and conjecture. Sir John Maundevile has recorded that the Garden of
Eden, or Paradise, was enclosed by a wall. This old Eastern traveller
tells us that although, in the course of his wanderings, he had never
actually seen the land of Eden, yet wise men had discoursed to him
concerning it. He says: “Paradise Terrestre, as wise men say, is the
highest place of earth--that is, in all the world; and it is so high,
that it toucheth nigh to the circle of the moon. For it is so high that
the flood of Noah might never come to it, albeit it did cover all the
earth of the world, all about, and aboven and beneathen, save Paradise
alone. And this Paradise is enclosed all about with a wall, and men
wist not whereof it is; for the walls be covered all over with moss, as
it seemeth. And it seemeth not that the wall is stone of nature. And
that wall stretcheth from the South to the North, and it hath not but
one entry, that is closed with fire burning, so that no man that is
mortal he dare not enter. And in the highest place of Paradise, exactly
in the middle, is a well that casts out the four streams which run by
divers lands, of which the first is called Pison, or Ganges, that runs
throughout India. And the other is called Nile, or Gyson, which goes
through Ethiopia, and after through Egypt. And the other is called
Tigris, which runs by Assyria, and by Armenia the Great. And the other
is called Euphrates, which runs through Media, Armenia, and Persia. And
men there beyond say that all the sweet waters of the world, above and
beneath, take their beginning from the well of Paradise, and out of the
well all waters come and go.”

Eden (a Hebrew word, signifying “Pleasure”), it is generally conceded,
was the most beauteous and luxuriant portion of the world; and the
Garden of Eden, the Paradise of Adam and Eve, was the choicest and
most exquisite portion of Eden. As regards the situation of this
terrestrial Paradise, the Biblical narrative distinctly states that
it was in the East, but various have been the speculations as to the
precise locality. Moses, in writing of Eden, probably contemplated the
country watered by the Tigris and Euphrates--the land of the mighty
city of Babylon. Many traditions confirm this view: not only were
there a district called Eden, and a town called Paradisus, in Syria, a
neighbouring country to Mesopotamia, but in Mesopotamia itself there
is a certain region which, as late as the year 1552, was called Eden.
Some would localise the Eden of Scripture near Mount Lebanon, in Syria;
others between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, to the west of Babylon;
others, again, in the delightful plains of Armenia, or in the highlands
of Armenia, where the Tigris and Euphrates have their rise. An opinion
very generally held is, that Eden was placed at the junction of several
rivers, on a site which is now swallowed up by the Persian Gulf, and
that it never existed after the deluge, which effaced this Paradise
from the face of a polluted earth. Another theory places Eden in a
vast central portion of the globe, comprising a large piece of Asia
and a portion of Africa, the four rivers being the Ganges, the Tigris,
the Euphrates, and the Nile. Dr. Wild, of Toronto, is of opinion that
the Garden of Paradise embraced what we now call Syria. The land
that God gave to Abraham and his seed for ever--the Land of Promise,
the Holy Land--is the very territory that constituted the Garden of
Paradise. “Before the flood,” says the reverend gentleman, “there was
in connection with this garden, to the east of it, a gate and a flaming
sword, guarding this gate, and a way to the Tree of Life. On that very
spot I believe the Great Pyramid of Egypt to be built, to mark where
the face of God shone forth to man before the Flood; and the Flood,
by changing the land surface through the changing of the ocean bed,
changed the centre somewhat, and threw it further south. It is the very
centre of the earth now where the Pyramid stands, ... and marks the
place where the gate of Eden was before the Flood.”[2]

[2] Besides the localities already mentioned, Paradise has been
located on Mount Ararat; in Persia; in Ethiopia; in the land now
covered by the Caspian Sea; in a plain on the summit of Mount Taurus;
in Sumatra; in the Canaries; and in the Island of Ceylon, where there
is a mountain called the Peak of Adam, underneath which, according to
native tradition, lie buried the remains of the first man, and whereon
is shown the gigantic impress of his foot. Goropius Becanus places
Paradise near the river Acesines, on the confines of India. Tertullian,
Bonaventura, and Durandus affirm that it was under the Equinoctial,
while another authority contends that it was situated beneath the
North Pole. Virgil places the happy land of the Hyperboreans under the
North Pole, and the Arctic Regions were long associated with ideas of
enchantment and beauty, chiefly because of the mystery that has always
enveloped these remote and unexplored regions. Peter Comestor and Moses
Barcephas set Paradise in a region separated from our habitable zone by
a long tract of land and sea, and elevated so that it reaches to the
sphere of the moon.

The Tree of life.

Whatever may have been the site of the land of Eden or Pleasure, Moses,
in describing Paradise as its garden (much as we speak of Kent as the
Garden of England), doubtless wished to convey the idea of a sanctuary
of delight and primal loveliness; indeed, he tells us that “out of the
ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the
sight and good for food.” This Paradise was in the middle of Eden, and
in the middle of Paradise was planted the Tree of Life, and, close by,
the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Into this garden the Lord put
the man whom He had formed, “to dress and to keep it,” in other words
to till, plant, and sow.

In the very centre of Paradise, in the midst of the land of Eden,
grew the Tree of Life. Now, what was this tree? Various have been the
conjectures with regard to its nature. The traditions of the Rabbins
make the Tree of Life a supernatural tree, resembling the world- or
cloud-trees of the Scandinavians and Hindus, and bearing a striking
resemblance to the _Tooba_ of the Mahomedan Paradise. They describe the
Tree of Life as being of enormous bulk, towering far above all others,
and so vast in its girth, that no man, even if he lived so long, could
travel round it in less than five hundred years. From beneath the
colossal base of this stupendous tree gushed all the waters of the
earth, by whose instrumentality nature was everywhere refreshed and
invigorated. Regarding these Rabbinic traditions as purely mythical,
certain commentators have regarded the Tree of Life as typical only of
that life and the continuance of it which our first parents derived
from God. Others think that it was called the Tree of Life because it
was a memorial, pledge, and seal of the eternal life which, had man
continued in obedience, would have been his reward in the Paradise
above. Others, again, believe that the fruit of it had a certain vital
influence to cherish and maintain man in immortal health and vigour
till he should have been translated from the earthly to the heavenly

Dr. Wild considers that the Tree of Life stood on Mount Moriah, the
very spot selected, in after years, by Abraham, whereon to offer his
son Isaac, the type, and the mount to which Christ was led out to be
sacrificed. As Eden occupied the centre of the world, and the Tree
of Life was planted in the middle of Eden, that spot marked the very
centre of the world, and it was necessary that He who was the life of
mankind should die in the centre of the world, and act from the centre.
Hence, the Tree of Life, destroyed at the flood, on account of man’s
wickedness, was replaced on the same spot, centuries after, by the
Cross,--converted by the Redeemer into a second and everlasting Tree of

Adam was told he might eat freely of every tree in the garden,
excepting only the Tree of Knowledge; we may, therefore, suppose
that he would be sure to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life,
which, from its prominent position “in the midst of the garden,”
would naturally attract his attention. Like the sacred Soma-tree of
the Hindus, the Tree of Life probably yielded heavenly ambrosia, and
supplied to Adam food that invigorated and refreshed him with its
immortal sustenance. So long as he remained in obedience, he was
privileged to partake of this glorious food; but when, yielding to
Eve’s solicitations, he disobeyed the Divine command, and partook of
the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, he found it had given to him the
knowledge of evil--something of which he had hitherto been in happy
ignorance. He had sinned; he was no longer fit to taste the immortal
ambrosia of the Tree of Life; he was, therefore, driven forth from
Eden, and lest he should be tempted once again to return and partake of
the glorious fruit of the immortalising tree, God “placed at the east
of the Garden of Eden cherubims and a flaming sword, which turned every
way, to keep the way of the Tree of Life.” Henceforth the immortal
food was lost to man: he could no longer partake of that mystic fruit
which bestowed life and health. Dr. Wild is of opinion that the Tree
of Knowledge stood on Mount Zion, the spot afterwards selected by
the Almighty for the erection of the Temple; because, through the
Shechinah, men could there obtain knowledge of good and evil.

Some have claimed that the Banana, the _Musa paradisiaca_, was the Tree
of Life, and that another species of the tree, the _Musa sapientum_,
was the Tree of Knowledge; others consider that the Indian sacred
Fig-tree, the _Ficus religiosa_, the Hindu world-tree, was the Tree of
Life which grew in the middle of Eden; and the Bible itself contains
internal evidence supporting this idea. In Gen. iii. 8, we read
that Adam and Eve, conscious of having sinned, “hid themselves from
the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” Dr.
Wright, however, in his Commentary, remarks that, in the original, the
word rendered “trees” is singular--“in the midst of the tree of the
garden”--consequently, we may infer that Adam and Eve, frightened by
the knowledge of their sin, sought the shelter of the Tree of Life--the
tree in the centre of the garden; the tree which, if it were the _Ficus
religiosa_, would, by its gigantic stature, and the grove-like nature
of its growth, afford them agreeable shelter, and prove a favourite
retreat. Beneath the shade of this stupendous Fig-tree, the erring pair
reflected upon their lost innocence; and in their conscious shame,
plucked the ample foliage of the tree, and made themselves girdles of
Fig-leaves. Here they remained hidden beneath the network of boughs
which drooped almost to the earth, and thus formed a natural thicket
within which they sought to hide themselves from an angry God.

                  “A pillared shade
  High over-arched, with echoing walks between.”--_Milton._

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The Tree of Knowledge, in the opinion of some commentators, was so
called, not because of any supernatural power it possessed of inspiring
those who might eat of it with universal knowledge, as the serpent
afterwards suggested, but because by Adam and Eve abstaining from or
eating of it after it was prohibited, God would see whether they would
prove good or evil in their state of probation.

The tradition generally accepted as to the fruit which the serpent
tempted Eve to eat, fixes it as the Apple, but there is no evidence
in the Bible that the Tree of Knowledge was an Apple-tree, unless
the remark, “I raised thee up under the Apple-tree,” to be found in
Canticles viii., 5, be held to apply to our first parents. Eve is
stated to have plucked the forbidden fruit because she saw that it was
good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and that the tree
which bore it was “to be desired to make one wise.”

According to an Indian legend, it was the fruit of the Banana tree
(_Musa paradisiaca_ or _M. sapientum_) that proved so fatal to Adam and
Eve. We read in Gerarde’s ‘Herbal,’ that “the Grecians and Christians
which inhabit Syria, and the Jewes also, suppose it to be that tree
of whose fruit Adam did taste.” Gerarde himself calls it “Adam’s
Apple-tree,” and remarks of the fruit, that “if it be cut according to
the length oblique, transverse, or any other way whatsoever, may be
seen the shape and forme of a crosse, with a man fastened thereto. My
selfe have seene the fruit, and cut it in pieces, which was brought me
from Aleppo, in pickle; the crosse, I might perceive, as the forme of
a spred-egle in the root of Ferne, but the man I leave to be sought
for by those which have better eies and judgement than my selfe.” Sir
John Mandeville gives a similar account of the cross in the Plantain
or “Apple of Paradise.” In a work by Léon, called ‘Africa,’ it is
stated that the Banana is in that country generally identified with
the Tree of Adam. “The Mahometan priests say that this fruit is that
which God forbade Adam and Eve to eat; for immediately they eat they
perceived their nakedness, and to cover themselves employed the leaves
of this tree, which are more suitable for the purpose than any other.”
To this day the Indian Djainas are by their laws forbidden to eat
either Bananas or Figs. Vincenzo, a Roman missionary of the seventeenth
century, after stating that the Banana fruit in Phœnicia bears the
effigy of the Crucifixion, tells us that the Christians of those
parts would not on any account cut it with a knife, but always broke
it with their hands. This Banana, he adds, grows near Damascus, and
they call it there “Adam’s Fig Tree.” In the Canaries, at the present
time, Banana fruit is never cut across with a knife, because it then
exhibits a representation of the Crucifixion. In the island of Ceylon
there is a legend that Adam once had a fruit garden in the vicinity
of the torrent of Seetagunga, on the way to the Peak. Pridham, in
his history of the island, tells us that from the circumstance that
various fruits have been occasionally carried down the stream, both the
Moormen and Singalese believe that this garden still exists, although
now inaccessible, and that its explorer would never return. Tradition,
however, affirms that in the centre of this Ceylon Paradise grows a
large Banana-tree, the fruit of which when cut transversely exhibits
the figure of a man crucified, and that from the huge leaves of this
tree Adam and Eve made themselves coverings.

Certain commentators are of opinion that the Tree of Knowledge was a
Fig-tree--the _Ficus Indica_, the Banyan, one of the sacred trees of
the Hindus, under the pillared shade of which the god Vishnu was fabled
to have been born. In this case the Fig-tree is a tree of ill-omen--a
tree watched originally by Satan in the form of a serpent, and whose
fruit gave the knowledge of evil. After having tempted and caused
Adam to fall by means of its fruit, its leaves were gathered to cover
nakedness and shame. Again, the Fig was the tree which the demons
selected as their refuge, if one may judge from the _fauni ficarii_,
whom St. Jerome recognised in certain monsters mentioned by the
prophets. The Fig was the only tree accursed by Christ whilst on earth;
and the wild Fig, according to tradition, was the tree upon which
the traitor Judas hanged himself, and from that time has always been
regarded as under a bane.

The Citron is held by many to have been the forbidden fruit. Gerarde
tells us that this tree was originally called _Pomum Assyrium_, but
that it was known among the Italian people as _Pomum Adami_; and,
writes the old herbalist, “that came by the opinion of the common rude
people, who thinke it to be the same Apple which Adam did eate of in
Paradise, when he transgressed God’s commandment; whereupon also the
prints of the biting appeare therein as they say; but others say that
this is not the Apple, but that which the Arabians do call _Musa_ or
_Mosa_, whereof Avicen maketh mention: for divers of the Jewes take
this for that through which by eating Adam offended.”

The Pomegranate, Orange, Corn, and Grapes have all been identified as
the “forbidden fruit;” but upon what grounds it is difficult to surmise.

After their disobedience, Adam and Eve were driven out of Paradise,
and, according to Arabian tradition, Adam took with him three
things--an ear of Wheat, which is the chief of all kinds of food;
Dates, which are the chief of fruits; and the Myrtle, which is
the chief of sweet-scented flowers. Maimonides mentions a legend,
cherished by the Nabatheans, that Adam, when he reached the district
about Babylon, had come from India, carrying with him a golden tree
in blossom, a leaf that no fire would burn, two leaves, each of which
would cover a man, and an enormous leaf plucked from a tree beneath
whose branches ten thousand men could find shelter.

The Tree of Adam.

There is a legend handed down both by Hebrews and Greeks, that when
Adam had attained the ripe age of 900 years, he overtaxed his strength
in uprooting an enormous bush, and that falling very sick, and feeling
the approach of death, he sent his son Seth to the angel who guarded
Paradise, and particularly the way to the Tree of Life, to ask of
him some of its ambrosia, or oil of mercy, that he might anoint his
limbs therewith, and so regain good health. Seth approached the Tree
of Knowledge, of the fruit of which Adam and Eve had once partaken. A
youth, radiant as the sun, was seated on its summit, and, addressing
Seth, told him that He was the Son of God, that He would one day come
down to earth, to deliver it from sin, and that He would then give the
oil of mercy to Adam.

The angel who was guarding the Tree of Life then handed to Seth three
small seeds, charging him to place them in his father’s mouth, when
he should bury him near Mount Tabor, in the valley of Hebron. Seth
obeyed the angel’s behests. The three seeds took root, and in a short
time appeared above the ground, in the form of three rods. One of
these saplings was a branch of Olive, the second a Cedar, the third
a Cypress. The three rods did not leave the mouth of Adam, nor was
their existence known until the time of Moses, who received from God
the order to cut them. Moses obeyed, and with these three rods, which
exhaled a perfume of the Promised Land, performed many miracles, cured
the sick, drew water from a rock, &c.

After the death of Moses, the three rods remained unheeded in the
Valley of Hebron until the time of King David, who, warned by the
Holy Ghost, sought and found them there. Hence they were taken by the
King to Jerusalem, where all the leprous, the dumb, the blind, the
paralysed, and other sick people presented themselves before the King,
beseeching him to give them the salvation of the Cross. King David
thereupon touched them with the three rods, and their infirmities
instantly vanished. After this the King placed the three rods in a
cistern, but to his astonishment upon going the next day for them, he
discovered they had all three firmly taken root, that the roots had
become inextricably interlaced, and that the three rods were in fact
reunited in one stem which had shot up therefrom, and had become a
Cedar sapling,--the tree that was eventually to furnish the wood of the
Cross. This reunion of the three rods was typical of the Trinity. The
young Cedar was subsequently placed in the Temple, but we hear nothing
more of it for thirty years, when Solomon, wishing to complete the
Temple, obtained large supplies of Cedars of Lebanon, and as being well
adapted for his purpose cut down the Cedar of the Temple. The trunk of
this tree, lying with the other timber, was seen by a woman, who sat
down on it, and inspired with the spirit of prophecy cried: “Behold!
the Lord predicts the virtues of the Sacred Cross.” The Jews thereupon
attacked the woman, and having stoned her, they plunged the sacred wood
of the Temple into the _piscina probatica_, of which the water acquired
from that moment healing qualities, and which was afterwards called
the Pool of Bethesda. In the hope of profaning it the Jews afterwards
employed the sacred wood in the construction of the bridge of Siloam,
over which everybody unheedingly passed, excepting only the Queen of
Sheba, who, prostrating herself, paid homage to it and prophetically
cried that of this wood would one day be made the Cross of the Redeemer.

Thus, although Adam by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge,
came to know that which was evil, and could no longer be permitted to
partake of the fruit or essence of the Tree of Life, yet, from its
seeds, placed in his mouth after death, sprang the tree which produced
the Cross of Christ, by means of which he and his race could attain to
eternal life.

According to Prof. Mussafia,[3] an authority quoted by De Gubernatis,
the origin of this legend of Seth’s visit to Paradise is to be found in
the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus, where it is stated that the Angel
Michael refused to give the oil of mercy to Seth, and told him that
Christ would one day visit the earth to anoint all believers, and to
conduct Adam to the Tree of Mercy. Some of the legends collected by the
Professor are very curious.

[3] Treatise on the Legend of the Sacred Wood. Vienna, 1870.

An Austrian legend records that the Angel Michael gave to Eve and her
son Seth a spray with three leaves, plucked from the Tree of Knowledge,
with directions to plant it on the grave of Adam. The spray took root
and became a tree, which Solomon placed as an ornament in the Temple of
Jerusalem, and which was cast into the _piscina probatica_, where it
lay until the day of Christ’s condemnation, when it was taken out and
fashioned into the Cross on which He suffered.

A German legend narrates that Eve went with Seth to Paradise, where
she encountered the serpent; but the Angel Michael gave her a branch
of Olive, which, planted over the grave of Adam, grew rapidly. After
the death of Eve, Seth returned to Paradise, and there met the Angel,
who had in his hands a branch to which was suspended the half of the
Apple which had been bitten by his mother Eve. The Angel gave this to
Seth, at the same time recommending him to take as great care of it as
of the Olive planted on Adam’s grave, because these two trees would one
day become the means of the redemption of mankind. Seth scrupulously
watched over the precious branch, and at the hour of his death
bequeathed it to the best of men. Thus it came into the hands of Noah,
who took it into the Ark with him. After the Deluge, Noah sent forth
the dove as a messenger, and it brought to him a branch of the Olive
planted on the tomb of Adam. Noah religiously guarded the two precious
branches which were destined to be instrumental in redeeming the human
race by furnishing the wood of the Cross.

A second German legend states that Adam, when at the point of death,
sent Seth to Paradise to gather there for him some of the forbidden
fruit (probably this is a mistake for “some of the fruit of the Tree
of Life”). Seth hesitated, saying as an excuse that he did not know
the way. Adam directed him to follow a tract of country entirely bare
of vegetation. Arrived safely at Paradise, Seth persuaded the angel to
give him, not the Apple, but simply the core of the Apple tasted by
Eve. On Seth returning home, he found his father dead; so extracting
from the Apple-core three pips, he placed them in Adam’s mouth. From
them sprang three plants that Solomon cut down in order to form a
cross--the selfsame cross afterwards borne by our Saviour, and on which
He was crucified--and a rod of justice, which, split in the middle,
eventually served to hold the superscription written by Pilate, and
placed at the head of the Cross.

A legend, current in the Greek Church, claims the Olive as the Tree of
Adam: this, perhaps, is not surprising considering in what high esteem
the Greeks have always held the Olive. The legend tells how Seth, going
to seek the oil of mercy in Paradise, in consequence of his father’s
illness, was told by the angel that the time had not arrived. The angel
then presented him with three branches--the Olive, Cedar, and Cypress:
these Seth was ordered to plant over Adam’s grave, and the promise was
given him that when they produced oil, Adam should rise restored to
health. Seth, following these instructions, plaited the three branches
together and planted them over the grave of his father, where they soon
became united as one tree. After a time this tree was transplanted,
in the first place to Mount Lebanon, and afterwards to the outskirts
of Jerusalem, and it is there to this day in the Greek Monastery,
having been cut down and the timber placed beneath the altar. From
this circumstance the Monastery was called, in Hebrew, the Mother of
the Cross. This same wood was revealed to Solomon by the Queen of
Sheba, and Solomon therefore ordered it to be used in the foundation
of a tower; but the tower having been rent in twain by an earthquake
which occurred at our Saviour’s birth, the wood was cast into a pool
called the _probatica piscina_, to which it imparted wonderful healing

[4] Sir John Maundevile, who visited Jerusalem about the middle of
the fourteenth century, states that to the north of the Temple stood
the Church of St. Anne, “oure Ladyes modre: and there was our Lady
conceyved. And before that chirche is a gret tree, that began to
growe the same nyght.... And in that chirche is a welle, in manere of
a cisterne, that is clept _Probatica Piscina_, that hath 5 entreez.
Into that welle aungeles were wont to come from Hevene, and bathen hem
with inne: and what man that first bathed him aftre the mevynge of the
watre, was made hool of what maner sykenes that he hadde.”

There is another somewhat similar Greek legend, in which Abraham
takes the place of Adam, and the Pine supersedes the Olive. According
to this version, a shepherd met Abraham on the banks of the Jordan,
and confessed to him a sin he had committed. Abraham listened, and
counselled the erring shepherd to plant three stakes, and to water them
carefully until they should bud. After forty days the three stakes had
taken the form of a Cypress, a Cedar, and a Pine, having different
roots and branches, but one indivisible trunk. This tree grew until the
time of Solomon, who wished to make use of it in the construction of
the Temple. After several abortive attempts, it was at length made into
a seat for visitors to the Temple. The Sibyl Erythræa (the Queen of
Sheba) refused to sit upon it, and exclaimed: “Thrice blessed is this
wood, on which shall perish Christ, the King and God.” Then Solomon had
the wood mounted on a pedestal and adorned with thirty rings or crowns
of silver. These thirty rings became the thirty pieces of silver, the
price of Judas, the betrayer, and the wood was eventually used for the
Saviour’s Cross.




Sacred Trees & Plants of the Ancients.

All the nations of antiquity entertained for certain trees and
plants a special reverence, which in many cases degenerated into a
superstitious worship. The myths of all countries contain allusions
to sacred or supernatural plants. The Veda mentions the heavenly tree
which the lightning strikes down; the mythology of the Finns speaks of
the celestial Oak which the sun-dwarf uproots; Yama, the Vedic god of
death, sits drinking with companies of the blessed, under a leafy tree,
just as in the northern Saga Hel’s place is at the foot of the Ash

In the eyes of the ancient Persians the tree, by its changes in Spring,
Summer, Autumn, and Winter, appeared as the emblem of human existence,
whilst at the same time, by the continuity of its life, it was
reverently regarded as a symbol of immortality. Hence it came to pass
that in Persia trees of unusual qualities were in course of time looked
upon as being the abode of holy and even celestial spirits. Such trees
became sacred, and were addressed in prayer by the reverential Parsis,
though they eschewed the worship of idols, and honoured the sun and
moon simply as symbols. Ormuzd, the good spirit, is set forth as giving
this command:--“Go, O Zoroaster! to the living trees, and let thy mouth
speak before them these words: I pray to the pure trees, the creatures
of Ormuzd.” Of all trees, however, the Cypress, with its pyramidal
top pointing to the sky, was to the Parsis the most venerated: hence
they planted it before their temples and palaces as symbolic of the
celestial fire.

The Oak, the strongest of all trees, has been revered as the emblem
of the Supreme Being by almost all the nations of heathendom, by the
Jewish Patriarchs, and by the children of Israel, who eventually came
to esteem the tree sacred, and offered sacrifices beneath its boughs.
Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Teutons, and Celts, all considered the Oak
as sacred, and the Druids taught the people of Britain to regard this
tree with peculiar reverence and respect. It is frequently mentioned
by the Roman poets as the tree of Jove, to whom it was dedicated; and
near to Chaonia, a mountainous part of Epirus, was a forest of Oaks,
called the Chaonian or Dodonæan Forest, where oracles were given, as
some say, by the trees themselves. The world-tree of Romowe, the old
centre of the Prussians, was an Oak, and it was reverenced as a tree of
great sanctity.

The Indians adored the tree _Asoka_, consecrated to Vishnu; and the
Banyan, in the belief that Vishnu was born amongst its branches.[5]

[5] In the rites appertaining to the great sacrifice in honour of the
god Vishnu at the end of March, the following plants were employed,
and consequently acquired a sacred character in the eyes of the
Indians:--Sesamum seed, leaves of the Asvattha, Mango leaves, flowers
of the Sami, Kunda flowers, the Lotus flower, Oleander flowers,
Nagakesara flowers, powdered Tulasi leaves, powdered Bel leaves, leaves
of the Kunda, Barley meal, meal of the Nivara grain (a wild paddy),
powder of Sati leaves, Turmeric powder, meal of the Syamaka grain,
powdered Ginger, powdered Priyangu seeds, Rice meal, powder of Bel
leaves, powder of the leaves of the Amblic Myrobalan, and Kangni seed
meal.--_An Imperial Assemblage at Delhi Three Thousand Years Ago._

The _Soma-latâ_ (_Sarcostemma aphylla_), or sacred plant yielding the
immortal fluid offered to the gods on the altars of the Brahmans,
is regarded with extreme reverence. The name _Amrita_, or Immortal
Tree, is given to the _Euphorbia_, _Panicum Dactylon_, _Cocculus
cordifolius_, _Pinus Deodara_, _Emblica officinalis_, _Terminalia
citrina_, _Piper longum_, and many others. The Holy Basil (_Ocimum
sanctum_) is looked upon as a sacred plant. The Deodar is the
_Devadâru_ or tree-god of the Shastras, alluded to in Vedic hymns as
the symbol of majesty and power.

To Indra, the supreme god of the Vedic Olympus, are dedicated the
_Terminalia Arjuna_ (the Tree of Indra), the _Methonica superba_
(the Flower of Indra), a species of Pumpkin called _Indra-vârunikâ_
(appertaining to Indra and Varuna), the _Vitex Negundo_ (the drink of
Indra), the _Abrus precatorius_, and Hemp (the food of Indra).

To Brahma are sacred the _Butea frondosa_, the _Ficus glomerata_,
the Mulberry (the seed of Brahma), the _Clerodendron Siphonanthus_,
the _Hemionitis cordifolia_ (leaf of Brahma), the _Saccharum Munga_
(with which is formed the sacred girdle of the Brahmans), and the _Poa
cynosuroides_, or Kusa Grass, a species of Vervain, employed in Hindu
sacrificial rites, and held in such sanctity as to be acknowledged as a

The Peepul or Bo-tree (_Ficus religiosa_) is held sacred by Buddhists
as the Holy Tree and the Tree of Knowledge.

The Burmese Buddhists surround their Pagodas and religious houses with
trees, for which they entertain a high regard. The first holy men dwelt
under the shade of forest trees, and from that circumstance, in the
Burmese cultus, every Budh is specially connected with some tree--as
Shin Gautama with the Banyan, under which he attained his full dignity,
and the _Shorea robusta_, under which he was born and died--and, as we
are told, the last Budh of this world cycle, Areemadehya, will receive
his Buddhaship under the _Mesua ferrea_.

The Burman also regards the Eugenia as a plant of peculiar sanctity--a
protective from all harm. The Jamboa, or Rose Apple, is held in much
reverence in Thibet, where it is looked upon as the representative of
the mystical _Amrita_, the tree which in Paradise produces the _amrita_
or ambrosia of the gods.

The Cedar has always been regarded by the Jews as a sacred tree; and
to this day the Maronites, Greeks, and Armenians go up to the Cedars
of Lebanon, at the Feast of the Transfiguration, and celebrate Mass at
their feet.

To the ancient inhabitants of Northern Europe the Elm and the Ash were
objects of especial veneration. Many sacred trees or pillars, formed
of the living trunks of trees, have been found in Germany, called
_Irminseule_, one of which was destroyed by Charlemagne in 772, in

The Mountain Ash, or Rowan Tree, was, in olden times, an object of
great veneration in Britain; and in Evelyn’s day was reputed of such
sanctity in Wales, that there was not a churchyard that did not contain

The colossal Baobab (_Adansonia_) is worshipped as a divinity by the
negroes of Senegambia. The Nipa or Susa Palm (_Nipa fruticans_) is
the sacred tree of Borneo. The gigantic Dragon Tree (_Dracæna Draco_)
of Orotava was for centuries the object of deep reverence to the
aborigines of the Canary Isles. The Zamang of Guayra, an enormous
Mimosa, has from time immemorial been held sacred in the province of
Caracas. The Moriche Palm (_Mauritia flexuosa_) is considered a deity
by the Tamancas, a tribe of Oronoco Indians, and is held sacred by the
aboriginal Mexicans.

The Nelumbo, or Sacred Bean (_Nelumbium speciosum_), was the Lotus
adored by the Ancient Egyptians, who also paid divine honours to the
Onion, Garlic, Acacia, Laurel, Peach-tree, Lentils of various sorts,
and the Heliotrope. Wormwood was dedicated to Isis, and _Antirrhinum_
(supposed to be the ancient _Cynocephalia_, or Dog’s Head) to Osiris.

The sacred Lotus of the East, the flower of the

          “Old Hindu mythologies, wherein
  The Lotus, attribute of Ganga--embleming
  The world’s great reproductive power--was held
  In veneration,”

was the _Nelumbium speciosum_. This mystic flower is a native of
Northern Africa, India, China, Japan, Persia, and Asiatic Russia,
and in all these countries has, for centuries, maintained its sacred
character. It is the _Lien-wha_ of the Chinese, and, according to their
theology, enters into the beverage of immortality.

Henna (_Lawsonia alba_), the flower of Paradise, is dedicated to
Mahomet, who characterised it as the “chief of the flowers of this
world and the next.”

The Pomegranate-tree was highly reverenced both by the Persians and the
Jews. The fruit was embroidered on the hem of Aaron’s sacred robe, and
adorned the robes of Persia’s ancient Priest-Kings.

Pine-cones were regarded by the Assyrians as sacred symbols, and as
such were used in the decoration of their temples.

In Teutonic and Scandinavian mythology the Rose is sacred to Hulda, the
Flax to Bertha, the Spignel to Baldr, and the Hair Moss (_Polytrichum
commune_) is dedicated to Thor’s wife, Sif. Of the divinities after
whom the days of the week were named, the Sun has his special flower,
the Moon her Daisy, Tyr (_Tuesday_) the Tys-fiola or March Violet
and the Mezereon; Woden (_Wednesday_) the _Geranium sylvaticum_
(Odin’s Favour) and the Monkshood (Odin’s Helm); Thor (_Thursday_)
the Monkshood (Thor’s Hat) and the Burdock (Thor’s Mantle); Frig
(_Friday_) and Freyja, who is often confounded with her, had many
plants dedicated to them, which have since been transferred to Venus
and the Virgin Mary, and are not now recognised by the name of either
of the Scandinavian goddesses. In the North of Europe, however, the
_Supercilium Veneris_ is still known as Freyja’s Hair, and the perfumed
Orchis _Gymnadenia conopsea_ as Frigg’s Grass. Sæterne or Sætere
(_Saturday_), the supposed name of an Anglo-Saxon god, is probably but
a mere adaptation of the Roman Saturnus. It may, perhaps, be apposite
to quote (for what it may be worth) Verstegan’s statement that the
Saxons represented “Seater” as carrying a pail of water in which were
flowers and fruits, whereby “was declared that with kindly raine he
would nourish the earth to bring foorth such fruites and flowers.”

In the Grecian and Roman mythology we find numerous trees and flowers
dedicated to the principal divinities. Thus, the

  Alder        was dedicated to  Neptune.
  Apple         „      „      „  Venus.
  Ash           „      „      „  Mars.
  Bay           „      „      „  Apollo.
  Beech         „      „      „  Jupiter Ammon.
  Cornel Cherry „      „      „  Apollo.
  Cypress       „      „      „  Pluto.
  Dittany       „      „      „  Juno, Diana, and Luna.
  Dog-grass     „      „      „  Mars.
  Fir           „      „      „  Cybele and Neptune.
  Heliotrope    „      „      „  Phœbus Apollo.
  Horsetail     „      „      „  Saturn.
  Iris          „      „      „  Juno.
  Ivy           „      „      „  Bacchus.
  Laurel        „      „      „  Apollo.
  Lily          „      „      „  Juno.
  Maidenhair    „      „      „  Pluto and Proserpine.
  Myrtle        „      „      „  Venus and Mars.
  Narcissus     „      „      „  Ceres, Pluto, and Proserpine.
  Oak           „      „      „  Jupiter.
  Olive         „      „      „  Minerva.
  Palm          „      „      „  Mercury.
  Pine          „      „      „  Neptune and Pan.
  Pink          „      „      „  Jupiter.
  Pomegranate   „      „      „  Juno.
  Poplar        „      „      „  Hercules.
  Poppy         „      „      „  Ceres, Diana, and Somnus.
  Rhamnus       „      „      „  Janus.
  Rocket        „      „      „  Priapus.
  Rose          „      „      „  Venus.
  Vine          „      „      „  Bacchus.
  Willow        „      „      „  Ceres.

To the Furies was consecrated the Juniper; the Fates wore wreaths of
the Narcissus, and the Muses Bay-leaves.

The Grecian Centaurs, half men, half horses, like their Indian brethren
the Gandharvas, understood the properties of herbs, and cultivated
them; but, as a rule, they never willingly divulged to mankind their
knowledge of the secrets of the vegetable world. Nevertheless, the
Centaur Chiron instructed Æsculapius, Achilles, Æneas, and other heroes
in the polite arts. Chiron had a panacea of his own, which is named
after him _Chironia Centaurium_, or _Gentiana Centaurium_; and, as a
vulnerary, the _Ampelos Chironia_ of Pliny, or _Tamus communis_. In
India, on account of the shape of its leaves, the _Ricinus communis_ is
called _Gandharvahasta_ (having the hands of a Gandharva).




Floral Ceremonies, Wreaths, and Garlands.

The application of flowers and plants to ceremonial purposes is of
the highest antiquity. From the earliest periods, man, after he had

  “What drops the Myrrh and what the balmy Reed,”

offered up on primitive altars, as incense to the Deity, the choicest
and most fragrant woods, the aromatic gums from trees, and the subtle
essences he obtained from flowers. In the odorous but intoxicating
fumes which slowly ascended, in wreaths heavy with fragrance, from the
altar, the pious ancients saw the mystic agency by which their prayers
would be wafted from earth to the abodes of the gods; and so, says
Mr. Rimmel, “the altars of Zoroaster and of Confucius, the temples of
Memphis, and those of Jerusalem, all smoked alike with incense and
sweet-scented woods.” Nor was the admiration and use of vegetable
productions confined to the inhabitants of the old world alone, for the
Mexicans, according to the Abbé Clavigero, have, from time immemorial,
studied the cultivation of flowers and odoriferous plants, which they
employed in the worship of their gods.

But the use of flowers and odorous shrubs was not long confined by
the ancients to their sacred rites; they soon began to consider them
as essential to their domestic life. Thus, the Egyptians, though
they offered the finest fruit and the finest flowers to the gods,
and employed perfumes at all their sacred festivals, as well as at
their daily oblations, were lavish in the use of flowers at their
private entertainments, and in all circumstances of their every-day
life. At a reception given by an Egyptian noble, it was customary,
after the ceremony of anointing, for each guest to be presented with
a Lotus-flower when entering the saloon, and this flower the guest
continued to hold in his hand. Servants brought necklaces of flowers
composed chiefly of the Lotus; a garland was put round the head,
and a single Lotus-bud, or a full-blown flower was so attached as
to hang over the forehead. Many of them, made up into wreaths and
devices, were suspended upon stands placed in the room, garlands of
Crocus and Saffron encircled the wine cups, and over and under the
tables were strewn various flowers. Diodorus informs us that when
the Egyptians approached the place of divine worship, they held the
flower of the Agrostis in their hand, intimating that man proceeded
from a well-watered land, and that he required a moist rather than a
dry aliment; and it is not improbable that the reason of the great
preference given to the Lotus on these occasions was derived from the
same notion.

This fondness of the ancients for flowers was carried to such an extent
as to become almost a vice. When Antony supped with Cleopatra, the
luxurious Queen of Egypt, the floors of the apartments were usually
covered with fragrant flowers. When Sardanapalus, the last of the
Assyrian monarchs, was driven to dire extremity by the rapid approach
of the conqueror, he chose the death of an Eastern voluptuary: causing
a pile of fragrant woods to be lighted, and placing himself on it with
his wives and treasures, he soon became insensible, and was suffocated
by the aromatic smoke. When Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian king,
held high festival at Daphne, in one of the processions which took
place, boys bore Frankincense, Myrrh, and Saffron on golden dishes,
two hundred women sprinkled everyone with perfumes out of golden
watering-pots, and all who entered the gymnasium to witness the games
were anointed with some perfume contained in fifteen gold dishes,
holding Saffron, Amaracus, Lilies, Cinnamon, Spikenard, Fenugreek, &c.
When the Roman Emperor Nero sat at banquet in his golden palace, a
shower of flowers and perfumes fell upon him; but Heliogabalus turned
these floral luxuries into veritable curses, for it was one of the
pleasures of this inhuman being to smother his courtiers with flowers.

Both Greeks and Romans caried the delicate refinements of the taste
for flowers and perfumes to the greatest excess in their costly
entertainments; and it is the opinion of Baccius that at their desserts
the number of their flowers far exceeded that of their fruits. The
odour of flowers was deemed potent to arouse the fainting appetite;
and their presence was rightly thought to enhance the enjoyment of the
guests at their banqueting boards:--

  “The ground is swept, and the triclinium clear,
  The hands are purified, the goblets, too,
  Well rinsed; each guest upon his forehead bears
  A wreath’d flow’ry crown; from slender vase
  A willing youth presents to each in turn
  A sweet and costly perfume; while the bowl,
  Emblem of joy and social mirth, stands by,
  Filled to the brim; and then pours out wine
  Of most delicious flavour, breathing round
  Fragrance of flowers, and honey newly made,
  So grateful to the sense, that none refuse;
  While odoriferous fumes fill all the room.”--_Xenophanes._

In all places where festivals, games, or solemn ceremonials were held,
and whenever public rejoicings and gaiety were deemed desirable,
flowers were utilised with unsparing hands.

                “Set before your doors
  The images of all your sleeping fathers,
  With Laurels crowned; with Laurels wreath your posts,
  And strew with flowers the pavement; let the priest
  Do present sacrifice; pour out the wine,
  And call the gods to join with you in gladness.”--_Dryden._

In the triumphal processions of Rome the streets were strewed with
flowers, and from the windows, roofs of houses, and scaffolds, the
people cast showers of garlands and flowers upon the crowds below and
upon the conquerors proudly marching in procession through the city.
Macaulay says--

  “On ride they to the Forum,
    While Laurel-boughs and flowers,
  From house-tops and from windows,
    Fell on their crests in showers.”

In the processions of the Corybantes, the goddess Cybele, the
protectress of cities, was pelted with white Roses. In the annual
festivals of the Terminalia, the peasants were all crowned with
garlands of flowers; and at the festival held by the gardeners in
honour of Vertumnus on August 23rd, wreaths of budding flowers and the
first-fruits of their gardens were offered by members of the craft.

In the sacrifices of both Greeks and Romans, it was customary to
place in the hands of victims some sort of floral decoration, and the
presiding priests also appeared crowned with flowers.

  “Thus the gay victim with fresh garlands crowned,
  Pleased with the sacred pipe’s enlivening sound.
  Through gazing crowds in solemn state proceeds,
  And dressed in fatal pomp, magnificently bleeds.”--_Phillips._

The place erected for offerings was called by the Romans _ara_, an
altar. It was decorated with leaves and grass, adorned with flowers,
and bound with woollen fillets: on the occasion of a “triumph” these
altars smoked with perfumed incense.

The Greeks had a Nymph of Flowers whom they called Chloris, and the
Romans the goddess Flora, who, among the Sabines and the Phoceans,
had been worshipped long before the foundation of the Eternal City.
As early as the time of Romulus the Latins instituted a festival in
honour of Flora, which was intended as a public expression of joy at
the appearance of the welcome blossoms which were everywhere regarded
as the harbingers of fruits. Five hundred and thirteen years after
the foundation of Rome the Floralia, or annual floral games, were
established; and after the sibyllic books had been consulted, it was
finally ordained that the festival should be kept every 20th day of
April, that is four days before the calends of May--the day on which,
in Asia Minor, the festival of the flowers commences. In Italy, France,
and Germany, the festival of the flowers, or the festival of spring,
begins about the same date--_i.e._, towards the end of April--and
terminates on the feast of St. John.

The festival of the Floralia was introduced into Britain by the Romans;
and for centuries all ranks of people went out a-Maying early on the
first of the month. The juvenile part of both sexes, in the north, were
wont to rise a little after midnight, and walk to some neighbouring
wood, accompanied with music and the blowing of horns,

  “To get sweet Setywall [red Valerian],
  The Honeysuckle, the Harlock,
  The Lily and the Lady-smock,
  To deck their summer hall.”

They also gathered branches from the trees, and adorned them with
nosegays and crowns of flowers, returning with their booty homewards,
about the rising of the sun, forthwith to decorate their doors and
windows with the flowery spoil. The after-part of the day, says an
ancient chronicler, was “chiefly spent in dancing round a tall pole,
which is called a May-pole; which, being placed in a convenient part of
the village, stands there, as it were, consecrated to the goddess of
flowers, without the least violation offered it in the whole circle of
the year.”

  “Your May-pole deck with flowery coronal;
  Sprinkle the flowery coronal with wine;
  And in the nimble-footed galliard, all,
  Shepherd and shepherdess, lively join,
  Hither from village sweet and hamlet fair,
  From bordering cot and distant glen repair:
  Let youth indulge its sport, to old bequeath its care.”

Old John Stowe tells us that on May-day, in the morning, “every man,
except impediment, would walk into the sweet meadows and green woods,
there to rejoice their spirits with the beauty and savour of sweet
flowers, and with the harmony of birds praising God in their kind.” In
the days of Henry VIII. it was the custom for all classes to observe
the May-day festival, and we are told that the king himself rode
a-Maying from Greenwich to Shooter’s Hill, with his Queen Katherine,
accompanied by many lords and ladies. Chaucer relates how on May-day

            “Went forth all the Court both most and least;
  To fetch the floures fresh, and branch and blome,
  And namely Hawthorn brought both page and grome;
  And then rejoysen in their great delite,
  Eke each at other threw the floures bright.
  The Primrose, Violette, and the Golde,
  With garlands partly blue and white.”

The young maidens repaired at daybreak to the meadows and hill-sides,
for the purpose of gathering the precious May-dew, wherewith to make
themselves fair for the remainder of the year. This old custom is still
extant in the north of England and in some districts of Scotland.
Robert Fergusson has told how the Scotch lassies swarmed at daybreak on
Arthur’s Seat:

  “On May-day in a fairy ring,
  We’ve seen them round St. Anthon’s spring
  Frae grass the caller dew-draps wring,
                To wet their ein,
  And water clear as crystal spring.
                To synd them clean.”

In Ross-shire the lassies pluck sprigs of Ivy, with the May-dew on
them, that have not been touched by steel.

It was deemed important that flowers for May garlands and posies should
be plucked before the sun rose on May-day morning; and if perchance,
Cuckoo-buds were included in the composition of a wreath, it was
destroyed directly the discovery was made, and removed immediately from
a posie.

In the May-day sports on the village green, it was customary to choose
as May Queen either the best dancer or the prettiest girl, who, at
sundown was crowned with a floral chaplet--

  “See where she sits upon the grassie greene,
    A seemly sight!
  Yclad in scarlet, like a mayden queene,
    And ermines white.
  Upon her head a crimson coronet,
  With Daffodils and Damask Roses set:
    Bay-leaves betweene,
    And Primroses greene
  Embellished the sweete Violet.”--_Spenser._

The coronation of the rustic queen concluded the out-door festivities
of May-day, although her majesty’s duties would not appear to have been
fulfilled until she reached her home.

  “Then all the rest in sorrow,
    And she in sweet content,
  Gave over till the morrow,
    And homeward straight they went;
  But she of all the rest
    Was hindered by the way,
  For every youth that met her
    Must kiss the Queen of May!”

At Horncastle, in Lincolnshire, there existed, till the beginning of
the present century, a ceremony which evidently derived its origin
from the Roman Floralia. On the morning of May-day, a train of youths
collected themselves at a place still known as the May-bank. From
thence, with wands enwreathed with Cowslips they walked in procession
to the may-pole, situated at the west end of the town, and adorned
on that morning with every variety of wild flowers. Here, with loud
shouts, they struck together their wands, and, scattering around the
Cowslips, testified their thankfulness for the bounteous promise of

Aubrey (MS., 1686), tells us that in his day “at Woodstock in
Oxon they every May-eve goe into the parke, and fetch away a
number of Haw-thorne-trees, which they set before their dores.” In
Huntingdonshire, fifty years ago, the village swains were accustomed,
at sunrise, to place a branch of May in blossom before the door of
anyone they wished to honour. In Tuscany the expression, _Appiccare
il maio ad una porta_, has passed into a proverb, and means to lay
siege to a maiden’s heart and make love to her. In the vicinity of
Valenciennes, branches of Birch or Hornbeam are placed by rural swains
at the doors of their sweethearts; thorny branches at the portals of
prudes; and Elder boughs at the doors of flirts. In the villages of
Provence, on May-day, they select a May Queen. Crowned with a wreath,
and adorned with garlands of Roses, she is carried through the streets,
mounted on a platform, her companions soliciting and receiving the
offerings of the towns-people. In olden times it was customary even
among the French nobility to present May to friends and neighbours,
or as it was called, _esmayer_. Sometimes this presenting of May was
regarded as a challenge. The custom of planting a May-tree in French
towns subsisted until the 17th century: in 1610, one was planted in
the court of the Louvre. In some parts of Spain the name of _Maia_ is
given to the May Queen (selected generally as being the handsomest lass
of the village), who, decorated with garlands of flowers, leads the
dances in which the young people spend the day. The villagers in other
provinces declare their love by planting, during the preceding night,
a large bough or a sapling, decked with flowers, before the doors of
their sweethearts. In Greece, bunches of flowers are suspended over the
doors of most houses; and in the rural districts, the peasants bedeck
themselves with flowers, and carry garlands and posies of wild flowers.

In some parts of Italy, in the May-day rejoicings, a May-tree or
a branch in blossom and adorned with fruit and ribbands, plays a
conspicuous part: this is called the _Maggio_, and is probably a
reminiscence of the old Grecian _Eiresione_.

Of the flowers specially dedicated to May, first and foremost is the
Hawthorn blossom. In some parts of England the _Convallaria_ is known
as May Lily. The Germans call it _Mai blume_, a name they also apply to
the Hepatica and Kingcup. In Devon and Cornwall the Lilac is known as
May-flower, and much virtue is thought to be attached to a spray of the
narrow-leaf Elm gathered on May morning.

In Asia Minor the annual festival of flowers used to commence on the
28th of April, when the houses and tables were covered with flowers,
and every one going into the streets wore a floral crown. In Germany,
France, and Italy, the _fête_ of the flowers, or the _fête_ of
spring, commences also towards the end of April, and terminates at
Midsummer. Athenians, on an early day in spring, every year crowned
with flowers all children who had reached their third year, and in
this way the parents testified their joy that the little ones had
passed the age rendered critical by the maladies incident to infants.
The Roman Catholic priesthood, always alert at appropriating popular
pagan customs, and adapting them to the service of their church, have
perpetuated this old practice. The little children crowned with flowers
and habited as angels, who to this day accompany the procession of the
Corpus Domini at the beginning of June, are taught to scatter flowers
in the road, to symbolise their own spring-time and the spring-time of
nature. On this day, along the entire route of the procession at Rome,
the ground is thickly strewn with Bay and other fragrant leaves. In
the worship of the Madonna, flowers play an important rôle, and Roman
altars are still piled up with fragrant blossoms, and still smoke with
perfumed incense.

After the feast of Whitsuntide, the young Russian maidens repair to the
banks of the Neva, and fling in its waters wreaths of flowers, which
are tokens of affection to absent friends.

In the West of Germany and the greater part of France the ceremony is
observed of bringing home on the last harvest wain a tree or bough
decorated with flowers and gay ribbons, which is graciously received by
the master and planted on or near the house, to remain there till the
next harvest brings its successor. Some rite of this sort, Mr. Ralston
says, seems to have prevailed all over the North of Europe. “So, in
the autumnal harvest thanksgiving feast at Athens, it was customary
to carry in sacred procession an Olive-branch wrapped in wool, called
_Eiresione_, to the temple of Apollo, and there to leave it; and in
addition to this a similar bough was solemnly placed beside the house
door of every Athenian who was engaged in fruit culture or agriculture,
there to remain until replaced by a similar successor twelve months


From the earliest days of the Christian era our Lord’s ascension
into heaven has been commemorated by various ceremonies, one of
which was the perambulation of parish boundaries. At Penkridge, in
Staffordshire, as well as at Wolverhampton, long after the Reformation,
the inhabitants, during the time of processioning, used to adorn
their wells with boughs and flowers; and this ancient custom is still
practised every year at Tissington, in Derbyshire, where it is known
as “well-flowering.” There are five wells so decorated, and the mode
of dressing or adorning them is this:--the flowers are inserted in
moist clay and put upon boards cut in various forms, surrounded with
boughs of Laurel and White Thorn, so as to give the appearance of
water issuing from small grottoes. The flowers are arranged in various
patterns, to give the effect of mosaic work, and are inscribed with
texts of Scripture and suitable mottoes. After church, the congregation
walk in procession to the wells and decorate them with these boards, as
well as with garlands of flowers, boughs, &c. Flowers were cast into
the wells, and from their manner of falling, lads and lasses divined as
to the progress of their love affairs.

  “Bring flowers! bring flowers! to the crystal well,
  That springs ’neath the Willows in yonder dell.

         *       *       *       *       *

  And we’ll scatter them over the charmed well,
  And learn our fate from its mystic spell.”

  “And she whose flower most tranquilly
  Glides down the stream our Queen shall be.
          In a crown we’ll wreath
          Wild flowers that breathe;
  And the maiden by whom this wreath shall be worn
  Shall wear it again on her bridal morn.”--_Merritt._

Before the Reformation the Celtic population of Scotland, the Hebrides,
Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall were in the habit of naming wells and
springs after different saints and martyrs. Though forbidden by the
canons of St. Anselm, many pilgrimages continued to be made to them,
and the custom was long retained of throwing nosegays into springs and
fountains, and chaplets into wells. Sir Walter Scott tells us that “in
Perthshire there are several wells dedicated to St. Fillan, which are
still places of pilgrimage and offerings, even among Protestants.”

  “Thence to St. Fillan’s blessed well
  Whose spring can frenzied dreams dispel,
  And the crazed brain restore.”

Into some of these Highland wells flowers are cast, and occasionally
pins, while the surrounding bushes are hung with rags and shreds, in
imitation of the old heathen practice. The ceremony of sprinkling
rivers with flowers was probably of similar origin. Milton and Dryden
both allude to this custom being in vogue as regards the Severn, and
this floral rite is described in ‘The Fleece’ as follows:--

  “With light fantastic toe the nymphs
  Thither assembled, thither every swain;
  And o’er the dimpled stream a thousand flowers,
  Pale Lilies, Roses, Violets, and Pinks,
  Mix’d with the greens of Burnet, Mint, and Thyme,
  And Trefoil, sprinkled with their sportive arms.
  Such custom holds along th’ irriguous vales,
  From Wreken’s brow to rocky Dolvoryn,
  Sabrina’s early haunt.”

Bridal Floral Ceremonies.

In all countries flowers have from time immemorial been chosen as the
happy accompaniment of bridal ceremonies. Among the ancients it was
customary to crown newly-married persons with a chaplet of red and
white Roses. On arriving at the house of her husband, the Roman bride
found woollen fillets round the door-posts, which were adorned with
evergreens and blossoms, and anointed with the fat of wolves to avert

In M. Barthélemi’s ‘Travels of Young Anacharsis’ the author, describing
a marriage ceremony in the Island of Delos, says that the inhabitants
of the island assembled at daybreak, crowned with flowers; flowers
were strewn in the path of the bride and bridegroom; and the house
was garlanded with them. Singers and dancers appeared crowned with
Oak, Myrtles, and Hawthorn. The bride and bridegroom were crowned with
Poppies, and upon their approach to the temple, a priest received them
at the entrance, and presented to each a branch of Ivy--a symbol of the
tie which was to unite them for ever.[6]

[6] ‘_Voyage du Jeune Anacharsis en Grèce, vers le milieu du quatrième
siècle avant l’ere vulgaire._’

At Indian nuptials, the wedding wreath, the _varamâlâ_, united bride
and bridegroom. At the marriage feasts of the Persians, a little tree
is introduced, the branches of which are laden with fruit: the guests
endeavour to pluck these without the bridegroom perceiving them; if
successful, the latter has to make them a present; if, however, a guest
fails, he has to give the bridegroom a hundred times the value of the
object he sought to remove from the tree.

In Germany, among the inhabitants of Oldenburg, there exists a curious
wedding custom. When the bridegroom quits his father’s roof to settle
in some other town or village, he has his bed linen embroidered at
the corners with flowers surmounted by a tree, on whose branches are
perched cock birds: on each side of the tree are embroidered the
bridegroom’s initials. In many European countries it is customary to
plant before the house of a newly-married couple, one or two trees, as
a symbol of the good luck wished them by their friends.

Floral Games and Festivals.

Floral games have for many years been held at Toulouse, Barcelona,
Tortosi, and other places; but the former are the most famed, both on
account of their antiquity and the value of the prizes distributed
during the _fêtes_. The ancient city of Toulouse had formerly a great
reputation for literature, which had, however, been allowed to decline
until the visit of Charles IV. and his bride determined the capitouls
or chief magistrates to make an effort to restore its prestige as the
centre of Provençal song. Troubadours there were who, banded together
in a society, met in the garden of the Augustine monks to recite their
songs, _sirventes_, and ballads; and in order to foster the latent
taste for poetry, the capitouls invited the poets of the Langue d’oc,
to compete for a golden Violet to be awarded to the author of the best
poem produced on May 4th, 1324. The competition created the greatest
excitement, and great numbers of people met to hear the judges’
decision: they awarded the golden Violet to Arnaud Vidal for his poem
in honour of the Virgin. In 1355, three prizes were offered--a golden
Violet for the best song; an Eglantine (Spanish Jasmine), for the best
_sirvente_, or finest pastoral; and a _Flor-de-gang_ (yellow Acacia)
for the best ballad. In later years four prizes were competed for,
viz., an Amaranth, a Violet, a Pansy, and a Lily. In 1540, Clemence
Isaure, a poetess, bequeathed the bulk of her fortune to the civic
authorities to be expended in prizes for poetic merits, and in _fêtes_
to be held on the 1st and 3rd of May. She was interred in the church
of La Daurade, on the high altar of which are preserved the golden
flowers presented to the successful competitors at the Floral Games.
The ceremonies of the _fêtes_ thus revived by Clemence Isaure commenced
with the strewing of her tomb with Roses, followed by mass, a sermon,
and alms-giving. In 1694, the _Jeux Floraux_ were merged into the
Academy of Belles Lettres, which gives prizes, but almost exclusively
to French poets. The festival, interrupted by the Revolution, was once
more revived in 1806, and is still held annually in the Hotel-de-Ville,

St. Medard, Bishop of Noyon, in France, instituted in the sixth
century a festival at Salency, his birth-place, for adjudging a most
interesting prize offered by piety to virtue. This prize consists of
a simple crown of Roses bestowed on the girl who is acknowledged by
all her competitors to be the most amiable, modest, and dutiful. The
founder of this festival had the pleasure of crowning his own sister as
the first _Rosiere_ of Salency. This simple institution still survives,
and the crown of Roses continues to be awarded to the most virtuous
of the maidens of the obscure French village. A similar prize is
awarded in the East of London by an active member of the Roman Catholic
Church--the ceremony of crowning the Rose Queen being performed
annually in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham.

In the middle ages the Queen of Flowers contributed to a singular
popular festival at Treviso, in Italy. In the middle of the city the
inhabitants erected a mock castle of upholstery. The most distinguished
unmarried females of the place defended the fortress, which was
attacked by the youth of the other sex. The missiles with which both
parties fought consisted of Roses, Lilies, Narcissi, Violets, Apples,
and Nuts, which were hurled at each other by the combatants. Volleys
of Rose-water and other perfumes were also discharged by means of
syringes. This entertainment attracted thousands of spectators from far
and near, and the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa himself accounted it a
most pleasing diversion.

The custom of pelting with Roses is still common in Persia, where it
is practised during the whole season that these flowers are blooming.
A company of young men repair to the places of public entertainment to
amuse the guests with music, singing, and dancing, and in their way
through the streets they pelt the passengers whom they meet with Roses,
and generally receive a small gratuity in return.

Striking features of the Japanese festival on New Year’s Day are the
decorations erected in front of nearly every door, of which Mr. Dixon
tells us the principal objects are, on the right a _Pinus densiflora_,
on the left a _P. Thunbergius_, both standing upright: the former is
supposed to be of the female and the latter of the male sex, and both
symbolise a robust age that has withstood the storms and trials of
life. Immediately behind each of the Pines is a Bamboo, the straight
stem of which, with the knots marking its growth, indicates hale life
and fulness of years. A straw rope of about six feet in length connects
the Bamboos seven or more feet from the ground, thus completing the
triumphal arch. In the centre of the rope (which is there to ward off
evil spirits) is a group in which figures a scarlet lobster, the bent
back of which symbolises old age: this is embedded in branches of the
_Melia Japonica_, the older leaves of which still remain after the
young ones have burst forth. So may the parents continue to flourish
while children and grandchildren spring forth! Another plant in the
central group is the _Polypodium dicotomon_, a Fern which is regarded
as a symbol of conjugal life, because the fronds spring in pairs
from the stem. There are also bunches of seaweed, which have local
significance, and a lucky bag, filled with roasted Chesnuts, the seeds
of the _Torreya nucifera_, and the dried fruit of the _Kaki_.

Garlands, Chaplets, and Wreaths.

All the nations of antiquity--Indians, Chinese, Medes, Persians,
Assyrians, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans--were
accustomed to deck themselves, their altars, and their dwellings with
flowers, and to weave chaplets and garlands of leaves and blossoms.
In the Vedic _Vishnupurâna_, the sage Durvâsas (one of the names of
Siva, the destroyer), receives of the goddess Srî (the Indian Venus)
a garland of flowers gathered from the trees of heaven. Proceeding on
his way, he meets the god Indra, seated on an elephant, and to pay
him homage he places on his brow the garland, to which the bees fly
in order to suck the ambrosia. The Persians were fond of wearing on
their heads crowns made of Myrrh and a sweet-smelling plant called
Labyzus. Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian king, once held some games at
Daphne, to which thousands of guests were invited, who, after being
richly feasted, were sent away with crowns of Myrrh and Frankincense.
Josephus, in his history of the Jews, has recorded the use of crowns
in the time of Moses, and on certain occasions the mitre of the High
Priest was adorned with a chaplet of Henbane (_Hyoscyamus niger_).
Wreaths and chaplets were in common use among the Egyptians at a
very early period; and although the Lotus was principally preferred
in their formation, many other flowers and leaves were employed--as
of the Chrysanthemum, Acinos, Acacia, Strychnos, Persoluta, Anemone,
Convolvulus, Olive, Myrtle, Amaracus, Xeranthemum, Bay-tree, and
others. Plutarch says that when Agesilaus visited Egypt, he was so
delighted with the chaplets of Papyrus sent him by the King, that he
took some home when he returned to Sparta. In India, Greece, and Rome,
the sacrificial priests were crowned, and their victims were decorated
with garlands of flowers.

In ancient Greece and Rome the manufacture of garlands and chaplets
became quite an art, so great was the estimation in which these
adornments were held by these highly-civilised nations. With them the
composition of a garland possessed a deep significance, and warriors,
statesmen, and poets alike coveted these simple insignia at the hands
of their countrymen. Pliny tells us that the Sicyonians were considered
to surpass all other people in the art of arranging the colours of
garlands and imparting to them the most agreeable mixture of perfumes.
They derived this taste from Glycera, a woman so skilled in the art of
arranging chaplets and garlands that she won the affection of Pausias,
a celebrated painter, who delighted in copying the wreaths of flowers
so deftly arranged by his mistress. Some of these pictures were still
in existence when Pliny wrote, four hundred and fifty years after they
were painted. Cato, in his treatise on gardens, directs specially that
they should be planted with such flowers as are adapted for chaplets
and wreaths. Pliny states that Mnestheus and Callimachus, two renowned
Greek physicians, compiled several books on the virtues of chaplets,
pointing out those hurtful to the brain, as well as those which had
a beneficial influence on the wearer; for both Greeks and Romans had
found, by experience, that certain plants and flowers facilitated the
functions of the brain, and assisted materially to neutralise the
inebriating qualities of wine. Thus, as Horace tells us, the floral
chaplets worn by guests at feasts were tied with the bark of the Linden
to prevent intoxication.

  “I tell thee, boy, that I detest
  The grandeur of a Persian feast;
  Nor for me the binder’s rind
  Shall no flow’ry chaplet bind.
  Then search not where the curious Rose,
  Beyond his season loitering grows;
  But beneath the mantling Vine,
  While I quaff the flowing wine,
  The Myrtle’s wreath shall crown our brows,
  While you shall wait and I carouse.”

Besides the guests at feasts, the attendants were decorated with
wreaths, and the wine-cups and apartments adorned with flowers.
From an anecdote related by Pliny we learn that it was a frequent
custom, common to both Greeks and Romans, to mix the flowers of their
chaplets in their wine, when they pledged the healths of their friends.
Cleopatra, to ridicule the mistrust of Antony, who would never eat or
drink at her table without causing his taster to test every viand, lest
any should be poisoned, commanded a chaplet of flowers to be prepared
for the Roman General, the edges of which were dipped in the most
deadly poison, whilst that which was woven for her own brow was, as
usual, mixed with aromatic spices. At the banquet Antony received his
coronet of flowers, and when they had become cheerful through the aid
of Bacchus, Cleopatra pledged him in wine, and taking off the wreath
from her head, and rubbing the blossoms into her goblet, drank off the
contents. Antony was following her example, but just as he had raised
the fatal cup to his lips, the Queen seized his arm, exclaiming, “Cure
your jealous fears, and learn that I should not have to seek the means
of your destruction, could I live without you.” She then ordered a
prisoner to be brought before them, who, on drinking the wine from
Antony’s goblet, instantly expired in their presence.

The Romans wore garlands at sacred rites, games and festivals, on
journeys and in war. When an army was freed from a blockade its
deliverer was presented with a crown composed of the Grass growing
on the spot. In modern heraldry, this crown of Grass is called the
Crown Obsidional, and appertains to the general who has held a
fortress against a besieging army and ultimately relieved it from
the assailants. To him who had saved the life of a Roman soldier was
given a chaplet of Oak-leaves: this is the modern heraldic civic crown
bestowed on a brave soldier who has saved the life of a comrade or has
rescued him after having been taken prisoner by the enemy. The glories
of all grand deeds were signalized by the crown of Laurel among both
Greeks and Romans. This is the heraldic Crown Triumphant, adjudged
in our own times to a general who has achieved a signal victory. The
Romans were not allowed by law to appear in festal garlands on ordinary
occasions. Hence Cæsar valued most highly the privilege accorded him by
the Senate of wearing a Laurel crown, because it screened his baldness,
which, both by the Romans and Jews, was considered a deformity. This
crown was generally composed of the Alexandrian Laurel (_Ruscus
Hypoglossum_)--the Laurel usually depicted on busts and coins. The
victors at the athletic games were adjudged crowns differing in their
composition according to the place in which they had won their honours.
Thus, crowns of

  Olive                    were given at the  Olympic games.
  Beech, Laurel, or Palm    „    „    „   „   Pythian   „
  Parsley                   „    „    „   „   Nemean    „
  Pine                      „    „    „   „   Isthmian  „

It is not too much to say that Greeks and Romans employed garlands,
wreaths, and festoons of flowers on every possible occasion; they
adorned with them the sacrificial victims, the statue of the god to
whom sacrifice was offered, and the priest who performed the rite. They
placed chaplets on the brows of the dead, and strewed their graves
with floral wreaths, whilst at their funeral feasts the parents of
the departed one encircled their heads with floral crowns. They threw
them to the successful actors on the stage. They hung with garlands
the gates of their cities on days of rejoicing. They employed floral
wreaths at their nuptials. Nearly all the plants composing these
wreaths had a symbolical meaning, and they were varied according to
the seasons and the circumstances of the wearer. The Hawthorn adorned
Grecian brides; but the bridal wreath of the Romans was usually
composed of Verbena, plucked by the bride herself. Holly wreaths were
sent as tokens of good wishes. Chaplets of Parsley and Rue were worn to
keep off evil spirits.

But the employment of garlands has by no means been confined to the
ancients. At the present day the inhabitants of India make constant use
of them. The Brahmin women, who burn themselves on the funeral pyres
of their husbands, deck their persons with chaplets and garlands, and
present wreaths to the young women who attend them at this terrible
sacrifice. The young Indian girls adorn themselves with garlands
during the festival of Kâmadeva, the god of love, which takes place
during the last days of spring. In the nuptial ceremonies of India,
the garland of flowers is still a feature which possesses a recognised
symbolic value. In Northern India garlands of the African Marigold are
placed on the trident emblem of Mahâdeva, and both male and female
worshippers wear chaplets composed of the same sacred flower on his
festivals. The _Moo-le-hua_, a fragrant Jasmine, is employed in China
and other Eastern countries in forming wreaths for the decoration of
ladies’ hair, and an Olive crown is still the reward of literary merit
in China. The Japanese of both sexes are fond of wearing wreaths of
fragrant blossoms.

The Italians have artificers called Festaroli, whose especial office
it is to manufacture garlands and festoons of flowers and other
decorations for feasts. The maidens of Greece, Germany, and Roumania
still bear wreaths of flowers in certain processions which have long
been customary in the spring of the year. The Swiss peasants are
fond of making garlands, for rural festivities, of the Globe-flower
(_Trollius Europæus_), which grows freely on all the chain of the Alps.
In Germany a wreath of Vervain is presented to the newly-married, and
in place of the wreath of Orange-blossoms which decorates the brow
of the bride in England, France, and America, a chaplet of Myrtle is
worn. The blossom of the _Bizarade_ or bitter Orange is most prized for
wreaths and favours when the fresh flowers can be procured.



Plants of the Christian Church.

After Rome Pagan became Rome Christian, the priests of the Church of
Christ recognised the importance of utilising the connexion which
existed between plants and the old pagan worship, and bringing the
floral world into active co-operation with the Christian Church by the
institution of a floral symbolism which should be associated not only
with the names of saints, but also with the Festivals of the Church.

But it was more especially upon the Virgin Mary that the early Church
bestowed their floral symbolism. Mr. Hepworth Dixon, writing of those
quiet days of the Virgin’s life, passed purely and tenderly among the
flowers of Nazareth, says--“Hearing that the best years of her youth
and womanhood were spent, before she yet knew grief, on this sunny hill
and side slope, her feet being for ever among the Daisies, Poppies, and
Anemones, which grow everywhere about, we have made her the patroness
of all our flowers. The Virgin is our Rose of Sharon--our Lily of the
Valley. The poetry no less than the piety of Europe has inscribed to
her the whole bloom and colouring of the fields and hedges.”

The choicest flowers were wrested from the classic Juno, Venus, and
Diana, and from the Scandinavian Bertha and Freyja, and bestowed upon
the Madonna, whilst floral offerings of every sort were laid upon her

Her husband, Joseph, has allotted to him a white _Campanula_, which in
Bologna is known as the little Staff of St. Joseph. In Tuscany the name
of St. Joseph’s staff is given to the Oleander: a legend recounts that
the good Joseph possessed originally only an ordinary staff, but that
when the angel announced to him that he was destined to be the husband
of the Virgin Mary, he became so radiant with joy, that his very staff
flowered in his hand.

Before our Saviour’s birth, the Virgin Mary, strongly desiring to
refresh herself with some luscious cherries that were hanging in
clusters upon the branch of a tree, asked Joseph to gather some for
her. He hesitated, and mockingly said--“Let the father of thy child
present them to you.” Instantly the branch of the Cherry-tree inclined
itself to the Virgin’s hand, and she plucked from it the refreshing
fruit. On this account the Cherry has always been dedicated to the
Virgin Mary. The Strawberry, also, is specially set apart to the
Virgin’s use; and in the Isle of Harris a species of Beans, called
Molluka Beans, are called, after her, the Virgin Mary’s Nuts.

At Bethlehem, the manger in which the Infant Jesus was laid after His
birth was filled with Our Lady’s Bedstraw (_Galium verum_). Some few
drops of the Virgin’s milk fell upon a Thistle, which from that time
has had its leaves spotted with white, and is known as Our Lady’s
Thistle (_Carduus Marianus_). In Germany the _Polypodium vulgare_,
which grows in clefts of rocks, is believed to have sprung from
the milk of the Virgin (in ancient times from Freyja’s milk). The
_Pulmonaria_ is also known as _Unser Frauen Milch_ (Our Lady’s Milk).

When, after the birth of Jesus, His parents fled into Egypt, traditions
record that in order that the Virgin might conceal herself and the
infant Saviour from the assassins sent out by Herod, various trees
opened, or stretched their branches and enlarged their leaves. As
the Juniper is dedicated to the Virgin, the Italians consider that
it was a tree of that species which thus saved the mother and child,
and the Juniper is supposed to possess the power of driving away evil
spirits and of destroying magical spells. The Palm, the Willow, and the
Rosemary have severally been named as having afforded their shelter to
the fugitives. On the other hand, the Lupine, according to a tradition
still current among the Bolognese, received the maledictions of the
Virgin Mary because, during the flight, certain plants of this species,
by the noise they made, drew the attention of the soldiers of Herod to
the spot where the harassed travellers had halted.

During the flight into Egypt a legend relates that certain precious
bushes sprang up by the fountain where the Virgin washed the swaddling
clothes of her Divine babe. These bushes were produced by the drops of
water which fell from the clothes, and from which germinated a number
of little plants, each yielding precious balm. Wherever the Holy Family
rested in their flight sprang up the _Rosa Hierosolymitana_--the _Rosa
Mariæ_, or Rose of the Virgin. Near the city of On there was shown for
many centuries the sacred Fig-tree under which the Holy Family rested.
They also, according to Bavarian tradition, rested under a Hazel.

Plants of the Virgin Mary.

In Tuscany there grows on walls a rootless little pellitory
(_Parietaria_), with tiny pale-pink flowers and small leaves. They
gather it on the morning of the Feast of the Ascension, and suspend it
on the walls of bed-rooms till the day of the Nativity of the Virgin
(8th September), from which it derives its name--the Herb of the
Madonna. It generally opens its flowers after it has been gathered,
retaining sufficient sap to make it do so. This opening of a cut
flower is regarded by the peasantry as a token of the special blessing
of the Virgin. Should the flower not open, it is taken as an omen of
the Divine displeasure. In the province of Bellune, in Italy, the
_Matricaria Parthenium_ is called the Herb of the Blessed Mary: this
flower was formerly consecrated to Minerva.

In Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, they give the name of _Mariengras_
(Herb of Mary) to different Ferns, and in those countries Mary often
replaces the goddess Freyja, the Venus of the North, in the names of
flowers. No doubt the monks of old delighted in bestowing upon the
Virgin Mary the floral attributes of Venus, Freyja, Isis, and other
goddesses of the heathen; but, nevertheless, it is not long since that
a Catholic writer complained that at the Reformation “the very names
of plants were changed in order to divert men’s minds from the least
recollection of ancient Christian piety;” and a Protestant writer of
the last century, bewailing the ruthless action of the Puritans in
giving to the “Queen of Beauty” flowers named after the “Queen of
Heaven,” says: “Botany, which in ancient times was full of the Blessed
Virgin Mary, ... is now as full of the heathen Venus.”

Amongst the titles of honour given to the Virgin in the ‘Ballad of
Commendation of Our Lady,’ in the old editions of Chaucer, we find:
“Benigne braunchlet of the Pine tree.”

In England “Lady” in the names of plants generally has allusion to
Our Lady, Notre Dame, the Virgin Mary. Our Lady’s Mantle (_Alchemilla
vulgaris_) is the Máríu Stakkr of Iceland, which insures repose when
placed beneath the pillow. _Scandix Pecten_ was Our Lady’s Comb, but in
Puritan times was changed into Venus’ Comb. The _Cardamine pratensis_
is Our Lady’s Smock; _Neottia spiralis_, Our Lady’s Tresses; _Armeria
vulgaris_, Our Lady’s Cushion; _Anthyllis vulneraria_, Our Lady’s
Fingers; _Campanula hybrida_, Our Lady’s Looking-glass; _Cypripedium
Calceolus_, Our Lady’s Slipper; the Cowslip, Our Lady’s Bunch of Keys;
Black Briony, Our Lady’s Seal (a name which has been transferred
from Solomon’s Seal, of which the ‘Grete Herbal’ states, “It is al
one herbe, Solomon’s Seale and Our Lady’s Seale”). Quaking Grass,
_Briza media_, is Our Lady’s Hair; Maidenhair Fern, the Virgin’s
Hair; Mary-golds (_Calendula officinalis_) and Mary-buds (_Caltha
palustris_) are both named after the Virgin Mary. The _Campanula_ and
the _Digitalis_ are in France the Gloves of Mary; the _Nardus Celtica_
is by the Germans called _Marienblumen_; the White-flowered Wormwood
is _Unser Frauen Rauch_ (Smoke of Our Lady); _Mentha spicata_ is in
French, _Menthe de Notre Dame_--in German, _Unser Frauen Müntz_;
the _Costus hortensis_, the _Eupatorium_, the _Matricaria_, the
_Gallitrichum sativum_, the _Tanacetum_, the _Persicaria_, and a
_Parietaria_ are all, according to Bauhin, dedicated to the Virgin
Mary. The name of Our Lady’s Tears, or _Larmes de Sainte Marie_, has
been given to the Lily of the Valley, as well as to the _Lithospermon_
of Dioscorides, the _Satyrium maculatum_, and the _Satyrium basilicum
majus_. The _Narcissus Italicus_ is the Lily of Mary. The Toad Flax is
in France _Lin de Notre Dame_, in Germany, _Unser Frauen Flachs_. The
Dead-Nettle is _Main de Sainte Marie_. Besides the _Alchemilla_, the
_Leontopodium_, the _Drosera_, and the _Sanicula major_ are called on
the Continent Our Lady’s Mantle. Woodroof, Thyme, Groundsel, and St.
John’s Wort form the bed of Mary.

In Piedmont they give the name of the Herb of the Blessed Mary to a
certain plant that the birds are reputed to carry to their young ones
which have been stolen and imprisoned in cages, in order that it shall
cause their death and thus deliver them from their slavery.

The Snowdrop is the Fair Maid of February, as being sacred to the
Purification of the Virgin (February 2nd), when her image was removed
from the altar and Snowdrops strewed in its place.

To the Madonna, in her capacity of Queen of Heaven, were dedicated
the Almond, the White Iris, the White Lily, and the Narcissus, all
appropriate to the Annunciation (March 25th). The Lily and White and
Red Roses were assigned to the Visitation of Our Lady (July 2nd): these
flowers are typical of the love and purity of the Virgin Mother. To the
Feast of the Assumption (August 15th) is assigned the Virgin’s Bower
(_Clematis Flammula_); to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin (September
8th) the Amellus (_Aster Amellus_); and to the Conception (December
8th) the Arbor Vitæ.

St. Dominick instituted the “Devotion of the Rosary” of the Virgin
Mary--a series of prayers, to mark the repetition of which a chaplet
of beads is employed, which consists of fifteen large and one hundred
and fifty small beads; the former representing the number of _Pater
Nosters_, the latter the number of _Ave Marias_. As these beads were
formerly made of Rose-leaves tightly pressed into round moulds, where
real Roses were not strung together, this chaplet was called a Rosary,
and was blessed by the Pope or some other holy person before being so

_Valeriana sativa_ is in France called _Herbe de Marie Magdaleine_, in
Germany _Marien Magdalenen Kraut_; the Pomegranate is the _Pommier de
Marie Magdaleine_ and _Marien Magdalenen Apfel_.

The Plants of Our Saviour.

We have seen that at the birth of Christ, the infant Jesus was laid on
a manger containing _Galium verum_, at Bethlehem, a place commemorated
by the _Ornithogalum umbellatum_, or Star of Bethlehem, the flowers
of which resemble the pictures of the star that indicated the birth
of Jesus. Whilst lying in the manger, a spray of the rose-coloured
Sainfoin, says a French legend, was found among the dried grass
and herbs which served for His bed. Suddenly the Sainfoin began to
expand its delicate blossoms, and to the astonishment of Mary, formed
a wreath around the head of the holy babe. In commemoration of the
infant Saviour having laid on a manger, it is customary, in some parts
of Italy, to deck mangers at Christmas time with Moss, Sow-Thistle,
Cypress, and prickly Holly: boughs of Juniper are also used for
Christmas decorations, because tradition affirms that the Virgin
and Child found safety amongst its branches when pursued by Herod’s
mercenaries. The Juniper is also believed to have furnished the wood of
the Cross on which Jesus was crucified.

At Christmas, according to an ancient pious tradition, all the plants
rejoice. In commemoration of the birth of our Saviour, in countries
nearer His birthplace than England, the Apple, Cherry, Carnation, Balm,
Rose of Jericho, and Rose of Mariastem (in Alsatia), burst forth into
blossom at Christmas, whilst in our own land the day is celebrated
by the blossoming of the Glastonbury Thorn, sprung from St. Joseph’s
staff, and the flowering of the Christmas Rose, or Christ’s Herb, known
in France as _la Rose de Noel_, and in Germany as _Christwurzel_.

On Good Friday, in remembrance of the Passion of our Lord, all the
trees, says the legend, shudder and tremble. The Swedes and Scotch have
a tradition that Christ was scourged with a rod of the dwarf Birch,
which was once a noble tree, but has ever since remained stunted and
lowly. It is called _Láng Fredags ris_, or Good Friday rod. There is
another legend extant, which states that the rod with which Christ was
scourged was cut from a Willow, and that the trees of its species have
drooped their branches to the earth in grief and shame from that time,
and have, consequently, borne the name of Weeping Willows.

The Crown of Thorns.

Sir J. Maundevile, who visited the Holy Land in the fourteenth century,
has recorded that he had many times seen the identical crown of Thorns
worn by Jesus Christ, one half of which was at Constantinople and the
other half at Paris, where it was religiously preserved in a vessel
of crystal in the King’s Chapel. This crown Maundevile says was of
“Jonkes of the see, that is to sey, Rushes of the see, that prykken als
scharpely as Thornes;” he further adds that he had been presented with
one of the precious thorns, which had fallen off into the vessel, and
that it resembled a White Thorn. The old traveller gives the following
circumstantial account of our Lord’s trial and condemnation, from which
it would appear that Jesus was first crowned with White Thorn, then
with Eglantine, and finally with Rushes of the sea. He writes:--“In
that nyghte that He was taken, He was ylad into a gardyn; and there
He was first examyned righte scharply; and there the Jewes scorned
Him, and maden Him a croune of the braunches of Albespyne, that is
White Thorn, that grew in the same gardyn, and setten it on His heved,
so faste and so sore, that the blood ran doun be many places of His
visage, and of His necke, and of His schuldres. And therefore hathe
the White Thorn many vertues; for he that berethe a braunche on him
thereoffe, no thondre, ne no maner of tempest may dere him; ne in the
hows that it is inne may non evylle gost entre ne come unto the place
that it is inne. And in that same gardyn Seynt Petre denyed oure Lord
thryes. Aftreward was oure Lord lad forthe before the bischoppes and
the maystres of the lawe, in to another gardyn of Anne; and there also
He was examyned, repreved, and scorned, and crouned eft with a White
Thorn, that men clepethe Barbarynes, that grew in that gardyn; and that
hathe also manye vertues. And afterward He was lad into a gardyn of
Cayphas, and there He was crouned with Eglentier. And aftre He was lad
in to the chambre of Pylate, and there He was examynd and crouned. And
the Jewes setten Hym in a chayere and cladde Hym in a mantelle; and
there made thei the croune of Jonkes of the see; and there thei kneled
to Hym, and skorned Hym, seyenge: ‘Heyl, King of the Jewes!’”

[Illustration: Relics of the Crucifixion. From _Maundevile’s Travels_.]

The illustration represents the Crown of Thorns, worn by our Saviour,
his coat without seams, called _tunica inconsutilis_; the sponge; the
reed by means of which the Jews gave our Lord vinegar and gall; and one
of the nails wherewith He was fastened to the Cross. All these relics
Maundevile tells us he saw at Constantinople.

Of what particular plant was composed the crown of Thorns which the
Roman soldiers plaited and placed on the Saviour’s head, has long been
a matter of dispute. Gerarde says it was the _Paliurus aculeatus_,
a sharp-spined shrub, which he calls Christ’s Thorn; and the old
herbalist quotes Bellonius, who had travelled in the Holy Land, and who
stated that this shrubby Thorn was common in Judea, and that it was
“The Thorne wherewith they crowned our Saviour Christ.” The melancholy
distinction has, however, been variously conferred on the Buckthorns,
_Rhamnus Spina Christi_ and _R. Paliurus_; the Boxthorn, the Barberry,
the Bramble, the Rose-briar, the Wild Hyssop, the Acanthus, or
Brank-ursine, the _Spartium villosum_, the Holly (called in Germany,
_Christdorn_), the Acacia, or _Nabkha_ of the Arabians, a thorny plant,
very suitable for the purpose, since its flexible twigs could be
twisted into a chaplet, and its small but pointed thorns would cause
terrible wounds; and, in France, the Hawthorn--the _épine noble_. The
West Indian negroes state that Christ’s crown was composed of a branch
of the Cashew-tree, and that in consequence one of the golden petals of
its blossom became black and blood-stained.

The Reed Mace (_Typha latifolia_) is generally represented as the reed
placed, in mockery, by the soldiers in the Saviour’s right hand.

The Wood of the Cross.

According to the legend connected with the Tree of Adam, the wood of
the Cross on which our Lord was crucified was Cedar--a beam hewn from
a tree which incorporated in itself the essence of the Cedar, the
Cypress, and the Olive (the vegetable emblems of the Holy Trinity).
Curzon, in his ‘Monasteries of the Levant,’ gives a tradition that the
Cedar was cut down by Solomon, and buried on the spot afterwards called
the Pool of Bethesda; that about the time of the Passion of our Blessed
Lord the wood floated, and was used by the Jews for the upright posts
of the Cross. Another legend makes the Cross of four kinds of wood
representing the four quarters of the globe, or all mankind: it is not,
however, agreed what those four kinds of wood were, or their respective
places in the Cross. Some say they were the Palm, the Cedar, the Olive,
and the Cypress; hence the line--

  “_Ligna crucis Palma, Cedrus, Cupressus, Oliva._”

In place of the Palm or the Olive, some claim the mournful honour for
the Pine and the Box; whilst there are others who aver it was made
entirely of Oak. Another account states the wood to have been the
Aspen, and since that fatal day its leaves have never ceased trembling
with horror.

  “Far off in Highland wilds ’tis said
  That of this tree the Cross was made.”

In some parts of England it is believed that the Elder was the
unfortunate tree; and woodmen will look carefully into the faggots
before using them for fuel, in case any of this wood should be bound
up in them. The gipsies entertain the notion that the Cross was made
of Ash; the Welsh that the Mountain Ash furnished the wood. In the
West of England there is a curious tradition that the Cross was made
of Mistletoe, which, until the time of our Saviour’s death, had been
a goodly forest tree, but was condemned henceforth to become a mere

Sir John Maundevile asserts that the Cross was made of Palm, Cedar,
Cypress, and Olive, and he gives the following curious account of
its manufacture:--“For that pece that wente upright fro the erthe to
the heved was of Cypresse; and the pece that wente overthwart to the
wiche his honds weren nayled was of Palme; and the stock that stode
within the erthe, in the whiche was made the morteys, was of Cedre; and
the table aboven his heved, that was a fote and an half long, on the
whiche the title was written, in Ebreu, Grece, and Latyn, that was of
Olyve. And the Jewes maden the Cros of theise 4 manere of trees: for
thei trowed that oure Lord Jesu Crist scholde han honged on the Cros
als longe as the Cros myghten laste. And therfore made thei the foot
of the Cros of Cedre: for Cedre may not in erthe ne in watre rote.
And therfore thei wolde that it scholde have lasted longe. For thei
trowed that the body of Crist scholde have stonken; therfore thei made
that pece that went from the erthe upward, of Cypres: for it is welle
smellynge, so that the smelle of His body scholde not greve men that
wenten forby. And the overthwart pece was of Palme: for in the Olde
Testament it was ordyned that whan on overcomen, He scholde be crowned
with Palme. And the table of the tytle thei maden of Olyve; for Olyve
betokenethe pes. And the storye of Noe wytnessethe whan that the culver
broughte the braunche of Olyve, that betokend pes made betwene God and
man. And so trowed the Jewes for to have pes whan Crist was ded: for
thei seyd that He made discord and strif amonges hem.”

Plants of the Crucifixion.

In Brittany the Vervain is known as the Herb of the Cross. John White,
writing in 1624, says of it--

  “Hallow’d be thou Vervain, as thou growest in the ground,
  For in the Mount of Calvary thou first was found.
  Thou healedst our Saviour Jesus Christ
  And staunchedst His bleeding wound.
  In the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
      I take thee from the ground.”

In the Flax-fields of Flanders, there grows a plant called the
_Roodselken_, the red spots on the leaves of which betoken the blood
which fell on it from the Cross, and which neither rain nor snow has
since been able to wash off. In Cheshire a similar legend is attached
to the _Orchis maculata_, which is there called Gethsemane.

  “Those deep unwrought marks,
  The villager will tell thee,
  Are the flower’s portion from the atoning blood
  On Calvary shed. Beneath the Cross it grew.”

In Palestine there exists a notion that the red Anemone grew at
the foot of the Cross, and hence the flower bears the name of the
“Blood-drops of Christ.” The Wood Sorrel is introduced in their
paintings of the Crucifixion by the early Italian painters, perhaps as
symbolizing the Trinity with its triple leaf.

Whilst wearily bearing His Cross on the way to Calvary, our Lord passed
by the door of St. Veronica, who, with womanly compassion, wiped with
her kerchief the drops of agony from His brow. The Redeemer’s features
remained miraculously impressed on the linen, and from that time the
flowers of the wayside Speedwell have ever borne a representation of
the precious relic. In Brittany it is said that whilst Christ was
bearing His Cross a little robin took from His mocking crown one of the
thorns, steeped in His blood, which dyed the robin’s breast; henceforth
the robin has always been the friend of man.

  “Bearing His cross, while Christ passed forth forlorn,
  His God-like forehead by the mock crown torn,
  A little bird took from that crown one thorn,
  To soothe the dear Redeemer’s throbbing head,
  That bird did what she could; His blood, ’tis said,
  Down dropping, dyed her bosom red.”--_J. H. Abrahall._

The early Spanish settlers of South America saw in the _Flor de las
cinco llagas_, the Flower of the Five Wounds, or Passion Flower, a
marvellous floral emblem of the mysteries of Christ’s Passion, and the
Jesuits eagerly adopted it as likely to prove useful in winning souls
to their faith.

An old legend, probably of monkish origin, recounts the emotions of
plants on the death of the Saviour of mankind.

The Pine of Damascus said:--As a sign of mourning, from this day my
foliage will remain sombre, and I will dwell in solitary places.

The Willow of Babylon.--My branches shall henceforth incline towards
the waters of the Euphrates, and there shed the tears of the East.

The Vine of Sorrento.--My grapes shall be black, and the wine that
shall flow from my side shall be called _Lacryma Christi_.

The Cypress of Carmel.--I will be the guest of the tombs, and the
testimony of grief.

The Yew.--I will be the guardian of graveyards. No bee shall pillage
with impunity my poisoned flowers. No bird shall rest on my branches;
for my exhalations shall give forth death.

The Iris of Susa.--Henceforth I will wear perpetual mourning, in
covering with a violet veil my golden chalice.

The Day Lily.--I will shut every evening my sweet-smelling corolla, and
will only re-open it in the morning with the tears of the night.

In the midst of these lamentations of the flowers the Poplar alone held
himself upright, cold, and arrogant as a free-thinker. As a punishment
for this pride, from that day forth, at the least breath of wind it
trembles in all its limbs. Revolutionists have, therefore, made it the
Tree of Liberty.

The Tree of Judas Iscariot.

In connection with the Crucifixion of our Lord many trees have had the
ill-luck of bearing the name of the traitor Judas--the disciple who,
after he had sold his Master, in sheer remorse and despair went and
hanged himself on a tree.

[Illustration: The Tree of Judas. From _Maundevile’s Travels_.]

The Fig, the Tamarisk, the Wild Carob, the Aspen, the Elder, and the
Dog Rose have each in their turn been mentioned as the tree on which
the suicide was committed. As regards the Fig, popular tradition
affirms that the tree, after Judas had hung himself on it, never
again bore fruit; that the Fig was the identical Fig-tree cursed by
our Lord; and that all the wild Fig-trees sprang from this accursed
tree. According to a Sicilian tradition, however, Judas did not hang
himself on a Fig but on a Tamarisk-tree called _Vruca_ (_Tamarix
Africana_): this _Vruca_ is now only a shrub, although formerly it
was a noble tree; at the time of Judas’ suicide it was cursed by God,
and thenceforth became a shrub, ill-looking, misshapen, and useless.
In England, according to Gerarde, the wild Carob is the Judas-tree
(_Cercis Siliquastrum_): this _Arbor Judæ_ was in olden times known as
the wild or foolish Cod. By many, however, the Elder has been supposed
to be the fatal tree: thus we read in Piers Plowman’s ‘Vision’:--

  “Judas he japed
  With Jewen silver,
  And sithen on an Eller
  Hanged hymselve.”

Sir John Maundevile, from whose work the foregoing illustration has
been copied, corroborates this view; for he tells us that in his day
there stood in the vicinity of Mount Sion “the tree of Eldre, that
Judas henge him self upon, for despeyr.”

A Russian proverb runs:--“There is an accursed tree which trembles
without even a breath of wind,” in allusion to the Aspen (_Populus
tremula_); and in the Ukraine they say that the leaves of this tree
have quivered and shaken since the day that Judas hung himself on it.

The Plants of St. John.

Popular tradition associates St. John the Baptist with numerous
marvels of the plant world. St. John was supposed to have been born
at midnight; and on the eve of his anniversary, precisely at twelve
o’clock, the Fern blooms and seeds, and this wondrous seed, gathered
at that moment, renders the possessor invisible: thus, in Shakspeare’s
Henry IV., Gadshill says: “We have the receipt of Fern-seed, we walk

The Fairies, commanded by their queen, and the demons, commanded by
Satan, engage in fierce combats at this mysterious time, for the
possession of the invisible seed.

In Russia, on St. John’s Eve, they seek the flower of the _Paporot_
(_Aspidium Filix mas_), which flowers only at the precise moment of
midnight, and will enable the lucky gatherer, who has watched it
flower, to realise all his desires, to discover hidden treasures, and
to recover cattle stolen or strayed. In the Ukraine it is thought that
the gatherer of the Fern-flower will be endowed with supreme wisdom.

The Russian peasants also gather, on the night of the Vigil of St.
John, the _Tirlic_, or _Gentiana Amarella_, a plant much sought after
by witches, and only to be gathered by those who have been fortunate
enough first to have found the _Plakun_ (_Lythrum Salicaria_), which
must be gathered on the morning of St. John, without using a knife or
other instrument in uprooting it. This herb the Russians hold to be
very potent against witches, bad spirits, and the evil eye. A cross
cut from the root of the _Plakun_, and worn on the person, causes
the wearer to be feared as much as fire. Another herb which should be
gathered on St. John’s Eve is the _Hieracium Pilosella_, called in
Germany _Johannisblut_ (blood of St. John): it brings good-luck, but
must be uprooted with a gold coin.

In many countries, before the break of day on St. John’s morning, the
dew which has fallen on vegetation is gathered with great care. This
dew is justly renowned, for it purifies all the noxious plants and
imparts to certain others a fabulous power. By some it is treasured
because it is believed to preserve the eyes from all harm during the
succeeding year. In Venetia the dew is reputed to renew the roots of
the hair on the baldest of heads. It is collected in a small phial,
and a herb called _Basilica_ is placed in it. In Normandy and the
Pyrenees it is used as a wash to purify the skin; in Brittany it is
thought that, thus used, it will drive away fever; and in Italy,
Roumania, Sweden, and Iceland it is believed to soften and beautify
the complexion. In Egypt the _nucta_ or miraculous drop falls before
sunrise on St. John’s Day, and is supposed to have the effect of
stopping the plague. In Sicily they gather the _Hypericum perforatum_,
or Herb of St. John, and put it in oil, which is by this means
transformed into a balm infallible for the cure of wounds.

In Spain garlands of flowers are plucked in the early morn of St.
John’s Day, before the dew has been dried by the sun, and a favourite
wether is decked with them, the village lasses singing--

  “Come forth, come forth, my maidens,
      we’ll gather Myrtle boughs,
  And we shall learn from the dews of the Fern
      if our lads will keep their vows:
  If the wether be still, as we dance on the hill,
      and the dew hangs sweet on the flowers,
  Then we’ll kiss off the dew, for our lovers are true,
      and the Baptist’s blessing is ours.”

The populace of Madrid were long accustomed, on St. John’s Eve, to
wander about the fields in search of Vervain, from a superstitious
notion that this plant possesses preternatural powers when gathered at
twelve o’clock on St. John’s Eve.

In some parts of Russia the country people heat their baths on the Eve
of St. John and place in them the herb _Kunalnitza_ (_Ranunculus_); in
other parts they place herbs, gathered on the same anniversary, upon
the roofs of houses and stables, as a safeguard against evil spirits.
The French peasantry rub the udders of their cows with similar herbs,
to ensure plenty of milk, and place them over the doorways of cattle
sheds and stables.

On the Eve of St. John, Lilies, Orpine, Fennel, and every variety of
_Hypericum_ are hung over doors and windows. Garlands of Vervain and
Flax are also suspended inside houses; but the true St. John’s garland
is composed of seven elements, namely white Lilies, green Birch,
Fennel, _Hypericum_, Wormwood, and the legs of game birds: these are
believed to have immense power against evil spirits. After daybreak on
St. John’s Day it is dangerous to pluck herbs; the gatherer running the
risk of being afflicted with cancer.

According to Bauhin, the following plants are consecrated to St.
John:--First and specially the _Hypericum_, or perforated St. John’s
Wort, the _fuga dæmonum_, or devil’s flight, so named from the virtue
ascribed to it of frightening away evil spirits, and acting as a charm
against witchcraft, enchantment, storms, and thunder. It is also called
_Tutsan_, or All-heal, from its virtues in curing all kinds of wounds;
and _Sanguis hominis_, because of the blood-red juice of its flowers.

The leaves of the common St. John’s Wort are marked with blood-like
spots, which alway appear on the 29th of August, the day on which the
Baptist was beheaded. The “Flower of St. John” is the _Chrysanthemum_
(Corn Marigold), or, according to others, the _Buphthalmus_ (Ox-Eye) or
the _Anacyclus_. Grapes of St. John are Currants. The Belt or Girdle
of St. John is Wormwood. The Herbs of St. John comprise also _Mentha
sarracenica_ or _Costus hortensis_; _Gallithricum sativum_ or _Centrum
galli_ or _Orminum sylvestre_; in Picardy _Abrotanum_ (a species of
Southernwood); and, according to others, the _Androsæmon_ (Tutsan),
the _Scrophularia_, and the _Crassula major_. The scarlet _Lychnis
Coronaria_ is said to be lighted up on his day, and was formerly called
_Candelabrum ingens_. A species of nut is named after the Saint. The
Carob is St. John’s Mead, so called because it is supposed to have
supplied him with food in the wilderness, and to be the “locusts”
mentioned in the Scriptures.

The festival of St. John would seem to be a favourite time with maidens
to practice divination in their love affairs. On the eve of St. John,
English girls set up two plants of Orpine on a trencher, one for
themselves and the other for their lover; and they estimate the lover’s
fidelity by his plant living and turning to theirs, or otherwise. They
also gather a Moss-rose so soon as the dew begins to fall, and, taking
it indoors, carefully keep it till New Year’s Eve, when, if the blossom
is faded, it is a sign of the lover’s insincerity, but if it still
retains its common colour, he is true. On this night, also, Hemp-seed
is sown with certain mystic ceremonies. In Brittany, on the Saint’s
Vigil, young men wearing bunches of green Wheat-ears, and lasses decked
with Flax-blossoms, assemble round one of the old pillar-stones and
dance round it, placing their wreath upon it. If it remains fresh for
some time after, the lover is to be trusted, but should it wither
within a day or two, so will the love prove but transient. In Sweden,
on St. John’s Eve, young maidens arrange a bouquet composed of nine
different flowers, among which the _Hypericum_, or St. John’s Wort, or
the Ox-eye Daisy, St. John’s Flower, must be conspicuous. The flowers
must be gathered from nine different places, and the posy be placed
beneath the maiden’s pillow. Then he who she sees in her dreams will
be sure soon to arrive.[7]

[7] For further details of the rites of St John’s Eve, see Part II.,
under the heads “FERN,” “HEMP,” and “MOSS-ROSE.”

  “The village maids mysterious tales relate
  Of bright Midsummer’s sleepless nights; the Fern
  That time sheds secret seeds; and they prepare
  Untold-of rites, predictive of their fate:
  Virgins in silent expectation watch
  Exact at twelve’s propitious hour, to view
  The future lover o’er the threshold pass;
  Th’ inviting door wide spread, and every charm
  Performed, while fond hope flutters in the breast,
  And credulous fancy, painting his known form,
  Kindles concordant to their ardent wish.”--_Bidlake._

Flowers of the Saints.

In the dark ages the Catholic monks, who cultivated with assiduity all
sorts of herbs and flowers in their monastic gardens, came in time to
associate them with traditions of the Church, and to look upon them
as emblems of particular saints. Aware, also, of the innate love of
humanity for flowers, they selected the most popular as symbols of
the Church festivals, and in time every flower became connected with
some saint of the Calendar, either from blowing about the time of the
saint’s day, or from being connected with him in some old legend.

St. Benedict’s herbs are the Avens, the Hemlock, and the Valerian,
which were assigned to him as being antidotes; a legend of the saint
relating that upon his blessing a cup of poisoned wine, which a monk
had presented to him to destroy him, the glass was shivered to pieces.
To St. Gerard was dedicated the _Ægopodium Podagraria_, because it
was customary to invoke the saint against the gout, for which this
plant was esteemed a remedy. St. Christopher has given his name to the
Baneberry (_Actæa spicata_), the Osmund Fern (_Osmunda regalis_), the
Fleabane (_Pulicaria dysenterica_), and, according to old herbalists,
to several other plants, including _Betonica officinalis_, _Vicia
Cracca_ and _Sepium_, _Gnaphalium germanicum_, _Spiræa ulmaria_, two
species of Wolf’s Bane, &c. St. George has numerous plants named after
or dedicated to him. In England his flower is the Harebell, but abroad
the Peony is generally called after him. His name is also bestowed
on the _Lilium convallium_. The Herb of St. George is the _Valeriana
sativa_; his root, _Dentaria major_; his Violet, _Leucoium luteum_;
his fruit, _Cucumis agrestis_. In Asia Minor the tree of St. George is
the Carob. The _Eryngium_ was dedicated to St. Francis under the name
of St. Francis’s Thorn. _Bunium flexuosum_, is St. Anthony’s nut--a
pig-nut, because he is the patron of pigs; and _Senecio Jacobæa_ is
St. James’s Wort (the saint of horses and colts)--used in veterinary
practice. The Cowslip is dedicated to St. Peter, as Herb Peter of the
old herbals, from some resemblance which it has to his emblem--a bunch
of keys. As the patron of fishermen, _Crithmum maritimum_, which grows
on sea-cliffs, was dedicated to this saint, and called in Italian
San Pietro, in French Saint Pierre, and in English Samphire. Most of
these saintly names were, however, given to the plants because their
day of flowering is connected with the festival of the saint. Hence
_Hypericum guadrangulare_ is the St. Peter’s Wort of the modern floras,
from its flowering on the 29th of June. The Daisy, as Herb Margaret,
is popularly supposed to be dedicated to “Margaret that was so meek
and mild;” probably from its blossoming about her day, the 22nd of
February: in reality, however, the flower derived its name from St.
Margaret of Cortona. _Barbarea vulgaris_, growing in the winter, is St.
Barbara’s Cress, her day being the fourth of December, old style; and
_Centaurea solstitialis_ derives its Latin specific, and its popular
name, St. Barnaby’s Thistle, from its flourishing on the longest
day, the 11th of June, old style, which is now the 22nd. _Nigella
damascena_, whose persistent styles spread out like the spokes of a
wheel, is named Katharine’s flower, after St. Katharine, who suffered
martyrdom on a wheel. The Cranesbill is called Herb Robert, in honour
of St. Robert, Abbot of Molesme and founder of the Cistercian Order.
The Speedwell is St. Paul’s Betony. Archangel is a name given to one
umbelliferous and three labiate plants. An angel is said to have
revealed the virtues of the plants in a dream. The umbelliferous plant,
it has been supposed, has been named _Angelica Archangelica_, from
its being in blossom on the 8th of May, old style, the Archangel St.
Michael’s Day. Flowering on the _fête_ day of such a powerful angel,
the plant was supposed to be particularly useful as a preservative of
men and women from evil spirits and witches, and of cattle from elfshot.

Roses are the special flowers of martyrs, and, according to a
tradition, they sprang from the ashes of a saintly maiden of Bethlehem
who perished at the stake. Avens (_Geum urbanum_) the _Herba
benedicta_, or Blessed Herb, is a plant so blessed that no venomous
beast will approach within scent of it; and, according to the author
of the _Ortus sanitatis_, “where the root is in a house, the devil
can do nothing, and flies from it, wherefore it is blessed above all
other herbs.” The common Snowdrops are called Fair Maids of February.
This name also, like the Saints’ names, arises from an ecclesiastical
coincidence: their white flowers blossom about the second of February,
when maidens, dressed in white, walked in procession at the Feast of
the Purification.

The name of Canterbury Bells was given to the _Campanula_, in honour of
St. Thomas of England, and in allusion probably to the horse-bells of
the pilgrims to his shrine. _Saxifraga umbrosa_ is both St. Patrick’s
cabbage and St. Anne’s needlework; _Polygonum Persicaria_ is the
Virgin’s Pinch; _Polytrichum commune_, St. Winifred’s Hair; _Myrrhis
odorata_, Sweet Cicely; _Origanum vulgare_, Sweet Margery; _Oscinium
Basilicum_, Sweet Basil. _Angelica sylvestris_, the Root of the Holy
Ghost; Hedge Hyssop, Cranesbill, and St. John’s Wort are all surnamed
Grace of God; the Pansy, having three colours on one flower, is called
Herb Trinity; the four-leaved Clover is an emblem of the Cross, and all
cruciform flowers are deemed of good omen, having been marked with the
sign of the Cross. The Hemp Agrimony is the Holy Rope, after the rope
with which Christ was bound; and the Hollyhock is the Holy Hock (an old
word for Mallow).

The feeling which inspired this identification of flowers and herbs
with holy personages and festivals is gracefully expressed by a
Franciscan in the following passage:--“Mindful of the Festivals which
our Church prescribes, I have sought to make these objects of floral
nature the timepieces of my religious calendar, and the mementos of
the hastening period of my mortality. Thus I can light the taper to
our Virgin Mother on the blowing of the white Snowdrop, which opens
its flower at the time of Candlemas; the Lady’s Smock and the Daffodil
remind me of the Annunciation; the blue Harebell, of the Festival
of St. George; the Ranunculus, of the Invention of the Cross; the
Scarlet Lychnis, of St. John the Baptist’s day; the white Lily, of the
Visitation of our Lady; and the Virgin’s Bower, of the Assumption;
and Michaelmas, Martinmas, Holy Rood, and Christmas have all their
appropriate decorations.” In later times we find the Church’s Calendar
of English flowers embodied in the following lines:--

  “The Snowdrop, in purest white arraie,
  First rears her hedde on Candlemass daie:
  While the Crocus hastens to the shrine
  Of Primrose lone on S. Valentine.
  Then comes the Daffodil beside
  Our Ladye’s Smock at our Ladye tide,
  Aboute S. George, when blue is worn,
  The blue Harebells the fields adorn;
  Against the daie of the Holie Cross,
  The Crowfoot gilds the flowrie grasse.
  When S. Barnabie bright smiles night and daie,
  Poor Ragged Robbin blooms in the hay.
  The scarlet Lychnis, the garden’s pride,
  Flames at S. John the Baptist’s tide;
  From Visitation to S. Swithen’s showers,
  The Lillie white reigns queen of the floures
  And Poppies a sanguine mantle spread,
  For the blood of the dragon S. Margaret shed,
  Then under the wanton Rose agen,
  That blushes for penitent Magdalen,
  Till Lammas Daie, called August’s Wheel,
  When the long Corn smells of Cammomile.
  When Marie left us here belowe,
  The Virgin’s Bower is full in blowe;
  And yet anon the full Sunflower blew,
  And became a starre for S. Bartholomew.
  The Passion-flower long has blowed,
  To betoken us signs of the holie rood:
  The Michaelmass Dasie among dede weeds,
  Blooms for S. Michael’s valorous deeds,
  And seems the last of the floures that stood,
  Till the feste of S. Simon and S. Jude;
  Save Mushrooms and the Fungus race,
  That grow till All Hallowtide takes place.
  Soon the evergreen Laurel alone is green,
  When Catherine crownes all learned menne;
  Then Ivy and Holly berries are seen,
  And Yule clog and wassail come round agen.”

  _Anthol. Bor. et Aus._

The Roman Catholics have compiled a complete list of flowers, one for
every day in the year, in which each flower has been dedicated to a
particular saint, usually for no better reason than because it bloomed
about the date of the saint’s feast day. This Saints’ Floral Directory
is to be found _in extenso_ in Hone’s ‘Every-day Book.’ In the Anglican
church the principal Festivals or Red Letter Days have each their
appropriate flowers assigned them, as will be seen from the following


 Nov.  30.  S. Andrew.         S. Andrew’s Cross--_Ascyrum Crux Andreæ_.

 Dec.  21.  S. Thomas.         Sparrow Wort--_Erica passerina_.

       25.  Christmas.         Holly--_Ilex bacciflora_.

       26.  S. Stephen.        Purple Heath--_Erica purpurea_.

       27.  S. John Evan.      Flame Heath--_Erica flammea_.

       28.  Innocents.         Bloody Heath--_Erica cruenta_.

 Jan.   1.  Circumcision.      Laurustine--_Viburnum tinus_.

        6.  Epiphany.          Screw Moss--_Tortula rigida_.

       25.  Conversion of   }  Winter Hellebore--_Helleborus hyemalis_.
              S. Paul.      }

 Feb.   2.  Purification of }  Snowdrop--_Galanthus nivalis_.
              B. V. M.      }

       24.  S. Matthias.       Great Fern--_Osmunda regalis_.

 Mar.  25.  Annunciation    }
              of B. V. M.   }  Marigold--_Calendula officinalis_.

 Apr.  25.  S. Mark.           Clarimond Tulip--_Tulipa præcox_.

 May    1.  S. Philip and   {  Tulip--_Tulipa Gesneri_,
              S. James.     {      dedicated to S. Philip.
                            {  Red Campion--_Lychnis dioica rubra_.
                            {  Red Bachelor’s Buttons--_Lychnis dioica
                            {      plena_, dedicated to S. James.

 June  11.  S. Barnabas.       Midsummer Daisy--_Chrysanthemum

       24.  S. John Baptist.   S. John’s Wort--_Hypericum pulchrum_.

       29.  S. Peter           Yellow Rattle--_Rhinanthus Galli_.

 July  25.  S. James           Herb Christopher--_Actæa spicata_.

 Aug.  24.  S. Bartholomew     Sunflower--_Helianthus annuus_.

 Sept. 21.  S. Matthew      {  Ciliated Passion-flower.--_Passiflora
                            {      ciliata_.

       29.  S. Michael.        Michaelmas Daisy--_Aster Tradescanti_.

 Oct.  18.  S. Luke.           Floccose Agaric--_Agaricus floccosus_.

       28.  S. Simon and    {  Late Chrysanthemum--_Chrysanthemum
              S. Jude       {      serotinum_.
                            {  Scattered Starwort--_Aster passiflorus_,
                            {      dedicated to S. Jude.

 Nov.   1.  All Saints.        Amaranth.

In old church calendars Christmas Eve is marked “_Templa
exornantur_”--Churches are decked.

Herrick, in the time of Charles I., thus combines a number of these old
customs connected with the decoration of churches--

        “Down with Rosemary and Bays,
          Down with the Mistletoe,
        Instead of Holly now upraise
          The greener Box for show.

        The Holly hitherto did sway;
          Let Box now domineer,
        Until the dancing Easter Day
          Or Easter’s Eve appear.

        Then youthful Box, which now hath grace
          Your houses to renew,
        Grown old, surrender must his place
          Unto the crisped Yew.

        When Yew is out, then Birch comes in,
          And many flowers beside,
        Both of a fresh and fragrant kin,
          To honour Whitsuntide.

        Green Rushes then, and sweetest Bents,
          With cooler Oaken boughs,
        Come in for comely ornaments
          To re-adorn the house.

  Thus times do shift; each thing his turn does hold,
  New things succeed as former things grow old.”

Flowers of the Church’s Festivals.

In the services of the Church every season has its appropriate
floral symbol. In olden times on Feast days places of worship were
significantly strewed with bitter herbs. On the Feast of Dedication
(the first Sunday in October) the Church was decked with boughs and
strewn with sweet Rushes; for this purpose _Juncus aromaticus_ (now
known as _Acorus Calamus_) was used.

  “The Dedication of the Church is yerely had in minde,
  With worship passing Catholicke, and in a wondrous kinde.
  From out the steeple hie is hanged a crosse and banner fayre,
  The pavement of the temple strowde with hearbes of pleasant ayre;
  The pulpets and the aulters all that in the Church are seene,
  And every pewe and pillar great are deckt with boughs of greene.”

  _T. Naogeorgus, trans. by Barnabe Googe_, 1570.

It was customary to strew Rushes on the Church floor on all high
days. Newton, in his ‘Herbal to the Bible’ (1587), speaks of “Sedge
and Rushes, with which many in the country do use in Summer time
to strewe their parlors and Churches, as well for coolness and for
pleasant smell.” Cardinal Wolsey in the pride of his pomp had the
strewings of his great hall at Hampton Court renewed every day. Till
lately the floor of Norwich Cathedral was strewn with _Acorus Calamus_
on festal days, and when the _Acorus_ was scarce, the leaves of the
yellow Iris were used. At the church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol,
Rushes are strewn every Whitsuntide. The parish of Middleton-Cheney,
Northamptonshire, has a benefaction to provide hay for strewing the
Church in summer, the rector providing straw in the winter. In Prussia
_Holcus odoratus_ is considered Holy Grass, and is used for strewing
purposes. The Rush-bearings which are still held in Westmoreland, and
were until quite recently general in Cheshire, would appear to be a
relic of the custom of the Dedication Feast. At these Rush-bearings
young men and women carry garlands in procession through the village to
the Church, which they enter and decorate with their floral tributes.
Besides giving the Church a fresh strewing every feast day, it was
in olden times customary to deck it with boughs and flowers; and as
the flowers used at festivals were originally selected because they
happened to be in bloom then, so in time they came to be associated

On PALM SUNDAY, it was customary for the congregation to carry Palm
branches in procession, and deposit them on the altar of the Church
to be blessed, after which they were again distributed to the people.
Various substitutes for the Eastern Palm were used in England, but
the most popular was the Sallow, because its lithe green wands, full
of sap, and covered with golden catkins, were at that season of the
year the things most full of life and blossom. Yew branches were also
employed for Palm, and some Churches were decked with boughs of Box.

White Broom and white flowers of all descriptions are applicable to the
great festival of EASTER, as well as purple Pasque flowers and golden
Daffodils. The peasants of Bavaria weave garlands of the fragrant
Coltsfoot (_Nardosmia fragrans_) on Easter Day, and cast them into
the fire. In ROGATION WEEK processions perambulated the parishes with
the Holy Cross and Litanies, to mark the boundaries and to invoke the
blessing of God on the crops: on this occasion maidens made themselves
garlands and nosegays of the Rogation-flower, _Polygala vulgaris_,
called also the Cross-, Gang-, and Procession-flower.

On ASCENSION DAY it is customary in Switzerland to suspend wreaths of
Edelweiss over porches and windows,--this flower of the Alps being,
like the Amaranth, considered an emblem of immortality, and peculiarly
appropriate to the festival.

MAY DAY, in olden times, was the anniversary of all others which was
associated with floral ceremonies. In the early morn all ranks of
people went out a-Maying, returning laden with Hawthorn blossoms and
May flowers, to decorate churches and houses. Shakspeare notices how,
in his day, every one was astir betimes:--

                    “’Tis as much improbable,
  Unless we swept them from the door with cannons,
  To scatter ’em, as ’tis to make ’em sleep
  On May-day morning.”

It being also the festival of SS. PHILIP AND JAMES, the feast partook
somewhat of a religious character. The people not only turned the
streets into leafy avenues, and their door-ways into green arbours,
and set up a May-pole decked with ribands and garlands, and an arbour
besides for Maid Marian to sit in, to witness the sports, but the
floral decorations extended likewise into the Church. We learn from
Aubrey that the young maids of every parish carried about garlands of
flowers, which they afterwards hung up in their Churches; and Spenser
sings how, at sunrise--

  “Youth’s folke now flocken in everywhere
  To gather May-buskets and smelling Brere;
  And home they hasten the postes to dight
  And all the Kirke pillours ere day light
  With Hawthorn buds and sweete Eglantine,
  And girlonds of Roses, and Soppes-in-wine.”

The beautiful milk-white Hawthorn blossom is essentially the flower
of the season, but in some parts of England the Lily of the Valley is
considered as “The Lily of the May.” In Cornwall and Devon Lilac is
esteemed the May-flower, and special virtues are attached to sprays of
Ivy plucked at day-break with the dew on them. In Germany the Kingcup,
Lily of the Valley, and Hepatica are severally called _Mai-blume_.

WHITSUNTIDE flowers in England are Lilies of the Valley and Guelder
Roses, but according to Chaucer (‘Romaunt of the Rose’) Love bids his

  “Have hatte of floures fresh as May,
  Chapelett of Roses of Whit-Sunday,
  For sich array ne costeth but lite.”

The Germans call Broom Pentecost-bloom, and the Peony the Pentecost
Rose. The Italians call Whitsunday _Pasqua Rosata_, Roses being then in

To TRINITY SUNDAY belong the Herb-Trinity or Pansy and the Trefoil. On
ST. BARNABAS DAY, as on ST. PAUL’S DAY, the churches were decked with
Box, Woodruff, Lavender, and Roses, and the officiating Priests wore
garlands of Roses on their heads.

On ROYAL OAK DAY (May 29th), in celebration of the restoration of
King Charles II., and to commemorate his concealment in an aged Oak
at Boscobel, gilded Oak-leaves and Apples are worn, and Oak-branches
are hung over doorways and windows. From this incident in the life of
Charles II., the Oak derives its title of Royal.

  “Blest Charles then to an Oak his safety owes;
    The Royal Oak, which now in song shall live,
  Until it reach to Heaven with its boughs;
    Boughs that for loyalty shall garlands give.”

On CORPUS CHRISTI DAY it was formerly the custom in unreformed England
to strew the streets through which the procession passed with flowers,
and to decorate the church with Rose and other garlands. In North Wales
a relic of these ceremonies lingered till lately in the practice of
strewing herbs and flowers at the doors of houses on the Corpus Christi
Eve. In Roman Catholic countries flowers are strewed along the streets
in this festival, and the route of the procession at Rome is covered
with Bay and other fragrant leaves.

On the Vigil of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, Stowe tells us that in his time
every man’s door was shadowed with green Birch, long Fennel, St. John’s
Wort, Orpine, white Lilies, and such like, garnished upon with garlands
of beautiful flowers, and also lamps of glass, with oil burning in them
all night. Birch is the special tree, as the yellow St. John’s Wort
(_Hypericum_) is the special flower, of St. John. In the life of Bishop
Horne we read that in the Court of Magdalen, Oxford, a sermon used to
be preached on this day from the stone pulpit in the corner, and “the
quadrangle was furnished round with a large fence of green boughs, that
the meeting might more nearly resemble that of John Baptist in the

On ALL SAINTS’ or ALL HALLOWS’ DAY, Roman Catholics are wont to visit
the graves of departed relatives or friends, and place on them wreaths
of Ivy, Moss, and red Berries. On the Eve of this day, Hallowe’en
(October 31st), many superstitious customs are still practised. In
the North young people dive for Apples, and for divining purposes
fling Nuts into the fire; hence the vulgar name of Nut-crack Night.
In Scotland young women determine the figure and size of their future
husbands by paying a visit to the Kail or Cabbage garden, and “pu’ing
the Kailstock” blindfold. They also on this night throw Hazel Nuts in
the fire, named for two lovers, judging according as they burn quickly
together, or start apart, the course of their love.

At CHRISTMAS tide Holly (the “holy tree”), Rosemary, Laurel, Bay, Arbor
Vitæ, and Ivy are hung up in churches, and are suitable also for the
decoration of houses, with the important addition of Mistletoe (which,
on account of its Druidic connection, is interdicted in places of
worship). Ivy should only be placed in outer passages or doorways. At
Christmas, which St. Gregory termed the “festival of all festivals,”
the evergreens with which the churches are ornamented are a fitting
emblem of that time when, as God says by the prophet Isaiah, “I will
plant in the wilderness the Cedar, the Shittah tree and the Myrtle, and
the Oil tree; I will set in the desert the Fir tree and the Pine, and
the Box tree together (xli., 19). The glory of Lebanon shall come unto
thee, the Fir tree, the Pine tree, and the Box together, to beautify
the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet
glorious” (lx., 13).

Gospel Oaks and Memorial Trees.

There exist in different parts of England several ancient trees,
notably Oaks, which are traditionally said to have been called Gospel
trees in consequence of its having been the practice in times long
past to read under a tree which grew upon a boundary-line a portion of
the Gospel on the annual perambulation of the bounds of the parish on
Ascension Day. In Herrick’s poem of the ‘Hesperides’ occur these lines
in allusion to this practice:--

              “Dearest, bury me
  Under that holy Oak or Gospel tree,
  Where, though thou see’st not, thou mayest think upon
  Me when thou yearly go’st in procession.”

Many of these old trees were doubtless Druidical, and under their
“leafy tabernacles” the pioneers of Christianity had probably preached
and expounded the Scriptures to a pagan race. The heathen practice of
worshipping the gods in woods and trees continued for many centuries,
till the introduction of Christianity; and the first missionaries
sought to adopt every means to elevate the Christian worship to higher
authority than that of paganism by acting on the senses of the heathen.
St. Augustine, Evelyn tells us, held a kind of council under an Oak in
the West of England, concerning the right celebration of Easter and
the state of the Anglican church; “where also it is reported he did
a great miracle.” On Lord Bolton’s estate in the New Forest stands
a noble group of twelve Oaks known as the Twelve Apostles: there is
another group of Oaks extant known as the Four Evangelists. Beneath the
venerable Yews at Fountain Abbey, Yorkshire, the founders of the Abbey
held their council in 1132.

“Cross Oaks” were so called from their having been planted at the
junction of cross roads, and these trees were formerly resorted to by
aguish patients, for the purpose of transferring to them their malady.

Venerable and noble trees have in all ages and in all countries been
ever regarded with special reverence. From the very earliest times
such trees have been consecrated to holy uses. Thus, the Gomerites, or
descendants of Noah, were, if tradition be true, accustomed to offer
prayers and oblations beneath trees; and, following the example of
his ancestors, the Patriarch Abraham pitched his tents beneath the
Terebinth Oaks of Mamre, erected an altar to the Lord, and performed
there sacred and priestly rites. Beneath an Oak, too, the Patriarch
entertained the Deity Himself. This tree of Abraham remained till the
reign of Constantine the Great, who founded a venerable chapel under
it, and there Christians, Jews, and Arabs held solemn anniversary
meetings, believing that from the days of Noah the spot shaded by the
tree had been a consecrated place.

Dean Stanley tells us that “on the heights of Ephraim, on the central
thoroughfare of Palestine, near the Sanctuary of Bethel, stood two
famous trees, both in after times called by the same name. One was the
Oak-tree or Terebinth of Deborah, under which was buried, with many
tears, the nurse of Jacob (Gen. xxxv. 8). The other was a solitary
Palm, known in after times as the Palm-tree of Deborah. Under this
Palm, as Saul afterwards under the Pomegranate-tree of Migron, as St.
Louis under the Oak-tree of Vincennes, dwelt that mother in Israel,
Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth, to whom the sons of Israel came to
receive her wise answers.”

Since the time when Solomon cut the Cedars of Lebanon for the purpose
of employing them in the erection of the Temple of the Lord, this
renowned forest has been greatly shorn of its glories; but a grove of
nearly four hundred trees still exists. Twelve of the most valuable of
these trees bear the titles of “The Friends of Solomon,” or “The Twelve
Apostles.” Every year the Maronites, Greeks, and Armenians go up to the
Cedars, at the Feast of the Transfiguration, and celebrate mass on a
homely stone altar erected at their feet.

In Evelyn’s time there existed, near the tomb of Cyrus, an
extraordinary Cypress, which was said to exude drops of blood every
Friday. This tree, according to Pietro della Valla, was adorned with
many lamps, and fitted for an oratory, and was for ages resorted to by
pious pilgrims.

Thevenot and other Eastern travellers mention a tree which for
centuries had been regarded with peculiar reverence. “At Matharee,”
says Thevenot, “is a large garden surrounded by walls, in which are
various trees, and among others, a large Sycamore, or Pharaoh’s Fig,
very old, which bears fruit every year. They say that the Virgin
passing that way with her son Jesus, and being pursued by a number of
people, the Fig-tree opened to receive her; she entered, and it closed
her in, until the people had passed by, when it re-opened, and that it
remained open ever after to the year 1656, when the part of the trunk
that had separated itself was broken away.”

Near Kennety Church, in the King’s County, Ireland, is an Ash, the
trunk of which is nearly 22 feet round, and 17 feet high, before the
branches break out, which are of enormous bulk. When a funeral of the
lower class passes by, they lay the body down a few minutes, say a
prayer, and then throw a stone to increase the heap which has been
accumulating round the roots.

The Breton nobles were long accustomed to offer up a prayer beneath the
branches of a venerable Yew which grew in the cloister of Vreton, in
Brittany. The tree was regarded with much veneration, as it was said to
have originally sprung from the staff of St. Martin.

In England, the Glastonbury Thorn was long the object of pious
reverence. This tree was supposed to have sprung from the staff of
Joseph of Arimathea, to whom the original conversion of this country
is attributed in monkish legends. The story runs that when Joseph of
Arimathea came to convert the heathen nations he selected Glastonbury
as the site for the first Christian Church, and whilst preaching
there on Christmas-day, he struck his staff into the ground, which
immediately burst into bud and bloom; eventually it grew into a
Thorn-bush, which regularly blossomed every Christmas-day, and became
known throughout Christendom as the Glastonbury Thorn.

                “The winter Thorn, which
  Blossoms at Christmas, mindful of our Lord.”

Like the Thorn of Glastonbury, an Oak, in the New Forest, called the
Cadenham Oak, produced its buds always on Christmas Day; and was,
consequently, regarded by the country people as a tree of peculiar
sanctity. Another miraculous tree is referred to in Collinson’s
‘History of Somerset.’ The author, speaking of the Glastonbury Thorn,
says that there grew also in the Abbey churchyard, on the north side of
St. Joseph’s Chapel, a miraculous Walnut-tree, which never budded forth
before the Feast of St. Barnabas (that is, the 11th of June), and on
that very day shot forth leaves, and flourished like its usual species.
It is strange to say how much this tree was sought after by the
credulous; and though not an uncommon Walnut, Queen Anne, King James,
and many of the nobility of the realm, even when the times of monkish
superstition had ceased, gave large sums of money for small cuttings
from the original.




Plants of the Fairies and Naiades.

Centuries before Milton wrote that “Millions of spiritual creatures
walk the earth unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep,” our Saxon
ancestors, whilst yet they inhabited the forests of Germany, believed
in the existence of a diminutive race of beings--the “missing link”
between men and spirits--to whom they attributed extraordinary actions,
far exceeding the capabilities of human art. Moreover, we have it on
the authority of the father of English poetry that long, long ago, in
those wondrous times when giants and dwarfs still deigned to live in
the same countries as ordinary human beings,

  “In the olde dayes of King Artour,
  Of which the Bretons speken gret honour,
  All was this land fulfilled of faerie;
  The Elf-quene and hire joly compaynie
  Danced full oft in many a grene mede.
  This was the old opinion as I rede.”

The old Welsh bards were accustomed to sing their belief that King
Arthur was not dead, but conveyed away by the fairies into some charmed
spot where he should remain awhile, and then return again to reign
with undiminished power. These wondrous inhabitants of Elf-land--these
Fays, Fairies, Elves, Little Folk, Pixies, Hobgoblins, Kobolds, Dwarfs,
Pigmies, Gnomes, and Trolls are all more or less associated with the
plant kingdom. They make their habitations in the leafy branches of
trees, or dwell in the greater seclusion of their hollow trunks;
they dally and gambol among opening buds and nodding blossoms; they
hide among blushing Roses and fragrant shrubs; they dance amid the
Buttercups, Daisies, and Meadow-Sweet of the grassy meads; and, as
Shakspeare says, they “use flowers for their charactery.”

Grimm tells us that in Germany the Elves are fond of inhabiting Oak
trees, the holes in the trunks of which are deemed by the people to be
utilised by the Fairies as means of entry and exit. A similar belief
is entertained by the Hindus, who consider holes in trees as doors by
which the inhabiting spirit passes in and out. German elves are also
fond of frequenting Elder-trees.

The Esthonians believe that during a thunder-storm, and in order to
escape from the lightning, the timorous Elves burrow several feet
beneath the roots of the trees they inhabit. As a rule these forest
Elves are good-natured: if they are not offended, not only will they
abstain from harming men, but they will even do them a good turn, and
teach them some of the mysteries of nature, of which they possess the

The Elves were in former days thought to practise works of mercy in
the woods, and a certain sympathetic affinity with trees became thus
propagated in the popular faith. The country-folk were careful not to
offend the trees that were inhabited by Fairies, and they never sought
to surprise the Elfin people in their mysterious retreats, for they
dreaded the power of these invisible creatures to cause ill-luck or
some unfortunate malady to fall on those against whom they had a spite.
Even deaths were sometimes laid at their door.

A German legend relates that as a peasant woman one day tried to uproot
the stump of an old tree in a Fir forest, she became so feeble that at
last she could scarcely manage to walk. Suddenly, while endeavouring to
crawl to her home, a mysterious-looking man appeared in the path before
the poor woman, and upon hearing what was the matter with her, he at
once remarked that she had wounded an Elf. If the Elf got well, so
would she; but if the Elf should unfortunately perish, she would also
assuredly die. The stump of the old Fir-tree was the abode of an Elf,
and in endeavouring to uproot it, the woman had unintentionally injured
the little creature. The words of the mysterious personage proved
too true. The peasant languished for some time, but drooped and died
on the same day as the wounded Elf. To this day, in the vast forests
of Germany and Russia, instead of uprooting old Firs, the foresters,
remembering the Elfish superstition, always chop them down above the

In the Indian legend of Sâvitri, the youthful Satyavant, while felling
a tree, perspires inordinately, is overcome with weakness, sinks
exhausted, and dies. He had mortally wounded the Elf of the tree. Since
the days of Æsop it has become a saying that Death has a weakness for

In our own land, Oaks have always been deemed the favourite abodes of
Elves, and wayfarers, upon approaching groves reputed to be haunted by
them, used to think it judicious to turn their coats for good luck.
Thus Bishop Corbet, in his _Iter Boreale_, writes:--

                              “William found
  A means for our deliverance: ‘Turn your cloakes,’
  Quoth he, ‘for Pucke is busy in these Oakes;
  If ever we at Bosworth will be found,
  Then turn your cloakes, for this is Fairy ground.’”

It was believed that the Fairy folk made their homes in the recesses of
forests or secluded groves, whence they issued after sunset to gambol
in the fields; often startling with their sudden appearance the tired
herdsman trudging homeward to his cot, or the goodwife returning from
her expedition to market. Thus we read of “Fairy Elves whose midnight
revels by a forest side or fountain some belated peasant sees.”

  “Would you the Fairy regions see,
  Hence to the greenwoods run with me;
  From mortals safe the livelong night,
  There countless feats the Fays delight.”--_Leftly._

In the Isle of Man the Fairies or Elves used to be seen hopping from
trees and skipping from bough to bough, whilst wending their way to the
Fairy midnight haunts.

In such esteem were they held by the country folk of Devon and
Cornwall, that to ensure their friendship and good offices, the
Fairies, or Pixies, used formerly to have a certain share of the fruit
crop set apart for their special consumption.

Hans Christian Andersen tells of a certain Rose Elf who was
instrumental in punishing the murderer of a beautiful young maiden to
whom he was attached. The Rose, in olden times, was reputed to be under
the especial protection of Elves, Fairies, and Dwarfs, whose sovereign,
Laurin, carefully guarded the Rose-garden.

  “Four portals to the garden lead, and when the gates are closed,
  No living wight dare touch a Rose, ’gainst his strict command opposed.
  Whoe’er would break the golden gates, or cut the silken thread,
  Or who would dare to waste the flowers down beneath his tread,
  Soon for his pride would leave to pledge a foot and hand;
  Thus Laurin, King of Dwarfs, rules within his land.”

A curious family of the Elfin tribe were the Moss- or Wood-Folk, who
dwelt in the forests of Southern Germany. Their stature was small, and
their form weird and uncouth, bearing a strange resemblance to certain
trees, with which they flourished and decayed. Describing a Moss-woman,
the author of ‘The Fairy Family’ says:--

  “‘A Moss-woman!’ the hay-makers cry,
  And over the fields in terror they fly.
  She is loosely clad from neck to foot
  In a mantle of Moss from the Maple’s root,
  And like Lichen grey on its stem that grows
  Is the hair that over her mantle flows.
  Her skin, like the Maple-rind, is hard,
  Brown and ridgy, and furrowed and scarred;
  And each feature flat, like the bark we see,
  Where a bough has been lopped from the bole of a tree,
  When the newer bark has crept healingly round,
  And laps o’er the edge of the open wound;
  Her knotty, root-like feet are bare,
  And her height is an ell from heel to hair.”

The Moss- or Wood-Folk also lived in some parts of Scandinavia. Thus,
we are told that, in the churchyard of Store Hedding, in Zealand, there
are the remains of an Oak wood which were trees by day and warriors by

The Black Dwarfs were a race of Scandinavian Elves, inhabiting
coast-hills and caves; the favourite place of their feasts and
carousings, however, was under the spreading branches of the
Elder-tree, the strong perfume of its large moon-like clusters of
flowers being very grateful to them. As has been before pointed out,
an unexplained connection of a mysterious character has always existed
between this tree and the denizens of Fairy-land.

The Still-Folk of Central Germany were another tribe of the Fairy
Kingdom: they inhabited the interior of hills, in which they had their
spacious halls and strong rooms filled with gold, silver, and precious
stones--the entrance to which was only obtained by mortals by means
of the Luck-flower, or the Key-flower (_Schlüsselblume_). They held
communication with the outer world, like the Trolls of Scandinavia,
through certain springs or wells, which possessed great virtues: not
only did they give extraordinary growth and fruitfulness to all trees
and shrubs that grew near them, whose roots could drink of their
waters, or whose leaves be sprinkled with the dews condensed from their
vapours, but for certain human diseases they formed a sovereign remedy.

In Monmouthshire, in years gone by, there existed a good Fairy, or
Procca, who was wont to appear to Welshmen in the guise of a handful of
loose dried grass, rolling and gambolling before the wind.

Fairy Revels.

The English Fays and Fairies, the Pixies of Devon--

              “Fantastic Elves, that leap
  The slender Hare-cup, climb the Cowslip bells,
  And seize the wild bee as she lies asleep,”

according to the old pastoral poets, were wont to bestir themselves
soon after sunset--a time of indistinctness and gloomy grandeur, when
the moonbeams gleam fitfully through the wind-stirred branches of their
sylvan retreats, and when sighs and murmurings are indistinctly heard
around, which whisper to the listener of unseen beings. But it is at
midnight that the whole Fairy kingdom is alive: then it is that the
faint music of the blue Harebell is heard ringing out the call to the
Elfin meet:

  “’Tis the hour of Fairy ban and spell,
  The wood-tick has kept the minutes well,
  He has counted them all with click and stroke,
  Deep on the heart of the forest Oak;
  And he has awakened the sentry Elve,
    That sleeps with him in the haunted tree,
  To bid him ring the hour of twelve,
    And call the Fays to their revelry.

  “They come from the beds of the Lichen green,
  They creep from the Mullein’s velvet screen,
  Some on the backs of beetles fly
    From the silver tops of moon-touched trees,
  Where they swing in their cobweb hammocks high,
    And rocked about in the evening breeze;
  Some from the hum-bird’s downy nest,
    Had driven him out by Elfin power,
  And pillowed on plumes of his rainbow crest,
    Had slumbered there till the charmed hour;
  Some had lain in a scarp of the rock,
    By glittering ising-stars inlaid,
  And some had opened the ‘Four-o’-Clock,’
    And stolen within its purple shade;
  And now they throng the moonlight glade,
    Above, below,--on every side,
  Their little minim forms arrayed,
    In the tricksy pomp of Fairy pride.”--_Dr. Drake’s ‘Culprit Fay.’_

Like the Witches, Fairies dearly love to ride to the trysting-place
on an aerial steed. A straw, a blade of Grass, a Fern, a Rush, or a
Cabbage-stalk, alike serve the purpose of the little people. Mounted on
such simple steeds, each joyous Elf sings--

  “Now I go, now I fly,
  Malkin, my sweet spirit, and I.
  O what a dainty pleasure ’tis
  To ride in the air,
  When the morn shines fair,
  And sing and dance, and toy and kiss!”

Arrived at the spot selected for the Fairy revels--mayhap, “a bank
whereon the wild Thyme blows, where Oxlips and the nodding Violet
grows”--the gay throng wend their way to a grassy link or neighbouring
pasture, and there the merry Elves trip and pace the dewy green sward
with their printless feet, causing those dark green circles that are
known to mortals as “Fairy Rings.”

  The Fays that haunt the moonlight dell,
  The Elves that sleep in the Cowslip’s bell,
  The tricksy Sprites that come and go,
    Swifter than a gleam of light;
  Where the murmuring waters flow,
    And the zephyrs of the night,
  Bending to the flowers that grow,
    Basking in the silver sheen,
  With their voices soft and low,
    Sing about the rings of green
  Which the Fairies’ twinkling feet,
    In their nightly revels, beat.

Old William Browne depicts a Fairy trysting-place as being in proximity
to one of their sylvan haunts, and moreover gives us an insight into
the proceedings of the Fays and their queen at one of their meetings.
He says:--

  “Near to this wood there lay a pleasant meade
  Where Fairies often did their measures treade,
  Which in the meadows made such circles greene,
  As if with garlands it had crowned beene,
  Or like the circle where the signes we tracke,
  And learned shepheards call’t the zodiacke;
  Within one of these rounds was to be seene
  A hillock rise, where oft the Fairie queene
  At twilight sat, and did command her Elves
  To pinch those maids that had not swept their shelves;
  And further, if by maiden’s oversight,
  Within doors water were not brought at night,
  Or if they spread no table, set no bread,
  They should have nips from toe unto the head,
  And for the maid that had performed each thing,
  She in the water-pail bade leave a ring.”

St. John’s Eve was undoubtedly chosen for important communication
between the distant Elfin groves and the settlements of men, on account
of its mildness, brightness, and unequalled beauty. Has not Shakspeare
told us, in his ‘Midsummer’s Night’s Dream,’ of the doings, on this
night, of Oberon, Ariel, Puck, Titania, and her Fairy followers?--

          “The darling puppets of romance’s view;
  Fairies, and Sprites, and Goblin Elves we call them,
  Famous for patronage of lovers true;
  No harm they act, neither shall harm befall them,
  So do not thou with crabbed frowns appal them.”

Yet timorous and ill-informed folk, mistrusting the kindly disposition
of Elves and Fairies, took precautions for excluding Elfin visitors
from their dwellings by hanging over their doors boughs of St. John’s
Wort, gathered at midnight on St. John’s Eve. A more kindly feeling,
however, seems to have prevailed at Christmas time, when boughs of
evergreen were everywhere hung in houses in order that the poor
frost-bitten Elves of the trees might hide themselves therein, and thus
pass the bleak winter in hospitable shelter.

Fairy Plants.

In Devonshire the flowers of Stitchwort are known as Pixies.

Of plants which are specially affected by the Fairies, first mention
should be made of the Elf Grass (_Vesleria cærulea_), known in Germany
as _Elfenkraut_ or _Elfgras_. This is the Grass forming the Fairy
Rings, round which, with aerial footsteps, have danced

      “Ye demi-puppets, that
  By moonlight do the green sour ringlets make,
  Whereof the ewe not bites.”--_Shakspeare’s Tempest._

The Cowslip, or Fairy Cup, Shakspeare tells us forms the couch of
Ariel--the “dainty Ariel” who has so sweetly sung of his Fairy life--

  “Where the bee sucks, there lurk I;
  In a Cowslip’s bell I lie;
  There I couch when owls do cry;
  On a bat’s back I do fly
  After summer merrily.
  Merrily, merrily, shall I live now
  Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.”

The fine small crimson drops in the Cowslip’s chalice are said to
possess the rare virtue of preserving, and even of restoring, youthful
bloom and beauty; for these ruddy spots are fairy favours, and
therefore have enchanted value. Shakspeare says of this flower of the

  “And I serve the Fairy queen,
  To dew her orbs upon the green:
  The Cowslips tall her pensioners be;
  In their gold coats spots you see;
  Those be rubies, fairy favours:
  In those freckles live their savours.”

Another of the flowers made potent use of by the Fairies of Shakspeare
is the Pansy--that “little Western flower” which Oberon bade Puck

  “Fetch me that flower,--the herb I showed thee once:
  The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid,
  Will make a man or woman madly dote
  Upon the next live creature that it sees.”

The Anemone, or Wind-flower, is a recognised Fairy blossom. The crimson
marks on its petals have been painted there by fairy hands; and, in wet
weather, it affords shelter to benighted Elves, who are glad to seek
shelter beneath its down-turned petals. Tulips are greatly esteemed by
the Fairy folk, who utilise them as cradles in which to rock the infant
Elves to sleep.

The Fairy Flax (_Linum catharticum_) is, from its extreme delicacy,
selected by the Fays as the substance to be woven for their raiment.
The _Pyrus Japonica_ is the Fairies’ Fire. Fairy-Butter (_Tremella
arborea_ and _albida_) is a yellowish gelatinous substance, found upon
rotten wood or fallen timber, and which is popularly supposed to be
made in the night, and scattered about by the Fairies. The _Pezita_, an
exquisite scarlet Fungus cup, which grows on pieces of broken stick,
and is to be found in dry ditches and hedge-sides, is the Fairies’ Bath.

To yellow flowers growing in hedgerows, the Fairies have a special
dislike, and will never frequent a place where they abound; but it is
notorious that they are passionately fond of most flowers. It is part
of their mission to give to each maturing blossom its proper hue, to
guide creepers and climbing plants, and to teach young plants to move
with befitting grace.

But the Foxglove is the especial delight of the Fairy tribe: it is
_the_ Fairy plant _par excellence_. When it bends its tall stalks the
Foxglove is making its obeisance to its tiny masters, or preparing to
receive some little Elf who wishes to hide himself in the safe retreat
afforded by its accommodating bells. In Ireland this flower is called
Lusmore, or the Great Herb. It is there the Fairy Cap, whilst in Wales
it becomes the Goblin’s Gloves.

As the Foxglove is the special flower of the Fairies, so is a
four-leaved Clover their peculiar herb. It is believed only to grow
in places frequented by the Elfin tribe, and to be gifted by them with
magic power.

  “I’ll seek a four-leaved Clover
  In all the Fairy dells,
  And if I find the charmed leaf,
  Oh, how I’ll weave my spells!”--_S. Lover._

The maiden whose search has been successful for this diminutive plant
becomes at once joyous and light-hearted, for she knows that she will
assuredly see her true love ere the day is over. The four-leaved Clover
is the only plant that will enable its wearer to see the Fairies--it is
a magic talisman whereby to gain admittance to the Fairy kingdom,[8]
and unless armed with this potent herb, the only other means available
to mortals who wish to make the acquaintance of the Fairies is to
procure a supply of a certain precious unguent prepared according to
the receipt of a celebrated alchymist, which, applied to the visual
orbs, is said to enable anyone with a clear conscience to behold
without difficulty or danger the most potent Fairy or Spirit he may
anywhere encounter. The following is the form of the preparation:--

“R. A pint of Sallet-oyle, and put it into a vial-glasse; but first
wash it with Rose-water and Marygolde water; the flowers to be gathered
towards the east. Wash it till the oyle come white; then put it into
the glasse, _ut supra_: and then put thereto the budds of Holyhocke,
the flowers of Marygolde, the flowers or toppers of Wild Thyme, the
budds of young Hazle: and the Thyme must be gathered neare the side
of a hill where Fayries used to be: and take the grasse of a Fayrie
throne. Then all these put into the oyle into the glasse: and sette it
to dissolve three dayes in the sunne, and then keep it for thy use; _ut
supra_.”--[_Ashmolean MSS._].

[8] See legend in Part II., under the head of “CLOVER.”

Plants of the Water Nymphs and Fays.

Certain of the Fairy community frequented the vicinity of pools, and
the banks of streams and rivers. Ben Jonson tells of “Span-long Elves
that dance about a pool;” and Stagnelius asks--

  “Say, know’st the Elfin people gay?
  They dwell on the river’s strand;
  They spin from the moonbeams their festive garb,
  With their small and lily hand.”

Of this family are the Russalkis, river nymphs of Southern Russia, who
inhabit the alluvial islands studding the winding river, or dwell in
detached coppices fringing the banks, or construct for themselves homes
woven of flowering Reeds and green Willow-boughs.

The Swedes delight to tell of the Strömkarl, or boy of the stream, a
mystic being who haunts brooks and rivulets, and sits on the silvery
waves at moonlight, playing his harp to the Elves and Fays who dance on
the flowery margin, in obedience to his summons--

  “Come queen of the revels--come, form into bands
    The Elves and the Fairies that follow your train;
  Tossing your tresses, and wreathing your hands,
    Let your dainty feet dance to my wave-wafted strain.”

The Græco-Latin Naiades, or Water-nymphs, were also of this family:
they generally inhabited the country, and resorted to the woods or
meadows near the stream over which they presided. It was in some such
locality on the Asiatic coast that the ill-fated Hylas was carried off
by Isis and the River-nymphs, whilst obtaining water from a fountain.

  “The chiefs composed their wearied limbs to rest,
  But Hylas sought the springs, by thirst opprest;
  At last a fount he found with flow’rets graced:
  On the green bank above his urn he placed.
  ’Twas at a time when old Ascanius made
  An entertainment in his watery bed,
  For all the Nymphs and all the Naiades
  Inhabitants of neighb’ring plains and seas.”

These inferior deities were held in great veneration, and received from
their votaries offerings of fruit and flowers; animal sacrifices were
also made to them, with libations of wine, honey, oil, and milk; and
they were crowned with Sedges and flowers. A remnant of these customs
was to be seen in the practice which formerly prevailed in this country
of sprinkling rivers with flowers on Holy Thursday. Milton, in his
‘Comus,’ tells us that, in honour of Sabrina, the Nymph of the Severn--

              “The shepherds at their festivals
  Carol her good deeds loud in rustic lays,
  And throw sweet garland wreaths into her stream,
  Of Pansies, Pinks, and gaudy Daffodils.”

A belief in the existence of good spirits who watched and guarded
wells, springs and streams, was common to the whole Aryan race. On
the 13th of October the Romans celebrated at the Porta Fontinalis a
festival in honour of the Nymphs who presided over fountains and wells:
this was termed the Fontinalia, and during the ceremonies wells and
fountains were ornamented with garlands. To this day the old heathen
custom of dressing and adorning wells is extant, although saints and
martyrs have long since taken the place of the Naiades and Water-nymphs
as patrons. In England, well-dressing at Ascension-tide is still
practised, and some particulars of the ancient custom will be found in
the chapter on Floral Ceremonies.

  “The fountain marge is fairly spread
    With every incense flower that blows,
    With flowry Sedge and Moss that grows,
  For fervid limbs a dewy bed.”--_Fane._

Pilgrimages are made to many holy wells and springs in the United
Kingdom, for the purpose of curing certain diseases by the virtues
contained in their waters, or to dress these health-restoring fountains
with garlands and posies of flowers. It is not surprising to find Ben
Jonson saying that round such “virtuous” wells the Fairies are fond of
assembling, and dancing their rounds, lighted by the pale moonshine--

  “By wells and rills, in meadows greene,
    We nightly dance our hey-day guise;
  And to our Fairye king and queene
    We chant our moonlight minstrelsies.”--_Percy Reliques_.

In Cornwall pilgrimages are made in May to certain wells situated close
to old blasted Oaks, where the frequenters suspend rags to the branches
as a preservative against sorcery and a propitiation to the Fairies,
who are thought to be fond of repairing at night to the vicinity of the
wells. From St. Mungo’s Well at Huntly, in Scotland, the people carry
away bottles of water, as a talisman against the enmity of the Fairies,
who are supposed to hold their revels at the Elfin Croft close by, and
are prone to resent the intrusion of mortals.




Sylvans, Wood Nymphs, and Tree Spirits.

Closely allied to the Fairy family, the Well Fays, and the Naiades,
are the Sylvans of the Græco-Roman mythology, which everywhere depicts
groves and forests as the dwelling-places and resorts of merry bands
of Dryads, Nymphs, Fauns, Satyrs, and other light-hearted frequenters
of the woods. Mindful of this, Horace, when extolling the joys and
peacefulness of sylvan retirement, sings:--

  “Me the cool woods above the rest advance,
  Where the rough Satyrs with the light Nymphs dance.”

The Dryads were young and beautiful nymphs who were regarded as
semi-goddesses. Deriving their name from the Greek word _drus_, a
tree, they were conceived to dwell in trees, groves, and forests, and,
according to tradition, were wont to inflict injuries upon people who
dared to injure the trees they inhabited and specially protected.
Notwithstanding this, however, they frequently quitted their leafy
habitations, to wander at will and mingle with the wood nymphs in their
rural sports and dances. They are represented veiled and crowned with
flowers. Such a sylvan deity Rinaldo saw in the Enchanted Forest, when

  “An aged Oak beside him cleft and rent,
  And from his fertile hollow womb forth went
  (Clad in rare weeds and strange habiliment)
  A full-grown Nymph.”

The Hamadryads were only females to the waist, their lower parts
merging into the trunks and roots of trees. Their life and power
terminated with the existence of the tree over which they presided.
These sylvan deities had long flowing hair, and bore in their hands
axes wherewith to protect the tree with which they were associated
and on the existence of which their own life depended. The trees of
the Hamadryads usually grew in some secluded spot, remote from human
habitations and unknown to men, where

  “Much sweet grass grew higher than grew the Reed,
  And good for slumber, and every holier herb,
  Narcissus and the low-lying Melilote,
  And all of goodliest blade and bloom that springs
  Where, hid by heavier Hyacinth, Violet buds
  Blossom and burn, and fire of yellower flowers,
  And light of crescent Lilies and such leaves
  As fear the Faun’s, and know the Dryad’s foot.”--_Theocritus._

The rustic deities, called by the Greeks Satyrs, and by the Romans,
Fauns, had the legs, feet, and ears of goats, and the rest of the
body human. These Fauns, according to the traditions of the Romans,
presided over vegetation, and to them the country folk gave anything
they had a mind to ask--bunches of Grapes, ears of Wheat, and all sorts
of fruit. The food of the Satyrs was believed, by the early Romans,
to be the root of the Orchis or Satyrion; its aphrodisiacal qualities
exciting them to those excesses to which they are stated to have been
so strongly addicted.

A Roumanian legend[9] tells of a beauteous sylvan nymph called the
Daughter of the Laurel, who is evidently akin to the Dryads and wood
nymphs; and Mr. Ralston, in an article on ‘Forest and Field Myths,’[10]
gives the following variation of the story:--“There was once a
childless wife who used to lament, saying, ‘If only I had a child, were
it but a Laurel berry!’ And heaven sent her a golden Laurel berry; but
its value was not recognised, and it was thrown away. From it sprang
a Laurel-tree, which gleamed with golden twigs. At it a prince, while
following the chase, wondered greatly; and determining to return to
it, he ordered his cook to prepare a dinner for him beneath its shade.
He was obeyed. But during the temporary absence of the cook, the tree
opened, and forth came a fair maiden who strewed a handful of salt over
the viands, and returned into the tree, which immediately closed upon
her. The prince returned and scolded the cook for over-salting the
dinner. The cook declared his innocence; but in vain. The next day just
the same occurred. So on the third day the prince kept watch. The tree
opened, and the maiden came forth. But before she could return into the
tree, the prince caught hold of her and carried her off. After a time
she escaped from him, ran back to the tree, and called upon it to open.
But it remained shut. So she had to return to the prince, and after a
while he deserted her. It was not till after long wandering that she
found him again, and became his loyal consort.” Mr. Ralston says that
in Hahn’s opinion the above story is founded on the Hellenic belief in
Dryads; but he himself thinks it belongs to an earlier mythological
family than the Hellenic, though the Dryad and the Laurel-maiden are
undoubtedly kinswomen. “Long before the Dryads and Oreads had received
from the sculpturesque Greek mind their perfection of human form and
face, trees were credited with woman-like inhabitants, capable of doing
good and ill, and with power of their own, apart from those possessed
by their supernatural tenants, of banning and blessing. Therefore was
it that they were worshipped, and that recourse was had to them for
the strengthening of certain rites. Similar ideas and practices still
prevail in Asia: survivals of them may yet be found in Europe.”

[9] The legend is given in Part II., under the heading “LAUREL.”

[10] _Contemporary Review_, Vol. xxxi., p. 520.

In Moldavia there lingers the cherished tradition of Mariora Floriora,
the Zina (nymph) of the mountains, the Sister of the Flowers, at whose
approach the birds awoke and sung merrily, desirous of anticipating her
every wish, and the wild flowers exhaled their choicest perfume, and,
bowing gently in the wind, proffered every virtue contained in their
blossoms. Yielding one day to the fascinations of a mortal, Mariora
Floriora gave herself to him, and forgot her flowers, so that the
leaves fell yellow and withered, and the flowers drooped their heads
and faded. Then they complained to the Sun that the flower nymph no
longer tended them, but rambled over the mountains and meadows absorbed
with her mortal lover. So a Zméu (evil spirit) was sent, who seized her
in his arms, and carried her away over the mountain. Now she is never
seen; but when the moon is shining on a serene night, her plaintive
murmurs are sometimes heard in the caverns of the mountain.

Sacred Groves and their Denizens.

The Roman goddess Pomona, we are told by Ovid, came of the family of
Dryads, or sylvan deities; and although “the Nymph frequented not the
fluttering stream, nor meads, the subject of a virgin’s dream,” yet--

  “In garden culture none could her excel,
  Or form the pliant souls of plants so well,
  Or to the fruit more gen’rous flavours lend,
  Or teach the trees with nobler loads to bend.”

As a deity, Pomona presided over gardens and all sorts of fruit-trees,
and was honoured with a temple in Rome, and a regular priest, called
_Flamen Pomonalis_, who offered sacrifices to her divinity for the
preservation of fruit. In this respect Pomona differed from the other
Sylvans, who were only regarded as semi-gods and goddesses. The worship
of these sylvan deities, however, by the Greeks and Romans caused
them to regard with reverence and respect their nemorous habitations.
Hence we find that, like the Egyptians, they were fond of surrounding
their temples and fanes with groves and woods, which in time came to
be regarded as sacred as the temples themselves. Pliny, speaking of
groves, says: “These were of old the temples of the gods; and after
that simple but ancient custom, men at this day consecrate the fairest
and goodliest trees to some deity or other; nor do we more adore our
glittering shrines of gold and ivory than the groves in which, with
profound and awful silence, we worship them.” Ancient writers often
refer to “vocal forests,”--in their sombre and gloomy recesses, the
frighted wayfarer imagined, as the wind soughed and rustled through the
dense foliage, that the tree spirits were humming some sportive lay,
or--perchance more frequently--chanting weirdly some solemn dirge. The
grove which surrounded Jupiter’s Temple at Dodona was supposed to be
endowed with the gift of prophecy, and oracles were frequently there
delivered by the sacred Oaks.

  “Due honours once Dodona’s forest had,
  When oracles were through the Oaks conveyed.
  When woods instructed prophets to foretel,
  And the decrees of fate in trees did dwell.”

In course of time each tree of these sacred groves was held to be
tenanted, or presided over, either by a god or goddess, or by one of
the sylvan semi-deities. Impious was deemed he who dared to profane
the sanctity of one of these nemorous retreats, either by damaging or
by felling the consecrated trees. Rapin, in his Latin poem on Gardens,

  “But let no impious axe profane the woods,
  Or violate the sacred shades; the Gods
  Themselves inhabit there. Some have beheld
  Where drops of blood from wounded Oaks distill’d;
  Have seen the trembling boughs with horror shake!
  So great a conscience did the ancients make
  To cut down Oaks, that it was held a crime
  In that obscure and superstitious time.
  When Driopeius Heaven did provoke,
  By daring to destroy th’ Æmonian Oak,
  And with it its included Dryad too,
  Avenging Ceres then her faith did show
  To the wrong’d nymph.”

When threatened with the woodman’s axe, the tutelary genius of the
doomed tree would intercede for its life, the very leaves would sigh
and groan, the stalwart trunk tremble with horror. Ovid relates how
Erisichthon, a Thessalian, who derided Ceres, and cut down the trees
in her sacred groves, was, for his impiety, afflicted with perpetual
hunger. Of one huge old Oak the poet says--

  “In the cool dusk its unpierc’d verdure spread
  The Dryads oft their hallow’d dances led.”

But the vindictive Erisichthon bade his hesitating servants fell the
venerable tree, and, dissatisfied with their speed, seized an axe, and
approached it, declaring that nothing should save the Oak:--

  “He spoke, and as he pois’d a slanting stroke,
  Sighs heav’d and tremblings shook the frighted Oak;
  Its leaves look’d sickly, pale its Acorns grew,
  And its long branches sweat a chilly dew,
  But when his impious hand a wound bestow’d,
  Blood from the mangled bark in currents flow’d.

         *       *       *       *       *

  The wonder all amaz’d: yet one more bold,
  The fact dissuading, strove his axe to hold;
  But the Thessalian, obstinately bent,
  Too proud to change, too harden’d to repent,
  On his kind monitor his eyes, which burn’d
  With rage, and with his eyes his weapon, turn’d;
  Take the reward (says he) of pious dread;--
  Then with a blow lopp’d off his parted head.
  No longer check’d, the wretch his crime pursued,
  Doubled his strokes, and sacrilege renew’d;
  When from the groaning trunk a voice was heard,--
  ‘A Dryad I,’ by Ceres’ love preferred,
  Within the circle of this clasping rind
  Coeval grew, and now in ruin join’d;
  But instant vengeance shall thy sin pursue,
  And death is cheered with this prophetic view.”

  _Garth’s Ovid._

Tree Spirits.

Ovid, in his ‘Metamorphoses,’ has told us how, after Daphne had been
changed into a Laurel, the nymph-tree still panted and heaved her
heart; how, when Phaethon’s grief-stricken sisters were transformed
into Poplars, they continued to shed tears, which were changed into
amber; how Myrrha, metamorphosed into a tree, still wept, in her bitter
grief, the precious drops which retain her name; how Dryope, similarly
transformed, imparted her life to the branches, which glowed with
a human heat; and how the tree into which the nymph Lotis had been
changed, shook with sudden horror when its blossoms were plucked and
blood welled from the broken stalks. In these poetic conceptions it is
easy to see the embodiment of a belief very rife among the Greeks and
Romans that trees and shrubs were tenanted in some mysterious manner
by spirits. Thus Virgil tells us that when Æneas had travelled far in
search of the abodes of the blest--

  “He came to groves, of happy souls the rest;
  To evergreens, the dwellings of the blest.”

Nor was this notion confined simply to the Greeks and Romans, for among
the ancients generally there existed a wide-spread belief that trees
were either the haunts of disembodied spirits, or contained within
their material growth the actual spirits themselves. Evelyn tells us
that “the Ethnics do still repute all great trees to be divine, and
the habitations of souls departed: these the Persians call _Pir_ and
_Imàm_.” The Persians, however, entertaining a profound regard for
trees of unusual magnitude, were of opinion that only the spirits of
the pure and holy inhabited them.

In this respect they differed from the Indians, who believed that both
good and evil spirits dwelt in trees. Thus we read in the story of a
_Brahmadaitya_ (a Bengal folk-tale), of a certain Banyan-tree haunted
by a number of ghosts who wrung the necks of all who were rash enough
to approach the tree during the night. And, in the same tale, we are
told of a Vakula-tree (_Mimusops Elengi_) which was the haunt of a
_Brahmadaitya_ (the ghost of a Brahman who dies unmarried), who was a
kindly and well-disposed spirit. In another folk-tale we are introduced
to the wife of a Brahman who was attacked by a _Sankchinni_, or female
ghost, inhabiting a tree near the Brahman’s house, and thrust by the
vindictive ghost into a hole in the trunk. The Rev. Lal Behari Day
explains that _Sankchinnis_ or _Sankhachurnis_ are female ghosts of
white complexion, who usually stand in the dead of night at the foot
of trees. Sometimes these tree-spirits appear to leave their usual
sylvan abode and enter into human beings, in which case an exorcist is
employed, who detects the presence of the spirit by lighting a piece of
Turmeric root, which is an infallible test, as no ghost can put up with
the smell of burnt Turmeric.

The Shánárs, aborigines of India, believe that disembodied spirits
haunt the earth, dwelling in trees, and taking special delight in
forests and solitary places. Against the malignant influence of these
wandering spirits, protection is sought in charms of various kinds; the
leaves of certain trees being esteemed especially efficacious. Among
the Hindus, if an infant refuse its food, and appear to decline in
health, the inference is drawn that an evil spirit has taken possession
of it. As this demon is supposed to dwell in some particular tree, the
mothers of the northern districts of Bengal frequently destroy the
unfortunate infant’s life by depositing it in a basket, and hanging the
same on the demon’s tree, where it perishes miserably.[11]

[11] ‘The Land of the Veda,’ by Rev. P. Percival.

In Burmah the worship of Nats, or spirits of nature, is very general.
Indeed among the Karens, and numerous other tribes, this spirit-worship
is their only form of belief. The shrines of these Nats are often, in
the form of cages, suspended in Peepul or other trees--by preference
the Le’pan tree, from the wood of which coffins are made. When a Burman
starts on a journey, he hangs a bunch of Plantains, or a spray of the
sacred _Eugenia_, on the pole of his buffalo cart, to conciliate any
spirit he may intrude upon. The lonely hunter in the forest deposits
some Rice, and ties together a few leaves, whenever he comes across
some imposing-looking tree, lest there should be a Nat dwelling there.
Should there be none, the tied-back leaves will, at any rate, stand in
evidence to the Nat or demon who presides over the forest. Some of the
Nats or spirits are known far and wide by special or generic names.
There is the Hmin Nat who lives in woods, and shakes those he meets
so that they go mad. There is the Akakasoh, who lives in the tops of
trees; Shekkasoh, who lives in the trunk; and Boomasoh, who dwells
contentedly in the roots. The presence of spirits or demons in trees
the Burman believes may always be ascertained by the quivering and
trembling of the leaves when all around is still.

Schweinfurth, the African explorer, tells us that, at the present day,
among the Bongos and the Niam-Niams, woods and forests are regarded
with awe as weird and mysterious places, the abodes of supernatural
beings. The malignant spirits who are believed to inhabit the dark and
gloomy forests, and who inspire the Bongos with extraordinary terror,
have, like the Devil, wizards, and witches, a distinctive name: they
are called _bitâbohs_; whilst the sylvan spirits inhabiting groves and
woods are known as _rangas_. Under this last designation are comprised
owls of different species, bats, and the _ndorr_, a small ape, with
large red eyes and erect ears, which shuns the light of day, and hides
itself in the trunks of trees, from whence it comes forth at night.
As a protection against the influence of these malignant spirits of
the woods, the Bongos have recourse to certain magical roots which are
sold to them by their medicine-men. According to those worthies no one
can enter into communication with the wood spirits except by means of
certain roots, which enable the possessor to exorcise evil spirits, or
give him the power of casting spells. All old people, but especially
women, are suspected of having relations, more or less intimate, with
the sylvan spirits, and of consulting the malign demons of the woods
when they wish to injure any of their neighbours. This belief in evil
spirits, which is general among the Bongos and other tribes of Africa,
exists also among the Niam-Niams. For the latter, the forest is the
abode of invisible beings who are constantly conspiring to injure
man; and in the rustling of the foliage they imagine they hear the
mysterious dialogues of the ghostly inhabitants of the woods.

The ancient German race, in whom there existed a deep reverence
for trees, peopled their groves and forests with a whole troup of
_Waldgeister_, both beneficent and malevolent. A striking example is
to be seen in the case of the Elder, in which dwells the _Hylde-moer_
(Elder-mother), or _Hylde-vinde_ (Elder-queen), who avenges all
injuries done to the Elder-tree. On this account Elder branches may not
be cut until permission has been asked of the _Hylde-moer_. In Lower
Saxony the woodman will, on his bended knee, ask permission of the
Elder-tree before cutting it, in these words: “Lady Elder, give me some
of thy wood; then will I give thee, also, some of mine when it grows
in the forest.” This formula is repeated three times.

Nearly allied to the tree-spirits were the Corn-spirits,[12] which
haunted and protected the green or yellow fields. Mr. Ralston tells us
that by the popular fancy they were often symbolised under the form
of wolves, or of “buckmen,” goat-legged creatures, similar to the
classic Satyrs. “When the wind blows the long Grass or waving Corn,
German peasants still say, ‘The Grass-wolf’ or ‘The Corn-wolf,’ is
abroad! In some places the last sheaf of Rye is left as a shelter to
the _Roggenwolf_, or Rye-wolf, during the winter’s cold; and in many a
summer or autumn festive rite, that being is represented by a rustic,
who assumes a wolf-like appearance. The Corn-spirit, however, was often
symbolised under a human form.”

[12] Further details will be found in the succeeding chapter.

The belief in the existence of a spirit whose life is bound up in
that of the tree it inhabits remains to the present day. There is a
wide-spread German belief that if a sick man is passed through a cleft
made in a tree, which is immediately afterwards bound up, the man
and the tree become mysteriously connected--if the tree flourishes
so will the man; but if it withers he will die. Should, however, the
tree survive the man, the soul of the latter will inhabit the tree;
and (according to Pagan tradition) if the tree be felled and used for
ship-building, the dead man’s ghost becomes the haunting genius of
the ship. This strange notion may have had its origin in the classic
story of the Argonauts and their famous ship. A beam on the prow of the
_Argo_ had been cut by Minerva out of the forest of Dodona, where the
trees were thought to be inhabited by oracular spirits: hence the beam
retained the power of giving oracles to the voyagers, and warned them
that they would never reach their country till Jason had been purified
of the murder of Absyrtus. There is a story that tells how, when a
musician cut a piece of wood from a tree into which a girl had been
metamorphosed by her angry mother, he was startled to see blood oozing
from the wound. And when he had shaped it into a bow, and played with
it upon his violin before her mother, such a heart-rending wail made
itself heard, that the mother was struck with remorse, and bitterly
repented of her hasty deed. Mr. Ralston quotes a Czekh story of a Nymph
who appeared day by day among men, but always went back to her willow
by night. She married a mortal, bare him children, and lived happily
with him, till at length he cut down her Willow-tree: that moment his
wife died. Out of this Willow was made a cradle, which had the power of
instantly lulling to sleep the babe she had left behind her; and when
the babe became a child, it was able to hold converse with its dead
mother by means of a pipe, cut from the twigs growing on the stump,
which once had been that mother’s abiding-place.



Plants of the Devil.

We have seen, in a former chapter, how intimate has been the
association between flowers and the Fairies, Pixies, or Elves, and,
therefore, it is not surprising to find that the King of Fairies, Puck,
has a plant specially dedicated to him. This is the _Lycoperdon_, or
Puckfist. Dr. Prior points out that in some old works Puck, who has the
credit of being partial to coarse practical jokes, is alluded to as
no other than the Devil. His very name would seem to be derived from
_Pogge_, a toad, which in popular opinion was the impersonation of the
Devil: hence Toadstools, Pixie-stools, or Paddock-stools, were thought
to be but Devil’s droppings--the work of those Elves

              “Whose pastime
  Is to make moonlight Mushrooms.”

In Sussex, the Puff-ball is called Puck’s Stool, and the needle of the
_Scandix Pecten_ is called Pook-needle.

Loki, the Scandinavian malignant spirit, possesses many of the
characteristics of Puck, and is in point of fact the Devil of the old
Norse mythology. In Jutland, _Polytrichum commune_ is called Loki’s
Oats, and the Yellow Rattle is known there as Loki’s Purse. The Trolls,
a race of gigantic demons, or evil spirits, spoken of in Northern
mythology, have given their name to the Globe-flower (_Trollius_),
which is also known as the Troll-flower, probably on account of its
acrid and poisonous qualities having suggested its use by these
followers of the Devil.

Speaking generally, trees, plants, and herbs of evil omen may be
placed in the category of plants of the Devil, and amongst them must
be included such as have the reputation of being accursed, enchanted,
unlucky, and sorrowful. The plants dedicated to Hecate, the Grecian
goddess of Hell, who presided over magic and enchantments, as well
as those made use of by her daughters Medea and Circe, in their
sorceries, were all satanic. Circe was specially distinguished for
her knowledge of venomous herbs, and in later times the plants used
by her were universally employed by witches and sorcerers in their
incantations. The spells of wizards, magicians, witches, and others
who were acquainted with the secrets appertaining to the black art,
were always made in the name of the Devil: hence all herbs and plants
employed by them became veritable plants of the Devil. These plants are
particularised in the chapter on Plants of the Witches.

The belief that certain trees are haunted by the Devil, or by malignant
demons who act as his satellites, is of world-wide extent, and, in
connection with tree spirits, the subject has been incidentally touched
upon in the previous chapter. A Russian proverb says that “From all
old trees proceeds either an owl or a Devil;” and in many countries
where a tree becomes old and past bearing, its sterility is attributed
to a demon. The Albanians believe that trees are haunted by Devils
which they call _aërico_. Certain trees are especially affected by
these aerial demons: these are the Fig, the Walnut, the wild Plum, the
Mulberry, the Sycamore, the Pimpernel, the Willow, and in general all
fruit trees (but especially the Cherry) when they are old and cease to
bear. As regards sterile fruit trees, the belief that they are haunted
by Devils is common to many countries. In some parts of England,
Blackberries are never picked after Michaelmas-day, when the Devil is
supposed to stamp them with his hoof. Mrs. Latham has told us that the
watchfulness of the Devil makes it dangerous to go out nutting on a
Sunday, and worthy mothers may be heard warning their children against
it by assuring them that if they do so, “the Devil will hold down the
branches for them.” Mr. Sawyer has pointed out that the Sussex saying,
“as black as the Devil’s nutting bag,” is associated with this belief.
St. Ouen, writing in the 17th century, cautioned shepherds and others
never to let their flocks pass a hollow tree, because by some means or
other the Devil was sure to have taken possession of it.

Moore, in ‘The Light of the Haram,’ speaks of the _Siltim_, a demon
which is thought to haunt the forests of Persia, and to lurk among
the trees in human form. The Indian demons _bhûtûs_ and _piçacâs_ are
represented as dwelling in trees.

In the vicinity of Mount Etna the country people have a very strong
aversion to sleep beneath trees on St. John’s Eve, lest they should
become possessed of an evil spirit; for according to popular tradition,
on that night--the shortest of the year--the demons inhabiting trees
and plants quit their leafy habitations, and seek refuge in the first
object they come across.

In Germany, numerous demons are recognised as dwelling in trees; and,
according to Prof. Mannhardt, whole troops of emissaries of the Devil
are thought to haunt the fields, and lurk among the crops of Wheat
and vegetables. Among the most noticeable of this satanic legion are
the _Aprilochse_, a demon infesting the fields in April; _Auesau_, or
Sow of the Wheatsheaf, a spirit which lies concealed among the Corn;
_Baumesel_, a goblin of the trees; _Erntebock_, a demon which steals
part of the Corn during harvest; _Farre_, or the Little Bull, one
of a number of spirits infesting the Corn-fields; _Gerstenwolf_, or
Barley-wolf, a demon which devours the Barley; _Graswolf_, a spirit
haunting pastures; _Habergeiss_, or _Haferbock_, Goat of the Oats;
_Halmbock_, a goblin whose hiding-place is among straw or the stems of
plants; _Heukatze_ and _Heupudel_, Hay Cat and Pup, demons infesting
Hay; _Kartoffelwolf_, or Potato-goblin; _Katzenmann_, or Man-Cat,
a monster dwelling amidst Wheat; _Kleesau_, or Sow of the Clover;
_Krautesel_, or Ass of the Grass, a spirit especially inimical to
Lettuces; _Kornwolf_, _Kornsau_, _Kornstier_, _Kornkuh_, _Kornmutter_,
_Kornkind_, and _Kornmaid_, all demons, spirits, and monsters infesting

In some parts of Russia the Devil is invoked through the medium of a
herb. On the occasion of a marriage, the peasants put into a bottle
of brandy a certain plant called the Herb of the Devil; the bottle is
then ornamented with ribbons and coloured tapers, and armed with this
present the father of the intended bride pays a visit to the father of
the bridegroom, who offers to ransom this bottled Devil by the payment
of five kopecks. “No,” says the girl’s father, “Our princess wishes
more than that.” So after further bargaining, a price of fifty kopecks
is finally agreed upon. In certain parts of Russia the Tobacco-plant
is deemed a diabolic plant. In India the Witches’ Herb (_Sinapis
racemosa_) is called _Asurî_ (the she-devil).

A few plants named after dragons, serpents, or snakes, and many of
those which are of a poisonous or noxious nature, must be classed
with the plants of the Devil; such as, for example, the Upas, the
Manchineel, the Magnolia, the Oleander, that deadly Persian flower, the
_Kerzereh_, the fœtid _Stapelia_, the _Phallus impudicus_, the Thief’s
Plant of the Franche-Comté Mountains, which opens all doors; that
satanic plant, the sap of which gives to Witches the power of riding
in the air on a broomstick; and the accursed plant which misleads the
traveller, dragging him from one path to another, but always leading
him farther and farther away from his goal, until at last he sinks
exhausted with fatigue.

Certain plants and trees have become ill-omened from having received
the maledictions of some divine personage. Several were cursed by the
Virgin Mary during her flight into Egypt. The tree which yielded the
timber of the Cross became for all time “the accursed tree”; the tree
on which Judas hung himself became also a satanic tree. Under this ban
have been included the Fig, the Tamarisk, the Aspen, the Dog Rose, the
Elder, and the Cercis or Judas Tree.

Many plants, both in England and on the Continent, have been specially
named after the Devil. Thus we find that, on account of the fœtid
odour of the gum or juice obtain from its root, _Ferula Assafœtida_
is known in Germany, Sweden, and Italy as Devil’s Dung (_Stercus
Diaboli_), although it is employed in Persia and Arabia as a medicine,
The Poplar-leaved Fig is the Devil’s tree; the berry of the Deadly
Nightshade, the Devil’s berry: the plant itself is called Death’s Herb,
and in olden times its fruit bore the name of Dwale-berry--the word
_dvale_, which is Danish, meaning a deadly trance. An old German name
for the Briony was Devil’s Cherry. The Germans, also, called the Petty
Spurge (_Euphorbia Peplus_) _Teufelsmilch_, Devil’s Milk; a species
of ground Moss, _Teufelsklaeun_, Devil’s Claws. The Clematis is the
Devil’s Thread; Indigo, Devil’s Dye; and the Mandrake, from the lurid
glare its leaves emit during the night-time, the Devil’s Candle. In
an old work we find the description of a small herb called _Clavis
Diaboli_, which is so poisonous that if cattle eat it they immediately
begin to swell, and eventually die, unless by good luck they should
happen to catch sight of another plant of the same species, when the
poison is dispelled and the animals will recover. We are likewise
assured that the seed is so poisonous as to render it unsafe for anyone
to walk over a plant of this genus unless his feet have previously been
wrapped in the leaves.

_Scabiosa succisa_ is generally known as the Devil’s-Bit Scabious, a
name it obtained from a notion which was formerly very prevalent that
the short blackish root of the plant had originally been bitten short
by the Devil out of spite to mankind, because he knew that otherwise
it would be good for many profitable uses. This belief was also very
general on the Continent, as the plant bears a corresponding name in
France, Germany, and Holland. Dr. Prior quotes a legend recorded by
Threlkeld, that “the root was once longer, until the Devil bit away the
rest, for spite; for he needed it not to make him sweat who is always
tormented with fear of the day of judgment.” According to the _Ortus
Sanitatis_, on the authority of Oribasius, the plant was called _Morsus
Diaboli_, “because with this root the Devil practised such power, that
the mother of God, out of compassion, took from the Devil the means
to do so with it any more; and in the great vexation that he had that
the power was gone from him, he bit it off, so that it grows no more
to this day.” Gerarde says: “The great part of the root seemeth to be
bitten away: old fantasticke charmers report that the Devil did bite it
for envie, because it is an herbe that hath so many good vertues, and
is so beneficial to mankinde.” After recounting minor virtues, the old
herbalist remarks that Devil’s Bit is potential against the stingings
of venomous beasts, poisons, and pestilent diseases, and will consume
and waste away plague sores, if pounded and laid upon them.

The _Nigella Damascena_ is called Devil-in-the-Bush, from its round
capsules peering from a bush of finely-divided involucre. The long awns
of _Scandix Pecten_ are termed the Devil’s Darning Needles, the beans
of its seed vessels being called Venus’ comb. The Dodder (_Cuscuta_)
has gained the opprobrious epithet of Devil’s Guts, from the
resemblance of its stem to cat-gut, and its mischievous tendencies.
The acrid milk or sap extracted from the Euphorbia has, from its
poisonous qualities, obtained the name of Devil’s Milk. The poisonous
Puff-balls (_Lycoperdon_) are called Devil’s Snuff-boxes, on account of
the dust or particles they contain, which have long borne an ill name.
Gerarde says that “it is very dangerous for the eies, for it hath been
often seene that divers have beene pore-blinde ever after when some
small quantitie thereof hath beene blowne into their eies.” The Fungus
_Exidia glandulosa_ (Witches’ Butter) is known in Sweden as the Devil’s

Although the Devil extends his authority over so many plants, it
is satisfactory to know that the St. John’s Wort is a dispeller of
demons (_Fuga dæmonum_), and that there is in Russia a plant called
the Devil-chaser. Prof. De Gubernatis tells us that he has received
from the Princess Galitzin Prazorova the following particulars of this
plant, which is known as _Certagon_. It grows in meads and woods, is
somewhat thorny, and bears a deep-blue flower. It protects infants
from fright, and drives away the Devil. Sometimes the plant is boiled
in water, and the children are bathed in it. At other times the plant
is merely placed in the cradle. If mourners are prostrated with grief
and the recollection of the departed one (which is simply a visitation
of the Devil) it is only necessary to hold up a sprig of the mystic
_Certagon_, when the excessive grief will be assuaged, and the Devil
will be compelled to flee. The best way to exorcise an evil spirit
from the dead is to sit on the pall, to chew some seeds of Camphor
while combing the hair of the corpse, and finally to wave aloft the
_Certagon_--the Devil-chaser.

Noxious, Deadly, and Ill-Omened Plants.

Prof. De Gubernatis remarks that “there are good and bad herbs, and
good and bad plants: the good are the work of Ormuzd, the bad the
work of Ahriman.” All these bad herbs, plants, and trees, noxious,
poisonous, and deadly--the dangerous classes in the vegetable
kingdom--are of evil augury, and belong to the category of Plants of
the Devil.

There are many trees and plants which emit emanations highly injurious,
and in some cases fatal to life. Perhaps the most notorious of these is
the deadly Upas, which rises in the ‘Valley of Death’ in Java, where it
is said to blight all neighbouring vegetation, and to cause the very
birds that approach it in their flight to drop down lifeless. No animal
can live where its baneful influence extends, and no man durst approach
its pestilential shade.

The _Strychnos Tienté_ is the plant which yields the Upas Tienté, one
of the Javanese poisons; it contains strychnia, and is as deadly as
strychnine itself. The _Upas Antiar_ is another Javanese poison--a
bitter, milky juice, which acts violently on the heart.

The noxious exudations of the Manchineel-tree are said to cause certain
death to those who rashly sleep beneath its foliage. The wonderfully
fragrant blossoms of the _Magnolia grandiflora_ emit so strong a
perfume that, when inhaled in the immediate neighbourhood of a group
in flower, it becomes overpowering. The Indians will never sleep under
Magnolia in blossom.

Linnæus has mentioned a case in which the odour of the Oleander, or
Rose-bay (_Nerium Oleander_), proved fatal. The foliage and flowers of
this shrub will exercise a deadly influence on many quadrupeds: hence
it is called in India the Horse-killer, and in Italy, Ass-bane.

The Elder-tree is reputed to exhale so narcotic a scent when in
flower, that it is unwholesome for animals to rest under its shade;
and it is considered unadvisable to plant one of these trees where its
exhalations can be wafted into a sleeping apartment. On account of this
pungent smell, country people often strike with Elder-boughs the leaves
of fruit-trees and vegetables, in order that by being impregnated with
the scent of the Elder-berries, they may prove noisome to troublesome

The _Jatropha urens_, a native of Brazil, is a plant the properties
of which are so noxious that its possession is absolutely fraught
with danger. Not many years ago the Curator of Kew Gardens was one
day reaching over a plant when its fine bristly stings touched his
wrist: the first sensation was a numbness and swelling of the lips; the
action of the poison was on the heart, circulation was stopped, and the
unfortunate Curator soon fell unconscious. A doctor was fetched, who
administered antidotes effectually; but no gardener could afterwards
be got to come within arm’s length of the diabolical plant; and both
it and another specimen, subsequently introduced, shortly afterwards
mysteriously disappeared from the house.

The _Nitraria tridentata_, which is by some believed to be the
Lotos-tree of the ancients, grows in the Desert of Soussa, near Tunis,
and is called _Damouch_ by the Arabs, who are fully alive to the
semi-intoxicating qualities of its berries, which produce a state of
lassitude similar to the infatuating food of the Lotophagi.

Alex. Pouchkine has given a vivid description of the Indian _Antchar_,
thought to be a variety _Aconitum ferox_. Growing in a wild and
sterile desert, this _Antchar_ has its roots and the sickly verdure
of its branches steeped in poison. Melted by the mid-day heat, the
poison filters through the plant’s outer skin in clammy drops: in the
evening these become congealed into a transparent gum. Birds turn aside
directly they see this deadly plant; the tiger avoids it; a passing
puff of wind shakes its foliage,--the wind hurries on tainted and
infected; a shower waters for an instant its drooping leaves, and from
its branches forthwith falls a deadly rain on the burning soil. But a
man has made a sign: another man obeys. The _Antchar_ must be procured.
He departs without hesitation; and on the morrow brings back the
deadly gum, and some drooping stalks and leaves, while from his pallid
brow the cold sweat falls in streams. He staggers, falls on the mats of
the tent, and, poor miserable slave, expires at the feet of his proud
master. And the prince steeps his ruthless arrows in the cruel poison;
they are destined to carry destruction to his neighbours across the

In Mexico there grows a herb, familiarly known there as the Loco or
Rattle Weed, which has such a powerful effect on animals, that horses
eating it are driven raving mad.

In Scotland there is a certain weed that grows in and about the Borgie
Well at Cambuslang, near Glasgow, which possesses the awful property of
making all who drink of its waters mad. Hence the local saying:

  “A drink of the Borgie, a bite of the weed,
  Sets a’ the Cam’slang folk wrang in the head.”

Some few plants are repellent from the obnoxious smells which they
emit: among these are the _Phallus impudicus_, and many of the
Stapelias. One--the Carrion-flower--has an odour so like putrid meat,
that flesh flies, attracted by it, deposit their ova in the flowers;
and when the maggots are in due course produced, they perish miserably
for lack of food.

Zahn, in his _Speculæ Physico-Mathematico-Historicæ_ (1696) enumerates
several trees and plants which had, in his day, acquired a very
sinister reputation. He tells us that--

“Herrera speaks of a tree, in Granada, called _Aquapura_, which is so
poisonous, that when the Spaniards, at first ignorant of its deadly
power, slept under its shade, their members were all swelled, as if
they had taken dropsy. The barbarians also, who lingered naked or
intoxicated under it, had their skin broken by large swellings, which
distended their intestines, and brought them to a miserable death.

“There is a tree in Hispaniola, bearing Apples of a very fragrant
smell, which, if they are tasted, prove hurtful and deadly. If any one
abides for a time beneath its shade he loses sight and reason, and
cannot be cured save by a long sleep. Similar trees are found in the
island Codega.

“In the same island, Hispaniola, another kind of tree is found which
produces fruit formed like Pears, very pleasant to the sight, and of
delicious odour. If any one lies beneath its shade and falls asleep,
his face begins to swell, and he is seized with severe pain in the
head, and with the sorest cold. In the same island another tree is
found, whose leaf, if touched, causes at once a tumour of a very
painful nature to break out, which can only be checked and healed
by frequent washing with sea water. There also grows a plant called
_Cohobba_, which is said to be lymphatic. It intoxicates by its mere
smell, and renders fanatical, Cardanus believes this plant to be of
the _Stramonium_ (_Datura_) family, which infuriates those who drink it.

“In New Andalusia very poisonous trees are seen. If one of their leaves
were to fall upon a person, he would be killed at once, unless the
place be quickly smeared with the spittle of a fasting man. These trees
are called pestiferous and pestilent, from the sudden death which they
cause, like the plague.

“In the island of San Juan de Porto Ricco grow certain small
fruit-bearing trees which are so pernicious that if a person lies down
and sleeps beneath their shade, he is seized with paralysis and cannot
move from the place. Should, perchance, a fish taste of their fallen
leaves, and a man eat the fish, he either dies at once or at least
loses all his hair.

“On an island near Brazil a very pleasant tree is said to grow, whose
leaves are not unlike those of the Laurel. But if any person should
touch ‘a leaf of this tree, and then touch his face and eyes with the
hand, he is at once deprived of sight and suffers the severest pains
in his eyes. Not far distant, however, there grows another tree, whose
leaves, if rubbed over the eyes, restore the eyesight, and remove the

“Kircher relates that a wonderful tree is found in the Philippine
Islands. Its leaves, facing eastward, are healthy, but those facing
westward are poisonous.

“Clusius states that in America there is a kind of Larch, which
makes men who sleep under its shade so delirious, that when they are
awakened, they are out of their minds and assume strange attitudes.
Some act like prophets, some like soldiers, some like merchants,
everyone for the time being as his natural propensity impels him.

“In the bishopric of New Spain, called Antequera, around the valley of
Guaxaca, a strange poisonous plant is found which, if given to anyone
in food or drink, at once causes death. If it is dried and removed
anywhere, according to the time from its being cut, it kills. Thus: if
it has been cut for a year, so after a year it causes death; if for a
month, then after a month it brings death.

“The inhabitants of Macassar in the island of Celebes obtain from a
certain tree growing there a most deadly and virulent poison, in which
they dip their weapons. So pestiferous is this poisonous tree, that the
earth around it for some distance produces neither grass nor vegetable
life of any kind. Although instant death may sometimes be avoided by
means of antidotes, yet the victim is doomed to die even after a lapse
of two or three years. Married men and Mushroom-eaters are more subject
to the action of this poison than other people.

“_Ophiusa_, in the island of Elephantine, in Ethiopia, has a livid and
horrid appearance. If persons drink it they become dreadfully afraid of
serpents--so much so, that they commit suicide. Palm wine, however, is
said to counteract its influence.

“The plant called _Apium risus_ is noxious, through causing those who
partake of it to die of excessive laughter. Apuleius says that this
is more particularly the case when the herb is taken by a person who
has not broken his fast. From the fact that the plant was also known
as _Sardonia_ arose the expression “sardonic smile.” People who taste
it do not die at once from laughter, but, as Salustius relates, rather
from the contraction of the nerves of the lips and the muscles of the
mouth; but they appear to die by laughing.

“In Bactria and around the Dnieper, a plant called _Gelotophyllis_
is said to grow, which, if it be drunk with wine and myrrh, produces
continuous laughter. A similar result is produced by _Arum Ægyptiacum_,
when eaten, and by the flowers or seed of the _Datura_.

“_Therionarca_ grows in Cappadocia and Mysia. All wild animals which
touch it become torpid, and can only regain animation by being
besprinkled with the water voided by hyænas.”




Plants of the Witches.

Hecate, the Grecian goddess of the infernal regions, presided over
magic and enchantment, and may fairly be styled the goddess, queen,
and patroness of Witches and sorcerers. She was acquainted with the
properties of every herb, and imparted this knowledge to her daughters
Medea and Circe.[13] To this trio of classical Witches were specially
consecrated the following herbs:--The Mandrake, the Deadly Nightshade,
the Common Nightshade, the Wolfs-bane, the Pontic Azalea, the Cyclamen,
the Cypress, Lavender, Hyssop-leaved Mint, the Poley or Mountain
Germander, the Ethiopian Pepper, the Corn Feverfew, the Cardamom, the
Musk Mallow, the Oriental Sesame, the rough Smilax, the Lion’s-foot
Cudweed (a love philtre), and Maidenhair, a plant particularly dear to
Pluto. Medea was specially cognisant of the qualities of the Meadow
Saffron, Safflower, Dyer’s Alkanet, the clammy Plantain or Fleawort,
the Chrysanthemum, and the brown-berried Juniper. All these plants
are, therefore, persistently sought for by Witches, who have not only
the power of understanding and appreciating the value of herbs, but
know also how to render harmless and innocuous plants baleful and
deadly. Thus we find that an Italian Witch, condemned in 1474, was
shown to have sown a certain noxious powder amidst the herbage near her
dwelling, and the unfortunate cows, stricken at first with the Evil
Eye, were at length attacked with a lingering but deadly malady. So,
again, in the ‘Tempest,’ Shakspeare tells us that in the magic rings
traced on the grass by the dance of the Elves, the herbage is imbued
with a bitterness which is noisome to cattle. These rings, which are
often to be met with on the Sussex Downs, are there called Hag-tracks,
because they are thought to be caused by hags and Witches who dance
there at night.

[13] Early Greek writers describe Circe as the daughter of Sol and
Perseis, and Medea as her niece.

It is recorded that, during the period of the Witch persecutions,
whoever found himself unexpectedly under an Elder-tree was
involuntarily seized with such horror, that he in all probability fell
into an ecstatic or hysterical state. Although not one of the trees
dedicated to Hecate and her Witch progeny, the Elder appears to have
invariably possessed a certain weird attraction for mischievous Elves
and Witches, who are fond of seeking the shelter of its pendent boughs,
and are wont to bury their satanic offspring, with certain cabalistic
ceremonies, beneath its roots.

These satanic children of Witches are elfish creatures, sometimes
butterflies, sometimes bumble bees, sometimes caterpillars or worms.
They are called good or bad things--Holds or Holdikens. The Witches
injure cattle with them; conjure them into the stem of a tree; and,
as we have seen, bury them under the Elder-bushes; then, as the
caterpillars eat the foliage of the tree, the hearts of those people
are troubled of whom the Witches think.

The ill-omened _Cercis Siliquastrum_, or Judas Tree, is reputed to
be specially haunted by Witches, who experience a grim pleasure in
assembling around the tree on which the traitorous disciple is said to
have hung himself. Perhaps it is they who have spread the tradition
that death overtakes anyone who is unfortunate enough to fall into one
of these trees.

The Witches of the Tyrol are reputed to have a great partiality for

Witches are fond of riding about through the air in the dead of night,
and perform long journeys to attend their meetings. Matthison tells us

  “From the deep mine rush wildly out
  The troop of Gnomes in hellish rout:
  Forth to the Witches’ club they fly;
  The Griffins watch as they go by.
  The horn of Satan grimly sounds;
  On Blocksberg’s flanks strange din resounds,
  And Spectres crowd its summit high.”

Their favourite steeds for these midnight excursions are besoms, which
are generally to be found ready to hand; but the large Ragwort (which
in Ireland is called the Fairies’ Horse) is highly prized for aerial
flights. Bulrushes are also employed for locomotive purposes, and other
plants are used for equipments, as we read in ‘The Witch of Fife’:--

  “The first leet night, quhan the new moon set,
    Quhan all was dousse and mirk,
  We saddled our naigis wi’ the Moon-fern leif,
    And rode fra Kilmerrin Kirk.
  Some horses were of the Brume-cane framit,
    And some of the greine Bay-tree,
  But mine was made of are Humloke schaw,
    And a stout stallion was he.”

William of Auverne, who wrote in the thirteenth century, states that
when the Witches of his time wished to go to the place of rendezvous,
they took a Reed or Cane, and, on making some magical signs, and
uttering certain barbarous words, it became transformed into a horse,
which carried them thither with extraordinary rapidity.

If the Witches are married, it becomes necessary to administer to
their husbands a potion that shall cause them to slumber and keep them
asleep during the Witches’ absence in the night. For this purpose the
Sleep-Apple, a mossy sort of excrescence on the Wild Rose, and Hawthorn
(called in the Edda Sleep-Thorn), are employed, because they will not
allow anyone to awake till they are taken away. A very favourite plant
made use of by American Witches to produce a similar result, is the
_Flor de Pesadilla_, or Nightmare Flower of Buenos Ayres, a small,
dark-green foliaged plant, with lanceolate leaves and clusters of
greenish-white flowers, which emit a powerful narcotic smell. From the
acrid milky juice pressed from the stem of this plant, Witches obtain
a drug which, administered to their victims, keeps them a prey all
night to terrible dreams, from which they awake with a dull throbbing
sensation in the brain, while a peculiar odour pervades the chamber,
causing the air to appear heavy and stifling.

Ben Jonson, in his ‘Masque of Queens,’ introduces therein a conventicle
of Witches, who, as part of the business which has brought them
together, relate their deeds. One of the hags, who has been gathering
that mysterious plant of superstition, the Mandragora, croaks:--

  “I last night lay all alone
    On the ground, to hear the Mandrake groan;
    And plucked him up, though he grew full low;
    And, as I had done, the cock did crow.”

Another, whose sinister proceedings have excited the neighbouring
watch-dogs, remarks:--

  “And I ha’ been plucking plants among
  Hemlock, Henbane, Adder’s-tongue;
  Nightshade, Moonwort, Libbard’s-bane,
  And twice by the dogs was like to be ta’en.”

And a third, who has procured a supply of the plants needful for the
working of the Witches’ spells, says:--

  “Yes, I have brought to help our vows
  Homed Poppy, Cypress boughs,
  The Fig-tree wild that grows on tombs,
  And juice that from the Larch-tree comes.”

One of the principal results of the knowledge possessed by Witches of
the properties of herbs was the concoction by them of noxious or deadly
potions with which they were enabled to work their impious spells.
Ovid tells us how Medea, in compounding a poisonous draught, employed
Monk’s-hood or Wolfs-bane, the deadly _Aconitum_, that sprang up from
the foam of the savage many-headed Cerberus, the watch-dog of the
infernal regions:--

  “Medea to dispatch a dang’rous heir
  (She knew him) did a poisonous draught prepare,
  Drawn from a drug long while reserved in store,
  For desp’rate uses, from the Scythian shore,
  That from the Echidnæan monster’s jaws
  Derived its origin.”

Medea’s sister, the Enchantress Circe, having been neglected by a youth
for whom she had conceived a passion, turned him, by means of a herb
potion, into a brutal shape, for

  “Love refused, converted to disdain.
  Then, mixing powerful herbs with magic art,
  She changed his form who could not change his heart.”

So intimate was the acquaintance of this celebrated Witch with the
subtle properties of all plants, that by the aid of the noxious juices
she extracted from them, she was enabled to exercise marvellous powers
of enchantment. At her bidding,

  “Now strange to tell, the plants sweat drops of blood,
  The trees are toss’d from forests where they stood;
  Blue serpents o’er the tainted herbage slide,
  Pale glaring spectres on the æther ride.”

Circe was assiduous in “simpling on the flow’ry hills,” and her
attendants were taught to despise the ordinary occupations of women:
they were unburdened by household cares,

  “But culled, in canisters, disastrous flowers
  And plants from haunted heaths and Fairy bowers,
  With brazen sickles reap’d at planetary hours
  Each dose the goddess weighed with watchful eye;
  So nice her art in impious pharmacy.”

Old Gerarde tells us that Circe made use in her incantations and
witchcrafts of the Mullein or Hag-taper (_Verbascum Thapsus_); and
Gower relates of Medea that she employed the Feldwode, which is
probably the same plant, its Anglo-Saxon name being _Feldwyrt_.

  “Tho toke she Feldwode and Verveine,
  Of herbes ben nought better tweine.”

The composition of philtres, and the working of spells and incantations
to induce love, are amongst the most highly prized of witches’
functions, investing them with a power which they delight to wield, and
leading to much pecuniary profit.

In Moore’s ‘Light of the Haram,’ the Enchantress Namouna, who was
acquainted with all spells and talismans, instructs Nourmahall to
gather at midnight--“the hour that scatters spells on herb and
flower”--certain blossoms that, when twined into a wreath, should act
as a spell to recall her Selim’s love. The flowers gathered, the
Enchantress proceeds to weave the magic chaplet, singing the while--

  “I know where the wing’d visions dwell
    That around the night-bed play;
  I know each herb and floweret’s bell,
    Where they hide their wings by day;
        Then hasten we, maid,
        To twine our braid,
  To-morrow the dreams and flowers will fade.

  “The image of love, that nightly flies
    To visit the bashful maid;
  Steals from the Jasmine flower, that sighs
    Its soul, like her, in the shade.
  The dream of a future happier hour,
    That alights on misery’s brow,
  Springs out of the silvery Almond flower
    That blooms on a leafless bough.

  “The visions that oft to worldly eyes
    The glitter of mines unfold,
  Inhabit the mountain herb that dyes
    The tooth of the fawn like gold.
  The phantom shapes--oh, touch not them!--
    That appal the murderer’s sight,
  Lurk in the fleshly Mandrake’s stem,
    That shrieks when pluck’d at night!

  “The dream of the injur’d, patient mind,
    That smiles at the wrongs of men,
  Is found in the bruis’d and wounded rind
    Of the Cinnamon, sweetest then.
        Then hasten we, maid,
        To twine our braid,
  To-morrow the dreams and flowers will fade.”

The chief strength of poor witches lies in the gathering and boiling of
herbs. The most esteemed herbs for their purposes are the Betony-root,
Henbane, Mandrake, Deadly Nightshade, Origanum, Antirrhinum, female
Phlox, Arum, Red and White Celandine, Millefoil, Horned Poppy, Fern,
Adder’s-tongue, and ground Ivy. Root of Hemlock, “digged in the
dark,” slips of Yew, “slivered in the moon’s eclipse,” Cypress, Wild
Fig, Larch, Broom, and Thorn are also associated with Witches and
their necromancy. The divining Gall-apple of the Oak, the mystic
Mistletoe, the Savin, the Moonwort, the Vervain, and the St. John’s
Wort are considered magical, and therefore form part of the Witches’
pharmacopœia--to be produced as occasion may require, and their juices
infused in the hell-broths, philtres, potions, and baleful draughts
prepared for their enemies. Cuckoo-flowers are gathered in the meadows
on the first of May. Chervil and Pennyroyal are used because they both
have the effect of making anyone tasting their juices see double.
Often many herbs are boiled together--by preference seven or nine.
Three kinds of wood make bewitched water boil. Witch-ointments, to be
effective, must contain seven herbs.

One of the favourite remedies of Scotch Witches is the Woodbine or
Honeysuckle. In effecting their magical cures, they cause their
patients to pass a certain number of times (usually nine) through
a “girth” or garland of Woodbine, repeating the while certain
incantations and invocations. According to Spenser, Witches in the
Spring of every year were accustomed to do penance, and purify
themselves by bathing in water wherein Origane and Thyme had been

  “Till on a day (that day is every Prime,
  When witches wont do penance for their crime)
  I chaunst to see her in her proper hew,
  Bathing herself in Origane and Thyme.”

In Lower Germany, the Honeysuckle is called _Albranke_, the
Witch-snare. Long running plants and entangled twigs are called
Witch-scapes, and the people believe that a Witch hard pursued could
escape by their means.

On the _Walpurgisnacht_, the German Witches are wont to gather Fern to
render themselves invisible. As a protection against them, the country
people, says Aubrey, “fetch a certain Thorn, and stick it at their
house door, believing the Witches can then do them no harm.” On the way
to the orgies of this night, the Oldenburg Witches are reputed to eat
up all the red buds of the Ash, so that on St. John’s Day the Ash-trees
appear denuded of them.

The German Witches are cunning in the use and abuse of roots: for
example, they recommend strongly the _Meisterwurzel_ (root of the
master), the _Bärwurzel_ (root of the bears), the _Eberwurzel_ (root of
the wild boar), and the _Hirschwurzel_ (root of the stag--a name given
to the Wild Parsley, to the Black Gentian, and to the _Thapsia_), as a
means of making a horse run for three consecutive days without feeding

On St. John’s Eve, the Witches of Russia are busily engaged searching
on the mountains for the _Gentiana amarella_, and on the morning of St.
John’s Day, for the _Lythrum silicaria_, without having found which no
one can hope to light upon the former herb. These herbs being hostile
to Witches, are sought by them only to be destroyed.

In Franche-Comté they tell of a certain satanic herb, of which the
juice gives to Witches the power of riding in the air on a broomstick
when they wish to proceed to their nocturnal meeting.

Plants used for Charms and Spells.

In mediæval times the sick poor were accustomed to seek and find
the relief and cure of their ailments at the hands of studious,
kind-hearted monks, and gentle, sympathetic nuns; but after the
Reformation, the practice of the healing art was relegated either to
charitable gentlewomen, who deemed it part of their duty to master
the mysteries of simpling, or to the Wise Woman of the village,
who frequently combined the professions of midwife and simpler,
and collected and dispensed medical herbs. Too often, however, the
trade in simples and herbs was carried on by needy and ignorant
persons--so-called herbalists, quack doctors, and charlatans, or aged
crones, desirous of turning to account the superficial knowledge
they possessed of the properties of the plants which grew on the
neighbouring hill-sides, or were to be found nearer at hand in the
fields and hedgerows. As these simplers and herbalists often made
serious mistakes in their treatment, and were willing, as a rule, to
supply noisome and poisonous herbs to anyone who cared to pay their
price, it is not to be wondered at that they were often regarded with
dread by their ignorant neighbours, and that eventually they came to be
stigmatised as Wizards and Witches.

In the preface to “The Brittish Physician,” a work issued by one Robert
Turner, “botanical student,” two hundred years ago, the author, after
expatiating on the value of herbs and plants, adds: “but let us not
offer sacrifices unto them, and say charms over them, as the Druids
of old and other heathens; and as do some cacochymists, Medean hags,
and sorcerers nowadays, who, not contented with the lawful use of the
creatures, out of some diabolical intention, search after the more
magical and occult vertues of herbs and plants to accomplish some
wicked ends; and for that very cause, King Hezekiah, fearing lest the
herbals of Solomon should come into profane hands, caused them to be
burned.” The old herbalist was doubtless acquainted with many of the
superstitious practices of the “Medean hags”--the Wise Women, old
wives, and Witches of the country--to whom he so scathingly refers.
These ill-favoured beldames had a panacea for every disease, a charm or
a potion for every disorder, a talisman or amulet against every ill. In
addition to herbs, Rowan-tree, salt, enchanted flints, south-running
water, and doggrel verses were the means employed for effecting a cure;
whilst diseases were supposed to be laid on by forming pictures and
images of clay or wax, by placing a dead hand or mutilated member in
the house of the intended victim, or by throwing enchanted articles
at his door. In reality, however, the mischief was done by means of
poisonous herbs or deadly potions, cunningly prepared by the Witch and
her confederates.

One of the most remarkable of the many superstitions inculcated by
these ignorant and designing Witches and quacks, was the notion that
diseases could be transferred from human beings to trees. Gilbert
White has recorded that at Selborne there stood, in his time, a row
of Pollard-Ashes which, when young and flexible, had been severed and
held open by wedges, while ruptured children, stripped naked, were
pushed through the apertures, under a belief that their infirmity would
be thereby cured. Children were also passed through cleft trees, to
cast out all witchcraft, or to neutralise its baleful effects, and to
protect them from the influence of Witches; and sometimes they were
passed through the branches of a Maple, in order that they might be
long-lived. Sick sheep were made to go through the cleft of a young
Oak, with a view of transferring their diseases to the spirit of the
tree. People afflicted with ague were directed to repair to the Cross
Oaks which grew at the junctions of cross-roads, for the purpose of
transferring to them their malady. Aguish patients were ordered to
proceed without speaking or crossing water, to a lofty Willow, to make
a gash in it, breathe three times into the crevice, close it quickly,
and hasten away without looking back: if they did this correctly, the
ague was warranted to leave them. A twisted neck or cuts in the body
were thought to be cured by twisting a Willow round the affected part.
In the West of England, peasants suffering from blackhead were bidden
to crawl under an arched Bramble, and if they had the toothache, the
prescribed remedy was for them to bite the first Fern that appeared in
Spring. In other parts of the country toothache was cured by sticking
into the bark of a young tree the decayed tooth after it had been
drawn. If a child did not willingly learn to walk, the Wise Woman of
the village would direct its troubled mother to make it creep through
the long withes of the Blackberry-bush, which were grown down to the
earth, and had taken fresh root therein. Sufferers from gout were
relieved by the Witch transferring the disorder to some old Pine-tree,
or rather to the genius inhabiting it. Many magical arts attended the
transference of the disease to the spirit of the vicarious tree, and
the operation was generally accompanied by the recital of some formula.
Amongst the forms of adjuration was the following commencement: “Twig,
I bind thee; fever, now leave me!” A sufferer from cramp was ordered
to stretch himself on a Plum-tree, and say, “Climbing-plant, stand!
Plum-tree, waver.”

If we seek for the origin of this superstitious notion of transferring
diseases to trees, we shall find a clue in the works of Prof.
Mannhardt, who recounts the names of demons which in Germany are
identified with nearly all the maladies of plants, and particularly
with those of Wheat and vegetables.[14] The superstitious country
people, struck with the affinity which exists between the vegetable
world and the animal world, came, in course of time, to think that the
same demon caused the disease of plants and that of man; and therefore
they conceived that, in order to safeguard mankind, it was only
necessary to confine the demon in the plant. Examples of this belief
are still to be found in our own country, and similar superstitious
observances are common on the Continent. The German peasant creeps
through an Oak cleft to cure hernia and certain other disorders; and
the Russian moujik splits an Ilex in order to perform a similar
curative operation. De Gubernatis tells us that the Venetian peasant,
when fever-stricken, repairs to a tree, binds up the trunk, and says
to it thrice, without taking breath, “I place thee here, I leave thee
here, and I shall now depart.” Thereupon the fever leaves the patient;
but if the tree be a fruit tree, it will from that time cease to yield
fruit. In the Netherlands, a countryman who is suffering from the ague
will go early in the morning to an old Willow-tree, tie three knots in
a branch, and say: “Good morning, old one! I give thee the cold; good
morning, old one.” This done, he will turn round quickly, and run off
as fast as he can, without looking behind him.

[14] The names of certain of these demons will be found in the previous

But to revert to the superstitious practices of English Witches, Wise
Women, and midwives. One of their prescriptions for the ague was as
follows:--A piece of the nail of each of the patient’s fingers and
toes, and a bit of hair from the nape of the neck, being cut whilst
the patient was asleep, the whole were wrapped up in paper, and the
ague which they represented was put into a hole in an Aspen tree,
and left there, when by degrees the ague would quit the patient’s
body. A very old superstition existed that diseases could be got rid
of by burying them: and, indeed, Ratherius relates that, so early as
the tenth century, a case of epilepsy was cured by means of a buried
Peach-blossom; it is not surprising, therefore, that English Witches
should have professed themselves able to cure certain disorders in this
fashion; and accordingly we find that diseases and the means of their
cure were ordered by them to be buried in the earth and in ants’ nests.

One of the Witches’ most reliable sources of obtaining money from
their dupes was the concoction of love-philtres for despondent swains
and love-sick maidens. In the composition of these potions, the
juices of various plants and herbs were utilised; but these will be
found adverted to in the chapter on Magical Plants. Fresh Orchis was
employed by these cunning and unscrupulous simplers, to beget pure
love; and dried Orchis to check illicit love. Cyclamen was one of the
herbs prescribed by aged crones for a love potion, and by midwives it
was esteemed a most precious and invaluable herb; but an expectant
mother was cautioned to avoid and dread its presence. If, acting on
the advice of the Wise Woman, she ate Quince- and Coriander-seed,
her child, it was promised, would assuredly be ingenious and witty;
but, on the contrary, should she chance to partake too bountifully of
Onions, Beans, or similar vaporous vegetable food, she was warned that
her offspring would be a fool, and possibly even a lunatic. Mothers
were also sagely cautioned that to preserve an infant from evil, it
was necessary to feed it with Ash-sap directly it was born; and they
were admonished that it should never be weaned while the trees were in
blossom, or it would have grey hair.

As relics of the charms and prescriptions of the old Witches, countless
superstitions connected with plants are to be found at the present day
rife in all parts of the country. Of these the following are perhaps
the principal:--For the cure of diseases: Blue Cornflowers gathered
on Corpus Christi Sunday stop nose-bleeding if they are held in the
hand till they are warm. Club Moss is considered good for all diseases
of the eyes, and Euphrasy and Rue for dimness of sight. Cork has the
power of keeping off the cramp, and so have Horse-chesnuts if carried
in the pocket. Elder-sticks in the pocket of a horseman when riding
prevent galling; and the same, with three, five, or seven knots, if
carried in the pocket will ward off rheumatism. A Potato (stolen, if
possible) or a piece of Rowan-wood in the trousers pocket will also
cure rheumatism. The roots of Pellitory of Spain and Tarragon, held
between the teeth, cure the toothache, and so will splinters of an Oak
struck by lightning. Hellebore, Betony, Honesty, and Rue are antidotes
against madness. The root of a male Peony, dried and tied to the neck,
cures epilepsy and relieves nightmare. Castoreum, Musk, Rue-seed, and
Agnus Castus-seed are likewise all remedies for nightmare. Chelidonium
placed under the bare feet will cure jaundice. A twig of Myrtle carried
about the person is efficacious in cases of tumour in the groin. Green
Wormwood placed in the shoes will relieve pains in the stomach of the
wearer. Spurge and Laurel-leaves, if broken off upwards, will cause
vomiting; if downwards, purging. Plantain laid under the feet removes
weariness; and with Mugwort worn beneath the soles of his feet a man
may walk forty miles without tiring. Agnus Castus, if carried in the
hand, will prevent weariness; and when placed in a bed preserves
chastity. Henbane, laid between the sheets, also preserves chastity,
and will besides kill fleas. Necklaces of Peony-root, worn by children,
prevent convulsions. The excrescence found in Rose-bushes, known as
“Robin Redbreast’s Cushion,” when hung round children’s necks, will
cure whooping-cough. Pansy-leaves, placed in the shoe, or Sage-leaves
eaten, will cure ague. The roots of white Briony, bruised and applied
to any place, when the bones are broken, help to draw them forth, as
also splinters, arrow-heads, and thorns in the flesh. The root of an
Iris, if it grow upwards, will attract all thorns from the flesh; if,
on the contrary, it inclines downwards, it will cure wounds. A piece
of Oak, rubbed in silence on the body, on St. John’s Day, before the
sun rises, heals all open wounds. An Apple is deemed potent against
warts, and so is a green Elder-stick, rubbed over them, and then buried
in muck, to rot. Sometimes the Elder-stick has a notch cut in it for
each wart; it is then rubbed over the warts, and finally burned.
Warts are also cured by pricking them with a Gooseberry-thorn passed
through a wedding-ring; and by rubbing them with a Bean-shell, which is
afterwards secretly taken under an Ash-tree by the operator, who then
repeats the words--

  “As this Bean-shell rots away,
  So my warts shall soon decay.”

Catmint will cause those of the most gentle and mild dispositions to
become fierce and quarrelsome. Crocus-flowers will produce laughter and
great joy. Rosemary, worn about the body, strengthens the memory. He
who sows seed should be careful not to lay it on a table, otherwise it
will not grow. In sowing peas, take some of them in your mouth before
the sun goes down, keep them there in silence while you are sowing the
rest, and this will preserve them from sparrows. A piece of wood out of
a coffin that has been dug up, when laid in a Cabbage-bed, will defend
it from caterpillars. A bunch of wild Thyme and Origanum, laid by the
milk in a dairy, prevents its being spoiled by thunder: Sunflowers are
also held to be a protection against thunder. A bunch of Nettles laid
in the barrel, in brewing, answers the same purpose. Water Pepper, put
under the saddle of a tired horse, will refresh him and cause him to
travel well again. Basil, if allowed to rot under an earthen jar, will
become changed into scorpions, and the frequent smelling of this herb
is apt to generate certain animals like scorpions in the brain. The Oak
being a prophetic tree, a fly in the gall-nut is held to foretell war;
a maggot, dearth; a spider, pestilence.

Probably the most frequent visitors to the Witch’s cottage were vain
and silly maidens, desirous either of procuring some potion which
should enhance their rustic charms, or of learning from the lips of the
Witch the mysteries of the future. To such credulous applicants the
beldame would impart the precious secrets, that Lilies of the Valley,
gathered before sunrise, and rubbed over the face, would take away
freckles; and that Wild Tansy, soaked in butter-milk for nine days,
and then applied as a wash to the face, would cause the user to look
handsome. For those who were anxious to consult her as to their love
affairs, or desired to test her powers of divination, the Witch had
an abundant stock of charms and amulets, and was prepared with mystic
and unerring spells. She would take a root of the Bracken-fern, and,
cutting its stem very low down, would show to the inquiring maiden the
initial letter of her future husband’s name. She knew where to procure
two-leaved and four-leaved Clover, and even-leaved Ash, by the aid of
which lovers would be forthcoming before the day was over. She could
instruct a lass in the mystic rite of Hemp-sowing in the churchyard at
midnight on St. Valentine’s Eve. She knew and would reveal where Yarrow
was to be found growing on a dead man’s grave, and would teach country
wenches the charmed verse to be repeated when the magic plant should
be placed beneath their pillow. She could superintend the construction
of “The Witches’ Chain” by three young women, and could provide the
necessary Holly, Juniper, and Mistletoe-berries, with an Acorn for
the end of each link; and she would instruct them how to wind this
mystic chain around a long thin log of wood, which was to be placed on
the fire, accompanied by many magical rites (the secret of which she
would divulge), and then burnt, with the promised result that just as
the last Acorn was consumed, each of the three maidens should see her
future husband walk across the room, or if she were doomed to celibacy,
then a coffin or some misshapen form.

The Witch was cunning in the composition of draughts which should
procure dreams, and the secret of many of these potions is still known
and treasured. Thus: fresh Mistletoe-berries (not exceeding nine in
number), steeped in a liquid composed of equal proportions of wine,
beer, vinegar, and honey, taken as pills on an empty stomach before
going to bed, will cause dreams of your future destiny (providing you
retire to rest before twelve) either on Christmas-eve or on the first
and third of a new moon. Similar dreams may be procured by making a
nosegay of various-coloured flowers, one of a sort, a sprig of Rue, and
some Yarrow off a grave; these must be sprinkled with a few drops of
the oil of Amber, applied with the left hand, and bound round the head
under the night-cap, when retiring to bed, which must be supplied with
clean linen. A prophetic dream is to be procured through the medium
of what is known as “Magic Laurel,” by carrying out the following
formula:--Rise between three and four o’clock in the morning of your
birthday, with cautious secresy, so as to be observed by no one, and
pluck a sprig of Laurel; convey it to your chamber, and hold it over
some lighted brimstone for five minutes, which you must carefully
note by a watch or dial; wrap it in a white linen cloth or napkin,
together with your own name written on paper, and that of your lover
(or if there is more than one, write all the names down), write also
the day of the week, the date of the year, and the age of the moon;
then haste and bury it in the ground, where you are sure it will not be
disturbed for three days and three nights; then take it up, and place
the parcel under your pillow for three nights, and your dreams will be
truly prophetic as to your destiny. A dream of fate is to be procured
on the third day of the months between September and March by any odd
number of young women not exceeding nine, if each string nine Acorns on
a separate string (or as many Acorns as there are young women), wrap
them round a long stick of wood, and place it in the fire, precisely
at midnight. The maidens, keeping perfect silence, must then sit round
the fire till all the Acorns are consumed, then take out the ashes, and
retire to bed directly, repeating--

  “May love and marriage be the theme,
  To visit me in this night’s dream;
  Gentle Venus, be my friend,
  The image of my lover send;
  Let me see his form and face,
  And his occupation trace;
  By a symbol or a sign,
  Cupid, forward my design.”

Plants Antagonistic to Witchcraft.

The Rowan, Mountain Ash, or Care-tree has a great repute among country
folk in the cure of ills arising from supernatural as well as natural
causes. It is dreaded and shunned by evil spirits; it renders null
the spells of Witches and sorcerers, and has many other marvellous
properties. A piece of Rowan wood carried in the pocket of a peasant
acts as a charm against ill-wishes, and bunches of Care suspended over
the cow’s stall and wreathed around her horns will guard her from the
effects of the Evil Eye and keep, her in health, more especially if her
master does not forget to repeat regularly the pious prayer--

  “From Witches and Wizards, and long-tailed Buzzards,
  And creeping things that run in hedge-bottoms,
        Good Lord, deliver us!”

The Ash, in common with the Rowan-tree, possesses the property of
resisting the attacks of Witches, Elves, and other imps of darkness; on
this account Ash-sap is administered to newly-born children, as without
some such precaution the Fairies or Witches might change the child, or
even steal it.

  “Rowan, Ash, and red thread
  Keep the Devils frae their speed.”

The Hazel, according to German tradition, is inimical to Witches and
enchanters. North says that by means of Hazel-rods Witches can be
compelled to restore to animals and plants the fecundity of which by
their malign influence they had previously deprived them.

Elder, gathered on the last day of April, and affixed to the doors and
windows of the house, disappoints designing Witches and protects the
inhabitants from their diabolical spells.

Mistletoe, as a distinctly sacred plant, is considered a talisman
against witchcraft. A small sprig of this mystic plant worn round the
neck is reputed to possess the power of repelling Witches, always
provided that the bough from which it was cut has not been allowed to
touch the earth after being gathered. Plucked with certain ceremonies
on the Eve of St. John, and hung up in windows, it is considered an
infallible protection against Witches, evil spirits, and phantoms, as
well as against storms and thunder.

Cyclamen would appear to be considered a preservative from the assaults
of witchcraft and evil spirits, if we may judge from the following

  “St. John’s Wort and fresh Cyclamen she in her chamber kept,
  From the power of evil angels to guard him while he slept.”

Vervain and St. John’s Wort, carried about the person, will prove a
sure preservation against the wiles of Satan and the machinations and
sorcery of Witches.

  “Gin you would be leman of mine,
  Lay aside the St. John’s Wort and the Vervain.”

Dill has also the reputation of counteracting the enchantments of
Witches and sorcerers--

          “The Verdain and the Dill
  That hindreth Witches of their will.”

St. John’s Wort (_Hypericum_), the _Fuga Dæmonum_ of the old
writers, is a plant detested by Witches, who are scared when in its

  “St. John’s Wort, scaring from the midnight heath
  The Witch and Goblin with its spicy breath.”

Herb Paris, according to Matthiolus, takes away all evil done by
witchcraft; Pimpernel is potent to prevent it; and Angelica worn round
the neck will defeat the malignant designs of Witches, who moreover, it
is satisfactory to know, detest the Bracken Fern, because if its stem
be cut, there will be found therein the monogram of Christ. Flowers of
a yellow or greenish hue, growing in hedgerows, are also repugnant to

In the Tyrol there exists a belief that by binding Rue, Broom,
Maidenhair, Agrimony, and ground Ivy, into one bundle, the bearer of
the same is enabled to see and know Witches.




Magical Plants.

In remote ages, the poisonous or medicinal properties of plants were
secrets learnt by the most intelligent and observant members of
pastoral and nomadic tribes and clans; and the possessor of these
secrets became often both medicine-man and priest, reserving to himself
as much as possible the knowledge he had acquired of herbs and their
uses, and particularly of those that would produce stupor, delirium,
and madness; for by these means he could produce in himself and others
many startling and weird manifestations, which the ignorance of his
fellows would cause them to attribute to Divine or supernatural causes.
The _Zuckungen_, or convulsions, ecstacies, temporary madness, and
ravings, that formerly played so important a part in the oracular and
sacerdotal ceremonies, and which survive even at the present day, had
their origin in the tricks played by the ancient medicine-man in order
to retain his influence over his superstitious brethren. The exciting
and soporific properties of certain herbs and plants, and the peculiar
phenomena which, in skilful hands, they could be made to produce in
the victim, were well known to the ancient seers and priests, and so
were easily foretold; while the symptoms and effects could be varied
accordingly as the plants were dried, powdered, dissolved in water,
eaten freshly gathered, or burnt as incense on the altars. The subtle
powers of opiates obtained from certain plants were among the secrets
carefully preserved by the magi and priests.

According to Prosper Alpinus, dreams of paradise and celestial visions
were produced among the Egyptians by the use of Opium; and Kaempfer
relates that after having partaken of an opiate in Persia, he fell into
an ecstatic state, in which he conceived himself to be flying in the
air beyond the clouds, and associating with celestial beings.

From the juice of the Hemp, the Egyptians have for ages prepared an
intoxicating extract, called _Hashîsh_, which is made up into balls
of the size of a Chestnut. Having swallowed some of these, and thereby
produced a species of intoxication, they experience ecstatic visions.

Among the Brahmins, the Soma, a sacred drink prepared from the pungent
juice of the _Asclepias acida_, or _Cyanchum viminale_, was one of the
means used to produce the ecstatic state. Soma juice was employed to
complete the phrensied trances of the Indian Yogis or seers: it is said
to have the effect of inducing the ecstatic state, in which the votary
appears in spirit to soar beyond the terrestrial regions, to become
united with Brahma, and to acquire universal lucidity (_clairvoyance_).
Windischmann observes that in the remote past, the mystic Soma was
taken as a holy act--a species of sacrament; and that, by this means,
the soul of the communicant became united with Brahma. It is frequently
said that even Parashpati partook of this celestial beverage, the
essence, as it is called, of all nourishment. In the human sacrifices,
the Soma-drink was prepared with magical ceremonies and incantations,
by which means the virtues of the inferior and superior worlds were
supposed to be incorporated with the potion.

John Weir speaks of a plant, growing on Mount Lebanon, which places
those who taste it in a state of visionary ecstacy; and Gassendi
relates that a fanatical shepherd in Provence prepared himself for the
visionary and prophetic state by using Stramonium.

The Laurel was held specially sacred to Apollo, and the Pythia who
delivered the answer of the god to those who consulted the famous
oracle at Delphi, before becoming inspired, shook a Laurel-tree that
grew close by, and sometimes ate the leaves with which she crowned
herself. A Laurel-branch was thought to impart to prophets the faculty
of seeing that which was obscure or hidden; and the tree was believed
to possess the property of inducing sleep and visions. Among the
ancients it was also thought useful in driving away spectres. Evelyn,
remarking on the custom of prophets and soothsayers sleeping upon
the boughs and branches of trees, or upon mattresses composed of
their leaves, tells us that the Laurel and _Agnus Castus_ were plants
“which greatly composed the phansy, and did facilitate true visions,
and that the first was specially efficacious to inspire a poetical
fury.” According to Abulensis, he adds, “such a tradition there goes
of Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, in imitation of her father-in-law.” And
he thinks it probable that from that incident the Delphic Tripos, the
Dodonæan Oracle in Epirus, and others of a similar description, took
their origin. Probably, when introducing the Jewish fortune-tellers in
his sixth satire, Juvenal alludes to the practice of soothsayers and
sibyls sleeping on branches and leaves of trees, in the lines--

                        “With fear
  The poor she-Jew begs in my Lady’s ear,
  The grove’s high-priestess, heaven’s true messenger,
  Jerusalem’s old laws expounds to her.”

The Druids, besides being priests, prophets, and legislators, were also
physicians; they were acquainted, too, with the means of producing
trances and ecstacies, and as one of their chief medical appliances
they made use of the Mistletoe, which they gathered at appointed times
with certain solemn ceremonies, and considered it as a special gift
of heaven. This plant grew on the Oak, the sacred tree of the Celts
and Druids; it was held in the highest reverence, and both priests
and people then regarded it as divine. To this day the Welsh call
_Pren-awr_--the celestial tree--

  “The mystic Mistletoe,
  Which has no root, and cannot grow
  Or prosper but by that same tree
  It clings to.”

The sacred Oak itself was thought to possess certain magical properties
in evoking the spirit of prophecy: hence we find the altars of the
Druids were often erected beneath some venerated Oak-tree in the sombre
recesses of the sacred grove; and it was under the shadow of such trees
that the ancient Germans offered up their holy sacrifices, and their
inspired bards made their prophetic utterances. The Greeks had their
prophetic Oaks that delivered the oracles of Jupiter in the sacred
grove of Dodona--

  “Such honours famed Dodona’s grove acquired,
  As justly due to trees by heaven inspired;
  When once her Oaks did fate’s decrees reveal,
  And taught wise men truths future to foretel.”--_Rapin._

The Arcadians attributed another magical power to the Oak, for they
believed that by stirring water with an Oaken bough rain could be
brought from the clouds.

The Russians are acquainted with a certain herb which they call
_Son-trava_, or Dream Herb, which has been identified with the
_Pulsatilla patens_. This plant is said to blossom in the month of
April, and to put forth an azure-coloured flower; if this is placed
under the pillow, it will induce dreams, and these dreams are said to
be fulfilled. In England, a four-leaved Clover similarly treated will
produce a like result.

Like the Grecian sorceresses, Medea and Circe, the Vedic magicians
were acquainted with numerous plants which would produce love-philtres
of the most powerful character, if not altogether irresistible. The
favourite flowers among the Indians for their composition are the
Mango, Champak, Jasmine, Lotus, and Asoka. According to Albertus
Magnus, the most powerful flower for producing love is that which
he calls _Provinsa_. The secret of this plant had been transmitted
by the Chaldeans. The Greeks knew it as _Vorax_, the Latins as
_Proventalis_ or _Provinsa_; and it is probably the same plant now
known to the Sicilians as the _Pizzu’ngurdu_, to which they attribute
most subtle properties. Thus the chastest of women will become the
victim of the most burning passion for the man who, after pounding the
_Pizzu’ngurdu_, is able to administer it to her in any sort of food.

Satyrion was a favourite herb with magicians, sorceresses, Witches,
and herbalists, who held it to be one of the most powerful incentives
of amatory passions. Kircher relates the case of a youth who, whenever
he visited a certain corner of his garden, became so inflamed with
passionate longings, that, with the hope of obtaining relief, he
mentioned the circumstance to a friend, who, upon examing the spot,
found it overgrown with a species of Satyrion, the odour from which had
the effect of producing amatory desires.

The Mandrake, Carrot, Cyclamen, Purslain (_Aizoon_), Valerian,
Navel-wort (_Umbilicus Veneris_), Wild Poppy (_Papaver Argemone_),
Anemone, _Orchis odoratissima_, _O. cynosorchis_, _O. tragorchis_,
_O. triorchis_, and others of the same family, and Maidenhair Fern
(_Capillus Veneris_) have all of them the property of inspiring love.

In Italy, Basil is considered potent to inspire love, and its scent is
thought to engender sympathy. Maidens think that it will stop errant
young men and cause them to love those from whose hands they accept a
sprig. In England, in olden times, the leaves of the Periwinkle, when
eaten by man and wife, were supposed to cause them to love one another.
An old name appertaining to this plant was that of the “Sorcerer’s
Violet,” which was given to it on account of its frequent use by
wizards and quacks in the manufacture of their charms against the
Evil Eye and malign spirits. The French knew it as the _Violette des
Sorciers_, and the Italians as _Centocchio_, or Hundred Eyes.

In Poland, a plant called _Troizicle_, which has bluish leaves and red
flowers, has the reputation of causing love and forgetfulness of the
past, and of enabling him who employs it to go wherever he desires.

Helmontius speaks of a herb that when held in the palm of the hand
until it grows warm, will rapidly acquire the power of detaining the
hand of another until it not only grows warm, also, but the owner
becomes inflamed with love. He states that by its use he inspired a dog
with such love for himself, that he forsook a kind mistress to follow
him, a stranger. This herb is said to be met with everywhere, but
unfortunately the name is not given.

Cumin is thought to possess a mystical power of retention: hence it
has found its way into many a love-philtre, as being able to ensure
fidelity and constancy in love.

Among the plants and flowers to which the power of divination has been
ascribed, and which are consulted for the most part by rustic maidens
in affairs of the heart, are the Centaury, Bluet, or Horseknot, the
Starwort, the Ox-eye Daisy, the Dandelion, Bachelor’s Buttons, the
Primrose, the Rose, the Poppy, the Hypericum, the Orpine, the Yarrow,
the Mugwort, the Thistle, the Knotweed, Plantain, the Stem of the
Bracken Fern, Four-leaved and Two-leaved Clover, Even Ash-leaves, Bay
or Bay-leaves, Laurel-leaves, Apples and Apple-pips, Nuts, Onions,
Beans, Peascods, Corn, Maize, Hemp-seed, &c.

Albertus Magnus states that _Valeria_ yields a certain juice of amity,
efficacious in restoring peace between combatants; and that the
herb _Provinsa_ induces harmony between husband and wife. Gerarde,
in his ‘Herbal,’ mentions a plant, called _Concordia_, which he
says is _Argentina_, or Silver-weed (_Potentilla anserina_); and in
Piedmont, at the present time, there grows a plant (_Palma Christi_),
locally known as _Concordia_, which the peasantry use for matrimonial
divinations. The root of the plant is said to be divided into two
parts, each bearing a resemblance to the human hand, with five fingers:
if these hands are found united, marriage is sure; but if separated,
a rupture between the lovers is presaged. There is also, in Italy, a
plant known as _Discordia_, likewise employed for love divinations. In
this plant the male flowers are violet, the female white; the male and
female flowers blossom almost always the one after the other--the male
turns to the East, the female to the West.

In the Ukraine, there grows a plant called there _Prikrit_, which,
if gathered between August 15th and October 1st, has the property
of destroying calumnies spread abroad in order to hinder marriages.
In England, the Baccharis, or Ploughman’s Spikenard, is reputed to
be able to repel calumny. In Russia, a plant called _Certagon_, the
Devil-chaser, is used to exorcise the devil, who is supposed to haunt
the grief-stricken husband or wife whom death has robbed of the loved
one. This grief-charming plant is also used to drive away fear from
infants. The Sallow has many magical properties: no child can be born
in safety where it is hung, and no spirit can depart in peace if its
foliage be anywhere near.

The Zuñis, a tribe of Mexican Indians, hold in high veneration a
certain magical plant called _Té-na-tsa-li_, which they aver grows
only on one mountain in the West, and which produces flowers of many
colours, the most beautiful in the world, whilst its roots and juices
are a panacea for all injuries to the flesh of man.

The Indian _Tulasi_, or Sacred Basil (_Ocimum sanctum_) is
pre-eminently a magical herb. By the Hindus it is regarded as a plant
of the utmost sanctity, which protects those that cultivate it from
all misfortunes, guards them from diseases and injuries, and ensures
healthy children. In Burmah, the _Eugenia_ is endowed with similar
magical properties, and is regarded by the Burmese with especial

The Onion, if suspended in a room, possesses the magical powers of
attracting and absorbing maladies that would otherwise attack the

In Peru, there is said to grow a wonderful tree called _Theomat_. If a
branch be placed in the hand of a sick person, and he forthwith shows
gladness, it is a sign that he will at length recover; but if he
shows sadness and no sign of joy, that is held to be a certain sign of
approaching death.

In England, the withering of Bay-leaves has long been considered
ominous of death: thus Shakspeare writes--

  “’Tis thought the King is dead; we will not stay.
    The Bay-trees in our country are all withered.”

The smoke of the green branches of the Juniper was the incense offered
by the ancients to the infernal deities, whilst its berries were burnt
at funerals to keep off evil spirits.

The Peony drives away tempests and dispels enchantments. The St. John’s
Wort (called of old _Fuga dæmonum_) is a preservative against tempests,
thunder, and evil spirits, and possesses other magical properties which
are duly enumerated in another place.

The Rowan-tree of all others is gifted with the powers of magic, and is
held to be a charm against the Evil Eye, witchcraft, and unholy spells.
The Elder, the Thorn, the Hazel, and the Holly, in a similar manner,
possess certain properties which entitle them to be classed as magical
plants. Garlic is employed by the Greeks, Turks, Chinese, and Japanese,
as a safeguard against the dire influences of the Evil Eye.

The extraordinary attributes of the Fern-seed are duly enumerated in
Part II., under the head of FERN, and can be there studied by all who
are desirous of investigating its magic powers.

The Clover, if it has four leaves, is a magical plant, enabling him who
carries it on his person to be successful at play, and have the power
of detecting the approach of malignant spirits. If placed in the shoe
of a lover, the four-leaved Clover will ensure his safe return to the
arms and embraces of his sweetheart.

The Mandrake is one of the most celebrated of magical plants, but for
an enumeration of its manifold mystic powers readers must be referred
to the description given in Part II., under the head of MANDRAKE. This
plant was formerly called _Circeium_, a name derived from Circe, the
celebrated enchantress. The Germans call it _Zauberwurzel_ (Sorcerer’s
root), and the young peasant girls of the Fatherland often wear bits of
the plant as love charms.

The marshes of China are said to produce a certain fruit which the
natives call _Peci_. If any one puts with this fruit a copper coin into
his mouth, he can diminish it with no less certainty than the fruit
itself, and reduce it to an eatable pulp.

In France, Piedmont, and Switzerland, the country-people tell of a
certain Herb of Oblivion which produces loss of memory in anyone
putting his foot upon it. This herb also causes wayfarers to lose their
way, through the unfortunates forgetting the aspects of the country,
even although they were quite familiar to them before treading on the
Herb of Forgetfulness. Of a somewhat similar nature must have been the
fruit of the Lotos-tree, which caused the heroes of the Odyssey to
forget their native country.

King Solomon, whose books on Magic King Hezekiah destroyed lest their
contents should do harm, ascribed great magical powers to a root
which he called _Baharas_ (or _Baara_). Josephus, in his History of
the Jewish Wars, states that this wonderful root is to be found in
the region of Judæa. It is like a flame in colour, and in the evening
appears like a glittering light; but upon anyone approaching it with
the idea of pulling it up, it appears to fly or dart away, and will
avoid its pursuer until it be sprinkled either with menstrual blood or
_lotium femininum_.

  “The Mandrake’s charnel leaves at night”

possess the same characteristic of shining through the gloom, and, on
that account, the Arabians call it the Devil’s Candle.

The ancients knew a certain herb called _Nyctilopa_, which had the
property of shining from afar at night: this same herb was also known
as _Nyctegredum_ or _Chenomychon_, and geese were so averse to it, that
upon first spying it they would take to instant flight. Perhaps this
is the same plant as the _Johanniswurzel_ or Springwort (_Euphorbia
lathyris_), which the peasants of Oberpfalz believe can only be found
among the Fern on St. John’s Night, and which is stated to be of a
yellow colour, and to shine at night as brightly as a candle. Like
the Will-o’-the-Wisp, the _Johanniswurzel_ eludes the grasp of man by
darting and frisking about.

Several plants are credited with possessing the power of preservation
from thunder and lightning. Pliny mentions the _Vibro_, which he calls
_Herba Britannica_, as a plant which, if picked before the first
thunderblast of a storm was heard, was deemed a safeguard against
lightning. In the Netherlands, the St. John’s Wort, gathered before
sunrise, is credited with protective powers against lightning. In
Westphalia, the _Donnerkraut_ (the English Orpine, or Live-long) is
kept in houses as a preservative from thunder. In England, the Bay
is considered a protection from lightning and thunder; the Beech was
long thought to be a safeguard against the effects of lightning; and
Houseleek or Stonecrop, if grown upon a roof, is still regarded as
protecting the house from being struck by lightning. The _Gnaphalium_,
an Everlasting-flower, is gathered on the Continent, on Ascension Day,
and suspended over doorways, to fulfil the same function. In Wales, the
Stonecrop is cultivated on the roof to keep off disease.

The Selago, or Golden Herb of the Druids, imparted to the priestess who
pressed it with her foot, the knowledge of the language of animals and
birds. If she touched it with iron, the sky grew dark, and a misfortune
befell the world.

The old magicians were supposed to have been acquainted with certain
plants and herbs from which gold could be extracted or produced. One
of these was the Sorb-tree, which was particularly esteemed for its
invaluable powers; another was a herb on Mount Libanus, which was
said to communicate a golden hue to the teeth of the goats and other
animals that grazed upon it. Niebuhr thinks this may be the herb which
the Eastern alchymists employed as a means of making gold. Father
Dundini noticed that the animals living on Mount Ida ate a certain
herb that imparted a golden hue to the teeth, and which he considered
proceeded from the mines underground. It was an old belief in Germany,
by the shores of the Danube, and in Hungary, that the tendrils and
leaves of the Vines were plated with gold at certain periods, and
that when this was the case, it was a sure sign that gold lay hidden
somewhere near.

Plutarch speaks of a magical herb called _Zaclon_, which, when bruised
and thrown into wine, would at once change it into water.

Some few plants, like the well-known _Sesame_ of the ‘Arabian Nights,’
are credited with the power of opening doors and obtaining an entry
into subterranean caverns and mountain sides. In Germany, there is a
very favourite legend of a certain blue Luck-flower which gains for its
fortunate finder access to the hidden recesses of a mountain, where
untold riches lie heaped before his astonished eyes. Hastily filling
his pockets with gold, silver, and gems, he heeds not the presence
of a dwarf or Fairy, who, as he unknowingly drops the Luck-flower
whilst leaving the treasure-house, cries “Forget not the best of all.”
Thinking only of the wealth he has pocketed, he unheedingly passes
through the portal of the treasure cave, only just in time to save
himself from being crushed by the descending door, which closes with an
ominous clang, and shuts in for ever the Luck-flower, which can alone
open the cave again.

In Russia, a certain herb, which has the power of opening, is known as
the _Rasriv-trava_. The peasants recognise it in this manner: they cut
a good deal of grass about the spot where the _Rasriv-trava_ is thought
to grow, and throw the whole of it into the river; thereupon this magic
plant will not only remain on the surface of the water, but it will
float against the current. The herb, however, is extraordinarily rare,
and can only be found by one who also possesses the herb _Plakun_ and
the Fern _Paporotnik_. The Fern, like the Hazel, discovers treasures,
and therefore possesses the power of opening said to belong to the
_Rasriv-trava_, but the latter is the only plant that can open the
locks of subterranean entrances to the infernal regions, which are
always guarded by demons. It also has the special property of being
able to reduce to powder any metal whatsoever.

The Primrose is in Germany regarded as a _Schlüsselblume_, or
Key-flower, and is supposed to provide the means of obtaining ingress
to the many legendary treasure-caverns and subterranean passages under
hill and mountain sides dating back from the remote times when the
Goddess Bertha was wont to entice children to enter her enchanted halls
by offering them pale Primroses.

The Mistletoe, in addition to its miraculous medicinal virtues,
possesses the power of opening all locks; and a similar property is by
some ascribed to Artemisia, the Mandrake, and the Vervain.

The Moonwort, or Lesser Lunary (_Botrychium Lunaria_)--the _Martagon_
of ancient wizards, the _Lunaria minor_ of the alchymists--will open
the locks of doors if placed in proper fashion in the keyhole. It is,
according to some authorities, the _Sferracavallo_ of the Italians, and
is gifted with the power of unshoeing horses whilst at pasture.

Grimm is of opinion that the _Sferracavallo_ is the _Euphorbia
lathyris_, the mystic Spring-wort, which, like the Luck-flower,
possesses the wondrous power of opening hidden doors, rocks, and secret
entrances to treasure caves, but which is only to be obtained through
the medium of a green or black woodpecker under conditions which will
be found duly recorded in Part II., under the head of SPRINGWORT.

The Mouse-ear is called _Herba clavorum_ because it prevents the
blacksmith from hurting horses when he is shoeing them.

Magic Wands and Divining Rods.

At so remote a period as the Vedic age we find allusions to magic
wands or rods. In the Vedas, the Hindu finds instructions for cutting
the mystic _Sami_ branch and the _Arani_. This operation was to be
performed so that the Eastern and Western sun shone through the fork
of the rod, or it would prove of no avail. The Chinese still abide
by these venerable instructions in the cutting of their magic wands,
which are usually cut from the Peach or some other fruit tree on the
night preceding the new year, which always commences with the first
new moon after the Winter solstice. The employment of magic wands and
staffs was in vogue among the Chaldæans and Egyptians, who imparted the
knowledge of this system of divination to the Hebrews dwelling among
them. Thus we find the prophet Hosea saying, “My people ask counsel
at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them.” Rhabdomancy,
or divination by means of a rod, was practised by the ancient Greeks
and Romans, and the art was known in England at the time of Agricola,
though now it is almost forgotten. In China and Eastern lands, the art
still flourishes, and various kinds of plants and trees are employed;
the principal being, however, the Hazel, Osier, and Blackthorn. The
Druids were accustomed to cut their divining-rods from the Apple-tree.
In competent hands, the Golden Rod is said to point to hidden springs
of water, as well as to hidden treasures of gold and silver.

  “Some sorcerers do boast they have a rod,
    Gathered with vows and sacrifice,
  That, borne aloft, will strangely nod
    To hidden treasure where it lies.”--_Shepherd_ (1600).

In Cornwall, the divining-rod is still employed by miners to discover
the presence of mineral wealth; in Lancashire and Cumberland, the
belief in the powers of the magic wand is widely spread; and in
Wiltshire, it is used for detecting water. The _Virgula divinatoria_ is
also frequently in requisition both in Italy and France. Experts will
tell you that, in order to ensure success, certain mystic rites must
be performed at the cutting of the rod: this must be done after sunset
and before sunrise, and only on certain special nights, among which
are those of Good Friday, Epiphany, Shrove-Tuesday, and St. John’s
Day, the first night of a new moon, or that preceding it. In cutting
the divining-rod, the operator must face the East, so that it shall
be one which catches the first rays of the morning sun, or it will be
valueless. These conditions, it will be found, are similar to those
contained in the Hindu Vedas, and still enforced by the Chinese. Some
English experts are of opinion that a twig of an Apple-tree may be
used as successfully as a Hazel wand--but it must be of twelve months’
growth. The seventh son of a seventh son is considered to be the most
fitting person to use the rod. In operating, the small ends, being
crooked, are to be held in the hands in a position flat or parallel
to the horizon, and the upper part at an elevation having an angle
to it of about seventy degrees. The rod must be grasped strongly and
steadily, and then the operator walks over the ground: when he crosses
a lode, its bending is supposed to indicate the presence thereof.
According to Vallemont, the author of a treatise on the divining-rod,
published towards the end of the seventeenth century, its use was not
merely confined to indicate metal or water, but it was also employed in
tracking criminals; and an extraordinary story is told of a Frenchman
who, guided by his rod, “pursued a murderer, by land, for a distance
exceeding forty-five leagues, besides thirty leagues more by water.”

From an article in the ‘Quarterly Review,’ No. 44, the statements
in which were vouched by the Editor, it would seem that a Lady Noel
possessed the faculty of using the divining-rod. In operating, this
lady “took a thin forked Hazel-twig, about sixteen inches long, and
held it by the end, the joint pointing downwards. When she came to the
place where the water was under the ground, the twig immediately bent;
and the motion was more or less rapid as she approached or withdrew
from the spring. When just over it, the twig turned so quick as to
snap, breaking near the fingers, which, by pressing it, were indented
and heated, and almost blistered; a degree of agitation was also
visible in her face. The exercise of the faculty is independent of any

In Germany, the divining-rod is often called the wishing-rod, and as
it is by preference cut from the Blackthorn, that tree is known also
as the Wishing Thorn. In Prussia, the Hazel rod must be cut in Spring
to have its magical qualities thoroughly developed. When the first
thunderstorm is seen to be approaching, a cross is made with the rod
over every heap of grain, in order that the Corn so distinguished
may keep good for many a month. In Bohemia, the magic rod is thought
to cure fever; it is necessary, however, when purchasing one, not to
raise an objection to the price. In Ireland, if anyone dreams of buried
money, there is a prescribed formula to be employed when digging for
it--a portion of which is the marking upon a Hazel wand three crosses,
and the recital of certain words, of a blasphemous character, over it.

Sir Thomas Browne tells us that, in his time, the divining-rod was
called Moses’ Rod; and he thinks, with Agricola, that this rod is of
Pagan origin:--“The ground whereof were the magical rods in poets, that
of Pallas in Homer, that of Mercury that charmed Argus, and that of
Circe which transformed the followers of Ulysses. Too boldly usurping
the name of Moses’ Rod, from which notwithstanding, and that of Aaron,
were probably occasioned the fables of all the rest. For that of Moses
must needs be famous, unto the Egyptians, and that of Aaron unto many
other nations as being preserved in the Ark until the destruction of
the Temple built by Solomon.” The Rabbis tell us that the rod of Moses
was, originally, carved by Adam out of a tree which grew in the Garden
of Eden; that Noah, who took it into the Ark with him, bequeathed it to
Shem; that it descended to Abraham; that Isaac gave it to Jacob; that,
during his sojourn in Egypt, he gave it to Joseph; and that finally it
became the property of Moses.




Fabulous, Wondrous, and Miraculous Plants.

We have seen how, among the ancient races of the earth, traditions
existed which connected the origin of man with certain trees. In the
_Bundehesh_, man is represented as having first appeared on earth under
the form of the plant _Reiva_ (_Rheum ribes_). In the Iranian account
of man’s creation, the primal couple are stated to have first grown up
as a single tree, and at maturity to have been separated and endowed
with a distinct existence by Ormuzd. In the Scandinavian Edda, men
are represented as having sprung from the Ash and Poplar. The Greeks
traced the origin of the human race to the maternal Ash; and the Romans
regarded the Oak as the progenitor of all mankind. The conception of
human trees was present in the mind of the Prophet Isaiah, when he
predicted that from the stem of Jesse should come forth a rod, and from
his roots, a branch. The same idea is preserved in the genealogical
trees of modern heraldry; and the marked analogy between man and trees
has doubtless given rise to the custom of planting trees at the birth
of children. The old Romans were wont to plant a tree at the birth
of a son, and to judge of the prosperity of the child by the growth
and thriving of the tree. It is said in the life of Virgil, that the
Poplar planted at his birth flourished exceedingly, and far outstripped
all its contemporaries. De Gubernatis records that, as a rule, in
Germany, they plant Apple-trees for boys, and Pear-trees for girls. In
Polynesia, at the birth of an infant, a Cocoa-nut tree is planted, the
nodes of which are supposed to indicate the number of years promised to
the little stranger.

According to a legend that Hamilton found current in Central India,
the Khatties had this strange origin. When the five sons of _Pându_
(the heroes whose exploits are told in the _Mahâbhârata_) had become
simple tenders of flocks, Karna, their illegitimate brother, wishing to
deprive them of these their last resource, prayed the gods to assist
him: then he struck the earth with his staff, which was fashioned
from the branch of a tree. The staff instantly opened, and out of it
sprang a man, who said that his name was Khat, a word which signifies
“begotten of wood.” Karna employed this tree-man to steal the coveted
cattle, and the Khatties claim to be descended from this strange

The traditions of trees that brought forth human beings, and of
trees that were in themselves partly human, are current among most
of the Aryan and Semitic races, and are also to be found among the
Sioux Indians. These traditions (which have been previously noticed
in Chapter VII.) have probably given rise to others, which represent
certain trees as bearing for fruit human beings and the members of
human beings.

In the fourteenth century, an Italian voyager, Odoricus du Frioul, on
arriving at Malabar, heard the natives speaking of trees which, instead
of fruit, bore men and women: these creatures were scarcely a yard
high, and their nether extremities were attached to the tree’s trunk,
like branches. Their bodies were fresh and radiant when the wind blew,
but on its dropping, they became gradually withered and dried up.

In the first book of the _Mahâbhârata_, reference is made, in the
legend of Garuda, to an enormous Indian Fig-tree (_Ficus religiosa_),
from the branches of which are suspended certain devotees of dwarfed
proportions, called _Vâlakhilyas_.

Among the Arabs, there exists a tradition of an island in the Southern
Ocean called Wak-Wak, which is so-named because certain trees growing
thereon produce fruit having the form of a human head, which cries
_Wak! Wak!_

Among the Chinese, the myth of men being descended from trees is
reversed, for we find a legend current in the Flowery Land that, in the
beginning, the herbs and plants sprang from the hairs of a cosmic giant.

The Chinese, however, preserve the tradition of a certain lake by
whose margin grew great quantities of trees, the leaves of which
when developed became changed into birds. In India, similar trees
are referred to in many of the popular tales: thus, in “The Rose of
Bakavali” mention is made of a garden of Pomegranate-trees, the fruit
of which resembled earthenware vases. When these were plucked and
opened, out hopped birds of beautiful plumage, which immediately flew

Pope Pius II., in his work on Asia and Europe, published towards the
end of the fifteenth century, states that in Scotland there grew on the
banks of a river a tree which produced fruits resembling ducks; these
fruits, when matured, fell either on the river bank or into the water:
those which fell on the ground perished instantly; those which fell
into the water became turned at once into ducks, acquired plumage, and
then flew off. His Holiness remarks that he had been unable to obtain
any proof of this wondrous tree existing in Scotland, but that it was
to be found growing in the Orkney Isles.

As early as the thirteenth century, Albertus Magnus expressed his
disbelief in the stories of birds propagated from trees, yet there
were not wanting writers who professed to have been eye-witnesses of
the marvels they recounted respecting Bernicle or Claik Geese. Some of
these witnesses, however, asserted that the birds grew on living trees,
while others traced them to timber rotted in the sea, or boughs of
trees which had fallen therein. Boëce, who favoured the latter theory,
writes that “because the rude and ignorant people saw oft-times the
fruit that fell off the trees (which stood near the sea) converted
within a short time into geese, they believed that yir-geese grew upon
the trees, hanging by their nebbis [bills] such like as Apples and
other fruits hangs by their stalks, but their opinion is nought to be
sustained. For as soon as their Apples or fruit falls off the tree into
the sea-flood, they grow first worm-eaten, and by short process of time
are _altered_ into geese.” Munster, in his ‘Cosmographie,’ remembers
that in Scotland “are found trees which produce fruit rolled up in
leaves, and this, in due time, falling into water, which it overhangs,
is converted into a living bird, and hence the tree is called the
Goose-tree. The same tree grows in the island of Pomona. Lest you
should imagine that this is a fiction devised by modern writers, I
may mention that all cosmographists, particularly Saxo Grammaticus,
take notice of this tree.” Prof. Rennie says that Montbeillard seems
inclined to derive the name of Pomona from its being the orchard of
these goose-bearing trees. Fulgosus depicts the trees themselves
as resembling Willows, “as those who had seen them in Ireland and
Scotland” had informed him. To these particulars, Bauhin adds that, if
the leaves of this tree fall upon the land, they become birds; but if
into the water, then they are transmuted into fishes.

Maundevile speaks of the Barnacle-tree as a thing known and proved in
his time. He tells us, in his book, that he narrated to the somewhat
sceptical inhabitants of Caldilhe how that “in oure contre weren trees
that beren a fruyt that becomen briddes fleiynge: and thei that fallen
on the erthe dyen anon: and thei ben right gode to mannes mete.”

Aldrovandus gives a woodcut of these trees, in which the foliage
resembles that of Myrtles, while the strange fruit is large and

[Illustration: [TO FACE PAGE 118.

The Barnacle or Goose Tree.

_From ‘Aldrovandi Ornithologia.’_]

Gerarde also gives a figure of what he calls the “Goose-tree,
Barnacle-tree, or the tree bearing geese,” a reproduction of which
is annexed. And although he speaks of the goose as springing from
decayed wood, &c., the very fact of his introducing the tree into
the catalogue of his ‘Herbal,’ shows that he was, at least, divided
between the above-named opinions. “What our eyes have seen,” he
says, “and what our hands have touched, we shall declare. There is a
small island in Lancashire, called the Pile of Foulders, wherein are
found broken pieces of old ships, some whereof have been thrown thither
by shipwracke, and also the trunks and bodies, with the branches
of old and rotten trees cast up there likewise; whereon is found a
certain spume or froth, that in time breedeth unto certaine shells,
in shape like to those of the muskle, but sharper pointed, and of a
whitish colour, wherein is contained a thing in forme like a lace of
silke finely woven, as it were, together, of a whitish colour; one end
whereof is fastned unto the inside of the shell, even as the fish of
oisters and muskles are; the other end is made fast unto the belly of
a rude mass, or lumpe, which, in time, commeth to the shape and forme
of a bird. When it is perfectly formed, the shell gapeth open, and the
first thing that appeareth is the foresaid lace or string; next come
the legs of the bird hanging out, and as it groweth greater it openeth
the shell by degrees, till at length it is all come forth, and hangeth
onely by the bill; in short space after it commeth to full maturitie,
and falleth into the sea, where it gathereth feathers, and groweth to
a fowle bigger than a mallard and lesser than a goose, having blacke
legs and bill or beake, and feathers blacke and white, spotted in such
manner as is our magpie; called in some places a pie-annet, which the
people of Lancashire call by no other name than tree-goose; which place
aforesaid, and all those parts adjoyning, do so much abound therewith,
that one of the best is bought for threepence. For the truth hereof, if
any doubt, may it please them to repaire unto me, and I shall satisfie
them by the testimonie of good witnesses.

[Illustration: The Goose Tree. From _Gerarde’s Herbal_.]

Martin assures us that he had seen many of these fowls in the shells,
sticking to the trees by the bill, but acknowledges that he had never
descried any of them with life upon the tree, though the natives [of
the Orkney Isles] had seen them move in the heat of the sun.

In the ‘Cosmographiæ of Albioun,’ Boëce (to whom we have before
referred) considered the nature of the seas acting on old wood more
relevant to the creation of barnacle or claik geese than anything else.
“For,” he says, “all trees that are cassin into the seas, by process
of time appears at first worm-eaten, and in the small holes or bores
thereof grows small worms. First they show their head and neck, and
last of all they show their feet and wings. Finally, when they are come
to the just measure and quantity of geese, they fly in the air, as
other fowls wont, as was notably proven in the year of God one thousand
four hundred and eighty in the sight of many people beside the castle
of Pitslego.” He then goes on to describe how a tree having been cast
up by the sea, and split by saws, was found full of these geese, in
different stages of their growth, some being “perfect shapen fowls;”
and how the people, “having ylk day this tree in more admiration,” at
length deposited it in the kirk of St. Andrew’s, near Tyre.”

Among the more uninformed of the Scotch peasantry, there still exists a
belief that the Soland goose, or gannet, and not the bernicle, grows by
the bill on the cliffs of Bass, of Ailsa, and of St. Kilda.

Giraldus traces the origin of these birds to the gelatinous drops of
turpentine which appear on the branches of Fir-trees.

“A tree that bears oysters is a very extraordinary thing,” remarks
Bishop Fleetwood in his ‘Curiosities of Agriculture and Gardening’
(1707), “but the Dominican Du Tertre, in his Natural History of Antego,
assures us that he saw, at Guadaloupa, oysters growing on the branches
of trees. These are his very words. The oysters are not larger than
the little English oysters, that is to say, about the size of a crown
piece. They stick to the branches that hang in the water of a tree
called _Paretuvier_. No doubt the seed of the oysters, which is shed
in the tree when they spawn, cleaves to those branches, so that the
oysters form themselves there, and grow bigger in process of time,
and by their weight bend down the branches into the sea, and then are
refreshed twice a day by the flux and reflux of it.”

The Oyster-bearing Tree, however, is not the only marvel of which
the good Bishop has left a record: he tells us that near the island
Cimbalon there lies another, where grows a tree whose leaves, as they
fall off, change into animals: they are no sooner on the ground, than
they begin to walk like a hen, upon two little legs. Pigafetta says
that he kept one of these leaves eight days in a porringer; that it
took itself to walking as soon as he touched it; and that it lived only
upon the air. Scaliger, speaking of these very leaves, remarks,
as though he had been an eye-witness, that they walk, and march away
without further ado if anyone attempts to touch them. Bauhin, after
describing these wonderful leaves as being very like Mulberry-leaves,
but with two short and pointed feet on each side, remarks upon the
great prodigy of the leaf of a tree being changed into an animal,
obtaining sense, and being capable of progressive motion.

[Illustration: TO FACE PAGE 121.]

The Barometz, or Vegetable Lamb.

_From Zahn’s ‘Speculæ Physico-Mathematico-Historicæ.’_]

Kircher records that in his time a tree was said to exist in Chili,
the leaves of which produced worms; upon arriving at maturity, these
worms crawled to the edge of the leaf, and thence fell to the earth,
where after a time they became changed into serpents, which over-ran
the whole land. Kircher endeavours to explain this story of the
serpent-bearing tree by giving, as a reason for the phenomenon, that
the tree attached to itself, through its roots, moisture pregnant with
the seed of serpents. Through the action of the sun’s rays, and the
moisture of the tree, this serpent-spawn degenerates into worms, which
by contact with the earth become converted into living serpents.

The same authority states that in the Molucca islands, but more
particularly in Ternate, not far from the castle of the same name,
there grew a plant which he describes as having small leaves. To this
plant the natives gave the name of _Catopa_, because when its leaves
fall off they at once become changed into butterflies.

Doctor Darwin, in his botanical poem called ‘The Loves of the Plants,’
thus apostrophises an extraordinary animal-bearing plant:--

  “Cradled in snow and fanned by Arctic air,
  Shines, gentle Barometz! thy golden hair;
  Rooted in earth, each cloven hoof descends,
  And round and round her flexile neck she bends;
  Crops the gray coral-moss and hoary Thyme,
  Or laps with rosy tongue the melting rime,
  Eyes with mute tenderness her distant dam,
  Or seems to bleat, a vegetable Lamb.”

In the curious frontispiece to Parkinson’s ‘Paradisus,’ which will
be found reproduced at the commencement of this work, it will
be noticed that the Barometz, or Vegetable Lamb, is represented
as one of the plants growing in Eden. In Zahn’s _Speculæ
Physico-Mathematico-Historicæ_ (1696) is given a figure of this plant,
accompanied by a description, of which the following is a translation:--

“Very wonderful is the Tartarian shrub or plant which the natives call
_Boromez_, _i.e._, Lamb. It grows like a lamb to about the height of
three feet. It resembles a lamb in feet, in hoofs, in ears, and in the
whole head, save the horns. For horns, it possesses tufts of hair,
resembling a horn in appearance. It is covered with the thinnest bark,
which is taken off and used by the inhabitants for the protection of
their heads. They say that the inner pulp resembles lobster-flesh, and
that blood flows from it when it is wounded. Its root projects and
rises to the _umbilicus_. What renders the wonder more remarkable is
the fact that, when the _Boromez_ is surrounded by abundant herbage,
it lives as long as a lamb, in pleasant pastures; but when they become
exhausted, it wastes away and perishes. It is said that wolves have a
liking for it, while other carnivorous animals have not.”

Scaliger, in his _Exotericæ Exercitationes_, gives a similar
description, adding that it is not the fruit, the Melon, but the whole
plant, that resembles a lamb. This does not tally with the account
given by Odorico da Pordenone, an Indian traveller, who, before
the _Barometz_ had been heard of in Europe, appears to have been
informed that a plant grew on some island in the Caspian Sea which
bore Melon-like fruit resembling a lamb; and this tree is described
and figured by Sir John Maundevile, who, in speaking of the countries
and isles beyond Cathay, says that when travelling towards Bacharye
“men passen be a Kyngdom that men clepen Caldilhe; that is a fulle
fair Contree. And there growethe a maner of fruyt as thoughe it waren
Gowrdes; and whan thei ben rype, men kutten hem a to, and men fynden
with inne, a lytylle Best, in flessche, in bon, and blode, as though
it were a lytylle Lomb, with outen wolle. And men eten bothe the Frut
and the Best; and that is a gret marveylle. Of that Frute I have eten;
alle thoughe it were wonderfulle; but that I knowe wel that God is
marveyllous in his werkes.”

[Illustration: The Lamb Tree. From _Maundevile’s Travels_.]

Maundevile, who in his book has left a record of so many marvellous
things which he either saw or was told of during his Eastern travels,
mentions a certain Indian island in the land of Prester John, where
grew wild trees which produced Apples of such potent virtue that the
islanders lived by the mere smell of them: moreover if they went on a
journey, the men “beren the Apples with hem: for yif thei hadde lost
the savour of the Apples thei scholde dyen anon.” In another island in
the same country, Sir John was told were the Trees of the Sun and of
the Moon that spake to King Alexander, and warned him of his death.
Moreover, it was commonly reported that “the folk that kepen the trees,
and eten of the frute and of the bawme that growethe there, lyven wel
400 yere or 500 yere, be vertue of the fruit and of the bawme.” In
Egypt the old traveller heard of the Apple-tree of Adam, “that hav a
byte at on of the sydes;” there also he saw Pharaoh’s Figs, which grew
upon trees without leaves; and there also he tells us are gardens that
have trees and herbs in them which bear fruit seven times in the year.

One of the most celebrated of fabulous trees is that which grew in
the garden of the Hesperides, and produced the golden Apples which
Hercules, with the assistance of Atlas, was able to carry off. Another
classic tree is that bearing the golden branch of Virgil, which is by
some identified with the Mistletoe. Among other celebrated mythical
trees may be named the prophetic Oaks of the Dodonæan grove; the
Singing Tree of the ‘Arabian Nights,’ every leaf of which was a mouth
and joined in concert; and the Poet’s Tree referred to by Moore, in
‘Lalla Rookh,’ which grows over the tomb of Tan-Sein, a musician of
incomparable skill at the court of Akbar, and of which it is said that
whoever chews a leaf will have extraordinary melody of voice.

Wondrous Plants.

In Bishop Fleetwood’s curious work, to which reference has already been
made, we find many extraordinary trees and plants described, some of
which are perhaps worthy of a brief notice. He tells us of a wonderful
metal-sapped tree known as the _Mesonsidereos_, which grows in Java,
and even there is very scarce. Instead of pith, this tree has an iron
wire that comes out of the root, and rises to the top of the tree. “But
the best of all is, that whoever carries about him a piece of this
ferruginous pith is invulnerable to any sword or iron whatever.” In
_Hirnaim de Typho_ this tree is said to produce fruit impenetrable by

There are some trees that must have fire to nourish them. Methodius
states that he saw on the top of the mountain Gheschidago (the Olympus
of the ancients), near the city of Bursa, in Natolia, a lofty tree,
whose roots were spread amidst the fire that issues from the vents of
the earth; but whose leafy and luxuriant boughs spread their shade
around, in scorn of the flames in the midst of which it grew.

This vegetable salamander finds its equal in a plant described by
Nieuhoff as growing in rocky and stony places in the kingdom of Tanju,
in Tartary. This extraordinary plant cannot be either ignited or
consumed by fire; for although it becomes hot, and on account of the
heat becomes glowing red in the fire, yet so soon as heat is removed,
it grows cold, and regains its former appearance: in water, however,
this plant is wont to become quite putrid.

Of a nature somewhat akin to these fire-loving plants must be the
Japanese Palm, described by A. Montanus. This tree is said to shun
moisture to such an extent, that if its trunk be in the least wet,
it at once pines away and perishes as though it had been poisoned.
However, if this arid tree be taken up by the roots, throughly dried in
the sun, and re-planted with sand and iron filings around it, it will
once more flourish, and become covered with new branches and leaves,
provided that so soon as it has been re-planted, the old leaves are cut
off with an iron instrument and fastened to the trunk.

The Bishop remarks that “one of the most wonderful plants is that which
so mollifies the bones, that when we have eaten of it we cannot stand
upon our legs. An ox who has tasted of it cannot go; his bones grow so
pliant, that you may bend his legs like a twig of Ozier. The remedy is
to make him swallow some of the bones of an animal who died from eating
of that herb: ’tis certain death, and cannot be otherwise, for the
teeth grow soft immediately, and ’tis impossible even to eat again.”
“There is a plant that produces a totally opposite effect. It hardens
the bones to a wondrous degree. A man who has chewed some of it, will
have his teeth so hard as to be able to reduce flints and pebbles into
impalpable powder.”

Maundevile describes some wonderful Balm-trees that in his time grew
near Cairo, in a field wherein were seven wells “that oure Lord Jesu
Christ made with on of His feet, whan He wente to pleyen with other
children.” The balm obtained from these trees was considered so
precious, that no one but the appointed tenders was allowed to approach
them. Christians alone were permitted to till the ground in which they
grew, as if Saracens were employed, the trees would not yield; and
moreover it was necessary that men should “kutten the braunches with a
scharp flyntston or with a scharp bon, whanne men wil go to kutte hem:
For who so kutte hem with iren, it wolde destroye his vertue and his

The old knight has left a record of his impressions of the country near
the shores of the Dead Sea, and has given a sketch of those Apple-trees
of which Byron wrote--

  “Like to the Apples on the Dead Sea’s shore,
  All ashes to the taste.”

These trees producing Dead Sea fruit he tells us bore “fulle faire
Apples, and faire of colour to behold; but whoso brekethe hem or
cuttethe hem in two, he schalle fynd with in hem Coles and Cyndres, in
tokene that, be wratthe of God, the cytees and the lond weren brente
and sonken in to Helle.”

[Illustration: Dead Sea Fruit. From _Maundevile’s Travels_.]

In Zahn’s _Speculæ Physico-Mathematico-Historicæ_ we read of a peculiar
Mexican tree, called _Tetlatia_ or _Gao_, which causes both men and
animals to lose their hair if they rub themselves against its trunk
or sleep beneath its branches. Then we are told of a tree growing in
Sofala, Africa, which yields no leaf during the whole year, but if a
branch be cut off and placed in water, it grows green in ten hours, and
produces abundance of leaves. Again, we read of the _Zeibas_, immense
trees “in the new Kingdom of Granada,” which fifteen men could scarcely
encompass with their arms; and which, wonderful to relate, cast all
their leaves every twelve hours, and soon afterwards acquire other
leaves in their place.

A certain tree is described as growing in America, which bears flowers
like a heart, consisting of many white leaves, which are red within,
and give forth a wonderfully sweet fragrance: these flowers are said to
comfort and refresh the heart in a remarkable manner. A curious account
is given of a plant, which Nierenbergius states grows in Bengal, which
attracts wood so forcibly, that it apparently seizes it from the hands
of men. A similar plant is said to exist in the island of Zeilan,
which, if placed between two pieces of wood, each distant twenty paces
from it, will draw them together and unite them.

Respecting the _Boriza_, a plant also known as the _Lunaria_ or Lunar
Herb, Zahn states that it is so called because it increases and
decreases according to the changes of the moon: for when the moon is
one day old, this plant has one leaf, and increases the number of
leaves in proportion to the moon’s age until it is fifteen days old;
then, as the moon decreases, its leaves one by one fall off. In the
no-moon period, being deprived of all its leaves, it hides itself. Just
as the _Boriza_ is influenced by the moon, so are certain shrubs under
the sway of the sun. These shrubs are described as growing up daily
from the sand until noon, when they gradually diminish, and finally
return to the earth at sunset.

Gerarde tells us that among the wonders of England, worthy of great
admiration, is a kind of wood, called Stony Wood, alterable into the
hardness of a stone by the action of water. This strange alteration of
Nature, he adds, is to be seen in sundry parts of England and Wales;
and then he relates how he himself “being at Rougby (about such time
as our fantasticke people did with great concourse and multitudes
repaire and run headlong unto the sacred wells of Newnam Regis, in the
edge of Warwickshire, as unto the water of life, which could cure all
diseases),” went from thence unto these wells, “where I found growing
ouer the same a faire Ashe-tree, whose boughs did hang ouer the spring
of water, whereof some that were seare and rotten, and some that of
purpose were broken off, fell into the water and were all turned into
stones. Of these boughes or parts of the tree I brought into London,
which when I had broken in pieces, therein might be seene that the pith
and all the rest was turned into stones, still remaining the same shape
and fashion that they were of before they were in the water.”

[Illustration: The Stone Tree. From _Gerarde’s Herbal_.]

In Hainam, a Chinese island, grows a certain tree known as the Fig of
Paradise. Its growth is peculiar: from the centre of a cluster of six
or seven leaves springs a branch with no leaves, but a profusion of
fruit resembling Figs. The leaves of this tree are so large and so far
apart, that a man could easily wrap himself up in them; hence it is
supposed that our first parents, after losing their innocence, clothed
themselves with the leaves of a tree of this species.

The island of Ferro, one of the Canaries, is said to be without rivers,
fountains, and wells. However, it has a peculiar tree, as Metellus
mentions, surrounded by walls like a fountain. It resembles the
Nut-tree; and from its leaves there drops water which is drinkable by
cattle and men. A certain courtesan of the island, when it was first
subdued, made it known to the Spaniards. Her perfidy, however, is said
to have been discovered and punished with death by her own people.

Bishop Fleetwood gives the following description, by Hermannus
Nicolaus, of what he calls the Distillatory Plant:--“Great are the
works of the Lord, says the wise man; we cannot consider them without
ravishment. The Distillatory Plant is one of these prodigies of nature,
which we cannot behold without being struck with admiration. And what
most surprises me is the delicious nectar, with which it has often
supplied me in so great abundance to refresh me when I was thirsty to
death and unsufferably weary.... But the greatest wonder of it is the
little purse, or if you will, a small vessel, as long and as big as the
little finger, that is at the end of each leaf. It opens and shuts with
a little lid that is fastened to the top of it. These little purses
are full of a cool, sweet, clear cordial and very agreeable water.
The kindness this liquor has done me when I have been parched up with
thirst, makes me always think of it with pleasure. One plant yields
enough to refresh and quench the thirst of a man who is very dry. The
plant attracts by its roots the moisture of the earth, which the sun
by his heat rarifies and raises up through the stem and the branches
into the leaves, where it filtrates itself to drop into the little
recipients that are at the end of them. This delicious sap remains in
these little vessels till it be drawn out; and it must be observed
that they continue close shut till the liquor be well concocted and
digested, and open of themselves when the juice is good to drink.
’Tis of wonderful virtue to extinguish speedily the heats of burning
fevers. Outwardly applied, it heals ring-worms, St. Anthony’s Fire, and

Plants Bearing Inscriptions and Figures.

Gerarde has told us that in the root of the Brake Fern, the figure of
a spread-eagle may be traced; and Maundevile has asserted that the
fruit of the Banana, cut it how you will, exhibits a representation
of the Holy Cross. L. Sarius, in his Chronicles to the year 1559,
records that, in Wales, an Ash was uprooted during a tempest, and in
its massive trunk, rent asunder by the violence of the storm, a cross
was plainly depicted, about a foot long. This cross remained for many
years visible in the shattered trunk of the Ash, and was regarded
with superstitious awe by the Catholics as having been Divinely sent
to reprove the officious zeal of Queen Elizabeth in banishing sacred
images from the Churches.

In Zahn’s work is an account--“resting on the sworn testimony of the
worthiest men,” and on the authority of an archbishop--of the holy name
JESU found in a Beech that had been felled near Treves. The youth, who
was engaged in chopping up this tree, observed while doing so, a cloud
or film surrounding the pith of the wood. Astonished at the sight, he
called his uncle Hermann, who noticed at once the sacred name in a
yellow colour, changing to black. Hermann carried the wood home to his
wife, who had long been an invalid, and she, regarding it as a precious
relic, received much comfort, and finally, in answer to daily prayer,
her strength was restored. After this, the wood was presented to the
Elector Maximilian Henry, who was so struck with the phenomenon, that
he had it placed in a rich silver covering, and publicly exposed as
a sacred relic in a church; and on the spot where the tree was cut,
he caused a chapel to be erected, to preserve the name of Jesu in
everlasting remembrance.

In the same work, we are told that in a certain root, called
_Ophoides_, a serpent is clearly represented; that the root of
_Astragalus_ depicts the stars; that in the trunk of the _Quiacus_,
a dog’s head was found delineated, together with the perfect figure
of a bird; that the trunk of a tree, when cut, displayed on its inner
surface eight Danish words; that in a Beech cut down by a joiner, was
found the marvellous representation of a thief hanging on a gibbet;
and that in another piece of wood adhering to the former was depicted
a ladder such as was used in those days by public executioners: these
figures were distinctly delineated in a black tint. In 1628, in the
wood of a fruit-tree that had been cut down near Haarlem, in Holland,
the images of bishops, tortoises, and many other things were seen;
and one Schefferus, a physician, has recorded that near the same
place, a piece of wood was found in which there was given “a wonderful
representation by Nature of a most orderly star with six rays.” Evelyn,
in his ‘Sylva,’ speaks of a tree found in Holland, which, being cleft,
exhibited the figures of a chalice, a priest’s alb, his stole, and
several other pontifical vestments. Of this sort, he adds, was an
Oxfordshire Elm, “a block of which wood being cleft, there came out
a piece so exactly resembling a shoulder of veal, that it was worthy
to be reckoned among the curiosities of this nature.” Evelyn also
notices a certain dining-table made of an old Ash, whereon was figured
in the wood fish, men, and beasts. In the root of a white Briony was
discovered the perfect image of a human being: this curious root was
preserved in the Museum at Bologna. Many examples of human figures in
the roots of Mandrakes have been known, and Aldrovandus tell us that he
was presented with a Mandrake-root, in which the image was perfect.

Vegetable Monstrosities.

It is related that, in the year 1670, there was exposed for sale,
in the public market of Vratislavia, an extraordinary wild Bugloss,
which, on account of the curiosity of the spectators and the different
superstitious speculations of the crowd, was regarded not only as
something monstrous but also as marvellous. This Bugloss was a little
tortuous and 25 inches in length. Its breadth was 4 inches. It
possessed a huge and very broad stem, the fibres of which ran parallel
to each other in a direct line. It bore flowers in the greatest
abundance, and had at least one root.

Aldrovandus, in his _Liber de Monstris_, describes Grapes with beards,
which were seen in the year 1541 in Germany, in the province of
Albersweiler. They were sent as a present, first to Louis, Duke of
Bavaria, and then to King Ferdinand and other princes.

Zahn figures, in his work, a Pear of unusual size which was gathered
from a tree growing in the Royal Garden at Stuttgart, towards the
close of June, 1644. This Pear strongly resembled a human face, with
the features distinctly delineated, and at the end, forming a sort of
crown, were eight small leaves and two young shoots with a blossom at
the apex of each. This curious and unique vegetable monstrosity was
presented to his Serene Highness the Prince of Wurtemburg.

In the same book is given a description of a monstrous Rape--bearing
a striking resemblance to the figure of a man seated, and exhibiting
perfectly body, arms, and head, on which the sprouting foliage took
the place of hair. This Rape grew in the garden of a nobleman in the
province of Weiden, in the year 1628.

Mention is made of a _Daucus_ which was planted and became unusually
large in size. Some pronounced it to be a Parsnip, having a yellow
root, and thin leaves. This Parsnip had an immense root, like a human
hand, which, from its peculiar growth, had the appearance of grasping
the _Daucus_ itself.

In Zahn’s book are recorded many other vegetable marvels: amongst
them is the case of a Reed growing in the belly of an elephant; a ear
of Wheat in the nose of an Italian woman; Oats in the stomach of a
soldier; and various grains found in wounds and ulcers, in different
parts of the human body.

Miraculous Trees and Plants.

There are some few plants which have at different times been
prominently brought into notice by their intimate association with
miracles. Such a one was the branch of the Almond-tree forming the rod
of Aaron, which, when placed by Moses in the Tabernacle, miraculously
budded and blossomed in the night, as a sign that its owner should
be chosen for High Priest. Such, again, was the staff of Joseph of
Arimathea, which, when driven, one Christmas-day, into the ground
at Glastonbury, took root and produced a Thorn-tree, which always
blossomed on that day. Such, again, was the staff of St. Martin, from
which sprang up a goodly Yew, in the cloister of Vreton, in Brittany;
and such was the staff of St. Serf, which, thrown by him across the
sea from Inchkeith to Culross, straightway took root and became an

In the same category must be included the tree miraculously secured by
St. Thomas, the apostle of the Indians, and from which he was enabled
to construct a church, inasmuch as when the sawdust emitted by the
tree when being sawn was sown, trees sprang up therefrom. The tree
(represented as being a species of _Kalpadruma_) was hewn on the Peak
of Adam, in Ceylon, by two servants of St. Thomas, and dragged by
him into the sea, where he appears to have left it with the command,
“_Vade, expecta nos in portu civitatis Mirapolis._” ... When it reached
its destination, this tree had grown to such an enormous bulk, that
although the king and his army of ten thousand troops, with many
elephants, did their utmost to secure it and drag it on shore, they
were unable to move it. Mortified at his failure, the king descried
the holy Apostle Thomas approaching, riding upon an ass. The holy
Apostle was accompanied by his two servants, and by two great lions.
“Forbear,” said he, addressing the king: “Touch not the wood, for it is
mine.” “How can you prove it is yours?” enquired the king. Then Thomas,
loosing his girdle, threw it to the two servants, and bade them tie it
around the tree; this they speedily did, and, with the assistance of
the lions, dragged the huge trunk ashore. The king was astonished and
convinced by the miracle, and at once offered to Thomas as much land
whereon to erect a church to his God as he cared to ride round on his
ass. So with the aid of the miraculous tree the Apostle Thomas set to
work to build his church. When his workmen were hungry he took some of
the sawdust of the tree, and converted it into Rice; when they demanded
payment, he broke off a small piece of the wood, which instantly became
changed into money.

Popular tradition has everywhere preserved the remembrance of a certain
_Arbor secco_, which, according to Marco Polo, Frate Odorico, and
the Book of Sidrach, existed in the East. This _Arbor secco_ of the
Christians is the veritable Tree of the Sun of the ancient pagans.
Marco Polo calls the tree the Withered Tree of the Sun, and places
it in the confines of Persia; Odorico, near Sauris. According to
Maundevile, the tree had existed at Mamre from the beginning of the
world. It was an Oak, and had been held in special veneration since the
time of Abraham. The Saracens called it _Dirpe_, and the people of the
country, the Withered Tree, because from the date of the Passion of Our
Lord, it has been withered, and will remain so until a Prince of the
West shall come with the Christians to conquer the Holy Land: then “he
shalle do synge a masse undir that dry tree, and than the tree shalle
waxen grene and bere bothe fruyt and leves.” Fra Mauro, in his map of
the world, represents the Withered Tree in the middle of Central Asia.
It has been surmised that this Withered Tree is no other than that
alluded to by the Prophet Ezekiel (xvii., 24): “And all the trees of
the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree,
have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree.”

[Illustration: Arbor Secco, or The Withered Tree. From _Maundevile’s

Sulpicius Severus relates that an abbot, in order to test the patience
of a novice, planted in the ground a branch of Styrax that he chanced
to have in his hand, and commanded the Novice to water it every day
with water to be obtained from the Nile, which was two miles from the
monastery. For two years the novice obeyed his superior’s injunction
faithfully, going every day to the banks of the river, and carrying
back on his shoulder a supply of Nile water wherewith to water the
apparently lifeless branch. At length, however, his steadfastness was
rewarded, for in the third year the branch miraculously shot out very
fine leaves, and afterwards produced flowers. The historian adds that
he saw in the monastery some slips of the same tree, which they took
delight to cultivate as a memento of what the Almighty had been pleased
to do to reward the obedience of his servant.

Another miraculous tree is alluded to in Fleetwood’s ‘Curiosities,’
where, on the authority of Philostratus, the author describes a certain
talking Elm of Ethiopia, which, during a discussion held under its
branches between Apollonius and Thespesio, chief of the Gymnosophists,
reverently “bowed itself down and saluted Apollonius, giving him the
title of Wise, with a distinct but weak and shrill voice, like a woman.”

The blind man to whom our Saviour restored his sight said, at first,
“I see men walking as if they were trees!” one Anastasius of Nice,
however, has recorded that, oppositely, he had seen trees walk as if
they were men. Bishop Fleetwood remarks that this Anastasius, being
persuaded that by miraculous means our neighbours’ trees may be brought
into our own field, relates that a heretic of Zizicum, of the sect of
the Pneumatomachians, had, by the virtue of his art, brought near to
his own house a great Olive-tree belonging to one of his neighbours,
that he and his disciples might have the benefit of the freshness of
the shade to protect them from the heat of the sun. By this art, also,
it was that the plantation of Olives, belonging to Vectidius, changed
its place.

Maundevile has preserved a record of a tree of miraculous origin, that
in his time grew in the city of Tiberias. The old knight writes:--“In
that cytee a man cast an brennynge [a burning] dart in wratthe after
oure Lord, and the hed smote in to the eerthe, and wex grene, and it
growed to a gret tree; and yit it growethe, and the bark there of is
alle lyke coles.”

[Illustration: Miraculous Tree of Tiberias. From _Maundevile’s

Among flowers, the Rose--the especial flower of martyrdom--has been
the most connected with miracles. Maundevile gives it a miraculous
origin, alleging that at Bethlehem the faggots lighted to burn an
innocent maiden were, owing to her earnest prayers, extinguished and
miraculously changed into bushes which bore the first Roses, both
white and red. According to monastic tradition, the martyr-saint
Dorothea sent a basket of Roses miraculously to the notary Theophilus,
from the garden of Paradise. The Romish legend of St. Cecilia relates
that after Valerian, her husband, had been converted and baptised by
St. Urban, he returned to his home, and heard, as he entered it, the
most enchanting music. On reaching his wife’s apartment, he beheld
an angel standing near her, who held in his hand two crowns of Roses
gathered in Paradise, immortal in their freshness and perfume, but
invisible to the eyes of unbelievers. With these the angel encircled
the brows of Cecilia and Valerian, and promised that the eyes of
Tiburtius, Valerian’s brother, should be opened to the truth. Then he
vanished. Soon afterwards Tiburtius entered the chamber, and perceiving
the fragrance of the celestial Roses, but not seeing them, and knowing
that it was not the season for flowers, he was astonished, yielded to
the fervid appeal of St. Cecilia, and became a Christian.

St. Elizabeth, of Hungary, is always represented with Roses in her
lap or hand, in allusion to a legend which relates that this saint,
the type of female charity, one day, in the depth of winter, left
her husband’s castle, carrying in the skirts of her robe a supply of
provisions for a certain poor family; and as she was descending the
frozen and slippery path, her husband, returning from the chase, met
her bending under the weight of her charitable burden. “What dost thou
here, my Elizabeth?” he asked: “let us see what thou art carrying
away.” Then she, confused and blushing to be so discovered, pressed
her mantle to her bosom; but he insisted, and opening her robe, he
beheld only red and white Roses, more beautiful and fragrant than any
that grow on this earth, even at summer-tide, and it was now the depth
of winter! Turning to embrace his wife, he was so overawed by the
supernatural glory exhibited on her face, that he dared not touch her;
but, bidding her proceed on her mission, he took one of the Roses of
Paradise from her lap, and placed it reverently in his breast.

Trithemius narrates that Albertus Magnus, in the depths of winter, gave
to King William on the festival of Epiphany a most elegant banquet in
the little garden of his Monastery. Suddenly, although the monastery
itself was covered with snow, the atmosphere in the garden became
balmy, the trees became covered with leaves, and even produced ripe
fruit--each tree after its kind. A Vine sent forth a sweet odour and
produced fresh grapes in abundance, to the amazement of everyone.
Flocks of birds of all kinds were attracted to the spot, and, rejoicing
at the summer-like temperature, burst into song. At length, the
wonderful entertainment came to an end, the tables were removed, and
the servants all retired from the grounds. Then the singing of the
birds ceased, the green of the trees, shrubs, and grasses speedily
faded and withered, the flowers drooped and perished, the masses of
snow which had so strangely disappeared now covered everything, and a
piercing cold of great intensity obliged the king and his fellow-guests
to seek shelter and warmth within the Monastery walls. Greatly
astonished and moved at what he had seen, King William called Albertus
to him, and promised to grant him whatever he might request. Albertus
asked for land in the State of Utrecht, whereon to erect a Monastery of
his own order. His request was granted, and he also obtained from the
King many other favours.

It is recorded that on the same day that Alexander de’ Medici, the
Duke of Florence, was treacherously killed, in the Villa of Cosmo de’
Medici, an abundance of all kinds of flowers burst into bloom, although
quite out of the flowering season; and on that day the Cosmian gardens
alone appeared gay with flowers, as though Spring had come.

Father Garnet’s Straw.

At the commencement of the present chapter on extraordinary and
miraculous plants, allusion was made to certain trees which were
reputed to have borne as fruit human heads. A fitting conclusion to
this list of wonders would appear to be an account of a wondrous ear of
Straw, which, in the year 1606, was stated miraculously to have borne
in effigy the head of Father Garnet, who was executed for complicity in
the Gunpowder Plot. It would seem that, after the execution of Garnet
and his companion Oldcorne, tales of miracles performed in vindication
of their innocence, and in honour of their martyrdom, were circulated
by the Jesuits. But the miracle most insisted upon as a supernatural
confirmation of the Jesuit’s innocence and martyrdom, was the story of
Father Garnet’s Straw. The originator of this miracle was supposed to
be one John Wilkinson, a young Catholic, who, at the time of Garnet’s
trial and execution, was about to pass over into France, to commence
his studies at the Jesuits’ college at St. Omers. Some time after
his arrival there, Wilkinson was attacked by a dangerous disease,
from which there was no hope of recovery; and while in this state he
gave utterance to the story, which Eudæmon-Joannes relates in his own
words. Having described his strong impression that he should “witness
some immediate testimony from God in favour of the innocence of His
saint,” his attendance at the execution, and its details, he proceeds
thus:--“Garnet’s limbs having been divided into four parts, and placed
together with the head in a basket, in order that they might be
exhibited according to law in some conspicuous place, the crowd began
to disperse. I then again approached close to the scaffold, and stood
between the cart and the place of execution; and as I lingered in that
situation, still burning with the desire of bearing away some relique,
that miraculous ear of Straw, since so highly celebrated, came, I know
not how, into my hand. A considerable quantity of dry Straw had
been thrown with Garnet’s head and quarters from the scaffold into the
basket; but whether this ear came into my hand from the scaffold or
from the basket, I cannot venture to affirm: this only I can truly say,
that a Straw of this kind was thrown towards me before it had touched
the ground. This Straw I afterwards delivered to Mrs. N., a matron
of singular Catholic piety, who inclosed it in a bottle, which being
rather shorter than the Straw, it became slightly bent. A few days
afterwards, Mrs. N. showed the Straw in the bottle to a certain noble
person, her intimate acquaintance, who, looking at it attentively, at
length said, ‘I can see nothing in it but a man’s face.’ At this, Mrs.
N. and I, being astonished at the unexpected exclamation, again and
again examined the ear of Straw, and distinctly perceived in it a human
countenance, which others, also coming in as casual spectators, or
expressly called by us as witnesses, also beheld at that time. This is,
as God knoweth, the true history of Father Garnet’s Straw.”

[Illustration: TO FACE PAGE 135.]

Father Garnet’s Straw.

_From the ‘Apology of Eudæmon-Joannes.’_]

In process of time, the fame of the prodigy encouraged those who had
an interest in upholding it to add considerably to the miracle as it
was at first promulgated. Wilkinson and the first observers of the
marvel merely represented that the appearance of a face was shown on
so diminutive a scale, upon the husk or sheath of a single grain, as
scarcely to be visible unless specifically pointed out. Fig. 1 in the
accompanying plate accurately depicts the miracle as it was at first

But a much more imposing image was afterwards discovered. Two faces
appeared upon the middle part of the Straw, both surrounded with rays
of glory; the head of the principal figure, which represented Garnet,
was encircled with a martyr’s crown, and the face of a cherub appeared
in the midst of his beard. In this improved state of the miracle, the
story was circulated in England, and excited the most profound and
universal attention; and thus depicted, the miraculous Straw became
generally known throughout the Christian world. Fig. 2 in the sketch
exactly represents the prodigy in its improved state: it is taken from
the frontispiece to the ‘Apology of Eudæmon-Joannes.’

So great was the scandal occasioned by this story of Father Garnet’s
miraculous Straw, that Archbishop Bancroft was commissioned by the
Privy Council to institute an inquiry, and, if possible, to detect
and punish the perpetration of what he considered a gross imposture;
but although a great many persons were examined, no distinct evidence
of imposition could be obtained. It was proved, however, that the
face might have been limned on the Straw by Wilkinson, or under his
direction, during the interval which occurred between the time of
Garnet’s death and the discovery of the miraculous head. At all events,
the inquiry had the desired effect of staying public curiosity in
England; and upon this the Privy Council took no further proceedings
against any of the parties.



Plants Connected with Birds and Animals.

The association of trees and birds has been the theme of the most
ancient writers. The Skalds have sung how an Eagle sat in stately
majesty on the topmost branch of Yggdrasill, whilst the keen-eyed Hawk
hovered around. The Vedas record how the Pippala of the Hindu Paradise
was daily visited by two beauteous birds, one of which fed from its
celestial food, whilst its companion poured forth delicious melody
from its reed-like throat. On the summit of the mystic Soma-tree were
perched two birds, the one engaged in expressing the immortalising
Soma-juice, the other feeding on the Figs which hung from the branches
of the sacred tree. A bird, bearing in its beak a twig plucked from its
favourite tree, admonished the patriarch Noah that the waters of the
flood were subsiding from the deluged world.

In olden times there appears to have been a notion that in some
cases plants could not be germinated excepting through the direct
intervention of birds. Thus Bacon tells us of a tradition, current in
his day, that a bird, called a Missel-bird, fed upon a seed which,
being unable to digest, she evacuated whole; and that this seed,
falling upon boughs of trees, put forth the Mistletoe. A similar story
is told by Tavernier of the Nutmeg. “It is observable,” he says, “that
the Nutmeg-tree is never planted: this has been attested to me by
several persons who have resided many years in the islands of Bonda. I
have been assured that when the nuts are ripe, there come certain birds
from the islands that lie towards the South, who swallow them down
whole, and evacuate them whole likewise, without ever having digested
them. These nuts being then covered with a viscous and glutinous
matter, when they fall on the ground, take root, vegetate, and produce
a tree, which would not grow from them if they were planted like other

The Druids, dwelling as they did in groves and forests, frequented by
birds and animals, were adepts at interpreting the meaning of their
actions and sounds. A knowledge of the language of the bird and animal
kingdoms was deemed by them a marvellous gift, which was only to be
imparted to the priestess who should be fortunate enough to tread under
foot the mystic _Selago_, or Golden Herb.

At a time when men had no almanack to warn them of the changing of the
seasons, no calendar to guide them in the planting of their fields and
gardens, the arrival and departure of birds helped to direct them in
the cultivation of plants. So we find Ecclesiastes preached “a bird of
the air shall carry the voice,” and in modern times the popular saying
arose of “a little bird has told me.”

This notion of the birds imparting knowledge is prettily rendered
by Hans Christian Andersen, in his story of the Fir-tree, where the
sapling wonders what is done with the trees taken out of the wood at
Christmas time. “Ah, we know--we know,” twittered the Sparrows; “for we
have looked in at the windows in yonder town.”

Dr. Solander tells us that the peasants of Upland remark that “When you
see the Wheatear you may sow your grain,” for in this country there is
seldom any severe frost after the Wheatear appears; and the shepherds
of Salisbury Plain say:--

  “When Dotterel do first appear,
  It shows that frost is very near;
  But when the Dotterel do go,
  Then you may look for heavy snow.”

Aristophanes makes one of his characters say that in former times the
Kite ruled the Greeks; his meaning being that in ancient days the
Kite was looked upon as the sign of Spring and of the necessity of
commencing active work in field and garden; and again, “The Crow points
out the time for sowing when she flies croaking to Libya.” In another
place he notices that the Cuckoo in like manner governed Phœnicia and
Egypt, because when it cried _Kokku, Kokku_, it was considered time to
reap the Wheat and Barley fields.

In our own country, this welcome harbinger of the Springtide has
been associated with a number of vernal plants: we have the Cuckoo
Flower (_Lychnis Flos cuculi_), Cuckoo’s Bread or Meat, and Cuckoo’s
Sorrel (_Oxalis Acetosella_), Cuckoo Grass (_Lazula campestris_),
and Shakspeare’s “Cuckoo Buds of yellow hue,” which are thought to
be the buds of the Crowfoot (_Ranunculus_). The association in the
popular rhyme of the Cuckoo with the Cherry-tree is explained by an
old superstition that before it ceases its song, the Cuckoo must eat
three good meals of Cherries. In Sussex, the Whitethorn is called the
Cuckoo’s Bread-and-Cheese Tree, and an old proverb runs--

  “When the Cuckoo comes to the bare Thorn,
  Then sell your Cow and buy your Corn.”

Mr. Parish has remarked that it is singular this name should be given
to the Whitethorn, as among all Aryan nations the tree is associated
with lightning, and the Cuckoo is connected with the lightning gods
Jupiter and Thor.

Pliny relates that the Halcyon, or Kingfisher, at breeding-time,
foretold calm and settled weather. The belief in the wisdom of birds
obtained such an ascendancy over men’s minds, that we find at length
no affair of moment was entered upon without consulting them. Thus
came in augury, by which was meant a forewarning of future events
derived from prophetic birds. One of these systems of divinations, for
the purpose of discovering some secret or future event was effected
by means of a Cock and grains of Barley, in the following manner: the
twenty-four letters of the alphabet having been written in the dust,
upon each letter was laid a grain of Barley, and a Cock, over which
previous incantations had been uttered, was let loose among them; those
letters off which it pecked the Barley, being joined together, were
then believed to declare the word of which they were in search. The
magician Jamblichus, desirous to find out who should succeed Valens in
the imperial purple, made use of this divination, but the Cock only
picked up four grains, viz., those which lay upon the (Greek) letters
th. e. o. d., so that it was uncertain whether Theodosius, Theodotus,
Theodorus, or Theodectes, was the person designed by the Fates. Valens,
when informed of the matter, was so terribly enraged, that he put
several persons to death simply because their names began with these
letters. When, however, he proceeded to make search after the magicians
themselves, Jamblichus put an end to his majesty’s life by a dose of
poison, and he was succeeded by Theodosius in the empire of the East.

The loves of the Nightingale and the Rose have formed a favourite topic
of Eastern poets. In a fragment by the celebrated Persian poet Attar,
entitled _Bulbul Nameh_ (the Book of the Nightingale), all the birds
appear before Solomon, and charge the Nightingale with disturbing
their rest by the broken and plaintive strains which he warbles forth
in a sort of frenzy and intoxication. The Nightingale is summoned,
questioned, and acquitted by the wise king, because the bird assures
him that his vehement love for the Rose drives him to distraction,
and causes him to break forth into those languishing and touching
complaints which are laid to his charge. Thus the Persians believe that
the Nightingale in Spring flutters around the Rose-bushes, uttering
incessant complaints, till, overpowered by the strong scent, he drops
stupefied to the ground. The impassioned bird makes his appearance in
Eastern climes at the season when the Rose begins to blow: hence the
legend that the beauteous flower bursts forth from its bud at the song
of its ravished adorer. The Persian poet Jami says, “The Nightingales
warbled their enchanting notes and rent the thin veils of the Rose-bud
and the Rose;” and Moore has sung--

  “Oh sooner shall the Rose of May
    Mistake her own sweet Nightingale,
  And to some meaner minstrel’s lay
    Open her bosom’s glowing veil,
  Than love shall ever doubt a tone--
  A breath--of the beloved one!”

And in another place, the author of ‘Lalla Rookh’ asks--

  “Though rich the spot
    With every flower the earth hath got,
  What is it to the Nightingale,
    If there his darling Rose is not?”

Lord Byron has alluded to this pretty conceit in the ‘Giaour,’ when he

  “The Rose o’er crag or vale,
  Sultana of the Nightingale,
      The maid for whom his melody,
      His thousand songs are heard on high,
  Blooms blushing to her lover’s tale,
  His queen, the garden queen, his Rose,
  Unbent by winds, unchill’d by snows.”

From the verses of the poet Jami may be learnt how the first Rose
appeared in Gulistan at the time when the flowers, dissatisfied with
the reign of the torpid Lotus, who would slumber at night, demanded a
new sovereign from Allah. At first the Rose queen was snowy white, and
guarded by a protecting circlet of Thorns; but the amorous Nightingale
fell into such a transport of love over her charms, and so recklessly
pressed his ravished heart against the cruel Thorns, that his blood
trickling into the lovely blossom’s bosom, dyed it crimson; and, in
corroboration of this, the poet demands, “Are not the petals white at
the extremity where the poor little bird’s blood could not reach?”
Perhaps this Eastern poetic legend may have given rise to the belief,
which has long been entertained, that the Nightingale usually sleeps
on, or with its bosom against, a Thorn, under the impression that in
such a painful situation it must remain awake. Young, in his ‘Night
Thoughts,’ thus refers to this curious idea--

  “Grief’s sharpest Thorn hard-pressing on my breast,
  I share with wakeful melody to cheer
  The sullen gloom, sweet Philomel! like thee,
  And call the stars to listen.”

And in Thomson’s ‘Hymn to May,’ we find this allusion:--

        “The lowly Nightingale,
  A Thorn her pillow, trills her doleful tale.”

In a sonnet by Sir Philip Sydney, afterwards set to music by Bateson,
we read--

  “The Nightingale, as soon as April bringeth
    Unto her rested sense a perfect waking,
  When late bare earth, proud of new clothing, springeth,
    Sings out her woes, a Thorn her song-book making,
  And mournfully bewailing,
        Her throat in tunes expresseth,
        While grief her heart oppresseth,
  For Tereus o’er her chaste will prevailing.”

Shakspeare notices the story in the following quaint lines--

  “Everything did banish moan,
  Save the Nightingale alone;
  She, poor bird, as all forlorn,
  Leaned her breast up till a Thorn,
  And then sung the doleful ditty,
  That to hear it was great pity.”

In Yorkshire, there is a tradition of Hops having been planted many
years ago, near Doncaster, and of the Nightingale making its first
appearance there about the same time. The popular idea was, that
between the bird and the plant some mysterious connecting link existed.
Be this as it may, both the Hops and the Nightingale disappeared long

It is not alone the Nightingale that has a legendary connection with
a Thorn. Another favourite denizen of our groves may also lay claim
to this distinction, inasmuch as, according to a tradition current in
Brittany, its red breast was originally produced by the laceration of
an historic Thorn. In this story it is said that, whilst our Saviour
was bearing His cross on the way to Calvary, a little bird, struck with
compassion at His sufferings, flew suddenly to Him, and plucked from
His bleeding brow one of the cruel thorns of His mocking crown, steeped
in His blood. In bearing it away in its beak, drops of the Divine blood
fell upon the little bird’s breast, and dyed its plumage red; so that
ever since the Red-breast has been treated as the friend of man, and is
studiously protected by him from harm.

Whether or no this legend of the origin of our little friend’s red
breast formerly influenced mankind in its favour, it is certain that
the Robin has always been regarded with tenderness. Popular tradition,
even earlier than the date of the story of the Children in the Wood,
has made him our sexton with the aid of plants:--

  “No burial this pretty pair
    Of any man receives,
  Till Robin Redbreast, painfully,
    Did cover them with leaves.”

It is noted in Gray’s Shakspeare that, according to the oldest
traditions, if the Robin finds the dead body of a human being, he will
cover the face at least with Moss and leaves.

  “Cov’ring with Moss the dead’s unclosed eye
  The little Redbreast teacheth charitie.”--_Drayton’s ‘Owl.’_

The Wren is also credited with employing plants for acts of similar
charity. In Reed’s old plays, we read--

  “Call for the Robin Redbreast and the Wren,
    Since o’er shady groves they hover,
    And with leaves and flow’rs do cover
  The friendless bodies of unburied men.”

A writer in one of our popular periodicals[15] gives another quaint
quotation expressive of the tradition, from Stafford’s ‘Niobe dissolved
into a Nilus’: “On her (the Nightingale) smiles Robin in his redde
livvrie; who sits as a coroner on the murthred man; and seeing his body
naked, plays the sorrie tailour to make him a Mossy rayment.”

[15] ‘All the Year Round,’ Vol. xiii.

The Missel or Missel-Thrush is sometimes called the Mistletoe-Thrush,
because it feeds upon Mistletoe berries. Lord Bacon, in _Sylva
Sylvarum_, refers (as already noted) to an old belief that the seeds of
Mistletoe will not vegetate unless they have passed through the stomach
of this bird.

The Peony is said to cure epilepsy, if certain ceremonies are duly
observed. A patient, however, must on no account taste the root, if a
Woodpecker should happen to be in sight, or he will be certain to be
stricken with blindness.

Among the many magical properties ascribed to the _Spreng-wurzel_
(Spring-wort), or, as it is sometime called, the Blasting-root, is
its power to reveal treasures. But this it can only do through the
instrumentality of a bird, which is usually a green or black Woodpecker
(according to Pliny, also the Raven; in Switzerland, the Hoopoe; in
the Tyrol, the Swallow). In order to become possessed of a root of
this magical plant, arrangements must be made with much care and
circumspection, and the bird closely watched. When the old bird has
temporarily left its nest, access to it must be stopped up by plugging
the hole with wood. The bird, finding this, will fly away in search
of the Spring-wort, and returning, will open the nest by touching the
obstruction with the mystic root. Meanwhile a fire or a red cloth must
be spread out closely, which will so startle the bird, that it will let
the root fall from its bills, and it can thus be secured. Pliny relates
of the Woodpecker, that the hen bird brings up her young in holes, and
if the entrance be plugged up, no matter how securely, the old bird
is able to force out the plug with an explosion caused by the plant.
Aubrey confounds the Moonwort with the Springwort. He says:--“Sir Benet
Hoskins, Baronet, told me that his keeper at his parke at Morehampton,
in Herefordshire, did, for experiment’s sake, drive an iron naile
thwert the hole of the Woodpecker’s nest, there being a tradition that
the damme will bring some leafe to open it. He layed at the bottome
of the tree a cleane sheet, and before many hours passed, the naile
came out, and he found a leafe lying by it on the sheete. They say the
Moonewort will doe such things.”

Tradition tells us of a certain magical herb called _Chora_, which
was also known as the _Herba Meropis_, or plant of the Merops, a bird
which the Germans were familiar with under the name of _Bömhechel_ or
_Baumhacker_ (Woodpecker). This bird builds its nest in high trees, but
should anyone cover the young brood with something which prevents the
parent bird from visiting the nest, it flies off in search of a herb.
This is brought in the Merops’ beak, and held over the obstacle till it
falls off or gives way.

In Swabia, the Springwort is regarded as a plant embodying electricity
or lightning; but the Hoopoe takes the place of the Woodpecker in
employing the herb for blasting and removing offensive obstacles. The
Swabians, however, instead of a red cloth, place a pail of water, or
kindle a fire, as the Hoopoe, wishing to destroy the Springwort, after
using it, drops it either into fire or water. It is related of the
Hoopoe, that one of these birds had a nest in an old wall in which
there was a crevice. The proprietor, noticing the cleft in the wall,
had it stopped up with plaster during the Hoopoe’s absence, so that
when the poor bird returned to feed her young, she found that it was
impossible to get to her nest. Thereupon she flew off in quest of a
plant called _Poa_, thought to be Sainfoin or Lucerne, and, having
found a spray, returned and applied it to the plaster, which instantly
fell from the crevice, and allowed the Hoopoe ingress to her nest.
Twice again did the owner plaster up the rent in his wall, and twice
again did the persistent and sagacious bird apply the magic _Poa_ with
successful results.

In Piedmont there grows a little plant which, as stated in a previous
chapter, bears the name of the Herb of the Blessed Mary. This plant is
known to the birds as being fatal when eaten: hence, when their young
are stolen from them and imprisoned in cages, the parent birds, in
order that death may release them from their life of bondage, gather
a spray of this herb and carry it in their beaks to their imprisoned

The connection between the Dove and the Olive has been set forth for
all time in the Bible narrative of Noah and the Flood; but it would
seem from Sir John Maundevile’s account of the Church of St. Katherine,
which existed at his time in the vicinity of Mount Sinai, that Ravens,
Choughs, and Crows have emulated the example of the Dove, and carried
Olive-branches to God-fearing people. This Church of St. Katherine, we
are told, marks the spot where God revealed Himself to Moses in the
burning bush, and in it there were many lamps kept burning: the reason
of this Maundevile thus explains:--“For thei han of Oyle of Olyves
ynow bothe for to brenne in here lampes, and to ete also: And that
plentee have thei be the Myracle of God. For the Ravenes and Crowes
and the Choughes, and other Foules of the Contree assemblen hem there
every Yeer ones, and fleen thider as in pilgrymage: and everyche of hem
bringethe a Braunche of the Bayes or of Olive, in here bekes, in stede
of Offryng, and leven hem there; of the whiche the monkes maken gret
plentee of Oyle; and this is a gret Marvaylle.”

[Illustration: Pious Birds and Olives. From _Maundevile’s Travels_.]

The ancients entertained a strong belief that birds were gifted with
the knowledge of herbs, and that just as the Woodpecker and Hoopoe
sought out the Springwort, wherewith to remove obstructions, so other
birds made use of certain herbs which they knew possessed valuable
medicinal or curative properties; thus Aristotle, Pliny, Dioscorides,
and the old herbalists and botanical writers, all concur in stating
that Swallows were in the habit of plucking Celandine (_Chelidonium_),
and applying it to the eyes of their young, because, as Gerarde tells
us, “With this herbe the dams restore sight to their young ones when
their eies be put out.” W. Coles, fully accepting the fact as beyond
cavil, thus moralizes upon it:--“It is known to such as have skill of
nature what wonderful care she takes of the smallest creatures, giving
to them a knowledge of medicine to help themselves, if haply diseases
annoy them. The Swallow cureth her dim eyes with Celandine; the Wesell
knoweth well the virtue of Herb Grace; the Dove the Verven; the Dogge
dischargeth his mawe with a kind of Grasse; ... and too long it were
to reckon up all the medicines which the beestes are known to use by
Nature’s direction only.” The same writer, in his ‘Adam and Eden,’
tells us that the _Euphrasia_, or Eyebright, derived its English name
from the fact of its being used by Linnets and other birds to clear
their sight. Says he: “Divers authors write that Goldfinches, Linnets,
and some other birds make use of this herb for the repairing of their
young ones’ sight. The purple and yellow spots and stripes which are
upon the flowers of Eyebright very much resemble the diseases of the
eyes, or bloodshot.”

Apuleius tells us that the Eagle, when he wishes to soar high and scan
far and wide, plucks a wild Lettuce, and expressing the juice, rubs
with it his eyes, which in consequence become wonderfully clear and
far-seeing. The Hawk, for a similar purpose, was thought to employ the
Hawk-bit, or Hawk-weed (_Hieracium_). Pigeons and Doves, not to be
behind their traditional enemy, discovered that Vervain possessed the
power of curing dimness of vision, and were not slow to use it with
that object: hence the plant obtained the name of Pigeon’s-grass. Geese
were thought to “help their diseases” with _Galium aparine_, called on
that account Goose-grass; and they are said to sometimes feed on the
_Potentilla anserina_, or Goose Tansy. On the other hand, they were so
averse to the herb known to the ancients as _Chenomychon_, that they
took to flight the moment they spied it.

There is an old tradition of a certain life-giving herb, which was
known to birds, and a story is told of how one day an old man watched
two birds fighting till one was overcome. In an almost exhausted state
it went and ate of a certain herb, and then returned to the onslaught.
When the old man had observed this occur several times, he went and
plucked the herb which had proved so valuable to the little bird; and
when at last it came once more in search of the life-giving plant, and
found it gone, it uttered a shrill cry, and fell down dead. The name of
the herb is not given; but the story has such a strong family likeness
to that narrated by Forestus, in which the Goat’s Rue is introduced,
that, probably, _Galega_ is the life-giving herb referred to. The
story told by Forestus is as follows:--A certain old man once taking
a walk by the bank of a river, saw a Lizard fighting with a Viper; so
he quietly lay down on the ground, that he might the better witness
the fight without being seen by the combatants. The Lizard, being the
inferior in point of strength, was speedily wounded by a very powerful
stroke from the Viper--so much so, that it lay on the turf as if dying.
But shortly recovering itself, it crept through the rather long Grass,
without being noticed by the Viper, along the bank of the river, to
a certain herb (Goat’s Rue), growing there nigh at hand. The Lizard,
having devoured it, regained at once its former strength, and returning
to the Viper, attacked it in the same way as before, but was wounded
again from receiving another deadly blow from the Viper. Once more the
Lizard secretly made for the herb, to regain its strength, and being
revived, it again engaged with its dangerous enemy--but in vain; for it
experienced the same fate as before. Looking on, the old man wondered
at the plant not less than at the battle; and in order to try if the
herb possessed other hidden powers, he pulled it up secretly, while the
Lizard was engaged afresh with the Viper. The Lizard having been again
wounded, returned towards the herb, but not being able to find it in
its accustomed place, it sank exhausted and died.

Numerous plants have had the names of birds given to them, either from
certain peculiarities in their structure resembling birds, or because
they form acceptable food for the feathered race. Thus the Cock’s Comb
is so called from the shape of its calyx; the Cock’s Foot, from the
form of its spike; and the Cock’s Head (the Sainfoin), from the shape
of the legume. The Crane’s Bill and the Heron’s Bill both derive their
names from the form of their respective seed vessels. The Guinea Hen
(_Fritillaria meleagris_) has been so called from its petals being
spotted like this bird. The Pheasant’s Eye (_Adonis autumnalis_) owes
its name to its bright red corolla and dark centre; the Sparrow Tongue
(the Knot-grass) to its small acute leaves; and the Lark’s Spur, Heel,
Toe, or Claw (_Delphinium_) to its projecting nectary. Chickweed and
Duckweed have been so called from being favourite food for poultry. The
Crow has given its name to a greater number of plants than any other
bird. The Ranunculus is the _Coronopus_ or Crow Foot of Dioscorides,
the _Geranium pratense_ is the Crowfoot Crane’s Bill, the _Lotus
corniculatus_ is called Crow Toes, the Daffodil and the Blue-bell both
bear the name of Crow Bells, the _Empetrum nigrum_ is the Crow Berry,
_Allium vineale_ is Crow Garlick, _Scilla nutans_, Crow Leeks, and
the _Scandix Pecten_, Crow Needles. The Hen has a few plants named
after it, the greater and lesser Hen Bits (_Lamium amplexicaule_ and
_Veronica hederifolia_); the Hen’s Foot (_Caucalis daucoides_), so
called from the resemblance of its leaves to a hen’s claw; and Henbane
(_Hyoscyamus niger_), which seems to have derived its name from the
baneful effects its seeds have upon poultry.

Plants connected with Animals.

The Ass has named after it the Ass Parsley (_Æthusa Cynapium_), and
the Ass’s Foot, the Coltsfoot, _Tussilago Farfara_. William Coles
says that “if the Asse be oppressed with melancholy, he eates of the
Herbe _Asplenion_ or Miltwaste, and eases himself of the swelling of
the spleen.” D. C. Franciscus Paullini has given, in an old work, an
account of three Asses he met in Westphalia, which were in the habit of
intoxicating themselves by eating white Henbane and Nightshade. These
four-footed drunkards, when in their cups, strayed to a pond, where
they pulled themselves together with a dip and a draught of water. The
same author relates another story. A miller of Thuringia had brought
meal with his nine Asses into the next district. Having accepted the
hospitality of some boon companions, he left his long-eared friends
to wander around the place and to feed from the hedgerows and public
roads. There they chanced to find a quantity of Thistles that had been
cut, and other food mixed with Hemlock, and at once devoured the spoil
greedily and confidently. At dusk, the miller, rising to depart, was
easily detained by his associates, who cried out that the road was
short, and that the moon, which had risen, would light him better than
any torch. Meanwhile, the Asses, feeling the Hemlock’s power in their
bodies, fell down on the public road, being deprived of all motion and
sensation. At length, about midnight, the miller came to his Asses, and
thinking them to be asleep, lashed them vigorously. But they remained
motionless, and apparently dead. The miller, much frightened, now
besought assistance from the country-folks, but they were all of one
opinion, that the Asses were dead, and that they should be skinned
the next day, when the cause of such a sudden death could be inquired
into. “Come,” said he, “if they are dead, why should I worry myself
about them--let them lie. We can do no good. Come, my friends, let us
return into the inn--to-morrow you will be my witnesses.” Meanwhile
the skinners were called; and, after looking at the Asses, one of them
said, “Do you wish, miller, that we should take their skins off; or
would you be disposed, if we restored the beasts to life, to give us
a handsome reward? You see they are quite in our power. Say what you
wish, and it shall be done, miller.” “Here is my hand,” replied the
miller, “and I pledge my word that I will give you what you wish, if
you restore them to life.” The skinner, smiling, caught hold of the
whip, and lashing the beasts with all his might, roused all from their
lethargic condition. The rustics were confounded. “O! you foolish
fellows,” said he, “look at this herb (showing them some Hemlock), how
profusely it grows in this neighbourhood. Do you not know that Hemlock
causes Asses to fall into a profound sleep?” The rustics, flocking
together under a Lime-tree, as rustics do, made there and then a law
that whosoever should discover, in field or garden, or anywhere else,
that noxious plant, he should pluck it quickly, in order that men and
beasts might be injured by it no more.

The Bear has given its name to several English plants. The _Primula
Auricula_, on account of the shape of its leaves, is called Bear’s
Ears; the _Helleborus fœtidus_, for a similar reason, is known as
Bears Foot; _Meum athamanticum_ is Bear’s-wort; _Allium ursinum_,
Bear’s Garlic; and _Arctostaphylos uva ursi_, Bear’s Berry, or Bear’s
Bilberry; the three last plants being favourite food of Bears. The
Acanthus used at one time to be called Bear’s Breech, but the name has
for some unaccountable reason been transferred to the Cow Parsnip,
_Heracleum Sphondylium_. In Italy the name of _Branca orsina_ is
given to the Acanthus. This plant was considered by Dioscorides a
cure for burns. Pliny says that Bear’s grease had the same property.
De Gubernatis states that two Indian plants, the _Argyreia argentea_
and the _Batatas paniculata_, bear Sanscrit names signifying “Odour
pleasing to Bears.”

The Bull has given its name to some few plants. _Tussilago Farfara_,
generally called Coltsfoot, is also known as Bull’s-Foot; _Centaurea
nigra_ is Bull’s-weed; _Verbascum Thapsus_ is Bullock’s Lungwort,
having been so denominated on account of its curative powers,
suggested, on the Doctrine of Signatures, by the similarity of its
leaf to the shape of a dewlap. The purple and the pale spadices of
_Arum maculatum_ are sometimes called Bulls and Cows. The Great Daisy
is Ox-Eye; the _Primula elatior_, Ox-Lip; the _Helminthia echioides_,
Ox-Tongue; and the _Helleborus fætidus_, Ox-Heel. The _Antirrhinum_ and
_Arum maculatum_ are, from their resemblance in shape, respectively
known as Calf’s Snout and Calf’s Foot.

Cats have several representative plants. From its soft flower-heads,
the _Gnaphalium dioicum_ is called Cat’s Foot; from the shape of its
leaves, the _Hypochæris maculata_ is known as Cat’s Ear; the Ground
Ivy, also from the shape of its leaves, is Cat’s Paw; two plants are
known as Cat’s Tail, viz., _Typha latifolia_ and _Phleum pratense_.
_Euphorbia helioscopia_, on account of its milky juice, is Cat’s Milk;
and, lastly, _Nepeta cataria_ is denominated Cat-Mint, because, as
Gerarde informs us in his ‘Herbal,’ “Cats are very much delighted
herewith: for the smell of it is so pleasant unto them, that they rub
themselves upon it, and wallow or tumble in it, and also feed on the
branches very greedily.” We are also told by another old writer that
Cats are amazingly delighted with the root of the plant Valerian; so
much so, that, enticed by its smell, they at once run up to it, lick
it, kiss it, jump on it, roll themselves over it, and exhibit almost
uncontrollable signs of joy and gladness. There is an old rhyme on the
liking of Cats for the plant _Marum_, which runs as follows:--

  “If you set it,
  The Cats will eat it;
  If you sow it,
  The Cats will know it.”

The Cow has given its name to a whole series of plants: its Berry is
_Vaccinium Vitis idæa_, its Cress, _Lepidium campestre_, its Parsley or
Weed, _Chærophyllum sylvestre_, its Parsnip, _Heracleum Sphondylium_,
its Wheat, _Melampyrum_. The Quaking Grass, _Briza media_, is known
as Cow Quake, from an idea that cattle are fond of it; and the Water
Hemlock (_Cicuta virosa_) has the opprobrious epithet of Cow Bane
applied to it, from its supposed baneful effect upon oxen. The _Primula
veris_ is the Cowslip.

In Norway is to be found the herb Ossifrage--a kind of Reed which is
said to have the remarkable power of softening the bones of animals; so
much so, that if oxen eat it, their bones become so soft that not only
are the poor beasts rendered incapable of walking, but they can even be
rolled into any shape. They are not said to die however. Fortunately
they can be cured, if the bones are exhibited to them of another animal
killed by the eating of this plant. It is most wonderful, however, that
the inhabitants make a medicine for cementing bones from this very herb.

There are several plants dedicated to man’s faithful friend. Dog’s Bane
(_Apocynum_) is a very curious plant: its bell-shaped flowers entangle
flies who visit the flower for its honey-juice, so that in August,
when full blown, the corolla is full of their dead bodies. Although
harmless to some persons, yet it is noxious to others, poisoning and
creating swellings and inflammations on certain people who have only
trod on it. Gerarde describes it as a deadly and dangerous plant,
especially to four-footed beasts; “for, as Dioscorides writes, the
leaves hereof, mixed with bread, and given, kill dogs, wolves, foxes,
and leopards.” Dog’s Chamomile (_Matricaria Chamomila_) is a spurious
or wild kind of Chamomile. Dog Grass (_Triticum caninum_) is so called
because Dogs take it medicinally as an aperient. Dog’s Mercury (or
Dog’s Cole) is a poisonous kind, so named to distinguish it from
English Mercury. Dog’s Nettle is _Galeopsis Tetrahit_. Dog’s Orach
(_Chenopodium Vulvaria_), is a stinking kind. Dog’s Parsley (_Æthusa
Cynapium_), a deleterious weed, also called Fool’s Parsley and Lesser
Hemlock. Dog Rose (_Rosa canina_) is the common wilding or Canker
Rose; the ancients supposed the root to cure the bite of a mad Dog, it
having been recommended by an oracle for that purpose; hence the Romans
called it _Canina_; and Pliny relates that a soldier who had been
bitten by a mad Dog, was healed with the root of this shrub, which had
been indicated to his mother in a dream. Dog’s Tail Grass (_Cynosurus
cristatus_) derives its name from its spike being fringed on one side
only. Dog Violet (_Viola canina_) is so-called contemptuously because
scentless. Dog’s Tongue, or Hound’s Tongue (_Cynoglossum officinale_)
derived its name from the softness of its leaf, and was reputed to have
the magical property of preventing the barking of Dogs if laid under a
person’s feet. Dog Wood (_Cornus sanguinea_) is the wild Cornel; and
Dog Berries the fruit of that herb, which was also formerly called
Hound’s Tree. Dr. Prior thinks that this name has been misunderstood,
and that it is derived from the old English word _dagge_, or dagger,
which was applied to the wood because it was used for skewers by
butchers. The ancient Greeks knew a plant (supposed to be a species of
_Antirrhinum_) which they called _Cynocephalia_ (Dog’s Head), as well
as Osiris; and to this plant Pliny ascribes extraordinary properties.
As a rule, the word “Dog,” when applied to any plant, implies contempt.

After the Fox has been named, from its shape, the _Alopecurus
pratensis_, Fox-Tail-grass; and the _Digitalis_ has been given the name
of Fox-Glove.

The Goat has its Weed (_Ægopodium Podagraria_), and has given its name
to the _Tragopogon pratensis_, which, on account of its long, coarse
pappus, is called Goat’s Beard. _Caprifolium_, or Goat’s Leaf, is a
specific name of the Honeysuckle, given to it by the old herbalists,
because the leaf, or more properly the stem, climbs and wanders over
high places where Goats are not afraid to tread.

A species of Sow Thistle, the _Sonchus oleraceus_, is called the Hare’s
Palace, from a superstitious notion that the Hare derives shelter and
courage from it. Gerarde calls it the Hare’s Lettuce, a name given
to it by Apuleius, because, when the Hare is fainting with heat or
fatigue, she recruits her failing strength with it. Dr. Prior gives the
following extracts from old authors respecting this curious tradition.
Anthony Askam says, “yf a Hare eate of this herbe in somer, when he is
mad, he shal be hole.” Topsell also tells us in his ‘Natural History,’
p. 209, that “when Hares are overcome with heat, they eat of an herb
called _Lactuca leporina_, that is, the Hare’s-lettuce, Hare’s-house,
Hare’s-palace; and there is no disease in this beast, the cure whereof
she does not seek for in this herb.” This plant is sometimes called
Hare’s Thistle. _Bupleurum rotundifolium_ is termed Hare’s Ear, from
the shape of its leaves, as is also _Erysimum orientale_. _Trifolium
arvense_ is Hare’s Foot, from the soft grey down which surrounds the
blossoms resembling the delicate fur of the Hare’s foot. Both _Lagurus
oratus_, and the flowering Rush, _Eriophorum vaginatum_, are called
Hare’s Tail, from the soft downy inflorescence.

_Melilotus officinalis_ is Hart’s Clover; _Scolopendrium vulgare_,
Hart’s Tongue; _Plantago Coronopus_, Hart’s Horn; _Scirpus cæspitosus_,
Deer’s or Hart’s Hair; _Rhamnus catharticus_, Hart’s or Buck Thorn
(_Spina cervina_); and _Tordylium maximum_, Hart Wort, so called
because, as Dioscorides tells us, the juice of the leaves was given to
Roes in order that they might speedily be delivered of their young.
According to Pliny, the Roman matrons used to employ it for the same
purpose, having been “taught by Hindes that eate it to speade their
delivery, as Aristotle did declare it before.” The Raspberry is still
sometimes called by its ancient name of Hindberry; and the _Teucrium
Scorodonia_ is known as Hind-heal, from an old tradition that it cures
Deer when bitten by venomous serpents. The Dittany is said to have the
same extraordinary effect on wounded Harts as upon Goats (see DITTANY,
Part II.).

Numerous indeed are the plants named after the Horse, either on account
of the use they are put to, the shape of their foliage, &c., their
large size, or the coarseness of their texture. _Inula Helenium_
is Horse-heal, a name attached to the plant by a double blunder of
_Inula_ for _hinnula_, a Colt, and _Helenium_, for heal or heel;
employed to heal Horses of sore heels, &c. _Vicia Faba_ is the Horse
Bean; _Teucrium Chamædrys_, the Germander, is called Horse Chire,
from its springing up after Horse-droppings. _Melampyrum sylvaticum_
is the Horse Flower, so called from a verbal error. The Alexandrian
Laurel was formerly called Horse Tongue. _Tussilago Farfara_, from the
shape of its leaf, is termed Horse Hoof. _Centaurea nigra_ is Horse
Knob. Another name for Colt’s Foot is Horse Foot; and we have Horse
Thistle, Mint, Mushroom, Parsley, Thyme, and Radish. The Dutch Rush,
_Equisetum_, is called Horse Tail, a name descriptive of its shape;
_Hippocrepis comosa_ is known as the Horse-shoe Vetch, from the shape
of the legumes; and, lastly, the _Œnanthe Phellandrium_ is the Horse
Bane, because, in Sweden, it is supposed to give Horses the palsy.
In Mexico, the Rattle Grass is said to instantly kill Horses who
unfortunately eat it. The Indians call the Oleander Horse’s Death,
and they name several plants after different parts of the Horse. In
connection with Horses, we must not forget to mention the Moonwort,
which draws the nails out of the Horses’ shoes, and of which Culpeper
writes: “Moonwort is an herb which they say will open locks and
unshoe such Horses as tread upon it; this some laugh to scorn, and
those no small fools neither; but country people that I know, call
it Unshoe-the-Horse. Besides, I have heard commanders say that, on
White Down, in Devonshire, near Tiverton, there were found thirty
horse-shoes, pulled off from the Earl of Essex’s horses, being then
drawn up in a body, many of them being newly shod, and no reason known,
which caused much admiration, and the herb described usually grows upon
heaths.” In Italy, the herb _Sferracavallo_ is deemed to have the power
of unshoeing Horses out at pasture. The Mouse-ear, or _Herba clavorum_,
is reputed to prevent blacksmiths hurting horses when being shod. The
Scythians are said to have known a plant, called _Hippice_, which, when
given to a Horse, would enable him to travel for some considerable
time without suffering either from hunger or thirst. Perhaps this is
the Water Pepper, which, according to English tradition, has the same
effect if placed under the saddle.

The humble Hedgehog has suggested the name of Hedgehog Parsley for
_Caucalis daucoides_, on account of its prickly burs.

In a previous chapter, a full description has been given of the
_Barometz_, that mysterious plant of Tartary, immortalised by Darwin
as the Vegetable Lamb. From the shape of its leaf, the _Plantago
media_ has gained the name of Lamb’s Tongue; from its downy flowers,
the _Anthyllis vulneraria_ is called Lamb’s Toe; either from its
being a favourite food of Lambs, or because it appears at the lambing
season, the _Valerianella olitoria_ is known as Lamb’s Lettuce; and the
_Atriplex patula_ is called Lamb’s Quarters.

The Leopard has given its name to the deadly _Doronicum Pardalianches_
(from the Greek _Pardalis_, a Leopard, and _ancho_, to strangle); hence
our name of Leopard’s Bane, because it was reputed to cause the death
of any animal that ate it, and it was therefore formerly mixed with
flesh to destroy Leopards.

The Lion, according to Gerarde, claimed several plants. The _Alchemilla
vulgaris_, from its leaf resembling his foot, was called Lion’s Foot
or Paw; a plant, called _Leontopetalon_ by the Greeks, was known in
England as Lion’s Turnip or Lion’s Leaf; and two kinds of Cudweed,
_Leontopodium_ and _L. parvum_, bore the name of Lion’s Cudweed, from
their flower-heads resembling a Lion’s foot. The _Leontopodium_ has
been identified with the _Gnaphalium Alpinum_, the _Filago stellata_,
the Edelweiss of the Germans, and the _Perlière des Alpes_ of the
French. De Gubernatis points out that, inasmuch as the Lion represents
the Sun, the plants bearing the Lion’s name are essentially plants of
the Sun. This is particularly noticeable in the case of the Dandelion
(_Dent de Lion_) or Lion’s Tooth. In Geneva, Switzerland, children
form a chain of these flowers, and holding it in their hands, dance
in a circle; a German name for it is _Sonneswirbel_ (_Solstice_), as
well as _Solsequium heliotropium_. The Romans saw in the flower of the
_Helianthus_ a resemblance to a Lion’s mouth. In the _Orobanche_ or
Broom Rape (the _Sonnenwurz_, Root of the Sun, of the Germans) some
have seen the resemblance to a Lion’s mouth and foot; it was called the
Lion’s Pulse or Lion’s Herb, and was considered an antidote to poison.

The tiny Mouse, like the majestic Lion, is represented in the vegetable
kingdom by several plants. From the shape of the leaves, _Hieracium
Pilosella_ is known as Mouse Ear, _Cerastium vulgare_, Mouse Ear
Chickweed, and _Myosotis palustris_, or Forget-Me-Not, Mouse Ear
Scorpion Grass. _Myosurus minimus_, from the shape of its slender
seed-spike, is called Mouse Tail; and _Alopecurus agrestis_, Mouse Tail
Grass. _Hordeum marinum_ is Mouse Barley.

Swine plants are numerous. We have the Swine Bane, Sow Bane, or Pig
Weed (_Chenopodium rubrum_), a herb which, according to Parkinson, was
“found certain to kill Swine.” The Pig Nut (_Bunium flexuosum_) is
so called from its tubers being a favourite food of Pigs. Sow Bread
(_Cyclamen Europæum_) has obtained its name for a similar reason; and
Swine’s Grass (_Polygonum aviculare_) is so called because Swine are
believed to be fond of it. _Hyoseris minima_ is Swine Succory, and
_Senebiera Coronopus_, Swine’s Cress. For possession of the Dandelion,
the Pig enters the lists with the Lion, and claims the flower as the
Swine’s Snout, on account of the form of its receptacle. According to
Du Bartas, Swine, when affected with the spleen, seek relief by eating
the Spleenwort or Miltwaste (_Asplenium Ceterach_),

  “The Finger-Fern, which being given to Swine,
  It makes their milt to melt away in fine.”

De Gubernatis states that the god Indra is thought to have taken the
form of a Goat, and he gives a long list of Indian plants named after
Sheep and Goats. The Ram, He-Goat, and Lamb, called _Mesha_, also give
their names, in Sanscrit, to different plants. In England, _Rumex
Acetosella_ is Sheep’s Sorrel, _Chærophyllum temulum_ Sheep’s Parsley,
_Jasione montana_ Sheep’s-Bit-Scabious, and _Hydrocotyle vulgaris_, or
White Rot, Sheep’s Bane, from its character of poisoning Sheep.

The Squirrel, although a denizen of the woods, only claims one plant,
_Hordeum maritimum_, which, from the shape of its flower-spike, has
obtained the name of Squirrel Tail.

The Elephant has a whole series of Indian trees and plants dedicated to
him, which are enumerated by De Gubernatis; the _Bignonia suaveolens_
is called the Elephant’s Tree; and certain Cucumbers, Pumpkins, and
Gourds are named after him.

The Wolf, in India, gives its name to the _Colypea hernandifolia_, and
Wolf’s Eye is a designation given to the _Ipomœa Turpethum_. Among
the Germans, the Wolf becomes, under the several names of _Graswolf_,
_Kornwolf_, _Roggenwolf_, and _Kartoffelwolf_, a demon haunting fields
and crops. In our own country, the _Euphorbia_, from its acrid, milky
juice, is called Wolf’s Milk; the _Lycopodium clavatum_ is the Wolf’s
Claw, and the _Aconitum Lycoctonum_ is Wolf’s Bane, a name it obtained
in olden times when hunters were in the habit of poisoning with the
juice of this plant the baits of flesh they laid for Wolves.

There are several plants bearing, in some form or other, the
appellation of Dragon. The common Dragon (_Arum Dracunculus_) is, as
its name implies, a species of Arum, which sends up a straight stalk
about three feet high, curiously spotted like the belly of a serpent.
The flower of the Dragon plant has such a strong scent of carrion, that
few persons can endure it, and it is consequently usually banished
from gardens. Gerarde describes three kinds of Dragons, under the
names of Great Dragon, Small Dragon, and Water Dragon: these plants
all have homœopathic qualities, inasmuch as although they are by name
at least vegetable reptiles, yet, according to Dioscorides, all who
have rubbed the leaves or roots upon their hands, will not be bitten
by Vipers. Pliny also says that Serpents will not come near anyone
who carries a portion of a Dragon plant with him, and that it was a
common practice in his day to keep about the person a piece of the
root of this herb. Gerarde tells us that “the distilled water has
vertue against the pestilence or any pestilentiall fever or poyson,
being drunke bloud warme with the best treacle or mithridate.” He also
says that the smell of the flowers is injurious to women who are about
to become mothers. The Green Dragon (_Arum Dracontium_), a native of
China, Japan, and America, possesses a root which is prescribed as
a very strong emmenagogue. There is a species of Dragon which grows
in the morasses about Magellan’s Strait, whose flowers exhibit the
appearance of an ulcer, and exhale so strong an odour of putrid flesh,
that flesh-flies resort to it to deposit their eggs. Another Dragon
plant is the _Dracontium polyphyllum_, a native of Surinam and Japan,
where they prepare a medicine from the acrid roots, which they call
_Konjakf_, and esteem as a great emmenagogue: it is used there to
procure abortion. _Dracontium fœtidum_, Fetid Dragon, or Skunk-weed,
flourishes in the swamps of North America, and has obtained its
nickname from its rank smell, resembling that of a Skunk or Pole-cat.
Dragon’s Head (_Dracocephalum_) is a name applied to several plants.
The Moldavian Dragon’s Head is often called Moldavian or Turk’s Balm.
The Virginian Dragon’s Head is named by the French, _La Cataleptique_,
from its use in palsy and kindred diseases. The Canary Dragon’s
Head, a native of the Canary Islands, is called (improperly) Balm
of Gilead, from its fine odour when rubbed. The old writers called
it _Camphorosma_ and _Cedronella_, and ascribed to it, as to other
Dragon plants, the faculty of being a remedy for the bites and stings
of venomous beasts, as well as for the bites of mad Dogs. The Tarragon
(_Artemisia Dracunculus_), “the little Dragon,” is the Dragon plant
of Germany and the northern nations, and the _Herbe au Dragon_ of the
French. The ancient herbalists affirmed that the seed of the Flax put
into a Radish-root or Sea Onion, and so set, would bring forth the
herb Tarragon. The Snake Weed was called by the ancients, Dragon and
Little Dragon, and the Sneezewort, Dragon of the Woods. The Snap-dragon
appears to have been so named merely from the shape of its corolla,
but in many places it is said to have a supernatural influence, and to
possess the power of destroying charms.

Snakes are represented by the _Fritillaria Meleagris_, which is called
Snake’s Head, on account of its petals being marked like Snakes’
scales. The Sea Grass (_Ophiurus incurvatus_) is known as Snake’s Tail,
and the Bistort (_Polygonum Bistorta_) is Snake Weed.

Vipers have the _Echium vulgare_ dedicated to them under the name of
Viper’s Bugloss, a plant supposed to cure the bite of these reptiles;
and the _Scorzonera edulis_, or Viper’s Grass, a herb also considered
good for healing wounds caused by Vipers.

The Scorpion finds a vegetable representative in the _Myosotis_, or
Scorpion Grass, so named from its spike resembling a Scorpion’s Tail.

It is not surprising to find that Toads and Frogs, living as they do
among the herbage, should have several plants named after them. The
Toad, according to popular superstition, was the impersonation of the
Devil, and therefore it was only fit that poisonous and unwholesome
Fungi should be called Toad Stools, the more so as there was a very
general belief that Toads were in the habit of sitting on them:--

  “The griesly Todestol grown there mought I see,
  And loathed paddocks lording on the same.”--_Spenser._

Growing in damp places, haunted by Toads croaking and piping to one
another, the _Equisetum limosum_, with its straight, fistulous stalks,
has obtained the name of Toad Pipe. The _Linaria vulgaris_, from its
narrow Flax-like leaves, is known as Toad Flax, from a curious mistake
of the old herbalists who confounded the Latin words _bubo_ and _bufo_.

Frogs claim as their especial plants the Frog Bit (_Morsus ranæ_),
so called because Frogs are supposed to eat it; Frog’s Lettuce
(_Potamogeton densus_); Frog Grass (_Salicornia herbacea_); and Frog
Foot, a name originally assigned to the Vervain (the leaf of which
somewhat resembles a Frog’s foot); but now transferred to the Duck
Meat, _Lemna_.

Bees are recognised in the _Delphinium grandiflorum_, or Bee Larkspur;
the _Galeopsis Tetrahit_, or Bee Nettle; the _Ophrys apifera_, or Bee
Orchis; and the _Daucus Carota_, or Bee’s Nest.



The Doctrine of Plant Signatures.

William Coles, in his ‘Art of Simpling’ (a work published in the
year 1656), abandoning for awhile practical instruction, moralises
thus:--“Though sin and Sathan have plunged mankinde into an Ocean of
Infirmities, yet the mercy of God, which is over all His workes, maketh
Grasse to grow upon the Mountaines, and Herbes for the use of men;
and hath not only stamped upon them a distinct forme, but also given
them particular Signatures, whereby a man may read, even in legible
characters, the use of them.” This ancient Doctrine of Signatures was
an ingenious system elaborated for discovering from certain marks or
appearances on the various portion of a plant’s structure, the supposed
medicinal virtue attached to it. A good illustration is to be found
in the following passage, translated from P. Lauremberg’s _Apparatus
Plantarum_:--“The seed of Garlic is black; it obscures the eyes with
blackness and darkness. This is to be understood of healthy eyes, but
those which are dull through vicious humidity, from these Garlic drives
this viciousness away. The tunic of Garlic is ruddy; it expels blood.
It has a hollow stalk, and it helps affections of the wind-pipe.”

Many curious details of the system of Plant Signatures are to be
found in the works of Porta, Grollius, Schröder, and Kircher: these
authorities tell us that there are given, not only in animals, but
also in vegetables, certain sure marks, signs, and indications from
which their virtues and powers can be inferred by the sagacious and
painstaking student. Kircher is of opinion that the Egyptians derived
their first knowledge of the elements of medicine from these signs,
which they had patiently and closely studied; and in one of his works
he enunciates his views in the following passage:--“Since one and all
of the members of the human body, under the wise arrangement of Nature,
agree or differ with the several objects in the world of creation, by a
certain sympathy or antipathy of nature, it follows that there has been
implanted by the providence of Nature, both in the several members and
in natural objects, a reciprocal instinct, which impels them to seek
after those things which are similar and consequently beneficial to
themselves, and to avoid and shun those things which are antagonistic
or hurtful. Hence has emanated that more recondite part of medicine
which compares the Signatures or Characterisms of natural things with
the members of the human body, and by magnetically applying like to
like produces marvellous effects in the preservation of human health.
In this way, the occult properties of plants--first of those that
are endowed with life, and secondly of those destitute of life--are
indicated by resemblances; for all exhibit to man, by their Signatures
and Characterisms, both their powers, by which they can heal, and the
diseases in which they are useful. Not only by their parts (as the
root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit, and seed), but also by their actions
and qualities (such as their retaining or shedding their leaves,
their offspring, number, beauty or deformity, form, and colour), they
indicate what kind of service they can render to man, and what are
the particular members of the human body to which they are specially

As examples of the practical working of the system of Plant Signatures,
Kircher tells us that if the root of the _Chelidonium_ be placed in
white wine, it is rendered yellow, resembling bilious humour, and thus
discloses a sure and infallible remedy against yellow jaundice. He
remarks that he had learned this by personal experience, having advised
some persons suffering from that malady to try _Chelidonium_ as a
cure; and that as a result they were freed from the disease. Persons
liable to apoplexy are said to have a line resembling an anchor traced
in their hands. The plant _Acorus_ has a similar mark in its leaves,
and is a highly-approved remedy for apoplexy. So again, a certain line
or mark is to be found in the hands of persons suffering from colic,
similar in character to an outline found traced in the foliage of the
_Malobathrum_, a plant which will afford relief to patients suffering
from the disorder. Hellebore, which emits a most disagreeable odour,
possesses the property of absorbing offensive smells and expelling
them. _Dracontium_, or Great Dragon, a plant which bears a resemblance
to a dragon, is a most effectual preservation against serpents; Pliny
averring that serpents will not come near anyone carrying this plant.

Other examples of the application of the Doctrine of Signatures are not
difficult to be found among the quaintly-named plants enumerated in
English herbals. The Lung-wort (_Pulmonaria_), spotted with tubercular
scars, was a specific for consumption. The Bullock’s Lung-wort
(_Verbascum Thapsis_), so called from the resemblance of its leaf
to a dewlap, was employed as a cure for the pneumonia of bullocks.
The Liver-wort (_Marchantia polymorpha_), liver-shaped in its green
fructification, was a specific for bilious complaints. The Blood-root
(_Tormentilla_), which derives its name from the red colour of its
roots, was adopted as a cure for the bloody flux. The throat-like
corolla of the Throat-wort (_Campanula Trachelium_), better known as
the Canterbury Bell, caused it to be administered for bronchitis.
Tutsan (_Hypericum androsæmum_) was used to stop bleeding, because
the juice of its ripe capsule is of a claret colour. _Brunella_ (now
spelt _Prunella_) was called Brown-wort, having brownish leaves and
purple-blue flowers, and was in consequence supposed to cure a kind
of quinsy, called in German _die braune_. This plant has a corolla,
the profile of which is suggestive of a bill-hook, and therefore it
was called Carpenter’s-herb, and supposed to heal the wounds inflicted
by edge-tools. _Pimpinella Saxifraga_, _Alchemilla arvensis_, and the
genus _Saxifraga_, plants which split rocks by growing in their cracks,
have been named “Breakstones,” and were administered in cases of
calculus. Clary was transformed into Clear-eye, Godes-eie, Seebright,
and _Oculus Christi_, and eye-salves were consequently made of it.
Burstwort was thought efficacious in ruptures. The Scorpion-grass, or
Forget-Me-Not (_Myosotis_), whose flower-spike is somewhat suggestive
of a scorpion’s tail, was an antidote to the sting of that or other
venomous creatures. The Briony, which bears in its root a mark
significative of a dropsical man’s feet, was adopted as a cure for
dropsy. The Moon-daisy averted lunacy; and the Birth-wort, Fig-wort,
Kidney-vetch, Nipple-wort, and Spleen-wort were all appropriated as
their names suggest, on account of fancied resemblances. The Toad-flax
(_Linaria_), it may here be pointed out, owes its name to a curious
mistake on the part of some believer in the Doctrine of Signatures.
According to Dodoens, it was useful in the treatment of a complaint
called buboes, and received its Latin name, _Bubonium_. A confusion
between the words _bubo_ and _bufo_ (Latin for toad) gave rise to its
present name of Toad-flax; and soon arose legends of sick or wounded
toads seeking this plant and curing themselves with its leaves.

The general rules that guided the founders of the system of Plant
Signatures, which were supposed to reveal the occult powers and virtues
of vegetables, would seem to have been as under:--

Vegetables, as herbs and plants, or their fruit, seed, flowers, &c.,
which resemble some human member in figure, colour, quality, and
consistence, were considered to be most adapted to that member, and to
possess medical properties specially applicable to it.

All herbs or plants that in flowers or juice bear a resemblance to
one or other of the four humours, viz., blood, yellow bile, phlegm,
and black bile, were deemed suitable for treating the same humour, by
increasing or expelling it.

All yellow-hued plants, if they were eatable, were thought to increase
yellow bile. In this category were included Orach, Melons, Crocus,
yellow Turnips, and all other yellow plants which have a sweet flavour.

Plants or herbs of a dull blackish colour, or of a brownish or a
spotted hue, were held to be serviceable in the treatment of black
bile. Some of them had a tendency to increase it, while others assisted
in carrying it off. Thus, Smilax, Mandragora, many kinds of Parsley,
Nightshade, and Poppies, having partly black, ash-coloured, and spotted
flowers, intermixed with pale tints, by causing bad dreams, excite
giddiness, vertigo, and epilepsy. Napellus, also, indicates in a
most marked manner its poisonous and virulent nature, for its flower
represents the skull of a dead man.

Plants which bear white flowers and have thick juice, which often
grow in moist and extremely humid places, and which resemble phlegm
or rheum, were thought to increase the very humours they represented.
Others of a drier temperament were thought to correct and purify the
same. Milky plants, as _Tithymallus_, _Polygala_, _Sonchus_, and
_Britalzar Ægyptiaca_, were supposed to increase and accumulate milk in

Some plants of a red colour were believed to increase blood; some
to correct and purify it; and others to benefit hemorrhoidal and
dysenteric affections from a similarity of colour.

Plants of a mixed colour, as they unite in themselves a diversity of
temperaments, were thought to produce a diversity of effects; whence
two-coloured herbs were believed to possess and exercise a double
virtue. On this principle, diverse colours were said to cure diverse
humours in the human body; for example, _Tripolium_, _Panacæa_, and
_Triphera_ were considered beneficial for all humours.

Plants whose decoction and infusion, as well as colour and consistence,
were like some humour of the human body, were declared to be
appropriate for the purpose of evacuating that humour by attraction, or
increasing it by incorporation.

Certain plants were deemed to represent some disease or morbid
condition, and were judged to be helpful in its cure. Thus those were
administered in cases of calculus which represented stones, such as
_Milium solis_, the root of the White Saxifrage, the shells of Nuts,
and Nuts themselves. Spotted plants and herbs were thought to eradicate
spots, and scaly plants to remove scales. Perforated herbs were
selected for the cure of wounds and perforations of the body. Plants
which exude gums and resins were considered available for the treatment
of pus and matter. Swelling plants were thought good for tumours;
those that permit the cutting or puncturing of the stem were employed
for closing up wounds; and those that shed bark and skin were thought
adapted for the cleansing of the skin.

Accordingly as plants and herbs exhibited peculiarities in their
actions, so were they supposed to operate on man. Thus, sterile plants,
such as Lettuce, Fern, Willow, Savin, and many others, were believed
to conduce to the procuring of sterility in men; whilst salacious
and fecund plants were considered to confer fecundity. On the same
principle, long-lived and evergreen plants were said to procure vigour
for the human body.

Helvetius has left a list of classified herbs and plants which in his
time were considered by experts in herbcraft to exhibit peculiar marks
and Signatures by which they could be identified with the several
parts and members of the human body. This may be said to have formed
the basis of the system embraced in the Doctrine of Plant Signatures,
and as it epitomises the results of the protracted and laborious
researches of the old herbalists, who may fairly be said to have laid
the foundations of our present system of Botany, it has been thought
worth while to give an abbreviation of it.

  The Head.        Antirrhinum, Crocus, Geranium, Walnuts, Lily
                      of the Valley, Marjoram, Poppy, Violet, Rose,
                      Lime-blossom, the genus Brassica, &c.

  The Hair.        Asparagus, Goat’s-beard, Fennel, Nigella, Flax,
                      Tree Musk, the Vine, and Vine-roots, &c.

  The Eyes.        The flowers of Acacia, Euphrasy, Daisy, Bean,
                      Hyacinth, Geranium, Mallow, Narcissus, Hyacinth,
                      Ranunculus, Cornflower, &c.

  The Ears.        Bear’s Ear (_Auricula ursi_), Mountain Bindweed,
                      _Cyclamen Doronicum_, Gentian, rough Viper’s
                      Bugloss, Hypericum, Organy, Egyptian Beans, &c.

  The Tongue.      Horse-tongue (_Hippoglossum_), Adder’s-tongue
                      (_Ophioglossum_), Hound’s-tongue (_Cynoglossum_),
                      Hart’s-tongue, Frog-bit, Grass of Parnassus,
                      Prunella, Salvia, Sempervivum, &c.

  The Teeth.       The leaves of Fir and Juniper, Sunflower-seed,
                      Toothed Moss (_Muscus denticulatus_), Toothed
                      Violet (_Dentaria_), Dandelion (_Dens Leonis_),

  The Heart.       Borage, Motherwort (_Cardiaca_), Malaca Beans
                      (_Anacardium_), Strawberries, Pomegranate-blossom,
                      Hepatica, Violet, Peony, Rose, Iris,
                      Egyptian Lotus, &c.

  The Lungs.       Lung-wort, (_Pulmonaria_), Beet, the stalks of Anise,
                      Garden Teasel, Cresses, Fennel, Curled Lettuce,
                      Scabious, Rhubarb, Valerian, the Sea Moss
                      _Muscus marinus virens latifolius_, &c.

  The Liver.       Noble Liver-wort (_Hepatica trifolia_), Ground
                      Liver-wort (_Hepatica terrestris_), Garden Endive,
                      Portulaca, Aloe, Our Lady’s Thistle (_Carduus
                      Mariæ_), Gentian, Lettuce, Alpine Sanicle, &c.

  The Bladder.     Bladder-wort, Winter Cherry, Black Hellebore,
                      Nasturtium, Persicaria, Leaves of Senna, root
                      of True Rhubarb, broad-leaved Tithymallus,
                      Botrys, &c.

  The Spleen.      Spleenwort or Ceterach (_Asplenium_), Agrimony,
                      Shepherd’s Purse, Dandelion, Devil’s Bit
                      Scabious, Fern, Broom, Hawk-weed, Turnip,
                      Treacle Mustard, &c.

  The Stomach.     Roots of Acorus, Cyclamen, Elecampane, Iris,
                      and Galingale, Earth-nut, Parsnip, Radish,
                      Chives, Ginger, &c.

  The Kidneys.     Kidney-wort, Agnus Castus, seeds of Broom,
                      Bombax, Jasmine, and Lupine, Beans, Currants,
                      Ground Ivy, root of Leopard’s Bane, &c.

  The Intestines,  Navel-wort, Chickweed, Briony, Dodder, Bitter-sweet
    &c.               (Nightshade), Fenugreek, Nasturtium,
                      Honeysuckle, Chamomile-flowers, Alpine Sanicle,
                      roots of Polypody, &c.

  The Hands,       Agnus Castus, Garlick, Briony, Shepherd’s Purse, Fig,
    Fingers, and      Geranium, Ash-bark, Cinquefoil (_Heptaphyllum_),
    Nerves.           Tormentilla, Water Hellebore, Lupine,
                      Melon, Ophrys, Hoary Clover, Satyrion, Plantain,
                      Currants, Sanicle, Soap-wort, Wolf’s Bane,
                      Swallow-wort, _Vitis Idæa_, Asiatic Ranunculus,
                      with gummy root, &c.

The Doctrine of Signatures did not exclusively apply to the medicinal
virtues of herbs and plants: for example, Hound’s-tongue _Cynoglossum
officinale_, named from the shape and softness of its leaf, was (if we
may believe William Coles) thought to “tye the tongues of hounds, so
that they shall not bark at you, if it be laid under the bottom of your
feet, as Miraldus writeth.” Garlic (from the Anglo-Saxon words _gár_,
a spear, and _leác_, a plant) was, from its acute tapering leaves,
marked out as the war plant of the warriors and poets of the North. The
heavenly blue of the flower of the Germander Speedwell won for it the
Welsh appellation of the Eye of Christ. Even abstract virtues were to
be learnt by an attentive study of the Signatures of certain plants,
according to the dictum of that loyal and godly herbalist Robert
Turner, who naively tells us that “God hath imprinted upon the Plants,
Herbs, and Flowers, as it were in Hieroglyphicks, the very Signature of
their Vertues; as the learned Grollius and others well observe: as the
Nutmeg, being cut, resembles the Brain; the _Papaver erraticum_, or red
Poppy Flower, resembleth at its bottom the setling of the Blood in the
Plurisie; and how excellent is that Flower in Diseases of the Plurisie,
and Surfeits hath sufficiently been experienced.” In the Heliotrope
and Marigold subjects may learn their duty to their Sovereign: which
his Sacred Majesty King Charles the First mentions in his Princely
Meditations, walking in a Garden in the Isle of Wight, in the following
words, viz.:--

  “‘The Marigold observes the Sun
  More than my subjects me have done,’ &c.”

That great naturalist, John Ray, whilst expressing his disbelief of
the Doctrine of Plant Signatures as a whole, admitted that there were
tangible grounds for the formation of the system. He wrote:--“Howbeit,
I will not deny but that the noxious and malignant plants do, many of
them, discover something of their nature by the sad and melancholick
visage of their leaves, flowers, or fruits. And that I may not leave
that head wholly untouched, one observation I shall add, relating to
the virtues of plants, in which I think is something of truth; that is,
that there are, by the wise dispensation of Providence, such species of
plants produced in every country, as are made proper and convenient for
the meat and medicine of the men and animals that are bred and inhabit
therein. Insomuch that Solenander writes that, from the frequency of
the plants that spring up naturally in any region, he could easily
gather what endemical diseases the inhabitants thereof are subject to.
So in Denmark, Friesland, and Holland, where the scurvy usually reigns,
the proper remedy thereof, Scurvy-grass, doth plentifully grow.”

The Old Herbals and Herbalists.

It is impossible to make an attentive examination of the old Herbals
without being astonished at the extraordinary number and nature of
the ills which their authors professed to cure by means of plants
and simples. Every conceivable disease and ailment appears to be
enumerated, and each has a number of specifics allotted for its
treatment and cure. The contents of these ancient works, indeed, are
apt to heat the imagination, and to cause one to form a conception
that the merrie England of our forefathers was a land swarming with
wild beasts, so venomous in their nature, and ferocious in their
proclivities, that the unfortunate inhabitants were constantly being
grievously maimed and wounded by their malicious “bitings.” Be this
as it may, however, it is evident that the old herbalists deemed
themselves fully equal to any emergency. Leopards, Wolves, and
venomous beasts of all kinds, as well as Dragons, Serpents, Vipers,
and Scorpions, could all, by means of herbs, be driven away, kept at
bay, or killed, and the venom of their bites be quickly and effectually
cured. Such simple things as the stings of Hornets, Wasps, and Bees,
were of course easily extracted by men who professed themselves able
and willing to draw out arrow-heads from wounds, or remove broken
bones, glue them together, and cover them when bare of flesh. They
could provide counterpoisons against deadly medicines, poisoned arrows,
noxious herbs, and the bitings and stingings of venomous creatures;
they could cure the bites of sea Dragons and mad Dogs, and could keep
Dogs from growing great. They could cause troublesome and dangerous
dreams, and they could cure nightmare. They could drive away dulness
and melancholy, and consume proud and superfluous flesh. They could
preserve the eyesight, “helpe blacke eies comming by blowes,” and take
away redness and yellowness. They could prevent the hair falling off,
and restore it to the bald pate, and knew how to turn it yellow, red,
or black. They could cause hens to lay plentifully, and refresh a weary
horse. They could cure lunatics, relieve madness, and purge melancholy;
to say nothing of counteracting witchcraft and the malignant influence
of the mysterious Evil Eye. They could destroy warts, remove freckles,
and beautify young wenches’ faces. In fine, the herbalist of old was one

  “Who knew the cause of everie maladie,
  Were it of colde or hote, or moist or drie.”

A remarkable characteristic of the herbarists (as they were called of
yore) was a habit of ascribing extraordinary and fabulous properties
to the herbs and plants whose merits they descanted upon. Just as the
Druids taught the people of their time to call the sacred Mistletoe the
“All-heal,” and to look upon it as a panacea for all bodily ailments,
so did the herbalists, in the pages of their ponderous tomes, set
forth the marvellous virtues of Betony, Agrimony, Angelica, Garlic,
Fennel, Sage, Rue, and other favourite medicinal plants. Johannes de
Mediolano, a doctor, of the Academy of Salerno, once wrote of Rue, that
it diminishes the force of love in man, and, on the contrary, increases
the flame in women. When eaten raw, it both clears the sight and the
perceptions of the mind, and when cooked it destroys fleas. The English
herbalists called it Herb Grace and Serving-men’s Joy, because of the
multiplicity of ailments that it was warranted to cure; Mithridates
used the herb as a counterpoison to preserve himself against infection;
and Gerarde records that Serpents are driven away at the smell of
Rue if it be burned, and that “when the Weesell is to fight with the
Serpent, shee armeth herselfe by eating Rue against the might of the
Serpent.” The virtues of Rue, however, are cast into the shade by those
of Sage. Says witty Alphonse Karr--“Rue is nothing in comparison with
Sage. Sage preserves the human race; and the _whole school_ of Salerno,
after a long enumeration of the virtues of Sage, seriously exclaims:
‘How can it happen that a man who has Sage in his garden yet ends by
dying?’” Perhaps this exclamation was the foundation of the English

  “He that eats Sage in May
  Shall live for aye.”

Regarding the wondrous curative properties of Betony, Antonius Musa,
physician to the Emperor Augustus, wrote a volume setting forth the
excellencies of the herb, which he demonstrated would cure no less than
forty-seven different disorders; and in England an old advice to the
sufferer is, “Sell your coat, and buy Betony.” Agrimony is another herb
whose praises were loudly proclaimed by the herbalists; it formed an
ingredient in most of the old-fashioned herb teas, and Drayton speaks
of it as “All-heal, and so named of right.” Of Angelica, or Holy
Ghost, Parkinson writes that it is “so goode an herbe that there is no
part thereof but is of much use.” Fennel, in addition to its uses as
a medicine, was recommended by old writers, when boiled in wine, as
a counterpoison for use by such as had been bitten by those terrible
reptiles, serpents, and scorpions that seem to have so exercised the
ancient herbalists. Treacle-Mustard, or Triacle, was also highly
esteemed as a cure for “all those that were bitten or stung by venomous
beasts, or had drunk poison, or were infected with pestilence: it
formed one of seventy-three ingredients in making “Venice treacle”--a
famous vermifuge and antipoison in the Middle Ages. The Vervain, or
Holy Herb, was credited with almost supernatural healing powers.
English Mercury was called All-good; and other herbs obtained the
names of All-heal, Clown’s All-heal, Self-heal, Poor-man’s Treacle,
Poor-man’s Parmacetty, the Blessed Herb, Grace of God, Master-Wort,
Ploughman’s Spikenard, &c., on account of the numerous virtues which
the herbalists had discovered in them. One of these old worthies (the
compiler of a Herbal, and a believer in astrology) has, indeed, stated
in rhyme, his conviction that there was no disease but what would yield
to the virtues of herbs and the skill of the herbalist. “In his book,”
he confidently says--

        “He hath a method plain devised,
  All parts of it, so curiously comprised;
  That vulgar men, which have but skill to read,
  May be their own physicians at need;
  The better sort are hereby taught, how all
  Things springing from earth’s bowels safely shall
  By love or hatred (as the Stars dispose)
  Each sickness cure, that in the body grows.”

The poet Michael Drayton has drawn the portrait of an ancient simpler,
and has given a list of the remedies of which he made the most frequent
use; the lines are to be found in his ‘Polyolbion,’ and as they contain
examples of herbs selected under the system of the Doctrine of Plant
Signatures, they may be appropriately introduced at the conclusion of
this chapter:--

                      “But, absolutely free,
  His happy time he spends the works of God to see,
  In those so sundry herbs which there in plenty grow,
  Whose sundry strange effects he only seeks to know;
  And in a little maund, being made of Osiers small,
  Which serveth him to do full many a thing withal,
  He very choicely sorts his simples, got abroad;
  Here finds he on an Oak rheum-purging Polypode;
  And in some open place that to the sun doth lie,
  He Fumitory gets, and Eyebright for the eye;
  The Yarrow wherewithal he stays the wound-made gore,
  The healing Tutsan then, and Plantaine for a sore;
  And hard by them, again, he holy Vervain finds,
  Which he about his head that hath the megrim binds;
  The wonder-working Dill he gets not far from these,
  Which curious women use in many a nice disease;
  For them that are with Newts, or Snakes, or Adders stung
  He seeketh out a herb, that is called Adder’s-tongue;
  As Nature it ordain’d its own like hurt to cure,
  And sportive did herself to niceties inure.
  Valerian then he crops, and purposely doth stamp
  To apply unto the place that’s haled with the cramp;
  The Chickweed cures the heat that in the face doth rise,
  For physic some again he inwardly applies;
  For comforting the spleen and liver, gets for juice
  Pale Horehound, which he holds of most especial use.
  And for the labouring wretch that’s troubled with a cough,
  Or stopping of the breath by phlegm that’s hard and tough,
  Campana here he crops, approved wondrous good;
  Or Comfrey unto him that’s bruised, spitting blood;
  And for the falling ill by Five-leafe doth restore,
  And melancholy cures by sovereign Hellebore:
  Of these most helpful herbs yet tell we but a few
  To those unnumbered sort of simples here that grew,
  What justly to set down even Dodon short doth fall,
  Nor skilful Gerarde yet shall ever find them all.”




Plants and the Planets.

Two centuries ago there existed a very general belief that every plant
was under the direct influence of a particular Planet, and therefore
that all the details connected with its cultivation and utilisation
were to be conducted with a strict regard to this supposition. Aubrey
has recorded his opinion, that if a plant “be not gathered according
to the rules of astrology, it hath little or no virtue in it;” and the
Jesuit Rapin, in his Latin poem on ‘Gardens,’ says, with respect to

  “This frequent charge I give, whene’er you sow
  The flow’ry kind, be studious first to know
  The monthly tables, and with heedful eye
  Survey the lofty volumes of the sky;
  Observe the tokens of foreboding Stars,
  What store of wind and rain the Moon prepares;
  What weather Eurus or moist Auster blows,
  What both in east and west the Sun foreshows;
  What aid from Helice the trees obtain,
  What from Boötes with his tardy wain;
  Whether the wat’ry Pleiades with show’rs
  Kindly refresh alone, or drown the flow’rs;
  For Stars neglected fatal oft we find,
  The Gods to their dominion have assign’d
  The products of our earth and labours of mankind.”

Michael Drayton, in whose time the doctrine of planetary influence on
plants was generally accepted, says, in reference to the longevity of
antediluvian men:--

  “Besides, in medicine simples had the power
  That none need then the planetary hour
  To helpe their working, they so juiceful were.”

Culpeper, who was a profound believer in astrology, has given at the
commencement of his ‘British Herbal and Family Physician,’ a list of
some five hundred plants, and the names of the Planets which govern
them; and in his directions as to the plucking of leaves for medical
purposes, the old herbalist and physician remarks:--“Such as are
astrologers (and indeed none else are fit to make physicians) such
I advise: let the planet that governs the herb be angular, and the
stronger the better; if they can, in herbs of Saturn, let Saturn be
in the ascendant; in the herb of Mars, let Mars be in the mid-heaven,
for in those houses they delight; let the Moon apply to them by good
aspect, and let her not be in the houses of her enemies; if you cannot
well stay till she apply to them, let her apply to a Planet of the same
triplicity; if you cannot meet that time neither, let her be with a
fixed Star of their nature.”

The classification of Plants under the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars,
Venus, Mercury, the Sun, and the Moon, appears to have been made
according to the Signatures or outward appearances of the plants
themselves. The stalks, stems, branches, roots, foliage, flowers,
odour, taste, native places, death, and medical virtues, were also
considered; and, according to the character of the plant thus deduced,
it was placed under the government of the particular Planet with which
it was considered to be most in consonance.

Plants allotted to SATURN had their _Leaves_: hairy, hard, dry,
parched, coarse, and of ill-favoured appearance. _Flowers_:
Unprepossessing, gloomy, dull, greenish, faded or dirty white, pale
red, invariably hirsute, prickly, and disagreeable. _Roots_: Spreading
widely in the earth and rambling around in discursive fashion. _Odour_:
Fœtid, putrid, muddy.

JUPITER.--_Leaves_: Smooth, even, slightly cut and pointed, the
veins not prominent, and the lines not strongly marked. Colour,
greyish blue-green. _Flowers_: Graceful, pleasing, bright, succulent,
transparent, ruddy, flesh-colour, blue, yellow. _Roots_: Rather small,
with short hairy filaments, spread about in the ground. _Odour_: Highly
subtle, grateful to the brain; the kernels comforting; easily fermented.

MARS.--_Leaves_: Hard, long, somewhat heavy, pointed and pendulous,
harsh and hot to the tongue, not of good appearance. _Flowers_: Of a
colour between yellow, vermilion, or blue, green, purple, red, changing
quickly, abundance of flowers and seeds. _Roots_: Highly fibrous and
creeping underground. _Odour_: Oppressive to the brain, potent, sharp,

VENUS.--_Leaves_: Large, handsome, bright, rich green or roseate,
soft, plentiful. _Flowers_: Pleasing to the eyes, white, blue, rosy,
charming, fine, abundant. _Roots_: Of early growth, but not deeply
fixed. Quickly and freely produced. _Odour_: Subtle, delightful,
pungent, refreshing to the brain.

MERCURY.--_Leaves_: Different kinds, but pleasing to the eye.
_Flowers_: Of various descriptions and colours, refreshing, agreeable,
and pleasant. _Roots_: Abiding deep in the earth, and spreading far and
wide. _Odour_: Highly subtle and penetrating, refreshing to the heart
and brain.

THE SUN.--_Leaves_: Succulent, with stout stalks, deeply veined,
pleasant green or tawny, with reddish stalks. _Flowers_: Yellow and
gold, or purple, handsome, glittering, and radiant. _Roots_: Strong,
deeply fixed in the earth, but not laterally. _Odour_: Agreeable,
acceptable, and pungent, strong, restorative to brain and eyes.

THE MOON.--_Leaves_: Pale, highly succulent, pith thick, firm,
strongly-developed veins, bottle-green. _Flowers_: Pale yellow or
greenish, watery, mellifluous, but uninteresting and without beauty.
_Roots_: Penetrating easily through water and earth, not durable,
and easily decayed, spreading neither thickly nor deeply. _Odour_:
Disagreeable, almost none, without pungency, redolent of the earth,
rain, or soft savour of honey.

According to Indian mythology, herbs are placed under the special
protection of Mitra, the Sun. De Gubernatis tells us that there are
several Indian plants named after the great luminary. In the Grecian
Pantheon, the Solar-god, Apollo, possessed a knowledge of all the
herbs. It was to Phœbus, the Sun-god, that poor Clytie lost her heart,
and, when changed into a flower, held firmly by the root, she still
turned to the Sun she loved, “and, changed herself, still kept her
love unchanged.” As to the particular Sunflower, Turnsole, Heliotrope,
or Solsequium that is the floral embodiment of the love-sick nymph,
readers must be referred to the disquisition under the heading
“SUNFLOWER.” De Gubernatis gives it as his opinion, that Clytie’s
flower is the _Helianthemum roseum_ of De Candolle. In a previous
chapter, certain plants have been noticed which were supposed by
the ancients to have been specially under the domination of the Sun
and Moon. According to the dictum of wizards and wise folk, plants
possessing magical properties must as a general rule be gathered,
if not by moonlight, yet at any rate before sunrise, for the first
appearance of the Sun’s rays immediately dispels all enchantment, and
drives back the spirits to their subterranean abodes.

We are told in Deuteronomy xxxiii., 14, that precious things are put
forth by the Moon, but precious fruits by the Sun; and it is certainly
very remarkable that, although mankind in all ages have regarded, and
even worshipped, the Sun as being the supreme and ruling luminary,
from whose glorious life-giving rays, vegetation of all kinds drew its
very existence, yet that an idea should have sprung up, and taken root
widely and deeply, that the growth and decay of plants were associated
intimately with the waxing and waning of the Moon. We have seen how the
plant kingdom was parcelled out by the astrologers, and consigned to
the care of different Planets; but, despite this, the Moon was held to
have a singular and predominant influence over vegetation, and it was
supposed that there existed a sympathy between growing and declining
nature and the Moon’s wax and wane. Bacon seems to have considered that
even the “braine of man waxeth moister and fuller upon the Full of the
Moone;” and, therefore, he continues, “it were good for those that
have moist braines, and are great drinkers, to take fume of Lignum,
Aloes, Rose-Mary, Frankincense, &c., about the Full of the Moone.” He
also tells us, in his Natural History, that “the influences of the Moon
are four: the drawing forth of heat, the inducing of putrefaction, the
moisture, and the exciting of the motions of spirits.”

In respect to this last influence, he goes on to say, “You must note
that the growth of hedges, herbs, haire, &c., is caused from the Moone,
by exciting of the spirits as well as by increase of the moisture.
But for spirits in particular the great instance is lunacies.” This
lunar influence which Bacon speaks of was, as already pointed out,
fully recognised in olden times, and a belief was even current that
the Moon specially watched over vegetation, and that when she was
propitious--that is, during her growth--she produced medicinal herbs;
when she was not propitious--that is to say, during her wane--she
imbued herbs with poisons; her humidity being, perhaps, more injurious
than otherwise.

In old almanacks we find the supremacy of the Moon over the plant
kingdom fully admitted, albeit in a jargon which is rather puzzling.
Thus, in the ‘Husbandman’s Practice or Prognostication for Ever,’
the reader is advised “to set, sow seeds, graft, and plant, the
Moone being in Taurus, Virgo, or Capricorne, and all kinds of Corne
in Cancer, to graft in March, at the Moone’s increase, she being in
Taurus or Capricorne.” Again, in Mr. Wing’s Almanack for 1661, occurs
the following passage:--“It is a common observation in astrology, and
confirmed by experience, that what Corn or tree soever are set or
sown when the Sun or Moon is eclipsed, and the infortunate planets
predominate, seldom or never come to good. And again he saith thus:--It
is a common and certain observation also, that if any corn, seed, or
plant be either set or sown within six hours either before or after the
full Moon in Summer, or before or after the new Moon in Winter, having
joined with the cosmical rising of Arcturus and Orion, the Hædi and the
Siculi, it is subject to blasting and canker.”

As an illustration of the predominance given to the Moon over the other
planets in matters pertaining to plant culture, it is worth noticing
that, although Culpeper, in his ‘Herbal,’ places the Apple under Venus,
yet the Devonshire farmers have from time immemorial made it a rule to
gather their Apples for storing at the wane of the Moon; the reason
being that, during the Moon’s increase, it is thought that the Apples
are full, and will not therefore keep. It is said that if timber be
felled when the Moon is on the increase, it will decay; and that it
should always be cut when the Moon is on the wane. No reason can be
assigned for this; yet the belief is common in many countries, and what
is still more strange, professional woodcutters, whose occupation is to
fell timber, aver, as the actual result of their observation, that the
belief is well founded. It was formerly interwoven in the Forest Code
of France, and, unless expunged by recent alterations, is so still.
The same opinion obtains in the German forests, and is said to be held
in those of Brazil and Yucatan. The theory given to account for this
supposed fact is, that as the Moon grows, the sap rises, and the wood
is therefore less dense than when the Moon is waning, because at that
time the sap declines. The belief in the Moon’s influence as regards
timber extends to vegetables, and was at one time universal in England,
although, at the present day, the theory is less generally entertained
in our country than abroad, where they act upon the maxim that root
crops should be planted when the Moon is decreasing, and plants such
as Beans, Peas, and others, which bear the crops on their branches,
between new and full Moon. Throughout Germany, the rule is that Rye
should be sown as the Moon waxes; but Barley, Wheat, and Peas, when it

The wax and wane of the belief in lunar influence on plant-life among
our own countrymen may be readily traced by reference to old books on
husbandry and gardening.

In ‘The Boke of Husbandry,’ by Mayster Fitzherbarde, published in 1523,
we read with respect to the sowing of Peas, that “moste generally to
begyn sone after Candelmasse is good season, so that they be sowen ere
the begynnynge of Marche, or sone upon. And specially let them be sowen
in the olde of the Mone. For the opinion of old husbandes is, that they
shoulde be better codde, and sooner be rype.”

Tusser, in his ‘Five Hundred Points of Husbandry,’ published in 1562,
says, in his quaint verse--

  “Sowe Peason and Beans in the wane of the Moone,
    Who soweth them sooner, he soweth too soone;
  That they with the planet may rest and rise,
    And flourish with bearing, most plentiful wise.”

Commenting on that “Point,” the editor of an edition of Tusser’s poem
printed in 1744, says: “It must be granted the Moon is an excellent
clock, and if not the cause of many surprising accidents, gives a just
indication of them, whereof this Pease and Beans may be one instance;
for Pease and Beans sown during the increase do run more to hawm or
straw, and during the declension more to cod, according to the common
consent of countrymen.” Again, as regards grafting, old Tusser writes:--

  “In March is good graffing, the skilful do know,
    So long as the wind in the East do not blow,
  From Moone being changed, til past be the prime,
    For graffing and cropping is very good time.”

The editor remarks: “The Prime is the first three days after the New
Moon, in which time, or at farthest during the first quarter, our
author confines his graffing, probably because the first three days
are usually attended with rain.” He confesses, however, he cannot
explain the following couplet:--

  “The Moone in the wane gather fruit for to last,
  But winter fruit gather when Michel is past.”

In the ‘Garden of Eden,’ an old gardening book compiled and issued
by Sir Hugh Plat, Knt., in the year 1600, constant allusions are
made to the necessity of studying the Moon’s phases in gardening and
grafting operations. The worthy knight considered that the Moon would
exercise her powers in making single flowers double if only she were
respectfully courted. His counsel on this point is as follows:--“Remove
a plant of Stock Gilliflowers when it is a little woodded, and not too
greene, and water it presently. Doe this three dayes after the full,
and remove it twice more before the change. Doe this in barren ground;
and likewise, three dayes after the next full Moone, remove again; and
then remove once more before the change. Then at the third full Moon,
viz., eight dayes after, remove againe, and set it in very rich ground,
and this will make it to bring forth a double flower; but if your Stock
Gilliflowers once spindle, then you may not remove them. Also you
must make Tulippes double in this manner. Some think by cutting them
at every full Moone before they beare to make them at length to beare

In ‘The Countryman’s Recreation’ (1640) the author fully recognises
the obligation of gardeners to study the Moon in all their principal
operations. Says he: “From the first day of the new Moone unto the
xiii. day thereof is good for to plant, or graffe, or sow, and for
great need some doe take unto the xvii. or xviii. day thereof, and
not after, neither graffe nor sow, but as is afore-mentioned, a
day or two afore the change, the best signes are Taurus, Virgo, or
Capricorne.” And as regards the treatment of fruit trees, he tells us
that “trees which come of Nuttes” should be set in the Autumn “in the
change or increase of the Moone;” certain grafting manipulations are
to be executed “in the increase of the Moone and not lightly after;”
fruit, if it is desired of good colour and untouched by frost, ought
to be gathered “when the time is faire and dry, and the Moone in her
decreasing;” whilst “if ye will cut or gather Grapes, to have them
good, and to have good wine thereof, ye shall cut them in the full, or
soone after the full, of the Moone, when she is in Cancer, in Leo, in
Scorpio, and in Aquarius, the Moone being on the waine and under the

In ‘The Expert Gardener’ (1640)--a work stated to be “faithfully
collected out of sundry Dutch and French authors”--a chapter is
entirely devoted to the times and seasons which should be selected “to
sow and replant all manner of seeds,” with special reference to the
phases of the Moon. As showing how very general must have been the
belief in the influence of the Moon on vegetation at that time, the
following extract is given:--

  _A short Instruction very profitable and necessary for all those that
  delight in Gardening, to know the Times and Seasons when it is good
  to sow and replant all manner of Seeds._

  Cabbages must be sowne in February, March, or April, at the waning of
  the Moone, and replanted also in the decrease thereof.

  Cabbage Lettuce, in February, March, or July, in an old Moone.

  Onions and Leeks must be sowne in February or March, at the waning of
  the Moone.

  Beets must be sowne in February or March, in a full Moone.

  Coleworts white and greene in February, or March, in an old Moone, it
  is good to replant them.

  Parsneps must be sowne in February, April, or June, also in an old

  Radish must be sowne in February, March, or June, in a new Moone.

  Pompions must be sowne in February, March, or June, also in a new

  Cucumbers and Mellons must be sowne in February, March, or June, in
  an old Moone.

  Spinage must be sowne in February or March, in an old Moone.

  Parsley must be sowne in February or March, in a full Moone.

  Fennel and Annisseed must be sowne in February or March, in a full

  White Cycory must be sowne in February, March, July, or August, in a
  full Moone.

  Carduus Benedictus must be sowne in February, March, or May, when the
  Moone is old.

  Basil must be sowne in March, when the Moone is old.

  Purslane must be sowne in February or March, in a new Moone.

  Margeram, Violets, and Time must be sowne in February, March, or
  April, in a new Moone.

  Floure-gentle, Rosemary, and Lavender, must be sowne in February or
  April, in a new Moone.

  Rocket and Garden Cresses must be sowne in February, in a new Moone.

  Savell must be sowne in February or March, in a new Moone.

  Saffron must be sowne in March, when the Moone is old.

  Coriander and Borage must be sowne in February or March, in a new

  Hartshorne and Samphire must be sowne in February, March, or April,
  when the Moone is old.

  Gilly-floures, Harts-ease, and Wall-floures, must be sowne in March
  or April, when the Moone is old.

  Cardons and Artochokes must be sowne in April or March, when the
  Moone is old.

  Chickweed must be sowne in February or March, in the full of the

  Burnet must be sowne in February or March, when the Moone is old.

  Double Marigolds must be sowne in February or March, in a new Moone.

  Isop and Savorie must be sowne in March when the Moone is old.

  White Poppey must be sowne in February or March, in a new Moone.

  Palma Christi must be sowne in February, in a new Moone.

  Sparages and Sperage is to be sowne in February, when the Moone is

  Larks-foot must be sowne in February, when the Moone is old.

  Note that at all times and seasons, Lettuce, Raddish, Spinage and
  Parsneps may be sowne.

  Note, also, from cold are to be kept Coleworts, Cabbage, Lettuce,
  Basill, Cardons, Artochokes, and Colefloures.

In ‘The English Gardener’ (1683) and ‘The Dutch Gardener’ (1703) many
instructions are given as to the manner of treating plants with
special regard to the phases of the Moon; and Rapin, in his poem on
Gardens, has the following lines:--

      “If you with flow’rs would stock the pregnant earth,
  Mark well the Moon propitious to their birth:
  For earth the silent midnight queen obeys,
  And waits her course, who, clad in silver rays,
  Th’ eternal round of times and seasons guides,
  Controls the air, and o’er the winds presides.
  Four days expir’d you have your time to sow,
  Till to the full th’ increasing Moon shall grow;
  This past, your labour you in vain bestow:
  Nor let the gard’ner dare to plant a flow’r
  While on his work the heav’ns ill-boding low’r;
  When Moons forbid, forbidding Moons obey,
  And hasten when the Stars inviting beams display.”

John Evelyn, in his ‘Sylva, or a Discourse on Forest Trees,’ first
published in 1662, remarks on the attention paid by woodmen to the
Moon’s influence on trees. He says: “Then for the age of the Moon, it
has religiously been observed; and that Diana’s presidency _in sylvis_
was not so much celebrated to credit the fictions of the poets, as for
the dominion of that moist planet and her influence over timber. For
my part, I am not so much inclined to these criticisms, that I should
altogether govern a felling at the pleasure of this mutable lady;
however, there is doubtless some regard to be had--

  ‘Nor is’t in vain signs’ fall and rise to note.’

The old rules are these: Fell in the decrease, or four days after
the conjunction of the two great luminaries; sowe the last quarter
of it; or (as Pliny) in the very article of the change, if possible;
which hapning (saith he) in the last day of the Winter solstice, that
timber will prove immortal. At least should it be from the twentieth
to the thirtieth day, according to Columella; Cato, four days after
the full, as far better for the growth; nay, Oak in the Summer: but
all vimineous trees, _silente lunâ_, such as Sallows, Birch, Poplar,
&c. Vegetius, for ship timber, from the fifteenth to the twenty-fifth,
the Moon as before.” In his ‘French Gardener,’ a translation from
the French, Evelyn makes a few allusions to the Moon’s influence on
gardening and grafting operations, and in his _Kalendarium Hortense_
we find him acknowledging its supremacy more than once; but he had
doubtless begun to lose faith in the scrupulous directions bequeathed
by the Romans. In his introduction to the ‘Kalendar’ he says:--“We are
yet far from imposing (by any thing we have here alledged concerning
these menstrual periods) those nice and hypercritical punctillos
which some astrologers, and such as pursue these rules, seem to
oblige our gard’ners to; as if forsooth all were lost, and our pains
to no purpose, unless the sowing and the planting, the cutting and
the pruning, were performed in such and such an exact minute of
the Moon: _In hac autem ruris disciplina non desideratur ejusmodi
scrupulositas._ [Columella]. There are indeed some certain seasons and
_suspecta tempora_, which the prudent gard’ner ought carefully (as much
as in him lies) to prevent: but as to the rest, let it suffice that he
diligently follow the observations which (by great industry) we have
collected together, and here present him.”

The opinion of John Evelyn, thus expressed, doubtless shook the faith
of gardeners in the efficacy of lunar influence on plants, and, as a
rule, we find no mention of the Moon in the instructions contained in
the gardening books published after his death. It is true that Charles
Evelyn, in ‘The Pleasure and Profit of Gardening Improved’ (1717)
directs that Stock Gilliflower seeds should be sown at the full of the
Moon in April, and makes several other references to the influence of
the Moon on these plants; but this is an exception to the general rule,
and in ‘The Retired Gardener,’ a translation from the French of Louis
Liger, printed in 1717, the ancient belief in the Moon’s supremacy in
the plant kingdom received its death-blow. The work referred to was
published under the direction of London and Wise, Court Nurserymen to
Queen Anne, and in the first portion of it, which is arranged in the
form of a conversation between a gentleman and his gardener, occurs the
following passage:--

  _Gent._--“I have heard several old gardeners say that vigorous trees
  ought to be prun’d in the Wane, and those that are more sparing of
  their shoots in the Increase. Their reason is, that the pruning by
  no means promotes the fruit if it be not done in the Wane. They add
  that the reason why some trees are so long before they bear fruit is,
  because they were planted or grafted either in the Increase or Full
  of the Moon.”

  _Gard._--“Most of the old gardeners were of that opinion, and there
  are some who continue still to be misled by the same error. But
  ’tis certain that they bear no ground for such an imagination, as
  I have observ’d, having succeeded in my gardening without such a
  superstitious observation of the Moon. However, I don’t urge this
  upon my own authority, but refer my self to M. de la Quintinie, who
  deserves more to be believed than my self. These are his words:--

  ‘I solemnly declare [saith he] that after a diligent observation
  of the Moon’s changes for thirty years together, and an enquiry
  whether they had any influence on gardening, the affirmation of which
  has been so long established among us, I perceiv’d that it was no
  weightier than old wives’ tales, and that it has been advanc’d by
  unexperienc’d gardeners.’

  “And a little after: ‘I have therefore follow’d what appear’d most
  reasonable, and rejected what was otherwise. In short, graft in what
  time of the Moon you please, if your graft be good, and grafted in a
  proper stock, provided you do it like an artist, you will be sure to
  succeed.... In the same manner [continues he] sow what sorts of grain
  you please, and plant as you please, in any Quarter of the Moon, I’ll
  answer for your success; the first and last day of the Moon being
  equally favourable.’ This is the opinion of a man who must be allow’d
  to have been the most experienc’d in this age.”

Plants of the Moon.

The Germans call _Mondveilchen_ (Violet of the Moon), the _Lunaria
annua_, the _Leucoion_, also known as the Flower of the Cow, that is
to say, of the cow Io, one of the names of the Moon. The old classic
legend relates that this daughter of Inachus, because she was beloved
by Jupiter, fell under the jealous displeasure of Juno, and was much
persecuted by her. Jupiter therefore changed his beautiful mistress
into the cow Io, and at his request, Tellus (the Earth) caused a
certain herb (_Salutaris_, the herb of Isis) to spring up, in order to
provide for the metamorphosed nymph suitable nourishment. In the Vedic
writings, the Moon is represented as slaying monsters and serpents,
and it is curious to note that the Moonwort (_Lunaria_), Southernwood
(_Artemisia_), and Selenite (from _Selene_, a name of the Moon), are
all supposed to have the power of repelling serpents. Plutarch, in his
work on rivers, tells us that near the river Trachea grew a herb called
Selenite, from the foliage of which trickled a frothy liquid with which
the herdsmen anointed their feet in the Spring in order to render them
impervious to the bites of serpents. This foam, says De Gubernatis,
reminds one of the dew which is found in the morning sprinkled over
herbs and plants, and which the ancient Greeks regarded as a gift of
the nymphs who accompanied the goddess Artemis, or Diana, the lunar

Numerous Indian plants are named after the Moon, the principal being
the _Cardamine_; the _Cocculus cordifolius_ (the Moon’s Laughter); a
species of _Solanum_ called the Flower of the Moon; the _Asclepias
acida_, the _Somalatâ_, the plant that produces Soma; Sandal-wood
(beloved of the Moon); Camphor (named after the Moon); the _Convolvulus
Turpethum_, called the Half-Moon; and many other plants named after
Soma, a lunar synonym.

In a Hindu poem, the Moon is called the fructifier of vegetation and
the guardian of the celestial ambrosia, and it is not surprising
therefore to find that in India the mystic Moon-tree, the Soma, the
tree which produces the divine and immortalising ambrosia is worshipped
as the lunar god. Soma, the moon-god, produces the revivifying dew of
the early morn; _Soma_, the Moon-tree, the exhilarating ambrosia. The
Moon is cold and humid: it is from her the plants receive their sap,
says Prof. De Gubernatis, “and thanks to the Moon that they multiply,
and that vegetation prospers. There is nothing very wonderful,
therefore, if the movements of the Moon preside in a general way over
agricultural operations, and if it exercises a special influence on the
health and _accouchements_ of women, who are said to represent Water,
the humid element. The Roman goddess Lucina (the Moon) presided over
_accouchements_, and had under her care the Dittany and the Mugwort [or
Motherwort] (_Artemisia_, from Artemis, the lunar goddess), considered,
like the Vedic _Soma_, to be the queen or mother of the herbs.”

Thus Macer says of it:--

  “_Herbarum matrem justum puto ponere primo;
  Præcipue morbis muliebribus illa medetur._”

This influence of the Moon over the female portion of the human race
has led to a class of plants being associated either directly with
the luminary or with the goddesses who were formerly thought to
impersonate or embody it. Thus we find the _Chrysanthemum leucanthemum_
named the Moon Daisy, because its shape resembles the pictures of a
full moon, the type of a class of plants which Dr. Prior points out,
“on the Doctrine of Signatures, were exhibited in uterine complaints,
and dedicated in pagan times to the goddess of the Moon and regulator
of monthly periods, Artemis, whom Horsley (on Hosea ix., 10) would
identify with Isis, the goddess of the Egyptians, with Juno Lucina, and
with Eileithuia, a deity who had special charge over the functions of
women--an office in Roman Catholic mythology assigned to Mary Magdalene
and Margaret.” The Costmary, or Maudeline-wort (_Balsamita vulgaris_);
the Maghet, or May-weed (_Pyrethrum Parthenium_); the Mather, or
Maydweed (_Anthemis Cotula_); the Daisy, or Marguerite (_Bellis
perennis_); the _Achillea Matricaria_, &c., are all plants which come
under the category of lunar herbs in their connection with feminine

The Man in the Moon.

Chaucer describes the Moon as Lady Cynthia:--

  “Her gite was gray and full of spottis blake,
    And on her brest a chorle paintid ful even
  Bearing a bush of Thornis on his bake
    Which for his theft might climb no ner the heven.”

Allusion is here made to the Man in the Moon, bearing a Thorn-bush
on his shoulders--one of the most widely-diffused superstitions
still extant. It is curious that, in several legends respecting this
inhabitant of the Moon, he is represented as having been engaged, when
on earth, in gardening operations. Kuhn relates a tradition in the
Havel country. One Christmas Eve, a peasant felt a great desire to eat
a Cabbage; and, having none himself, he slipped stealthily into his
neighbour’s garden to cut some. Just as he had filled his basket, the
Christ Child rode past on his white horse, and said: “Because thou
hast stolen in the holy night, thou shalt immediately sit in the Moon
with thy basket of Cabbage.” At Paderhorn, in Westphalia, the crime
committed was not theft, but hindering people from attending church
on Easter-Day, by placing a Thorn-bush in the field-gate through
which they had to pass. In the neighbourhood of Wittingen, the man is
said to have been exiled to the Moon because he tied up his brooms
on Maunday Thursday; and at Deilinghofen, of having mown the Grass
in his meadows on Sunday. A Swabian mother at Derendingen will tell
her child that a man was once working in his vineyard on Sunday, and
after having pruned all his Vines, he made a bundle of the shoots he
had just cut off, laid it in his basket, and went home. According to
one version, the Vine-shoots were stolen from a neighbour’s Vineyard.
When taxed either with Sabbath-breaking or with the theft, the culprit
loudly protested his innocence, and at length exclaimed: “If I have
committed this crime, may I be sent to the Moon!” After his death this
fate duly befell him, and there he remains to this day. The Black
Forest peasants relate that a certain man stole a bundle of wood on
Sunday because he thought on that day he should be unmolested by the
foresters. However, on leaving the forest, he met a stranger, who was
no other than the Almighty himself. After reproving the thief for not
keeping the Sabbath-day holy, God said he must be punished, but he
might choose whether he would be banished to the Sun or to the Moon.
The man chose the latter, declaring he would rather freeze in the Moon
than burn in the Sun; and so the Broom-man came into the Moon with his
faggot on his back. At Hemer, in Westphalia, the legend runs that a man
was engaged in fencing his garden on Good Friday, and had just poised
a bundle of Thorns on his fork when he was at once transported to the
Moon. Some of the Hemer peasants, however, declare that the Moon is
not only inhabited by a man with a Thorn-bush and pitchfork, but also
by his wife, who is churning, and was exiled to the Moon for using
a churn on Sunday. According to other traditions, the figure in the
Moon is that of Isaac bearing the faggot on his shoulders for his own
sacrifice on Mount Moriah; or Cain with a bundle of Briars; or a tipsy
man who for his audacity in threatening the Moon with a Bramble he held
in his hand, was drawn up to this planet, and has remained there to the
present day.




Plant Symbolism and Language.

The antiquity of floral emblems probably dates from the time when
the human heart first beat with the gentle emotions of affection or
throbbed with the wild pulsations of love. Then it was that man sought
to express through the instrumentality of flowers his love of purity
and beauty, or to typify through their aid the ardour of his passionate
desires; for the symbolism of flowers, it has been conjectured, was
first conceived as a parable speaking to the eye and thence teaching
the heart.

Driven, in his struggle for existence, to learn the properties of
plants in order to obtain wholesome food, man found that with the
beauty of their form and colour they spoke lovingly to him. They could
be touched, tasted, handled, planted, sown, and reaped: they were
useful, easily converted into simple articles of clothing, or bent,
twisted, and cut into weapons and tools. Flowers became a language
to man very early, and according to their poisonous, soothing, or
nutritious qualities, or on account of some peculiarities in their
growth or shape which seemed to tell upon the mysteries of life, birth,
and death, he gave them names which thenceforth became words and
symbols to him of these phenomena.

Glimpses of the ancient poetical plant symbolism have been found amid
the ruins of temples, graven on the sides of rocks, and inscribed on
the walls of mighty caves where the early nations of India, Assyria,
Chaldæa, and Egypt knelt in adoration. The Chinese from time immemorial
have known a comprehensive system of floral signs and emblems, and
the Japanese have ever possessed a mode of communicating by symbolic
flowers. Persian literature abounds in chaste and poetical allegories,
which demonstrate the antiquity of floral symbolism in that far Eastern
land: thus we are told that Sadi the poet, when a slave, presented to
his tyrant master a Rose accompanied with this pathetic appeal:--“Do
good to thy servant whilst thou hast the power, for the season of power
is often as transient as the duration of this beautiful flower.”
The beauty of the symbol melted the heart of his lord, and the slave
obtained his liberty.

The Hindu races are passionately fond of flowers, and their ancient
Sanscrit books and poems are full of allusions to their beauty and
symbolic character. With them, the flower of the field is venerated
as a symbol of fecundity. In their mythology, at the beginning of all
things there appeared in the waters the expanded Lotus-blossom, the
emblematic flower of life and light; the Sun, Moon, and Stars are
flowers in the celestial garden; the Sun’s ray is a full-blown Rose,
which springs from the waters and feeds the sacrificial fire; the
Lightning is a garland of flowers thrown by Narada. _Pushpa_ (flower),
or _Pushpaka_ (flowery), is the epithet applied to the luminous car
of the god Kuvera, which was seized by Râvana, the royal monster of
Lankâ, and recaptured by the demi-god Râma, the incarnation of Vishnu.
The bow of Kâma, the Indian Cupid, darts forth flowers in the guise of
arrows. The Indian poetic lover gathers from the flowers a great number
of chaste and beautiful symbols. The following description of a young
maiden struck down by illness is a fair example of this:--“All of a
sudden the blighting glance of unpropitious fortune having fallen on
that Rose-cheeked Cypress, she laid her head on the pillow of sickness;
and in the flower-garden of her beauty, in place of the Damask Rose,
sprang up the branch of the Saffron. Her fresh Jasmine, from the
violence of the burning illness, lost its moisture, and her Hyacinth,
full of curls, lost all its endurance from the fever that consumed her.”

It was with the classic Greeks, however, that floral symbolism reached
its zenith: not only did the Hellenic race entertain an extraordinary
passion for flowers, but with consummate skill they devised a code
of floral types and emblems adapted to all phases of public and
private life. As Loudon writes, when speaking of the emblematic use
made by the Greeks of flowers:--“Not only were they then, as now, the
ornament of a beauty, and of the altars of the gods, but the youths
crowned themselves with them in the fêtes, the priests in religious
ceremonies, and the guests in convivial meetings. Garlands of flowers
were suspended from the gates of the city in the times of rejoicing ...
the philosophers wore crowns of flowers, and the warriors ornamented
their foreheads with them in times of triumph.” The Romans, although
they adopted most of the floral symbolic lore of their Hellenic
predecessors, and in the case of emblematic garlands were particularly
refined, were still evidently not so passionately fond of floral
symbolism as were the Greeks; and with the decadence of the Empire, the
attractive art gradually fell into oblivion.

The science of plant symbolism may, if we accept the views of Miss
Marshall, a writer on the subject,[16] be classified into five
divisions. These are, firstly, plants which are symbols, pure and
simple, of the Great Unknown God, or Heaven Father; and embrace those,
the form, colour, or other peculiarities of which led the priests,
the early thinkers to the community, the medicine-men, magicians, and
others, to associate them with ideas of the far-distant, unknown,
incomprehensible, and overwhelming--the destructive forces of Nature.
Such plants were used as hieroglyphics for these ideas, and became
symbols of the Deity or Supreme Power. To these visible symbols belong
plants such as the Lily, Onion, flowers of heavenly blue colour
(symbolising the blue sky), and leaves threefold or triangular,
symbolising God the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer.

[16] ‘Plant Symbolism,’ in ‘Natural History Notes,’ Vol. II.

Secondly, the plants symbolising or suggesting portions or organs
of the human body, internal and external, which to the earliest of
mankind, and certainly to the Egyptian embalmers, were organs of
mystery and importance; such is the heart, the first to beat in the
fœtal, and the last to cease pulsating in the adult organism, &c. To
this section belong heart-shaped leaves and petals; and where, as in
the Shamrock, there is united the threefold emblem and the heart-shaped
leaf, there is a doubly sacred idea united with the form. To this
section belong also plants and fruits such as the Fig, Pomegranate, &c.

The third section comprises plants that were consecrated or set apart
as secret and sacred, because those who possessed the knowledge of
their powers made use of them to awe the ignorant people of their race.
These plants were supposed to be under the control of the good or
evil powers. They were the narcotics, the stupefying or the exciting
vegetable drugs. The sacred incense in all temples was compounded of
these, and their use has been, and still is, common to all countries;
and as some of these compounds produced extraordinary or deadly
effects, as the very dust of the burnt incense, when mixed with water,
and drunk, brought on a violent and agonising death, while the fumes
might merely produce delightful and enticing ecstacy, making men
and women eloquent and seemingly inspired, the knowledge was wisely
kept secret from the people, and severe penalties--sometimes even
death--awaited those who illegally imitated, compounded, or used these
drugs. To this section belong the plants used to make the Chinese and
Japanese joss, as well as Opium, Tobacco, Stramonium, and various
opiates now well known.

The fourth section comprises those plants which in all countries have
been observed to bear some resemblance to parts of the human body.
Such plants were valued and utilised as heaven-sent guides in the
treatment of the ills flesh is heir to; and they are the herbs whose
popular names among the inhabitants of every land have become “familiar
in their mouths as household words.” To such belong the Birth-wort,
Kidney-wort, Lung-wort, Liver-wort, Pile-wort, Nit-grass, Tooth-cress,
Heart-clover, and many others known to the ancient herbalists. It was
their endeavours to find out whether or no the curious forms, spots,
and markings of such plants really indicated their curative powers,
that led to the properties of other herbs being discovered, and a
suggestive nomenclature being adopted for them, such as is found in the
names Eyebright, Flea-bane, Canker-weed, Hunger-grass, Stone-break, &c.

Lastly, in the fifth section of symbolical plants we come to those
which point to a time when symbols were expressed by letters, such
as appear on the Martagon Lily--the true poetical Hyacinth of the
Greeks--on the petals of which are traced the woeful AI, AI,--the
expression of the grief of Phœbus at the death of the fair Adonis.

            “In the flower he weaved
  The sad impression of his sighs; which bears
  _Ai_, _Ai_, displayed in funeral characters.”

In this section also are included plants which exhibit in some portion
of their structure typical markings, such as the _Astragalus_, which in
its root depicts the stars; the Banana, whose fruit, when cut, exhibits
a representation of the Holy Cross; and the Bracken Fern, whose stem,
when sliced, exhibits traces of letters which are sometimes used for
the purposes of love divination. In Ireland, however, the _Pteris
aquilina_ is called the Fern of God, because the people imagine that
if the stem be cut into three sections, on the first of these sections
will be seen the letter G, on the second O, and on the third D--forming
the sacred word God.

In the science of plant symbols, not only the names, but the forms,
perfumes, and properties of plants have to be considered, as well
as the numerical arrangements of their parts. Thus of all sacred
symbolical plants, those consisting of petals or calyx-sepals, or
leaves, divided into the number Five, were formerly held in peculiar
reverence, because among the races of antiquity five was for ages a
sacred number. The reason of this is thus explained by Bunsen:--“It
is well known,” he says, “that the numeral _one_, the undivided, the
eternal, is placed in antithesis to all other numerals. The figure four
included the perfect ten, as 1+2+3+4=10. So four represents the All
of the universe. Now if we put these together, 4+1 will be the sign
of the whole God-Universe.” _Three_ is a number sacred to the most
ancient as well as modern worship. Pythagoras called it the perfect
number, expressive of “beginning, middle, and end,” and therefore he
made it a symbol of deity. _Three_ therefore plays its _rôle_ in plant
symbology. Thus the _Emblica officinalis_, one of the sacred plants of
India, was once the exclusive property of the priests, who kept its
medicinal virtues secret: it was held in peculiar reverence because of
its flowers possessing a six-parted calyx; three stamens, combined;
three dichotomous styles; a fleshy fruit, tricoccous and six-seeded;
these being all the sacred or double number of _Three_. In later days,
the Shamrock or Trefoil, and the Pansy, or Herb Trinity, were regarded
as symbolising the Trinity. Cruciform flowers are, at the present day,
all regarded as of good omen, having been marked with the Sign of the
Cross, and thus symbolising Redemption.

The presence of flowers as symbols and language on the monuments of
Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, India, and other countries of the past,
and the graceful floral adornments sculptured on the temples of the
Græco-Roman period, demonstrate how great a part flower and plant
symbolism played in the early history of mankind. The Jews, learning
the art from the Egyptians, preserved it in their midst, and introduced
plant emblems in their Tabernacle, in their Temple, and on the garments
of the priests. Flowers with golden rays became symbols of the Sun;
and as the Sun was the giver of life and warmth, the bringer of
fertility, the symbolic flowers stood as symbol-words for these great
gifts; and gradually all the mysterious phenomena connected with birth,
reproduction, and fecundity, were represented in plant, flower, and
fruit symbolism; for not only were flowers early used as a pictorial
language, but the priests made use of fruits, herbs, shrubs, and trees
to symbolise light, life, warmth, and generation. Let us take a few
examples:--When in the Spring, church altars and fonts are piously
adorned with white Lilies, which are, in some countries, carried about,
worn, and presented by ladies to each other in the month of May, few
of them, we may be sure, imagine that they are perpetuating the plant
symbolism of the Sun-worship of ancient Egypt. Miss Marshall tells us
that “in Catholic countries the yellow anthers are carefully removed;
their white filaments alone are left, not, as folks think, that the
flower may remain pure white, but that the fecundating or male organs
being removed, the Lilies may be true flower symbols or visible words
for pure virgins; for the white dawn as yet unwedded to the day--for
the pure cold Spring as yet yielding no blossoms and Summer fruits.”

Of the flowers consecrated to their deities by the symbol-worshipper of
India and Egypt, the most prominent is the sacred Lotus, whose leaf was
the “emblem and cradle of creative might.” It was anciently revered in
Egypt as it is now in Hindustan, Thibet, and Nepaul, where the people
believe it was in the consecrated bosom of this plant that Brahma was
born, and that Osiris delights to float. From its peculiar organisation
the Lotus is virtually self-productive: hence it became the symbol of
the reproductive power of all nature, and was worshipped as a symbol of
the All-Creative Power. The same floral symbol occurs wherever in the
northern hemisphere symbolic religion has prevailed. The sacred images
of the Tartars, Japanese, and Indians are almost all represented as
resting upon Lotus-leaves. The Chinese divinity, Puzza, is seated in
a Lotus, and the Japanese god is represented sitting in a Water-Lily.
The Onion was formerly held in the highest esteem as a religious
symbol in the mysterious solemnities and divinations of the Egyptians
and Hindus. In the first place, its delicate red veins and fibres
rendered it an object of veneration, as typifying the blood, at the
shedding of which the Hindu shudders. Secondly, it was regarded as an
astronomical emblem, for on cutting through it, there appeared beneath
the external coat a succession of orbs, one within another, in regular
order, after the manner of revolving spheres. The Rose has been made a
symbolic flower in every age. In the East, it is the emblem of virtue
and loveliness. The Egyptians made it a symbol of silence; the Romans
regarded it as typical of festivity. In modern times it is considered
the appropriate symbol of beauty and love,--the half-expanded bud
representing the first dawn of the sublime passion, and the full-blown
flower the maturity of perfect love. The Asphodel, like the Hyacinth
of the ancients, was regarded as an emblem of grief and sorrow. The
Myrtle, from its being dedicated to Venus, was sacred as a symbol of
love and beauty. White flowers were held to be typical of light and
innocence, and were consecrated to virgins. Sombre and dark-foliaged
plants were held to be typical of disaster and death.

The floral symbols of the Scriptures are worthy of notice. From the
circumstance of Elijah having been sheltered from the persecutions of
King Ahab by the Juniper, that tree has become a symbol of succour
or an asylum. The Almond was an emblem of haste and vigilance to
the Hebrew writers; with Eastern poets, however, it was regarded as
a symbol of hope. Throughout the East, the Aloe is regarded as a
religious symbol, and is greatly venerated. It is expressive of grief
and bitterness, and is religiously planted by the Mahommedans at the
extremity of every grave. Burckhardt says that they call it by the
Arabic name _Saber_, signifying patience--a singularly appropriate
name; for as the plant is evergreen, it whispers to those who mourn
for the loved ones they have lost, _patience_ in their affliction.
The Clover is another sacred plant symbol. St. Patrick chose it as an
emblem of the Trinity when engaged in converting the Irish, who have
ever since, in the Shamrock, regarded it as a representative plant. The
Druids thought very highly of the Trefoil because its leaf symbolised
the three departments of nature--the earth, the sea, and the heaven.

But of all plant symbols, none can equal in beauty or sanctity the
Passion Flower, the lovely blossom of which, when first met with by the
Spanish conquerors of the New World, suggested to their enthusiastic
imagination the story of our Saviour’s Passion. The Jesuits professed
to find in the several parts of the Maracot the crown of thorns, the
scourge, the pillar, the sponge, the nails, and the five wounds, and
they issued drawings representing the flower with its inflorescence
distorted to suit their statements regarding its almost miraculous
character. John Parkinson, in his _Paradisus Terrestris_ (1629), gives
a good figure of the Virginian species of the plant, as well as an
engraving of “The Jesuites Figure of the Maracoc--_Granadillus Frutex
Indicus Christi Passionis Imago_.” But, as a good Protestant, he feels
bound to enter his protest against the superstitious regard paid to the
flower by the Roman Catholics, and so he writes: “Some superstitious
Jesuites would fain make men believe that in the flower of this plant
are to be seen all the markes of our Saviour’s Passion: and therefore
call it _Flos Passionis_: and to that end have caused figures to be
drawn and printed, with all the parts proportioned out, as thornes,
nailes, spear, whip, pillar, &c., in it, and as true as the sea burns,
which you may well perceive by the true figure taken to the life of
the plant, compared with the figure set forth by the Jesuites, which
I have placed here likewise for everyone to see: but these be their
advantageous lies (which with them are tolerable, or rather pious and
meritorious) wherewith they use to instruct their people; but I dare
say, God never willed His priests to instruct His people with lies: for
they come from the Devill, the author of them.”

[Illustration: The Passion-flower of the Jesuits. From _Parkinson’s

In early times, it was customary in Europe to employ particular colours
for the purpose of indicating ideas and feelings, and in France where
the symbolical meaning of colours was formed into a regular system,
much importance was attached to the art of symbolising by the selection
of particular colours for dresses, ornaments, &c. In this way, flowers
of various hues became the apt media of conveying ideas and feelings;
and in the ages of chivalry the enamoured knight often indicated his
passion by wearing a single blossom or posy of many-hued flowers. In
the romance of _Perceforet_, a hat adorned with Roses is celebrated as
a favourite gift of love; and in _Amadis de Gaule_, the captive Oriana
is represented as throwing to her lover a Rose wet with tears, as the
sweetest pledge of her unalterable faith. Red was recognised as the
colour of love, and therefore the Rose, on account of its tint, was a
favourite emblem. Of the various allegorical meanings which were in the
Middle Ages attached to this lovely flower, a description will be found
in the celebrated _Romaunt de la Rose_, which was commenced in the year
1620 by Guillaume de Lorris, and finished forty years later by Jean de

In France, during the Middle Ages, flowers were much employed as
emblems of love and friendship. At the banquet given in celebration of
the marriage of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, with the English
Princess, Margaret, several ingenious automata were introduced, one
being a large unicorn, bearing on its back a leopard, which held
in one claw the standard of England, and on the other a Daisy, or
_Marguerite_. The unicorn having gone round all the tables, halted
before the Duke; and one of the _maîtres d’hôtel_, taking the Daisy
from the leopard’s claw, presented it, with a complimentary address, to
the royal bridegroom.

In the same country, an act of homage, unique in its kind, was paid
to a lady in the early part of the seventeenth century. The Duke of
Montausier, on obtaining the promise of the hand of Mademoiselle de
Rambouillet, sent to her, according to custom, every morning till
that fixed for the nuptials, a bouquet composed of the finest flowers
of the season. But this was not all: on the morning of New Year’s
Day, 1634--the day appointed for the marriage--he laid upon her
dressing-table a magnificently-bound folio volume, on the parchment
leaves of which the most skilful artists of the day had painted
from nature a series of the choicest flowers cultivated at that
time in Europe. The first poets of Paris contributed the poetical
illustrations, which were written by the cleverest penmen under the
different flowers. The most celebrated of these madrigals, composed
by Chapelain on the Crown Imperial, represented that superb flower as
having sprung from the blood of Gustavus Adolphus, who fell in the
battle of Lützen; and thus paid, in the name of the Swedish hero, a
delicate compliment to the bride, who was a professed admirer of his
character. According to a statement published some years since, this
magnificent volume, which was called, after the name of the lady, the
Garland of Julia, was disposed of, in 1784, at the sale of the Duke de
la Vallière’s effects, for fifteen thousand five hundred and ten livres
(about £650), and was brought to England.

The floral emblems of Shakspeare are evidence of the great poet’s
fondness for flowers and his delicate appreciation of their uses
and similitudes. In ‘A Winter’s Tale,’ Perdita is made to present
appropriate flowers to her visitors, symbolical of their various ages;
but the most remarkable of Shakspeare’s floral symbols occur where
poor Ophelia is wearing, in her madness, “fantastic garlands of wild
flowers”--denoting the bewildered state of her faculties.

The order of these flowers runs thus, with the meaning of each term


   Fayre Mayde.     Stung to the    Her Virgin     Under the cold
                      Quick.          Bloom.       hand of Death.

  “A fair maid, stung to the quick; her virgin bloom under the cold hand
  of death.”

Probably no wreath could have been selected more truly typifying the
sorrows of this beautiful victim of disappointed love and filial sorrow.

The most noted code of floral signs, used as a language by the Turkish
and Greek women in the Levant, and by the African females on the coast
of Barbary, was introduced into Western Europe by Lady Mary Wortley
Montagu and La Mortraie, the companion in exile of Charles XII., and
obtained in France and England much popularity as the “Turkish Language
of Flowers.” This language is said to be much employed in the Turkish
harems, where the women practise it, either for the sake of mere
diversion in their seclusion, or for carrying on secret communication.

In France and Germany, the language of flowers has taken deep root,
and in our own country the poetic symbolisms of Shakspeare, Chaucer,
Herrick, Drayton, and others of the earlier bards, laid the groundwork
for the very complete system of floral emblemism, or language of
flowers, which we now possess. A great many works have been published,
containing floral codes, or dictionaries: most of these, however,
possess but little merit as expositions of old symbols or traditions,
and have been compiled principally from modern sources.

An ancient floral vocabulary, taken from Dierbach’s _Flora Mythologica
der Griechen und Römer_, and an approved modern English ‘Dictionary of
Flowers,’ are appended, in order to make this portion of our subject

Ancient Floral Vocabulary.

  Absinth                     The Bitterness and Torments of Love.
  Acacia                      Love, pure and platonic.
  Acanthus                    Love of Fine Arts.
  Althea                      Exquisite Sweetness.
  Amaranth                    Fidelity and Constancy.
  Anemone                     Abandonment.
  Angelica                    Gentle Melancholy.
  Argentine                   Ingenuity.
  Aster                       Elegance.
  Balsam                      Impatience.
  Basil                       Poverty.
  Betony                      Emotion and Surprise.
  Bindweed                    Coquetry.
  Bluet                       Clearness and Light.
  Box                         Firmness and Stoicism.
  Bramble                     Injustice and Envy.
  Burdock                     Importunity.
  Buttercup                   Sarcasm.
  Calendula                   Anxiety.
  Camellia                    Constancy and Steadfastness.
  Carrot                      Good Character.
  Cinquefoil                  Maternal Love.
  Colchicum                   Bad Character.
  Cypress                     Mourning and Grief.
  Dahlia                      Sterile Abundance.
  Daisy (Easter)              Candour and Innocence.
  Dandelion                   Oracle.
  Darnel                      Vice.
  Digitalis                   Work.
  Dittany                     Discretion.
  Elder                       Humility.
  Ephemeris                   Transient Happiness.
  Everlasting Flwr.           Constancy.
  Fennel                      Merit.
  Fern                        Confidence.
  Forget-me-not               Faithful Remembrance.
  Foxglove                    Adulation.
  Fuchsia                     Amiability.
  Fumitory                    Hatred.
  Geranium                    Folly.
  Hawthorn                    Sweet Hope.
  Heliotrope                  Eternal Love.
  Hellebore                   Wit.
  Hemlock                     Perfidy.
  Holly                       Defence.
  Honeysuckle                 Bond of Affection.
  Hyacinth                    Amenity.
  Hydrangea                   Coldness.
  Iris                        Indifference.
  Ivy                         Attachment.
  Jasmine                     Amiability.
  Jonquil                     Amorous Languor.
  Jujube-tree                 Relief.
  Larkspur                    Open Heart.
  Laurel                      Victory and Glory.
  Lavender                    Silence.
  Lilac                       First Troubles of Love.
  Lily                        Purity and Majesty.
  Maidenhair                  Bond of Love.
  Marjoram                    Consolation.
  Marvel of Peru              Flame of Love.
  Mallow                      Maternal Tenderness.
  Mint                        Wisdom and Virtue.
  Milfoil                     Cure and Recovery.
  Moonwort                    Bad Payment.
  Myrtle                      Love.
  Narcissus                   Self-esteem and Fatuity.
  Nettle                      Cruelty.
  Olive                       Peace.
  Orange-tree                 Virginity, Generosity.
  Peony                       Shame.
  Periwinkle                  Unalterable Friendship.
  Pineapple                   Perfection.
  Pink                        Pure and Ardent Love.
  Poppy                       Sleep.
  Privet                      Youth.
  Rose                        Beauty and Love.
  Rosemary                    Power of Re-kindling extinct Energy.
  Rue                         Fecundity of Fields.
  Sage                        Esteem.
  Sensitive-plant             Modesty.
  Solanum                     Prodigality.
  Spindle-tree                Ineffaceable Memory.
  Strawberry                  Intoxication, Delight.
  Thyme                       Spontaneous Emotion.
  Trefoil                     Uncertainty.
  Tulip                       Grandeur.
  Valerian                    Readiness.
  Vervain                     Pure Affection.
  Viburnum                    Coolness.
  Violet                      Modesty.

A Dictionary of Flowers.

  Acacia                      Friendship.
  ---- Rose                   Elegance.
  Acanthus                    The Arts.
  Achillea millefolia         War.
  Adonis, Flos                Painful Recollections.
  Agrimony                    Thankfulness.
  Almond-tree                 Indiscretion.
  Aloe                        Grief.
  Amaranth                    Immortality.
  Amaryllis                   Pride.
  Anemone                     Forsaken.
  ---- Field                  Sickness.
  Angelica                    Inspiration.
  Angrec                      Royalty.
  Apple-blossom               Preference.
  Ash-tree                    Grandeur.
  Asphodel                    My regrets follow you to the grave.
  Aster, China                Variety.
  ----                        After-Thought.
  Balm of Gilead              Cure.
  ---- Gentle                 Joking.
  Balsam                      Impatience.
  Barberry                    Sourness of Temper.
  Basil                       Hate.
  Beech                       Prosperity.
  Bilberry                    Treachery.
  Bladder-nut                 Frivolous Amusement.
  Borage                      Bluntness.
  Box-tree                    Stoicism.
  Bramble                     Envy.
  Broom                       Humility and Neatness.
  Buckbean                    Calm Repose.
  Bugloss                     Falsehood.
  Bulrush                     Indiscretion.
  Burdock                     Touch me not.
  Buttercup                   Ingratitude.
  Cactus, Virginia            Horror.
  Canterbury Bell             Constancy.
  Catchfly                    Snare.
  Champignon                  Suspicion.
  Cherry-tree                 Good Education.
  Chesnut-tree                Do me Justice.
  Chicory                     Frugality.
  Cinquefoil                  Beloved Daughter.
  Circæa                      Spell.
  Clematis                    Artifice.
  Clotbur                     Rudeness.
  Clove-tree                  Dignity.
  Columbine                   Folly.
  Convolvulus (night)         Night.
  Coriander                   Hidden Merit.
  Corn                        Riches.
  Corn-bottle                 Delicacy.
  Cornel Cherry               Durability.
  Cowslip, Amer.              You are my Divinity.
  Cress                       Resolution.
  Crown Imperial              Power.
  Cuscuta                     Meanness.
  Cypress                     Mourning.
  Daffodil                    Self Love.
  Daisy                       Innocence.
  ---- Garden                 I share your sentiments.
  ---- Wild                   I will think of it.
  Dandelion                   The Rustic Oracle.
  Day Lily, Yellow            Coquetry.
  Dittany                     Childbirth.
  Dock                        Patience.
  Dodder                      Meanness.
  Ebony-tree                  Blackness.
  Eglantine                   Poetry.
  Fennel                      Strength.
  Fig                         Longevity.
  Fir-tree                    Elevations.
  Flax                        I feel your kindness.
  Flower-de-Luce              Flame.
  Forget-Me-Not               Forget me not.
  Fraxinella                  Fire.
  Fuller’s Teasel             Misanthropy.
  Geranium                    Deceit.
  ---- Oak-leaved             True Friendship.
  ---- Silver-leaved          Recall.
  ---- Pencilled-leaf         Ingenuity.
  ---- Rose-scented           Preference.
  ---- Scarlet                Stupidity.
  ---- Sorrowful              Melancholy Mind.
  ---- Wild                   Steadfast Piety.
  Grass                       Utility.
  Hawthorn                    Hope.
  Hazel                       Peace, Reconciliation.
  Heart’s Ease                Think of me.
  Heath                       Solitude.
  Heliotrope, Peruvian        Devoted Attachment.
  Hellenium                   Tears.
  Hepatica                    Confidence.
  Holly                       Foresight.
  Hollyhock                   Ambition.
  Honeysuckle                 Generous and Devoted Affection.
  Hop                         Injustice.
  Hornbeam                    Ornament.
  Horse-Chesnut               Luxury.
  Hortensia                   You are cold.
  Hyacinth                    Game, Play.
  Ice-plant                   Your looks freeze me.
  Ipomœa                      I attach myself to you.
  Iris                        Message.
  Ivy                         Friendship.
  Jasmine                     Amiability.
  ---- Carolina               Separation.
  Jonquil                     Desire.
  Juniper                     Protection.
  Larch                       Boldness.
  Larkspur                    Lightness.
  Laurel                      Glory.
  Laurustinus                 I die if neglected.
  Lavender                    Mistrust.
  Leaves, Dead                Sadness, Melancholy.
  Lilac                       First Emotions of Love.
  ---- White                  Youth.
  Lily                        Majesty.
  Lily of the Valley          Return of Happiness.
  Linden-tree                 Conjugal Love.
  Liverwort                   Confidence.
  London Pride                Frivolity.
  Lotus                       Eloquence.
  Lucern                      Life.
  Madder                      Calumny.
  Maidenhair                  Secrecy.
  Mallow                      Beneficence.
  Manchineel-tree             Falsehood.
  Maple                       Reserve.
  Mandrake                    Rarity.
  Marigold                    Grief.
  ---- Prophetic              Prediction.
  ---- and Cypress            Despair.
  Marvel of Peru              Timidity.
  Meadow Saffron              My best days are past.
  Mezereon                    Coquetry. Desire to please.
  Mignonette                  Your qualities surpass your charms.
  Milkwort                    Hermitage.
  Mistletoe                   I surmount all difficulties.
  Moonwort                    Forgetfulness.
  Moss                        Maternal Love.
  Mulberry-tree, Black        I shall not survive you.
  ---- White                  Wisdom.
  Musk-plant                  Weakness.
  Myrobalan                   Privation.
  Myrtle                      Love.
  Narcissus                   Self Love.
  Nettle                      Cruelty.
  Nightshade, Bitter-sweet    Truth.
  ---- Enchanter’s            Spell.
  Nosegay                     Gallantry.
  Oak                         Hospitality.
  Olive                       Peace.
  Ophrys, Spider              Skill.
  Orange Flower               Chastity.
  ---- Tree                   Generosity.
  Orchis, Bee                 Error.
  Palm                        Victory.
  Parsley                     Festivity.
  Passion Flower              Faith.
  Peony                       Shame, Bashfulness.
  Peppermint                  Warmth of Feeling.
  Periwinkle                  Tender Recollections.
  Pineapple                   You are perfect.
  Pink                        Pure Love.
  ---- Yellow                 Disdain.
  Plane-tree                  Genius.
  Plum-tree                   Keep your promises.
  ---- Wild                   Independence.
  Poplar, black               Courage.
  ---- White                  Time.
  Poppy                       Consolation.
  ----                        Sleep.
  ---- White                  My bane, my antidote.
  Potato                      Beneficence.
  Primrose                    Childhood.
  ---- Evening                Inconstancy.
  Privet                      Prohibition.
  Quince                      Temptation.
  Ranunculus                  You are radiant with charms.
  Reeds                       Music.
  Rose                        Love.
  ---- 100-leaved             Grace.
  ---- Monthly                Beauty ever new.
  ---- Musk                   Capricious Beauty.
  ---- Single                 Simplicity.
  ---- White                  Silence.
  ---- Withered               Fleeting Beauty.
  ---- Yellow                 Infidelity.
  Rosebud                     A Young Girl.
  ---- White                  A Heart unacquainted with Love.
  Rosemary                    Your presence revives me.
  Rue, Wild                   Morals.
  Rush                        Docility.
  Saffron                     Beware of excess.
  Sage                        Esteem.
  Sainfoin, Shaking           Agitation.
  St. John’s Wort             Superstition.
  Sardonia                    Irony.
  Sensitive-plant             Chastity.
  Snapdragon                  Presumption.
  Snowdrop                    Hope.
  Sorrel, Wood                Joy.
  Speedwell                   Fidelity.
  Spindle-tree                Your charms are engraven on my heart.
  Star of Bethlehem           Purity.
  Stock                       Lasting Beauty.
  ---- Ten Week               Promptness.
  Stone Crop                  Tranquillity.
  Straw, Broken               Rupture of a Contract.
  ---- Whole                  Union.
  Strawberry                  Perfection.
  Sunflower                   False Riches.
  Sweet Sultan                Happiness.
  Sweet William               Finesse.
  Sycamore                    Curiosity.
  Syringa                     Fraternal Love.
  Tansy, Wild                 I declare war against you.
  Tendrils of Creepers        Ties.
  Thistle                     Surliness.
  Thorn Apple                 Deceitful Charms.
  Thrift                      Sympathy.
  Thyme                       Activity.
  Tremella Nostoc             Resistance.
  Truffle                     Surprise.
  Tuberose                    Dangerous Pleasures.
  Tulip                       Declaration of Love.
  Tussilage, Sweet-scented    Justice shall be done to you.
  Valerian                    An Accommodating Disposition.
  Valerian, Greek             Rupture.
  Venus’ Looking-glass        Flattery.
  Veronica                    Fidelity.
  Vervain                     Enchantment.
  Vine                        Intoxication.
  Violet                      Modesty.
  Violet, White               Innocence, Candour.
  Wallflower                  Fidelity in Misfortune.
  Walnut                      Stratagem.
  Whortleberry                Treachery.
  Willow, Weeping             Mourning.
  Wormwood                    Absence.
  Yew                         Sorrow.

In the chapter on Magic Plants will be found a list of plants used by
maidens and their lovers for the purposes of divination; and in Part
II., under the respective headings of the plants thus alluded to, will
be found described the several modes of divination. This practice of
love divination, it will be seen, is not altogether unconnected with
the symbolical meaning or language of flowers, and therefore it is here
again adverted to.

In many countries it is customary to pluck off the petals of the
Marigold, or some other flower of a similar nature, while certain
words are repeated, for the purpose of divining the character of an
individual. Göthe, in his tragedy of ‘Faust,’ has touched upon this
rustic superstition, and makes Margaret pluck off the leaves of a
flower, at the same time alternately repeating the words--“He loves
me,”--“He loves me not.” On coming to the last leaf, she joyously
exclaims--“He love me!”--and Faust says: “Let this flower pronounce the
decree of heaven!”

  “And with scarlet Poppies around, like a bower,
  The maiden found her mystic flower.
  ‘Now, gentle flower, I pray thee tell
  If my lover loves me, and loves me well;
  So may the fall of the morning dew
  Keep the sun from fading thy tender blue.
  Now must I number the leaves for my lot--
  He loves me not--loves me--he loves me not--
  He loves me--ah! yes, thou last leaf, yes--
  I’ll pluck thee not for that last sweet guess!
  He loves me!’--‘Yes,’ a dear voice sighed,
  And her lover stands by Margaret’s side.”--_Miss Landon._

In some places, the following mode of floral divination is resorted to.
The lover, male or female, who wishes to ascertain the character of the
beloved one, draws by lot one of the following flowers, the symbolical
meaning attached to which will give the information desired:--

   1.--Ranunculus           Enterprising.
   2.--Wild  Pink           Silly.
   3.--Auricula             Base.
   4.--Blue Cornflower      Loquacious.
   5.--Wild Orach           Lazy.
   6.--Daisy                Gentle.
   7.--Tulip                Ostentatious.
   8.--Jonquil              Obstinate.
   9.--Orange-flower        Hasty.
  10.--Rose                 Submissive.
  11.--Amaranth             Arbitrary.
  12.--Stock                Avaricious.
  13.--Spanish              Passionate.
  14.--Asphodel             Languishing.
  15.--Tricolour            Selfish.
  16.--Tuberose             Ambitious.
  17.--Jasmine              Cheerful.
  18.--Heart’s Ease         Delicate.
  19.--Lily                 Sincere.
  20.--Fritillary           Coquettish.
  21.--Snapdragon           Presumptuous.
  22.--Carnation            Capricious.
  23.--Marigold             Jealous.
  24.--Everlasting Flower   Constant.



Funeral Trees and Plants.

The association of certain trees and plants with death and its gloomy
surroundings dates from a period remote and shadowy in its antiquity.
Allusions to it are found in the most ancient writings and records,
and through one of these (the Sanscrit _Mahâbhârata_) we learn that
Pitâ Mahâ, the great Creator, after having created the world, reposed
under the tree _Salmalî_, the leaves of which the winds cannot stir.
One of the Sanscrit names applied to this tree is _Kantakadruma_,
Tree of Thorns; and on account of the great size and strength of its
spines, it is stated to have been placed as a tree of punishment in the
infernal regions, and to have been known as the Tree of Yama (the Hindu
god of death). Yama is also spoken of as the dispenser of the ambrosia
of immortality, which flows from the fruit of the celestial tree in
Paradise (_Ficus Indica_), and which is known in India as the tree dear
to Yama. As king of the spirits of the departed, Yama dwells near the
tree. Hel, the Scandinavian goddess of death, has her abode among the
roots of Yggdrasill, by the side of one of the fountains. Mîmir, who,
according to Scandinavian mythology, gives his name to the fountain of
life, is also a king of the dead. The ancients entertained the belief
that, on the road traversed by the souls of the departed, there grew a
certain tree, the fruit of which was the symbol of eternal life. In the
Elysian Fields, where dwelt the spirits of the virtuous in the gloomy
regions reigned over by Pluto, whole plains were covered with Asphodel,
flowers which were placed by the Greeks and Romans on the graves of the
departed as symbolic of the future life. In France, at the beginning of
the Christian era, the faithful, with some mystical idea, were wont to
scatter on the bottom of coffins, beneath the corpses, seeds of various
plants--probably to typify life from the dead.

The belief in a future existence doubtless led to the custom of
planting trees on tombs, especially the Cypress, which was regarded
as typical both of life and death. The tree growing over the grave,
one can easily imagine, was looked upon by the ancient races as an
emblem of the soul of the departed become immortal. Evelyn remarks, on
this point, that trees and perennial plants are the most natural and
instructive hieroglyphics of our expected resurrection and immortality,
and that they conduce to the meditation of the living, and the removal
of their cogitations from the sphere of vanity and worldliness. This
observant writer descants upon the predilection exhibited by the early
inhabitants of the world for burial beneath trees, and points out
that the venerable Deborah was interred under an Oak at Bethel, and
that the bones of Saul and his three sons were buried under the Oak
at Jabesh-Gilead. He tells us also that one use made by the ancients
of sacred groves was to place in their nemorous shades the bodies of
their dead: and that he had read of some nations whose people were wont
to hang, not only malefactors, but also their departed friends, and
those whom they most esteemed, upon trees, as being so much nearer to
heaven, and dedicated to God; believing it far more honourable than to
be buried in the earth. He adds that “the same is affirmed of other
septentrional people;” and points out that Propertius seems to allude
to some such custom in the following lines:--

  “The gods forbid my bones in the high road
  Should lie, by every wand’ring vulgar trod;
  Thus buried lovers are to scorn expos’d,
  My tomb in some bye-arbor be inclos’d.”

The ancients were wont to hang their criminals either to barren trees,
or to those dedicated to the infernal gods; and we find that in
Maundevile’s time the practice of hanging corpses on trees existed in
the Indies, or, at any rate, on an island which he describes as being
called Caffolos. He gives a sketch of a tree, probably a Palm, with
a man suspended from it, and remarks that “Men of that Contree, whan
here Frendes ben seke, thei hangen hem upon Trees; and seyn, that it is
bettre that briddes, that ben Angeles of God, eten hem, than the foul
Wormes of the Erthe.”

[Illustration: The Tree of Death. From _Maundevile’s Travels_.]

We have, in a previous chapter, seen that among the Bengalese there
still exists the practice of hanging sickly infants in baskets upon
trees, and leaving them there to die. Certain of the wild tribes of
India--the Puharris, for example--when burying their infants, place
them in earthen pots, and strew leaves over them: these pots they
deposit at the foot of trees, sometimes covering them over with
brushwood. Similar burial is given to those who die of measles or
small-pox: the corpse is placed at the foot of a tree, and left in the
underwood or heather, covered with leaves and branches. In about a year
the parents repair to the grave-tree, and there, beneath its boughs,
take part in a funeral feast.

Grotius states that the Greeks and Romans believed that spirits and
ghosts of men delighted to wander and appear in the sombre depths of
groves devoted to the sepulture of the departed, and on this account
Plato gave permission for trees to be planted over graves--as Evelyn
states, “to obumbrate and refresh them.” Since then the custom of
planting trees in places devoted to the burial of the dead has become
universal, and the trees thus selected have in consequence come to be
regarded as funereal.

As a general rule, the trees to which this funereal signification has
been attached are those of a pendent or weeping character, and those
which are distinguished by their dark and sombre foliage, black berries
and fruits, and melancholy-looking blossoms. Others again have been
planted in God’s acre on account of the symbolical meaning attached to
their form or nature. Thus, whilst the Aloe, the Yew, and the Cypress
are suggestive of life, from their perpetual verdure, they typify in
floral symbology respectively grief, sorrow, and mourning. The Bay is
an emblem of the resurrection, inasmuch as, according to Sir Thomas
Browne, when to all outward appearance it is dead and withered, it will
unexpectedly revive from the root, and its dry leaves resume their
pristine vitality. Evergreen trees and shrubs, whose growth is like
a pyramid or spire, the apex of which points heavenward, are deemed
emblematic of eternity, and as such are fitly classed among funereal
trees: the Arbor Vitæ and the Cypress are examples. The weeping Birch
and Willow and the Australian Casuarina, with their foliage mournfully
bending to the earth, fitly find their place in churchyards as
personifications of woe.

The Yew-tree has been considered an emblem of mourning from a very
early period. The Greeks adopted the idea from the Egyptians, the
Romans from the Greeks, and the Britons from the Romans. From long
habits of association, the Yew acquired a sacred character, and
therefore was considered as the best and most appropriate ornament of
consecrated ground. Hence in England it became the custom to plant Yews
in churchyards, despite the ghastly superstition attached to these
trees, that they prey upon the dead who lie beneath their sombre shade.
Moreover our forefathers were particularly careful in preserving this
funereal tree, whose branches it was at one time usual to carry in
solemn procession to the grave, and afterwards to deposit therein under
the bodies of departed friends. The custom of planting Yew trees singly
in churchyards is also one of considerable antiquity. Statius, in his
sixth Thebaid, calls it the _solitary Yew_. Leyden thus apostrophises
this funeral tree:--

  “Now more I love thee, melancholy Yew,
  Whose still green leaves in silence wave
  Above the peasant’s rude unhonoured grave,
  Which oft thou moistenest with the morning dew.
  To thee the sad, to thee the weary fly;
  They rest in peace beneath thy sacred gloom,
  Thou sole companion of the lonely tomb;
  No leaves but thine in pity o’er them sigh:
  Lo! now to fancy’s gaze thou seem’st to spread
  Thy shadowy boughs to shroud me with the dead.”

The Mountain Ash is to be found in most Welsh churchyards, where it
has been planted, not as a funeral tree, but as a defence against evil
spirits. In Montgomeryshire, it is customary to rest the corpse on its
way to the churchyard under one of these trees of good omen.

William Cullen Bryant, the American poet, has left us a graceful
description of an English churchyard:--

  “Erewhile on England’s pleasant shores, our sires
  Left not their churchyards unadorned with shades
  Or blossoms; and, indulgent to the strong
  And natural dread of man’s last home--the grave!
  Its frost and silence, they disposed around,
  Too sadly on life’s close, the forms and hues
  Of vegetable beauty. Then the Yew,
  Green even amid the snows of Winter, told
  Of immortality; and gracefully
  The Willow, a perpetual mourner, drooped;
  And there the gadding Woodbine crept about;
  And there the ancient Ivy.”

The Walnut-tree, of which it is said that the shadow brings death, is
in some countries considered a funeral tree. In India they call the
Tamarisk, _Yamadutika_ (Messenger of Yama, the Indian god of death),
and the _Bombax Heptaphyllum, Yamadruma_, the tree of Yama.

The Elm and the Oak, although not strictly funeral trees, are connected
with the grave by reason of their wood being used in the construction
of coffins, at the present day, just as Cypress and Cedar wood used to
be employed by the ancients.

  “And well the abounding Elm may grow
    In field and hedge so rife;
  In forest, copse, and wooded park,
    And ’mid the city’s strife;
  For every hour that passes by
    Shall end a human life.”--_Hood._

Brambles are used to bind down graves. Ivy, as an evergreen and a
symbol of friendship, is planted to run over the last resting-place of
those we love.

In Persia, it is the Basil-tuft that waves its fragrant blossoms over
tombs and graves. In Tripoli, Roses, Myrtle, Orange, and Jasmine are
planted round tombs; and a large bouquet of flowers is usually fastened
at the head of the coffins of females. Upon the death of a Moorish
lady of quality every place is filled with fresh flowers and burning
perfumes, and at the head of the body is placed a large bouquet. The
mausoleum of the royal family is filled with immense wreaths of fresh
flowers, and generally tombs are dressed with festoons of choice
blossoms. The Chinese plant Roses, a species of Lycoris, and the
Anemone on their graves. The Indians attribute a funereal character to
the fragrant flowers of the sacred Champak (_Michelia Champaca_).

The ancients planted the Asphodel around the tombs of the deceased,
in the belief that the seeds of this plant, and those of the Mallow,
afforded nourishment to the dead.

The Greeks employed the Rose to decorate the tombs of the dead, and the
floral decorations were frequently renewed, under the belief that this
bush was potent to protect the remains of the departed one. Anacreon
alludes to this practice in one of his odes:--

  “When pain afflicts and sickness grieves,
  Its juice the drooping heart relieves;
  And after death its odours shed
  A pleasing fragrance o’er the dead.”

The Romans, also, were so partial to the Rose, that we find, by old
inscriptions at Ravenna and Milan, that codicils in the wills of the
deceased directed that their tombs should be planted with the queen of
flowers--a practice said to have been introduced by them into England.
Camden speaks of the churchyards in his time as thickly planted with
Rose-trees; Aubrey notices a custom at Ockley, in Surrey, of planting
Roses on the graves of lovers; and Evelyn, who lived at Wotton Place,
not far distant, mentions the same practice. In Wales, White Roses mark
the graves of the young and of unmarried females; whilst Red Roses are
placed over anyone distinguished for benevolence of character.

All nations at different periods seem to have delighted to deck the
graves of their departed relatives with garlands of flowers--emblems at
once of beauty and quick fading into death.

                    “With fairest flowers
  While summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,
  I’ll sweeten thy sad grave. Thou shalt not lack
  The flower that’s like thy face, pale Primrose; nor
  The azured Hare-bell, like thy veins; no, nor
  The leaf of Eglantine, which, not to slander,
  Out-sweetened not thy breath.”

  _Shakspeare (Cymbeline, Act IV.)._

The flowers strewed over graves by the Greeks were the Amaranth,
Myrtle, and Polyanthus. The practice was reprobated by the primitive
Christians; but in Prudentius’s time they had adopted it, and it is
expressly mentioned both by St. Ambrose and St. Jerome. The flowers
so used were deemed typical of the dead: to the young were assigned
the blossoms of Spring and Summer: to middle-age, aromatic herbs and
branches of primeval trees.

Amaranthus was employed by the Thessalians to decorate the grave of
Achilles; and Electra is represented as uttering the complaint that the
tomb of her father Agamemnon had not been adorned with Myrtle:--

  “With no libations, nor with Myrtle boughs,
  Were my dear father’s manes gratified.”

Virgil, when recounting the sorrow of Anchises at the loss of
Marcellus, causes him to exclaim:--

  “Full canisters of fragrant Lilies bring,
  Mix’d with the purple Roses of the Spring.
  Let me with fun’ral flowers his body strew.”

In Germany, and in the German Cantons of Switzerland, the custom of
decking graves is very common. The _Dianthus_ is a favourite flower for
this purpose in Upper Germany. In the beautiful little churchyard at
Schwytz, almost every grave is entirely covered with Pinks.

The cemetery of Père la Chaise, near Paris, exhibits proofs of the
extent to which the custom of decking graves is preserved even by a
metropolitan population and among persons of some rank. Numerous shops
in the neighbourhood of this cemetery are filled with garlands of
_Immortelles_ or Everlasting Flowers, which are purchased on _fête_
days and anniversaries, and placed on the graves. The branches of Box,
or _Bois béni_, which are used in the place of Palms and Palm-leaves,
are frequently stuck over graves in France.

  “Fair flowers in sweet succession should arise
  Through the long, blooming year, above the grave;
  Spring breezes will breathe gentlier o’er the turf,
  And summer glance with mildest, meekest beam,
  To cherish piety’s dear offerings. There
  Rich sounds of Autumn ever shall be heard,--
  Mysterious, solemn music, waked by winds
  To hymn the closing year! And when the touch
  Of sullen Winter blights the last, last gem,
  That bloomed around the tomb--O! there should be
  The polished and enduring Laurel--there
  The green and glittering Ivy, and all plants,
  All hues and forms, delicious, that adorn
  The brumal reign, and often waken hopes
  Refreshing. Let eternal verdure clothe
  The silent fields where rest the honoured dead,
  While mute affection comes, and lingers round
  With slow soft step, and pensive pause, and sigh,
  All holy.”--_Carrington._

In Egypt, Basil is scattered over the tombs by the women, who repair to
the sepulchres of the dead twice or thrice every week, to pray and weep
over the departed. In Italy, the Periwinkle, called by the peasantry
_fior di morto_, or Death’s flower, is used to deck their children who
die in infancy. In Norway, branchlets of Juniper and Fir are used at
funerals, and exhibited in houses in order to protect the inhabitants
from the visitation of evil spirits. The Freemasons of America
scatter sprays of Acacia (_Robinia_) on the coffins of brethren.
In Switzerland, a funeral wreath for a young maiden is composed of
Hawthorn, Myrtle, and Orange-blossom. In the South of France, chaplets
of white Roses and Orange-blossom are placed in the coffins of the

The Greeks and Romans crowned the dead with flowers, and the mourners
wore them at the funeral ceremonies. It should be mentioned that
the Romans did not generally bury their dead before the time of the
Antonines. The bodies of the dead were burnt, and the ashes placed in
an urn.

The funeral pyre of the ancients consisted of Cypress, Yew, Fir,
and other trees and shrubs. The friends of the deceased stood by
during the cremation, throwing incense on the fire and libations of
wine. The bones and ashes were afterwards collected, cleansed, mixed
with precious ointments, and enclosed in funeral urns. Agamemnon is
described by Homer in the ‘Odyssey,’ as informing Achilles how this
ceremony had been performed upon him:--

  “But when the flames your body had consumed,
  With oils and odours we your bones perfumed,
        And wash’d with unmixed wine.”

Virgil, in describing the self-sacrifice, by fire, of Dido, speaks thus
of the necessary preparations:--

            “The fatal pile they rear
  Within the secret court, exposed in air.
  The cloven Holms and Pines are heaped on high;
  And garlands in the hollow spaces lie.
  Sad Cypress, Vervain, Yew, compose the wreath,
  And every baleful flower denoting death.”

The repast set apart by custom for the dead consisted of Lettuces
and Beans. It was customary among the ancients to offer Poppies as a
propitiation to the manes of the dead. The Romans celebrated festivals
in honour of the spirits of the departed, called Lemuria, where Beans
were cast into the fire on the altar. The people also threw black Beans
on the graves of the deceased, or burnt them, as the smell was supposed
to be disagreeable to the manes. In Italy, at the present day, it is
customary to eat Beans and to distribute them among the poor on the
anniversary of a death.

The practice of embalming the bodies of their dead, which was universal
among the ancient Egyptians, had its origin, according to Diodorus, in
the desire of the wealthy to be able to contemplate, in the midst of
luxurious appointments, the features of their ancestors. Several times
a year the mummies were brought out of the splendid chambers where
they were kept; incense was burnt over them, and sweet-scented oil was
poured over their heads, and carefully wiped off by a priest called in
expressly to officiate. Herodotus has given us a description of the
Egyptian method of embalming:--The brains having first been extracted
through the nostrils by means of a curved iron probe, the head was
filled with drugs. Then, with a sharp Ethiopian stone, an incision was
made in the side, through which the intestines were drawn out; and the
cavity was filled with powdered Myrrh, Cassia, and other perfumes,
Frankincense excepted. Thus prepared, the body was sewn up, kept in
natron (sesquicarbonate of soda) for seventy days, and then swathed in
fine linen, smeared with gum, and finally placed in a wooden case made
in the shape of a man. This was the best and most expensive style of
embalming. A cheaper mode consisted in injecting oil of Cedar into the
body, without removing the intestines, whilst for the poorer classes
the body was merely cleansed; subjecting it in both cases to a natron
bath, which completely dried the flesh. The Jews borrowed the practice
of embalming from the Egyptians; for St. Mark records that, after the
death of our Saviour, Nicodemus “brought a mixture of Myrrh and Aloes,
about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and
wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of Jews is to

Old English Funeral Customs.

In England, there long prevailed an old custom of carrying garlands
before the bier of youthful beauty, which were afterwards strewed over
her grave, In ‘Hamlet,’ the Queen, scattering flowers over the grave of
Ophelia, says:--

  “Sweets to the sweet. Farewell!
  I hoped thy bride-bed to have decked, sweet maid,
  And not have strewed thy grave.”

The practice of planting and scattering flowers over graves is noticed
by Gay, who says:--

  “Upon her grave the Rosemary they threw,
  The Daisy, Butter-flower, and Endive blue.”

Rosemary was considered as an emblem of faithful remembrance. Thus
Ophelia says: “There’s Rosemary for you, that’s for remembrance; pray
you, love, remember.” Probably this was the reason that the plant was
carried by the followers at a funeral in former days: a custom noticed
by the poet in the following lines:--

  “To show their love, the neighbours far and near
  Follow’d with wistful look the damsel’s bier;
  Sprigg’d Rosemary the lads and lasses bore,
  While dismally the parson walked before.”

It is still customary in some parts of England to distribute Rosemary
among the company at a funeral, who frequently throw sprigs of it into
the grave.

Wordsworth introduces in one of his smaller poems an allusion to a
practice which still prevails in the North of England:--

  “The basin of Box-wood, just six months before,
  Had stood on the table at Timothy’s door;
  A coffin through Timothy’s threshold had passed,
  One child did it bear, and that child was his last.”

It is stated in a note that--“In several parts of the North of England,
when a funeral takes place, a basin full of sprigs of Box-wood is
placed at the door of the house from which the coffin is taken up; and
each person who attends the funeral ordinarily takes a sprig of this
Box-wood, and throws it into the grave of the deceased.” Pepys mentions
a churchyard near Southampton, where, in the year 1662, the graves were
all sown with Sage.

Unfortunate lovers had garlands of Yew, Willow, and Rosemary laid on
their biers; thus we read in the ‘Maid’s Tragedy’:--

  “Lay a garland on my hearse
            Of the dismal Yew;
  Maidens, Willow branches bear;
            Say that I died true.
  My love was false, but I was firm
            From my hour of birth.
  Upon my buried body lie
            Lightly gentle earth.”

It was an old English custom, at the funeral of a virgin, for a young
woman to precede the coffin in the procession, carrying on her head
a variegated garland of flowers and sweet herbs. Six young girls
surrounded the bier, and strewed flowers along the streets to the
place of burial. It was also formerly customary to carry garlands of
sweet flowers at the funeral of dear friends and relatives, and not
only to strew them on the coffin, but to plant them permanently on the
grave. This pleasing practice, which gave the churchyard a picturesque
appearance, owed its origin to the ancient belief that Paradise is
planted with fragrant and beautiful flowers--a conception which is
alluded to in the legend of Sir Owain, where the celestial Paradise,
which is reached by the blessed after their passage through purgatory,
is thus described:--

  “Fair were her erbers with floures;
  Rose and Lili divers colours,
  Primros and Parvink,
  Mint, Feverfoy, and Eglenterre,
  Columbin and Mother-wer,
  Than ani man may bithenke
  It berth erbes of other maner,
  Than ani in erth groweth here,
  Though that is best of priis;
  Evermore thai grene springeth,
  For Winter no sooner it us cloyeth,
  And sweeter than licorice.”

In South Wales, the custom of planting and ornamenting graves is
noticed by Brand in his ‘Popular Antiquities,’ as being very common.
He tells us that, in Glamorgan, many churchyards have something like
the splendour of a rich and various parterre. Besides this, it is usual
to strew the graves with flowers and evergreens (within the church as
well as out of it) at least thrice a year, on the same principle of
delicate respect as the stones are whitened. No flowers or evergreens
are permitted to be planted on graves but such as are sweet-scented:
the Pink and Polyanthus, Sweet Williams, Gilliflowers and Carnations,
Mignonette, Thyme, Hyssop, Camomile, and Rosemary make up the pious
decoration of this consecrated garden. Turnesoles, Peonies, the African
Marigold, the Anemone, and some other flowers, though beautiful, should
never be planted on graves, because they are not sweet-scented.

The prejudice against old maids and old bachelors subsists among
the Welsh in a very marked degree, so that their graves have not
unfrequently been planted, by some satirical neighbours, not only with
Rue, but with Thistles, Nettles, Henbane, and other noxious weeds.

In Glamorganshire, the old custom is still retained of strewing the
bed whereon a corpse rests with fragrant flowers. In the South of
England a chaplet of white Roses is borne before the corpse of a maiden
by a young girl nearest in age and resemblance to the deceased, and
afterwards hung up over her accustomed seat at church.

Plants as Death Portents.

Though scarcely to be characterised as “funereal,” there are some
plants which have obtained a sinister reputation as either predicting
death themselves, or being associated in some manner with fatal
portents. Mannhardt tells us of a gloomy Swiss tradition, dating
from the fifteenth century, which relates that the three children of
a bootmaker of Basle having each in their garden a favourite tree,
carefully studied the inflorescence during Lent. As the result of their
close observation, the two sisters, Adelaide and Catherine, saw from
the characteristics of the blossoms that they were predestined to enter
a convent; whilst the boy Jean attentively watched the development of a
red Rose, which predicted his entry into the Church and his subsequent
martyrdom: as a matter of fact, it is said he was martyred at Prague by
the Hussites.

The Greeks regarded Parsley as a funereal herb, and were fond of
strewing the tombs of their dead with it: hence it came in time to be
thought a plant of evil augury, and those who were on the point of
death were commonly spoken of as being in need of Parsley. Something
of this association of Parsley with death is still to be found in
Devonshire, where a belief exists that to transplant Parsley is an
offence against the guardian spirit who watches over the Parsley-beds,
surely to be punished, either by misfortune or death, on the offender
himself or some member of his family within a year.

In the Siebenbürgen of Saxony, the belief exists that at the moment
when an infant dies in the house, Death passes like a shadow into the
garden, and there plucks a flower.

In Italy, the red Rose is considered to be an emblem of an early death,
and it is thought to be an evil omen if its leaves are perchance
scattered on the ground. An apt illustration of this belief is found
in the tragic story of poor Miss Ray, who was murdered at the Piazza
entrance of Covent Garden Theatre, by a man named Hackman, on April
7th, 1779. Just prior to starting with her friend Mrs. Lewis for
the theatre, a beautiful Rose fell from her bosom to the ground.
She stooped to regain it, but at her touch the red leaves scattered
themselves on the carpet, leaving the bare stalk in her hand. The
unfortunate girl, who had been depressed in spirits before, was
evidently affected by the incident, and said nervously, “I trust I
am not to consider this as an evil omen!” Soon rallying, however,
she cheerfully asked Mrs. Lewis to be sure and meet her after the
theatre--a request the fulfilment of which was prevented by her
untimely fate.

Shakspeare has recorded that the withering of the Bay was looked upon
as a certain omen of death; and it is an old fancy that if a Fir-tree
be struck, withered, or burnt with lightning, the owner will soon after
be seized with a mortal illness.

Herrick, in his ‘Hesperides,’ alludes to the Daffodil as being under
certain circumstances a death portent.

  “When a Daffodill I see
  Hanging down her head t’wards me,
  Guess I may what I must be:
  First, I shall decline my head;
  Secondly, I shall be dead;
  Lastly, safely buried.”

In Northamptonshire, a belief exists that if an Apple-tree blooms after
the fruit is ripe, it surely portends death:--

  “A bloom upon the Apple-tree when the Apples are ripe,
  Is a sure termination to somebody’s life.”

In Devonshire, it is considered very unlucky to plant a bed of Lilies
of the Valley, as the person who does this will in all probability die
before twelve months have expired; and in the same county, a plentiful
season for Hazel-nuts is believed to portend unusual mortality: hence
the saying--

  “Many Nits [Nuts],
  Many pits [graves].”

Sloes are also sometimes associated with this portent, as another
version of the rhyme runs--

  “Many Slones [Sloes], many groans,
  Many Nits, many pits.”

It is thought very unlucky in Sussex to use green brooms in May, and an
old saying is current in the same county that--

  “If you sweep the house with Broom in May,
  You’ll sweep the head of that house away.”

In West Sussex, there exists the strange idea that if anyone eats a
Blackberry after Old Michaelmas Day (October 10th), death or disaster
will alight either on the eater or his kinsfolk before the year is out.

In some parts of England a superstition exists that if in a row of
Beans one should chance to come up white, instead of green, a death
will occur in the family within the year.

In certain English counties there is a superstitious dread that if a
drill go from one end of the field to the other without depositing any
seed, some person on the farm will die either before the year is out or
before the crop then sown is reaped.

There is a very ancient belief that if every vestige of the Christmas
decorations is not removed from the church before Candlemas Day
(February 2nd), there will be a death during the year in the family
occupying the pew where perchance a leaf or a berry has been left.
Herrick has alluded to this superstitious notion in his ‘Hesperides’:--

  “Down with the Rosemary, and so
  Down with the Baies and Mistletoe:
  Down with the Holly, Ivy, all
  Wherewith ye dress the Christmas hall;
  That so the superstitious find
  Not one least branch left thar behind
  For look, how many leaves there be
  Neglected there (maids, trust to me)
  So many goblins you shall see.”


Part the Second.



=ACACIA.=--In the deserts of Arabia the finest tree is the _Acacia
Seyal_, which is reputed to be the Shittah tree of the Old Testament.
The timber of this tree was termed _Shittim_, translated by some as
“incorruptible wood.” In Exodus xxv. it is recorded that the Ark of
the Lord was made of _Shittim_ wood, overlaid within and without with
pure gold, and having a crown of gold round about it; and in chapter
xxvi. we read that the staves were made of the same wood, as were
also the boards of the Tabernacle and the woodwork of the Altar on
which the offerings were presented. From this same Acacia is obtained
a fragrant and highly-prized gum which is employed as incense in
religious ceremonials.----Tradition affirms that this Acacia--the
_Nabkha_ of the Arabians--was the tree from which was fabricated the
Saviour’s crown of thorns. It has many small sharp spines, and the
leaves resemble those of the Ivy with which the Roman Emperors were
crowned, thus making the mockery bitterly complete.----The Buddhists
make use of the wood of the _Sami_ (_Acacia Suma_) to light the fire
on their altars: this is done by striking it with the _Asvattha_,
or Peepul--the act symbolising generation. This Acacia is one of
the sacred trees of India, and yields an astringent or preservative
substance.----The tree usually known in England by the name of Acacia
is the _Robinia pseudo-Acacia_, or Locust-tree of America, named by
Linnæus after the two Robins, herbalists to Henri IV., who introduced
it into France in 1640. This tree would appear to have somewhat of
a funeral character, since we find the American Freemasons make a
practice of dropping twigs of it on the coffins of brethren. A sprig of
Acacia is one of the emblems specially revered by Freemasons.----“It
is curious,” says Mr. Reade, in ‘The Veil of Isis,’ “that _Houzza_,
which Mahomet esteemed an idol--_Houzza_ so honoured in the Arabian
works of Ghatfan, Koreisch, Renanâh, and Salem--should be simply the
Acacia. Thence was derived the word _Huzza!_ in our language, which
was probably at first a religious exclamation like the _Evoke!_ of the
Bacchantes.”----The English newspapers lately gave an account of a
singular species of American Acacia, stated to be growing at Virginia,
Nevada, and exhibiting all the characteristics of a sensitive plant.
At the commencement of 1883 the Acacia was reported to be about eight
feet high, and growing rapidly. When the sun sets, its leaves fold
together and the ends of the twigs coil up like a pig-tail; and if
the latter are handled, there is evident uneasiness throughout the
plant. Its highest state of agitation was reached when the tree was
removed from the pot in which it was matured into a larger one. To
use the gardener’s expression, it went very mad. It had scarcely been
planted in its new quarters before the leaves began to stand up in
all directions, like the hair on the tail of an angry cat, and soon
the whole plant was in a quiver. At the same time it gave out a most
sickening and pungent odour, resembling that of a rattlesnake when
teased. The smell so filled the house, that it was necessary to open
all the doors and windows, and it was a full hour before the plant
calmed down and folded its leaves in peace.

=ACANTHUS.=--The Acanthus was a favourite plant amongst both the Greeks
and Romans, who employed it for decorative purposes: its leaves form
the principal adornment of the Corinthian capital, which was invented
by Callimachus. How the idea was suggested to the architect is told
us by Vitruvius. A young Corinthian damsel fell ill and died. After
her interment, her nurse gathered her trinkets and ornaments into a
basket, and lest they should be injured by the weather, she covered the
basket with a tile, and placed it near her young mistress’s tomb over
the root of an Acanthus, the stalks and leaves of which burst forth
in the Spring, and spreading themselves on the outside of the basket,
were bent back again at the top by the corner of the tile. Callimachus
happening to pass by, was charmed with the beauty and novelty of this
accidental arrangement, and took from it the idea of the Corinthian
chapter. Both Greeks and Romans made use of the _Acanthus mollis_ in
the form of garlands, with which they adorned their buildings, their
furniture, and even their clothing. Theocritus speaks of a prize cup
as having “a crust of soft Acanthus.” Virgil narrates that the plant
formed the basis of a design embroidered on the mantle of Helen of
Troy; and tells us that the handles of Alcimedon’s cup were enwreathed
with what he elsewhere terms “Smiling Acanthus.”----Old English names
for this plant were Brank-ursine and Bear’s-breech.----Acanthus is
stated by astrologers to be under the dominion of the Moon.

=ACHYRANTHES.=--The _Apamarga_, an Indian variety of this plant,
has given the name to the sacrificial rite called _Apâmârga Homa_,
because at daybreak they offer a handful of flour made from the seeds
of the Apamarga (_Achyranthes aspera_). According to a legend quoted
by De Gubernatis, Indra had slain Vriitra and other demons, when he
encountered the demon Namuchi and wrestled with him. Vanquished, he
made peace with Namuchi on the understanding that he should never kill
anything with a solid body, nor with a liquid body, neither by night
nor by day. So Indra gathered a vegetable, which is neither solid nor
liquid, and comes during the daybreak, when the night is past, but
the day has not yet come. Then with the vegetable he attacked the
monster Namuchi, who complained of this treachery. From the head of
Namuchi sprang the plant _Apâmârga_. Indra afterwards destroyed all
the monsters by means of this plant. As may be supposed after such
a marvellous origin, the plant was soon looked upon as a powerful
talisman. According to the _Atharvaveda_, it should be held in the
hand, and invoked against the malady _Kshetriya_, and against witches,
monsters, and nightmares. They call it the Victor, having in itself
the strength of a thousand, destroying the effects of maledictions,
and especially of those inimical to generation, which produce hunger,
thirst, and poverty. It is also called the Lord of salutary plants,
son of Vibhindant, having received all its power from Indra himself.
The Hindus believe that the plant is a security against the bites of

ACONITE.--See Monkshood.

=ACORUS.=--This aromatic Reed, or Sweet Flag, is absurdly said to
have been called Acorus, from the Greek _koré_, pupil, because it was
esteemed good for diseases of the eye. The sacred oil of the Jews--the
“oil of holy ointment”--used to anoint the tabernacle, the ark of the
testimony, the altar of burnt offerings, the altar of incense, the
candlesticks, and all the sacred vessels, has the oil of Acorus as
one of its ingredients. It is the “Sweet Calamus” mentioned in Exodus
xxx.----The Acorus is a plant of the Moon.

=ADDER’S TONGUE.=--The Adder’s Tongue, or to give it its old Latin
name, Christ’s Spear (_Ophioglossum vulgatum_), was formerly much
prized as a remedy for wounds. Gerarde declared that boiled in olive
oil it produced “a most excellent greene oyle, or rather a balsam for
greene wounds comparable to oyle of St. John’s wort, if it doth not far
surpasse it.” A preparation called the “green oil of charity” is still
in request; and Adder’s Spear ointment (a compound of Adder’s Tongue
Fern, Plantain, and sundry herbs) is well known in country places as
a vulnerary. In olden times an Adder’s Tongue was reputed to be a
wondrous cure for tumours, if plucked at the falling of the Moon, and
applied with the accompaniment of an incantation.----Witches highly
esteemed Adder’s Tongue as a plant to be employed in their spells.
Astrologers class it as a herb of the Moon.

AFFADYL.--See Narcissus.

=AGNUS CASTUS.=--The “Chaste Tree” (_Vitex Agnus Castus_), a species of
Willow, derives its name from the Greek _hagnos_, and Latin _castus_,
both meaning chaste. The name was given to it, according to Pliny,
from the custom of the Athenian matrons to strew their beds with it
during the festival of the Thesmophora, held in honour of Ceres, when
the strictest chastity was enjoined. At the same festival young girls
adorned themselves with blossoms of the shrub and slept on its leaves
in order to guard their innocence and purity.----Agnus Castus was
consecrated to Æsculapius, and also, in the isle of Samos, to Juno.
Prometheus was crowned with it. At Grecian weddings, the bride and
groom carried crowns of it. It was also employed as a preservative
against poisoning.----The seed of this shrub in later years acquired
the name of _Piper Monachorum_, and in explanation it is said that,
following the example of the matrons of Athens, who had discovered
that the odour of branches of Agnus Castus combatted unchaste thoughts
and desires, certain Christian monks made themselves girdles of the
flexible boughs of the tree, by wearing which they professed to expel
from their hearts all passions that love could excite.----Some of
the old herbalists affirm that the seeds of Agnus Castus had a very
powerful effect in arresting generation. Gerarde says “Agnus Castus
is a singular medicine and remedy for such as would willingly live
chaste, for it withstandeth all uncleanness or desire to the flesh,
consuming and drying up the seed of generation, in what sort soever it
bee taken, whether in pouder onely, or the decoction drunke, or whether
the leaves be carried about the body; for which cause it was called
_castus_, that is to say, chaste, cleane, and pure.” The leaves, burnt
or strewn about, were reputed to drive away serpents; and, according
to Dioscorides, a branch of the shrub, carried in the hand, would keep
wayfarers from weariness.----Agnus Castus is held to be under the
dominion of Mars in Capricorn.

ALBESPYNE.--See Hawthorn.

=AGRIMONY.=--The Agrimony or Egrimony (_Agrimonia Eupatoria_) was
a herb much in vogue among the old herbalists, who attributed
extraordinary virtues to it. Dioscorides prescribes it as a cure for
the bitings and stingings of serpents. Gerarde says it is “good for
them that have naughty livers,” and in fact it was at one time known
as Liver-wort. Culpeper tells us that it will draw forth “thorns and
splinters of wood, nails, or any other such thing gotten into the
flesh,” and recommends it further as “a most admirable remedy for such
whose lives are annoyed either by heat or cold.” Sore throat, gout,
ague, colic, ear-ache, cancers, and ulcers are among the numerous
complaints the herbalists professed to cure by means of syrups and
salves made of Agrimony, a plant which has formed an ingredient in most
of the herb teas which have been from time to time introduced.----The
astrological government and virtues of Agrimony appear to the
uninitiated somewhat complicated. If we may believe Culpeper, it is
a herb under Jupiter and the sign Cancer, and strengthens those parts
under the planet and sign, and removes diseases in them by sympathy;
and those under Saturn, Mars, and Mercury by antipathy, if they happen
in any part of the body governed by Jupiter, or under the signs Cancer,
Sagittarius, or Pisces.----Michael Drayton, in his ‘Muse’s Elysium,’
thus refers to Agrimony, among other herbs dear to simplers:--

  “Next these here Egrimony is,
    That helps the serpent’s biting;
  The blessed Betony by this,
    Whose cures deserving writing.

  “This All-heal, and so named of right,
    New wounds so quickly healing;
  A thousand more I could recite
    Most worthy of revealing.”

=ALDER.=--The origin of the Alder is to be found in the following lines
from Rapin’s poem on Gardens:--

  “Of watery race Alders and Willows spread
  O’er silver brooks their melancholy shade,
  Which heretofore (thus tales have been believed)
  Were two poor men, who by their fishing lived;
  Till on a day when Pales’ feast was held,
  And all the town with pious mirth was filled,
  This impious pair alone her rites despised,
  Pursued their care, till she their crime chastised:
  While from the banks they gazed upon the flood,
  The angry goddess fixed them where they stood,
  Transformed to sets, and just examples made
  To such as slight devotion for their trade.
  At length, well watered by the bounteous stream,
  They gained a root, and spreading trees became;
  Yet pale their leaves, as conscious how they fell,
  Which croaking frogs with vile reproaches tell.”

In Germany, Alders have often a funereal and almost diabolic character.
It is a popular belief that they commence to weep, to supplicate,
and to shed drops of blood if there is any talk of cutting them
down.----A legend of the Tyrol narrates how a boy who had climbed a
tree, overlooked the ghastly doings of certain witches beneath its
boughs. They tore in pieces the corpse of a woman, and threw the
portions in the air. The boy caught one, and kept it by him. The
witches, on counting the pieces afterwards found that one was missing,
and so replaced it by a scrap of Alder-wood, when instantaneously the
dead came to life again.----Of the wood of the Alder, Virgil tells
us, the first boats were made:--_Tunc Alnos primum fluvii sensere
cavatas._----The Alder, or Aller, is said to be a tree of Venus, under
the celestial signs of either Cancer or Pisces.

ALECOST.--See Costmary.

ALEHOOF, Ground-Ivy.--See Ivy.

=ALMOND.=--According to an ancient tradition mentioned by Servius,
the origin of the Almond-tree is to be traced to Phyllis, a beautiful
Thracian queen, who became enamoured of Demophoon, the son of Theseus
and Phædra, and was wedded to him. Demophoon, who, whilst returning
from the Trojan war, had been cast by a storm on the coast of Thrace
soon after his marriage with the Queen, was recalled to Athens by his
father’s death. He promised faithfully to return to his royal bride at
the expiration of a month, but failed to do so, and Phyllis, distracted
at his continued absence, after several futile visits to the sea-shore,
expired of grief, and was transformed into an Almond-tree, which is
called _Phylla_ by the Greeks. Some time after this metamorphosis the
truant consort returned, and upon hearing of the untimely fate of
Phyllis, he ran and clasped the tree in remorseful embrace. Loving
even in death, his beautiful queen seems to have acknowledged his
repentance, for the Almond-tree into which she had been transformed,
although at that time stripped of its leaves, suddenly shot forth and
blossomed, as if eager to show how unchangeable was poor Phyllis’s
love.----A second account of the origin of the Almond-tree states that
it sprang from the blood of the monster Agdistis, the offspring of
Jupiter. This fable further narrates that the daughter of the river
Sangarius fell in love with the beautiful tree, and after gathering
its fruit, gave birth to a son named Atys.----A third account relates
how Io, daughter of King Midas, was forsaken by Atys, whom she loved;
and how Agdistis, on the death of Atys, mutilated his body, from which
sprang the bitter Almond-tree, the emblem of grief.----Virgil made the
flowering of the Almond a presage of the crop of Wheat.

  “With many a bud if flowering Almonds bloom,
  And arch their gay festoons that breathe perfume,
  So shall thy harvest like profusion yield,
  And cloudless suns mature the fertile field.”

The Hebrew word _Shakad_, from which the Almond derives its name,
means to make haste, or to awake early, given to the tree on account
of its hasty growth and early maturity. Aaron’s rod, which budded
and brought forth fruit in the Tabernacle during one day, was of an
Almond-tree: “It budded and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms,
and yielded Almonds.” (Numbers xvii., 8). Among the Hebrews, the
Almond-tree was regarded as the symbol of haste and vigilance, because
of the suddenness of its blossoming, which announced the Spring. The
Mahommedans consider its flowers typical of hope, because they bloom on
the bare branches.----Romanists assign the blossoming Almond-tree to
the Madonna, as Queen of Heaven.----In Tuscany, and other countries, a
branch of the Almond-tree is employed to discover hidden treasures. It
is carried to the place where the treasure is supposed to be concealed,
and, according to popular superstition, its point will turn towards
the exact spot. In the nuptial ceremonies of the Czechs, Almonds are
distributed amongst the wedding guests.----Pliny considered Almonds
a most powerful remedy against inebriation, and Plutarch relates an
anecdote of a notorious wine-bibber, who, by his habitual use of bitter
Almonds, used to escape being intoxicated.----The Almond-tree is under
Jupiter. To dream of eating Almonds portends a journey: if they taste
sweet, it will be a prosperous one; if bitter, the contrary.

=ALOE.=--The Hebrews appear to have entertained a great respect for
the Aloe (_Ahaloth_). In the Bible it is frequently referred to
in commendatory terms, and its use as a perfume is of very great
antiquity. King David, in the Psalms, says: “All thy garments smell
of Myrrh, and Aloes, and Cassia.” Solomon, in the Canticles, mentions
Aloes as one of the chief spices; and in Proverbs (vii., 17) refers
to it as a scent. Aloes is one of the spices mentioned by St. John
as having been brought by Nicodemus to embalm the body of our
Lord.----There are two trees which yield this fragrant wood, viz.,
_Aloexylum Agallochum_, a native of the mountains of Hindostan, and
_Aquilaria Malaccensis_, which grows in Malacca: the wood of these
aromatic trees forms the principal ingredient in the scented sticks
burned by the Hindus and Chinese in their temples. The heart of the
Chinese Aloe, or Wood Aloes, is called Calambac, or Tambac-wood, which
is reckoned in the Indies more precious than gold itself: it is used
as a perfume; as a specific for persons affected with fainting fits
or with the palsy; and as a setting for the most costly jewels. Both
the name and the plant of the aromatic Aloe are of Indian origin,
and it must not be confounded with the common Aloes, most of which
have an offensive smell and a bitter taste.----In Wood’s Zoography
we read: “The Mahommedans respect the Aloe as a plant of a superior
nature. In Egypt, it may be said to bear some share in their religious
ceremonies, since whoever returns from a pilgrimage to Mecca hangs
it over his street door as a proof of his having performed that holy
journey. The superstitious Egyptians believe that this plant hinders
evil spirits and apparitions from entering the house, and on this
account whoever walks the streets in Cairo will find it over the doors
of both Christians and Jews.”----The Arabic name of the Aloe, _Saber_,
signifies patience, and in Mecca at the end of most graves, facing the
epitaph, is planted an Aloe, as an allusion to the patience required
by those awaiting the arrival of the great day of resurrection.
Most Eastern poets, however, speak of the Aloe as the symbol of
bitterness; and the Romans seem to have been well acquainted with this
qualification, judging from the allusion to it in Juvenal:--“_Plus
Aloes quam mellis habere._” “As bitter as Aloes” is a proverbial saying
of considerable antiquity, derived doubtless from the acrid taste of
the medicines obtained from the plant, and made principally from the
pulp of the fleshy leaf of the Succotrine Aloe, the leaves of which
have a remarkable efficacy in curing scalds and burns.----Not only,
however, for its medicinal properties is the Aloe esteemed, for in
some countries, particularly Mexico, the poor derive from it almost
every necessary of life. The ancient manuscripts of Mexico are chiefly
inscribed upon paper made from the fibres of the _pité_, or pith. Of
the points of the leaves of the Aloe are made nails, darts, and awls,
and with these last the Indians pierce holes in their ears when they
propose to honour the Devil with some peculiar testimonies of their

=ALYSSUM.=--This plant was regarded by the Neapolitans as possessing
magic qualities, and was suspended in their houses as a charm against
the Evil Eye. Its name _Alyssum_ is derived from the Greek _a_, not,
and _lussa_, madness. In England, the plant was called Alisson and
Madwort, because, as Gerarde says, it is “a present remedie for them
that are bitten of a mad dog.”

=AMARANTH.=--In Spenser’s ‘Fairy Queen’ is to be found the following
allusion to the mythological origin of the Amaranth:--

  “And all about grew every sort of flower,
  To which sad lovers were transformed of yore;
  Fresh Hyacinthus, Phœbus’ paramour,
  Foolish Narciss, that likes the watery shore:
  Sad Amaranthus, made a flower but late,
  Sad Amaranthus, in whose purple gore
  Me seems I see Aminta’s wretched fate,
  To whom sweet poets’ verse hath given endless date.”

The Amaranth was a sacred plant among the Greeks and Romans: from the
former it received its name, which means “never-fading,” on account
of the lasting nature of its blossoms. Hence it is considered the
emblem of immortality. The Amaranth was also classed among the funeral
flowers. Homer describes the Thessalians as wearing crowns of Amaranth
at the funeral of Achilles; and Thessalus decorated the tomb of the
same hero with Amaranth-blossoms. Philostratus records the custom of
adorning tombs with flowers, and Artemidorus tells us that the Greeks
were accustomed to hang wreaths of Amaranth in most of the temples
of their divinities: and they regarded the Amaranth as the symbol of
friendship. Milton crowns with Amaranth the angelic host assembled
before the Deity:--

  “With solemn adorations down they cast
  Their crowns, inwove with Amaranth and gold--
  Immortal Amaranth, a flower which once
  In Paradise, fast by the tree of life,
  Began to bloom, but soon for man’s offence
  To heaven removed, where first it grew.”

The same poet, as well as Spenser, classes the Amaranth amongst
“those flowers that sad embroidery wear.”----In Sumatra, the people
of the Batta country lead in times of peace a purely pastoral life,
and are accustomed to play on a kind of flute crowned with garlands
of Amaranth and other flowers.----At the Floral Games at Toulouse, a
golden Amaranth was awarded for the best lyric composition.----In
modern times, the Amaranth has given its name to an order instituted by
Queen Christiana of Sweden, in the year 1633, at an entertainment given
in honour of Don Antonio Pimentel, the Spanish Ambassador. On this
occasion she appeared in a dress covered with diamonds, attended by a
suite nobles and ladies. At the conclusion of the ball she stripped
her attire of the diamonds, and distributed them among the company, at
the same time presenting the new order of knighthood, consisting of a
ribbon and medal, with an Amaranth in enamel, encircled with the motto
_Dolce nella memoria_.----In Roman Catholic countries, more especially
in Portugal, the species of the flower known as the Globe Amaranth,
Prince’s Feathers, and Cock’s Comb, are much cultivated for church
decoration at Christmas time and during the Winter. The Amaranth is
also selected as one of the flowers peculiarly appropriate to Ascension
Day.----The species of Amaranth which we know as Love-lies-bleeding,
has, in France, the singular name of _Discipline des religieuses_, the
Nun’s Scourge.----The Amaranth was formerly known as Flower Gentle,
Flower Velure, Floramor, and Velvet Flower. It is said to be under
Saturn, and to be an excellent qualifier of the unruly actions of Venus.

=AMBROSIA.=--The Ambrosia-tree, or tree bearing immortal food, is one
of the most popular guises of the Hindu world-trees. The Paradise of
Indra had five trees, under the refreshing shade of which the gods
reclined and enjoyed life-inspiring draughts of Ambrosia or _Amrita_.
The chief of these trees was the _Pârijâta_ (usually identified with
the _Erythrina Indica_), and this was deemed the Ambrosia-tree.----The
Greeks knew a herb which they named _Ambrosia_, the food of immortals,
and it was so called by the ancients because they believed that a
continued use of it rendered men long-lived, just as the ambrosia of
the gods preserved their immortality. The Moors to this day entertain a
belief in the existence of such a plant. The old English name given to
this herb was Ambrose, which was applied to the _Chenopodium Botrys_;
but the ancients seem to have applied the name of _Ambrosia_ to the
Field Parsley, the Wild Sage, and the _Chenopodium ambrosioides_. The
plant known as Ambrosia at the present day belongs to the Wormwood

=AMELLUS.=--This plant is believed to be a species of Starwort. Virgil,
in the Fourth Book of his Georgics, states that at Rome it was employed
to decorate the altars of the gods. Gerarde says that the Starwort
having a blue or purple flower is that referred to by Virgil as the
Amellus in the following lines:--

  “In meads there is a flower Amello named,
  By him that seeks it easy to be found,
  For that it seems by many branches framed
  Into a little wood: like gold the ground
  Thereof appears; but leaves that it beset
  Shine in the colour of the Violet.”

=AMORPHOPHALLUS.=--The gigantic Aroid, _Amorphophallus campanulatus_,
or Carrion Plant of Java, is regarded with repugnance as a plant of
ill-omen. Previous to the sudden bursting, about sunset, of the spathe
containing the spadix, there is an accumulation of heat therein. When
it opens, it exhales an offensive odour that is quite overpowering, and
so much resembles that of carrion, that flies cover the club of the
spadix with their eggs.

=ANDHAS.=--The luminous plant of the Vedic _Soma_. The plant is also
called in general _Arjunî_, that is to say, Shining. From Andhas it is
supposed the Greek word _anthos_ was derived.

=ANDROMEDA.=--This shrub owes its classical appellation to Linnæus,
who gave it the name of Andromeda after the daughter of Cepheus and
Cassiope. Ovid, in his ‘Metamorphoses,’ has sung how, lashed to a
rock, she was exposed to a sea monster, sent by Neptune to ravage her
father’s country, and how she was at last rescued by Perseus, and
became his bride. Linnæus thus explains why he gave the Marsh Cistus
the name of the classical princess:--“As I contemplated it, I could not
help thinking of Andromeda, as described by the poets--a virgin of most
exquisite beauty and unrivalled charms. The plant is always fixed in
some turfy hillock in the midst of the swamps, as Andromeda herself was
chained to a rock in the sea, which bathed her feet as the fresh water
does the root of the plant. As the distressed virgin cast down her
blushing face through excessive affliction, so does the rosy-coloured
flower hang its head, growing paler and paler till it withers away. At
length comes Perseus, in the shape of Summer, dries up the surrounding
waters, and destroys the monster.” The leaves of this family of plants
have noxious properties, and the very honey is said to be poisonous.

=ANEMONE.=--The origin of the Anemone, according to Ovid, is to be
found in the death of Adonis, the favourite of Venus. Desperately
wounded by a boar to which he had given chase, the ill-fated youth lay
expiring on the blood-stained grass, when he was found by Venus, who,
overcome with grief, determined that her fallen lover should hereafter
live as a flower.

  “Then on the blood sweet nectar she bestows;
  The scented blood in little bubbles rose;
  Little as rainy drops, which flutt’ring fly,
  Borne by the winds, along a lowering sky.
  Short time ensued till where the blood was shed
  A flower began to rear its purple head.
  Such as on Punic Apples is revealed,
  Or in the filmy rind but half concealed,
  Still here the fate of lovely forms we see,
  So sudden fades the sweet Anemone.
  The feeble stems to stormy blasts a prey,
  Their sickly beauties droop and pine away.
  The winds forbid the flowers to flourish long,
  Which owe to winds their names in Grecian song.”--_Congreve._

The Greek poet, Bion, in his epitaph on Adonis, makes the Anemone the
offspring of the tears of the sorrowing Venus.

  “Alas the Paphian! fair Adonis slain!
  Tears plenteous as his blood she pours amain,
  But gentle flowers are born and bloom around
  From every drop that falls upon the ground.
  Where streams his blood, there blushing springs the Rose,
  And where a tear has dropped, a Wind-flower blows.”

Rapin, in his poem, gives a somewhat similar version of the origin of
the Anemone. He says:--

  “For while what’s mortal from his blood she freed,
  And showers of tears on the pale body shed,
  Lovely Anemones in order rose,
  And veiled with purple palls the cause of all her woes.”

In Wiffen’s translation of the Spanish poet Garcilaso, we find the red
colour only of the Anemone attributed to the blood of Adonis:--

  “His sunbeam-tinted tresses drooped unbound,
  Sweeping the earth with negligence uncouth;
  The white Anemones that near him blew
  Felt his red blood, and red for ever grew.”

Rapin recounts another story, according to which the Anemone was
originally a nymph beloved by Zephyr. This is, perhaps, an explanation
of the name of the flower, which is derived from _Anemos_, the wind.

      “Flora, with envy stung, as tales relate,
  Condemned a virgin to this change of fate;
  From Grecian nymphs her beauty bore the prize,
  Beauty the worst of crimes in jealous eyes;
  For as with careless steps she trod the plain,
  Courting the winds to fill her flowing train,
  Suspicious Flora feared she soon would prove
  Her rival in her husband Zephyr’s love.
  So the fair victim fell, whose beauty’s light
  Had been more lasting, had it been less bright:
  She, though transformed, as charming as before,
  The fairest maid is now the fairest flower.”

The English name of Wind-flower seems to have been given to the
Anemone because some of the species flourish in open places exposed
to the wind, before the blasts of which they shiver and tremble in
the early Spring. Pliny asserts that the flower never blooms except
when the winds blow.----With the Egyptians, the Anemone was the emblem
of sickness. According to Pliny, the magicians and wise men in olden
times were wont to attribute extraordinary powers to the plant, and
ordained that everyone should gather the first Anemone he or she saw
in the year, the while repeating, with due solemnity--“I gather thee
for a remedy against disease.” The flower was then reverently wrapped
in scarlet cloth, and kept undisturbed, unless the gatherer became
indisposed, when it was tied either around the neck or arm of the
patient. This superstition extended to England, as is shown by the
following lines in a ballad:--

  “The first Spring-blown Anemone she in his doublet wove,
  To keep him safe from pestilence wherever he should rove.”

The Anemone was held sacred to Venus, and the flower was highly
esteemed by the Romans, who formed it into wreaths for the head.----In
some countries, people have a strong prejudice against the flowers of
the field Anemone: they believe the air to be so tainted by them, that
those who inhale it often incur severe illness. Shakspeare has given
to the Anemone the magical power of producing love. In ‘A Midsummer
Night’s Dream’ (Act 2), Oberon bids Puck place an Anemone-flower on
the eyes of Titania, who, on her awakening, will then fall in love
with the first object she sees.----A once famed Parisian florist,
named Bachelier, having procured some rare Anemones from the East,
would not part with a root, either for love or money. For ten years he
contrived to keep the treasures to himself, until a wily senator paid
him a visit, and, walking round the garden, observed that the cherished
Anemones were in seed. Letting his robe fall upon the plants as if by
accident, he so swept off a number of the little feathery seeds, which
his servant, following close upon his heels, brushed off his master’s
robe and secretly appropriated; and before long the niggardly florist
had the mortification of seeing his highly-prized “strain” in the
possession of his neighbours and rivals.----The Anemone is held to be
under the dominion of Mars.

=ANGELICA.=--The strong and widely-diffused belief in the manifold
virtues of this plant is sufficient to account for its angelic name,
although Fuchsius was of opinion that it was called Angelica either
from the sweet scent of its root, or its value as a remedy against
poisons and the plague. Its old German name of Root of the Holy Ghost
is still retained in some northern countries. The Laplanders believe
that the use of it strengthens life, and they therefore chew it as they
would do Tobacco; they also employ it to crown their poets, who fancy
themselves inspired by its odour.----Parkinson says that “it is so
goode an herbe that there is no part thereof but is of much use.”----Du
Bartas wrote--

  “Contagious aire ingendering pestilence
  Infects not those that in their mouths have ta’en
  Angelica, that happy counterbane
  Sent down from heav’n by some celestial scout,
  As well the name and nature both avowt.”

  _Sylvester’s trans._, 1641.

Angelica was popularly believed to remove the effects of intoxication;
according to Fuchsius, its roots, worn suspended round the neck,
would guard the wearer against the baneful power of witches and
enchantments; and Gerarde tells us that a piece of the root held in
the mouth, or chewed, will drive away pestilential air, and that the
plant, besides being a singular remedy against poisons, the plague,
and pestilent diseases in general, cures the biting of mad dogs and all
other venomous beasts. Regarding its astrological government, Culpeper
observes that it is a “herb of the Sun in Leo. Let it be gathered when
he is there, the moon applying to his good aspect; let it be gathered
either in his hour, or in the hour of Jupiter; let Sol be angular.”

=ANTHYLLIS.=--The English names of this plant are Kidney Vetch, Lamb
Toe, Lady’s Fingers, Silver Bush, and Jupiter’s Beard (from the thick
woolly down which covers the calyxes of a species growing in the
South of Europe). It was formerly employed as a vulnerary, and was
recommended by Gesner as useful in staunching the effusion of blood:
hence its old English names of Staunch and Wound-Wort. Clare says of

  “The yellow Lambtoe I have often got
  Sweet creeping o’er the banks in sunny time.”

=ANTIRRHINUM.=--Columella alludes to this flower as “the stern and
furious lion’s gaping mouth.” Its English names are Snap Dragon,
Lion’s Snap, Toad’s Mouth, Dog’s Mouth, and Calf’s Snout.----In many
rural districts the Snap Dragon is believed to possess supernatural
powers, and to be able to destroy charms. It was formerly supposed
that when suspended about the person, this plant was a protection
from witchcraft, and that it caused a maiden so wearing it to appear
“gracious in the sight of people.”

=APPLE.=--Whether the Apple, the Orange, the Pomegranate, the Fig, the
Banana, or the Grape was the actual fruit of the Tree of Knowledge,
which tempted Eve in Paradise, will possibly never be settled; but it
is certain that not only is the Apple mystical above all the fruits of
the earth, but it is the supreme fruit. To it has been given the Latin
name _Pomona_, which is the generic name of fruit, just as Pomona is
the goddess of all the fruit trees.

The Scandinavian goddess Iduna is in a measure identified with the Tree
of Immortality, which was an Apple-tree. Iduna religiously guarded in
a box the Apples which the gods, when they felt old age approaching,
had only to taste the juice of to become young again. The evil genius,
Loki, having been instrumental in the abduction of Iduna and her
renovating Apples, the gods became old and infirm, and were unable
properly to govern the world; they, therefore, threatened Loki with
condign punishment unless he succeeded in bringing back Iduna and her
mystic Apples: this he fortunately succeeded in doing.

The golden Apples which Juno presented to Jupiter on the day of their
nuptials were placed under the watchful care of a fearful dragon, in
the garden of the Hesperides; and the obtaining of some of these Apples
was one of the twelve labours of Hercules. By stooping to pick up three
of these golden Apples presented by Venus to Hippomenes, Atalanta lost
her race, but gained him as a husband. The fatal Apple--inscribed DETUR
PULCHRIORI--thrown by the malevolent Discordia into the assembly of the
gods, and which Paris adjudged to Venus, caused the ruin of Troy and
infinite misfortune to the Greeks.

The Apple was sacred to Venus, who is often represented with the
fruit in her hand. The Thebans worshipped Hercules, under the name of
Melius, and offered Apples at his altar, the custom having, according
to tradition, originated as follows:--The river Asopus being once so
swollen as to prevent some youths from bringing across it a sheep
destined to be sacrificed to Hercules, one of them recollected that the
Apple was called by the same name--Mêlon. In this emergency, therefore,
it was determined to offer an Apple, with four little sticks stuck in
it to resemble legs, as a substitute for a sheep; and it being deemed
that the sacrifice was acceptable, the Apple was thenceforth devoted to
Hercules. The god Apollo was sometimes represented with an Apple in his

The Celtic “Isle of the Blest,” the “fair Avalon,” is the “Island of

  “Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
  Nor ever wind blows loudly, but it lies
  Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns,
  And bowery hollows crowned with Summer sea.”

It has been attempted to localise the Island of Apples either at
Glastonbury, in Somersetshire, or at Aiguilon, in Brittany. A Gaelic
legend which asserts the claims of an island in Loch Awe to be
identified as the Isle of the Blest, changes the mystic Apples into the
fruit of the _Pyrus cordata_, a species of wild Pear, indigenous both
to the Scotch island and to Aiguilon.

The Druids highly reverenced the Apple-tree, partly on account of its
fruit, but chiefly because they believed that the Mistletoe thrived
on it and on the Oak only. In consequence of its reputed sanctity,
therefore, the Apple was largely cultivated by the early Britons, and
Glastonbury was known as the “Apple Orchard,” from the quantity of
fruit grown there previous to the Roman invasion. The Druids were wont
to cut their divining-rods from the Apple-tree.

The Saxons highly prized the Apple, and in many towns established
a separate market for the fruit. The following sentence from
their Coronation Benediction shows with what importance it was
regarded:--“May the Almighty bless thee with the blessing of heaven
above, and the mountains and the valleys, with the blessings of the
deep below, with the blessing of Grapes and Apples. Bless, O Lord, the
courage of this Prince, and prosper the work of his hands; and by Thy
blessing may this land be filled with Apples, with the fruit and dew of
heaven, from the top of the ancient mountains, from the Apples of the
eternal hills, from the fruits of the earth and its fulness.”

The old Saxon chronicles relate that before the battle of Senlac,
King Harold pitched his camp beside the “hoar Apple-tree”--evidently
a well-known object, that had doubtless preserved its quondam sacred
character. Saint Serf, when on his way to Fife, threw his staff across
the sea, from Inch Keith to Culross, and this staff, we are told,
straightway took root and became the Apple-tree called Morglas.

Many ancient rites and ceremonies connected with this mystic tree are
still practised in certain parts of the country, whilst others have of
late become obsolete. In remote districts, the farmers and peasantry
in Herefordshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall still preserve the ancient
customs of saluting the Apple-trees on Christmas Eve. In some places,
the parishioners walk in procession visiting the principal orchards in
the parish. In each orchard one tree is selected as the representative
of the rest; this is saluted with a certain form of words, which
have in them the air of an incantation, and then the tree is either
sprinkled with cider, or a bowl of cider is dashed against it, to
ensure its bearing plentifully the ensuing year. In other places,
the farmer and his servants only assemble on the occasion, and after
immersing cakes in cider, they hang them on the Apple-trees. They then
sprinkle the trees with cider, and encircling the largest, they chant
the following toast three times:--

      “Here’s to thee, old Apple-tree,
  Whence thou may’st bud, and whence thou may’st blow;
  And whence thou may’st bear Apples enow.
          Hats full! caps full!
          Bushel, bushel, sacks full!
          And my pockets full, too!
                                Huzza! Huzza!”

After this the men dance round the tree, and retire to the farm-house
to conclude, with copious draughts of cider, these solemn rites, which
are undoubtedly relics of paganism.

In Sussex, the custom of “worsling” or wassailing Apple-trees still
exists. Formerly it took place, according to the locality, some time
between Christmas Eve and Twelfth Day. The most popular wassail rhyme
was similar to the above, but others were sung by the “howlers.” At
Chailey this verse is used:--

  “Stand fast root, bear well top,
  Pray that God send us a good howling crop.
  Every twig, Apples big.
  Every bough, Apples enow.
  Hats full, caps full,
  Full quarters, sacks full.”

In West Sussex, during Christmas, the farmers’ labourers assemble for
the purpose of wassailing the Apple-trees. A trumpeter sounds blasts
on a bullock’s horn, and the party proceed to the orchard, where they
encircle a tree or group of trees, and chant sonorously--

  “Stand fast at root, bear well top,
  Every twig, bear Apple big,
  Every bough, bear Apple enow.”

A loud shout completes the ceremony, which is repeated till all the
trees in the orchard have been encircled; after which the men proceed
to the homestead, and sing at the owner’s door a song common for the
occasion. They are then admitted, and partake of his hospitality.

At West Wickham, in Kent, a curious custom used to prevail in Rogation
week. The young men went into the orchards, and, encircling each tree,

  “Stand fast, root, bear well, top,
  God send us a youling sop;
  Every twig, Apple big;
  Every bough, Apple enow.”

Cider was formerly not the only drink concocted from the Apple; another
famous potation was called “Lambswool,” or more correctly, lamasool,
the derivation of the word being the Celtic _lámaesabhal_--the day of
Apple fruit. This appellation was given to the first day of November,
dedicated in olden times to the titular saint of fruit and seeds. The
Lambswool was composed of ale and roasted Apples, flavoured with sugar
and spice; and a bowl of this beverage was drunk, with some ceremony,
on the last night of October. Roasted Apples formed an important item
in the composition of the famed wassail-bowl. Shakspeare probably
alludes to this beverage in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ where we find
the mischievous Puck saying,

  “Sometimes I lurk in a gossip’s bowl,
  In very likeness of a roasted Crab.”

In Sussex, the wassail-bowl was formerly made at Christmas time; it was
compounded of ale, sugar, Nutmeg, and roasted Apples, the latter being
called Lambswool. On St. Clement’s day, in East Sussex, the custom
exists of going round from house to house asking for Apples and beer:
this is called Clemmening. A similar custom prevails on St. Catherine’s
Day, when the children sing a rhyme commencing--

  “Cattern’ and Clemen’ be here, here, here,
  Give us your Apples and give us your beer.”

In Lowland Scotland, there is an old charm still practised by village
maidens on Hallow-e’en. It is to go alone into a room, and eat an Apple
in front of a looking-glass, when the face of the future husband will
appear looking over the maid’s shoulder.

In Scotland, on Hallow-e’en, Apples are thrown into a tub of water,
and you endeavour to catch one in your mouth as they bob around in
provoking fashion. When you have caught one, you peel it carefully,
and pass the long strip of peel thrice _sunwise_ round your head, after
which you throw it over your shoulder, and it falls to the ground in
the shape of the initial letter of your true love’s name.

In some places, on this mystic night, a stick is suspended horizontally
from the ceiling, with a candle at one end and an Apple at the other.
While it is made to revolve rapidly, the revellers successively leap
up, and endeavour to grasp the Apple with their teeth (the hands must
not be used); if they fail, the candle generally swings round in time
to salute them disagreeably. Another amusement is to dive for Apples in
a tub of water.

In Sussex, on this eve, every person present fastens an Apple on a
string, and hangs and twirls it before the fire. The owner of the Apple
that first falls off is declared to be upon the point of marriage;
and as they fall successively, the order in which the rest of the
party will attain to matrimonial honours is clearly indicated, single
blessedness being the lot of the one whose Apple is the last to drop.

The custom of throwing the peel of an Apple over the head, marriage or
celibacy being foretold by its remaining whole or breaking, is well
known, as is also that of finding in a peel so cast the initial of the
coming sweetheart.

Mr. Dyer, in his ‘English Folk-lore,’ details a form of divination by
means of an Apple-pip. “In Lancashire,” he says, “in order to ascertain
the abode of a lover, the anxious inquirer moves round in a circle, at
the same time squeezing an Apple-pippin between his finger and thumb.
This, on being subjected to pressure, flies from the rind, in the
supposed direction of the lover’s residence. Meanwhile, the following
rhyme is repeated:--

  ‘Pippin, pippin, paradise,
  Tell me where my true love lies;
  East, west, north, and south,
  Pilling brig or Cocker mouth.’”

It was formerly customary for Apples to be blessed by priests on July
25th; and in the manual of the Church of Sarum is preserved an especial
form for this purpose. In Derbyshire, there is a saying that if the
sun shines through the trees on Christmas Day, it ensures a good crop.
In Northamptonshire, if the Apple-tree should bloom after the fruit
is ripe, it is regarded as a sure omen of death. In the Apple-growing
districts, there is an old saying that if it rains on St. Swithin’s
Day, it is the Saint christening the Apples.

De Gubernatis, in his _Mythologie des Plantes_, gives several curious
customs connected with the Apple, which are still extant in foreign
countries. In Serbia, when a maiden accepts from her lover an Apple,
she is engaged. In Hungary, a betrothed maiden, after having received
from her lover the “engaged” ring, presents him with an Apple, the
special symbol of all nuptial gifts. Young Greek girls never cease
to invoke, upon marriage, the golden Apple. In Sicily, when a young
man is in love, he presents the object of his affections with a love
Apple. At Mount San Giuliano, in Sicily, on St. John’s Day, every young
girl throws from the window of her room an Apple into the street, and
watches to see who picks it up: should a woman do so, it is a sign
that the maiden will not be married during the year; if the Apple is
only looked at and not touched, it signifies that the maiden, after
her marriage, will soon become a widow: if the first person passing
is a priest, the young girl will die a virgin. In Montenegro, the
mother-in-law presents an Apple to the young bride, who must try and
throw it on the roof of her husband’s house: if the Apple falls on
the roof, the marriage will be blest, that is to say there will be
children. At Taranto, in Southern Italy, at the wedding breakfast, when
the Apples are introduced, each guest takes one, and having pierced it
with a knife, places a piece of silver money in the incision: then all
the Apples are offered to the young bride, who bites each, and takes
out the money.

In a Roumanian legend, the infant Jesus, in the arms of the blessed
Virgin, becomes restless, will not go to sleep, and begins to cry. The
Virgin, to calm the Holy Child, gives Him two Apples. The infant throws
one upwards, and it becomes the Moon; He then throws the second, and it
becomes the Sun. After this exploit, the Virgin Mary addresses Him and
foretells that He will become the Lord of Heaven.

In old pictures of St. Dorothea, the virgin martyr is represented
with a basket containing Apples and Roses: this is in allusion to the
legend of her death, which tells that as Dorothea was being led forth
to martyrdom, Theophilus, a lawyer, mockingly bade her send him fruits
and flowers from Paradise. Dorothea, inclining her head, said, “Thy
request, O Theophilus, is granted!” Whereat he laughed aloud with his
companions, but she went on cheerfully to death. Arrived at the place
of execution, she knelt down and prayed; and suddenly there appeared
at her side a beautiful boy, with hair bright as sunbeams. In his hand
he held a basket containing three Apples and three fresh-gathered and
fragrant Roses. She said to him, “Carry these to Theophilus, and say
that Dorothea hath sent them, and that I go before him to the garden
whence they came, and await him there.” With these words she bent her
neck, and received the death-stroke. Meantime, the angelic boy sought
Theophilus, and placed before him the basket of celestial fruit and
flowers, saying, “Dorothea sends thee these,” and vanished. Struck by
the marvellous incident, Theophilus tasted of the heavenly fruit, and
commenced a new life, following in Dorothea’s footsteps, and eventually
obtaining the crown of martyrdom.

Mr. Dyer quotes the following from ‘Notes and Queries’:--“In South-east
Devon and the neighbourhood, a curious legend is, we learn, current
among the farmers respecting St. Dunstan and the Apple-trees. It is
said that he bought up a quantity of Barley, and therewith made beer.
The Devil, knowing that the Saint would naturally desire to get a good
sale for his beer, which he had just brewed, went to him and said,
that if he would sell himself to him, then he (the Devil) would go
and blight the Apple-trees, so that there should be no cider, and,
consequently there would be a far greater demand for beer. St. Dunstan,
naturally wishing to drive a brisk trade in his beer, accepted the
offer at once; but stipulated that the trees should be blighted in
three days, which days fell on the 17th, 18th, and 19th of May. In
the almanacs, the 19th is marked as St. Dunstan’s Day, and, as about
this time the Apple-trees are in blossom, many anxious allusions are
generally made to St. Dunstan; and should, as is sometimes the case,
a sharp frost nip the Apple-blossoms, they believe they know who has
been at the bottom of the mischief. There seems to be several versions
of this legendary superstition. According to some, on a certain night
in June, three powerful witches pass through the air, and if they drop
certain charms on the blossoming orchards, the crops will be blighted.
In other parts of the country, this is known as ‘Frankum’s Night,’
and the story is, that long ago, on this night, one Frankum made ‘a
sacrifice’ in his orchard, with the object of getting a specially fine
crop. His spells were answered by a blight; and the night is thus
regarded as most critical.”

In a Polish legend, derived doubtless from the myth of the Hesperides,
the hawk takes the place of the dragon. A young princess, through
magic, is shut up in a golden castle situated on a mountain of ice:
before the castle she finds an Apple-tree bearing golden Apples. No one
is able to come to this castle. Whenever a cavalier ascends the side
of the ice mountain in order to release the princess, the hawk darts
down and blinds his horse, and both horse and rider are precipitated
down the abyss. At length the appointed hero arrives, slays the hawk,
gathers the golden Apples, and delivers the princess.

According to a Hanoverian legend, a young girl descends to the
infernal regions by means of a staircase, which she discovers under an
Apple-tree growing at the back of the house. She sees a garden, where
the sun seems to shine more brightly than on earth; the trees are
blossoming or are loaded with fruit. The damsel fills her apron with
Apples, which become golden when she returns to earth.

In the popular tales of all countries, the Apple is represented as
the magical fruit _par excellence_. The Celtic priests held the
Apple sacred, and in Gaelic, Norse, German, and Italian stories it
is constantly introduced as a mysterious and enchanted fruit. Mr.
Campbell, in the introduction to his Tales of the West Highlands,
points out that when the hero wishes to pass from Islay to Ireland,
he pulls out sixteen Apples and throws them into the sea one after
another, and he steps from one to the other. When the giant’s daughter
runs away with the king’s son, she cuts an Apple into a mystical number
of small bits, and each bit talks. When she kills the giant, she puts
an Apple under the hoof of the magic filly, and he dies, for his life
is the Apple, and it is crushed. When the byre is cleansed, it is so
clean, that a golden Apple would run from end to end and never raise a
stain. There is a Gruagach who has a golden Apple, which is thrown at
all comers, who, if they fail to catch it, die. When it is caught and
thrown back by the hero, Gruagach an Ubhail, dies. There is a certain
game called cluich an ubhail--the Apple play--which seems to have been
a deadly game. When the king’s daughter transports the soldier to the
green island on the magic table-cloth, he finds magic Apples which
transform him, and others which cure him, and by which he transforms
the cruel princess, and recovers his magic treasures. When the two
eldest idle king’s sons go out to herd the giant’s cattle, they find
an Apple-tree whose fruit moves up and down as they vainly strive to
pluck it; in fact, in all Gaelic stories, the Apple when introduced has
something marvellous about it.

So, in the German, in the ‘Man of Iron,’ a princess throws a golden
Apple as a prize, which the hero catches three times, and carries off,
and wins. In ‘Snow White,’ where the poisoned comb occurs, there is
a poisoned magic Apple also. In the ‘Old Griffin,’ the rich princess
is cured by rosy-cheeked Apples. In the ‘White Snake,’ a servant who
understands the voice of birds, helps creatures in distress, gets them
aid, and procures golden Apples from three ravens which fly over the
sea to the end of the world, where stands the tree of life. When he
had got the Apple, he and the princess eat it and marry. Again, in the
‘Wonderful Hares,’ a golden Apple is the gift for which the finder is
to gain a princess; and that Apple grew on a tree, the sole one of its

In Norse it is the same: the princess on the glass mountain held three
golden Apples in her lap, and he who could ride up the hill and carry
off the Apples was to win the prize; and the princess rolled them down
to the hero, and they rolled into his shoe. The good girl plucked the
Apples from the tree which spoke to her when she went down the well to
the underground world; but the ill-tempered step-sister thrashed down
the fruit; and when the time of trial came, the Apple-tree played its
part and protected the poor girl.

In a French tale, a singing Apple is one of the marvels which Princess
Belle Etoile and her brothers and her cousin bring from the end of the
world. In an Italian story, a lady when she has lost her husband goes
off to the Atlantic Ocean with three golden Apples; and the mermaid
who has swallowed the husband shows first his head, then his body to
the waist, and then to the knees, each time for a golden Apple. Then,
finally, in the ‘Arabian Nights,’ there is a long story, called the
Three Apples, which turns upon the theft of one, which was considered
to have been of priceless value. The Apple-blossom is considered to be
an emblem of preference. To dream of Apples betokens long life, success
in trade, and a lover’s faithfulness.

=APPLE OF SODOM.=--The _Solanum Sodomeum_ is a purple Egg-plant of
which the fruit is naturally large and handsome. It is, however,
subject to the attacks of an insect (a species of _Cynips_), which
punctures the rind, and converts the interior of the fruit into a
substance like ashes, while the outside remains fair and beautiful.
It is found on the desolate shores of the Dead Sea, on the site of
those cities of the plain the dreadful judgment on which is recorded
in sacred history. Hence the fruit, called the Apple of Sodom, has
acquired a sinister reputation, and is regarded as the symbol of sin.
Its first appearance, it is said, is always attended with a bitter
north-east wind, and therefore ships for the Black Sea take care to
sail before the harbinger of bad weather comes forth. The fruit is
reputed to be poisonous. Josephus, the Jewish historian, speaks of them
as having “a fair colour, as if they were fit to be eaten; but if you
pluck them with your hand, they vanish into smoke and ashes.” Milton,
describing an Apple which added new torments to the fallen angels,
compares it to the Apples of Sodom:--

            “Greedily they pluck’d
  The fruitage fair to sight, like that which grew
  Near that bituminous lake where Sodom flamed.
  This mere delusion, not the touch but taste
  Deceived; they fondly thinking to allay
  Their appetite with gust, instead of fruit
  Chewed bitter ashes.”

Henry Teonge, who visited the country round the Dead Sea in 1675,
describes it as being “all over full of stones which looke just like
burnt syndurs, and on some low shrubbs there grow small round things
which are called Apples, but no witt like them. They are somewhat fayre
to looke at, but touch them and they smoulder all to black ashes, like
soote both for looks and smell.”--The name Apple of Sodom is also
given to a kind of Gall-nut, which is found growing on various species
of dwarf Oaks on the banks of the Jordan.--Dead Sea Apples is a term
applied to the Bussorah Gall-nut, which is formed on the Oak _Quercus
infectoria_ by an insect, and being of a bright ruddy purple, but
filled with a gritty powder, they are suggestive of the deceptive Apple
of Sodom.

  “Dead Sea fruits, that tempt the eye,
  But turn to ashes on the lips.”


APPLE, LOVE.--See Solanum.

APPLE, MAD.--See Solanum.

=APRICOT.=--According to Columella, the Persians sent the Peach to
Egypt to poison the inhabitants; and a species of Apricot is called by
the people of Barbary, _Matza Franca_, or the “Killer of Christians.”
The Persians call the Apricot of Iran, the “Seed of the Sun.” The
ancients appear to have regarded it as a prophetical or oracular
tree.----It was in the solitude of a grove of Apricot-trees that
Confucius, the venerated Chinese sage, completed his commentaries
on the _King_ or ancient books of China, and beneath this shade he
erected an altar, and solemnly thanked Heaven for having permitted him
to accomplish his cherished task.----The name has undergone curious
transformations: it is traceable to the Latin _præcoqua_, early; the
fruit being supposed by the Romans to be an early Peach. The Arabs
(although living near the region of which the tree is a native) took
the Latin name, and twisted it into _al burquq_; the Spaniards altered
its Moorish name into _albaricoque_; the Italians reproduced it as
_albicoces_; the French from them got _abricot_; and we, in England,
although taking the name from the French, first called it _Abricock_,
or _Aprecock_, and finally _Apricot_.----The Apricot is under the
dominion of Venus. To dream of this fruit denotes health, a speedy
marriage, and every success in life.

=ARBOR VITÆ.=--This tree, otherwise known as _Thuja_, is called by
Pliny, _Thya_ (from _thyon_, a sacrifice). The resin of the Eastern
variety is, in certain localities, frequently used instead of incense
at sacrifices. How the tree acquired the name of _Arbor Vitæ_ is not
known, unless from some supposed virtue of its berries. Gerarde,
who had only seen the Canadian variety, says of it that, of all the
trees from that country, the _Arbor Vitæ_, or _Thya_, was “the most
principall, and best agreeing unto the nature of man, as an excellent
cordial, and of a very pleasant smell.” He also tells us that it was
sometimes called _Cedrus Lycia_, and that it is not to be confounded
with the Tree of Life mentioned in Genesis.

=ARBUTUS.=--The Arbutus, or Strawberry-tree (_Arbutus unedo_), was held
sacred by the Romans. It was one of the attributes of Cardea, a sister
of Apollo, who was beloved by Janus, guardian of gates and avenues.
With a rod of Arbutus--_virga Janalis_--Cardea drove away witches and
protected little children when ill or bewitched. The Romans employed
the Arbutus, with other symbolic trees and flowers, at the Palilia, a
festival held in honour of the pastoral goddess Pales. It was a Roman
custom to deposit branches of the Arbutus on coffins, and Virgil tells
us that Arbutus rods and Oak twigs formed the bier of young Pallas, the
son of Evander. Horace, in his Odes, has celebrated the shade afforded
by the Arbutus. Ovid speaks of the tree as “the Arbutus heavy with its
ruby fruit,” and tells us that, in the Golden Age, the fruit afforded
food to man. This fruit is called _unedo_, and Pliny is stated to
have given it that name became it was so bitter that he who ate one
would eat no more.----The Oriental Arbutus, or Andrachne, bears fruit
resembling a scarlet Strawberry in size and flavour. In Greece, it has
the reputation of so affecting serpents who feed upon it, that they
speedily cease to be venomous. The water distilled from the leaves and
blossom of the Arbutus was accounted a very powerful agent against the
plague and poisons.

=ARCHANGEL.=--The name of Archangel is applied to the _Angelica
archangelica_; the Red Archangel, _Stachys sylvatica_; the White
Archangel, _Lamium album_; and the Yellow Archangel, _L. Galeobdolon_.
Nemnich says, the plant originally obtained its name from its having
been revealed by an angel, in a dream. Parkinson considers it was so
called on account of its heavenly virtues. Gerarde remarks of it, that
“the flowers are baked with sugar, as Roses are, which is called Sugar
Roset: as also the distilled water of them, which is used to make the
heart merry, to make a good colour in the face, and to refresh the
vitall spirits.”

=ARECA.=--The _Areca Catechu_ is one of the sacred plants of India,
producing the perfumed Areca Nuts, favourite masticatories of the
Indian races. So highly is this nut esteemed by the natives, that they
would rather forego meat and drink than their precious Areca Nuts,
which they cut into narrow pieces, and roll up with a little lime
in the leaves of the Pepper, and chew. The Areca Palm is known in
Hindostan as _Supyari_, and in Japan as _Jambi_. The Hindus adorn their
gods with these Nuts, and forbid respectable women to deck either their
heads or bosoms with them. According to Indian tradition, Devadamani,
subduer of the gods, once appeared at the court of King Vikramâditya,
to play with him, clothed in a robe the colour of the sky, having in
his hand and in his mouth an Areca Nut enveloped in a leaf of the
Kalpa-tree. This probably explains the Indian custom of presenting an
Areca Nut to guests, which is eaten with the leaf of the Betel. In
China, a similar custom prevails, but the Nut given there is the Betel

=ARISTOLOCHIA.=--The old English name of this plant was Birth-wort,
derived from its reputed remedial powers in parturition--probably first
suggested by the shape of the corolla--whence also its Greek name,
from _aristos_, best, and _locheia_, delivery. According to Pliny, if
the expectant mother desired to have a son, she employed Aristolochia,
with the flesh of an ox.----Certain of the species are renowned, in
some European countries, for having a wonderful influence over fishes
and serpents. _A. Serpentaria_ is reputed to be so offensive to the
serpent tribe, that they will not only shun the place where it grows,
but will even flee from any traveller who carries a piece of the plant
in his hand. The snake jugglers of Egypt are believed to stupefy these
reptiles by means of a decoction distilled from the plant, and it is
asserted that a few drops introduced into the mouth of a serpent will
so intoxicate it as to render it insensible and harmless.----Apuleius
recommends the use of Aristolochia against the Evil Eye.----The
Birth-wort is under the dominion of Venus.

=ARKA.=--This is the Indian name of the _Calotropis gigantea_, also
called _Arkapatra_ and _Arkaparna_ (the lightning-leaved), the leaves
of which present the cuneiform symbols of lightning. _Arka_, says De
Gubernatis, is also the name of the Sun, and this explains why the
Brahmins employed the leaf of the _Calotropis_ on the occasion of
sacrificing to the Sun. In each part of the Arka it is stated that
a portion of the human body can be distinguished. Notwithstanding
its grand name, and its beautiful appearance, people have a dread of
approaching it, lest it should strike them blind. The origin of this
superstition is to be found in the word _Arka_, which means both the
sun and the lightning.

=ARTEMISIA.=--The genus of plants known as Artemisia was so called
after the goddess Artemis (who was regarded by the Romans as identical
with Diana, or the Moon), by reason of some of its species being
used in bringing on precocious puberty. On this account, also, it is
one of the plants specially under the influence of the Moon.--(See

=ARUNDHATI.=--This is the Brahminical name of a climbing plant of good
omen, and to which, according to De Gubernatis, the _Atharvaveda_
attributes magical properties against diseases of the skin. It gives
milk to sterile cows, it heals wounds, it delivers men from sickness,
it protects those who drink its juices. It is the sister of the water
and of the gods; the night is its mother; the mist, the horse of Yama,
its father; Aryaman its grandfather. It descends from the mouth of the
horse of Yama.

=ARUM.=--The Germans call the Arum _Aronswurzel_, and entertain the
notion that where this flourishes, the spirits of the wood rejoice. The
majestic Ethiopian species of the Arum (_Calla Æthiopica_) is commonly
called the Horn-flower, from the shape of its large white calyx. In
tropical climates, the plant is a deadly poison. The Arum of English
hedgerows, a flower of a very much humbler character, is known by a
variety of quaint names, viz., Aaron, Cuckoo-pint, Cuckoo-pintle,
Wake Robin, Friar’s Cowl, Priest’s-pintle, Lords-and-Ladies,
Cows-and-Calves, Ramp, Starchwort, and, in Worcestershire, Bloody
Men’s Fingers (from the red berries that surround the spadix). These
blood-red spots have caused the plant to received in Cheshire the name
of Gethsemane, because it is said to have been growing at the foot of
the Cross, and to have received some drops of our Saviour’s blood.

  “Those deep inwrought marks,
  The villagers will tell thee,
  Are the flower’s portion from the atoning blood
  On Calvary shed. Beneath the Cross it grew.”

This flower, the _Arum maculatum_, is the English Passion-flower: its
berries are highly poisonous, and every part of the plant is acrid;
yet the root contains a farinaceous substance, which, when properly
prepared, and its acrid juice expressed, is good for food, and is
indeed sold under the name of Portland Sago.----Starch has been made
from the root, and the French use it in compounding the cosmetic known
as Cypress powder. A drachm weight of the spotted Wake Robin, either
fresh or dry, was formerly considered as a sure remedy for poison and
the plague. The juice of the herb swallowed, to the quantity of a
spoonful, had the same effect. Beaten up with Ox-dung, the berries or
roots were believed to ease the pains of gout.----Arum is under the
dominion of Mars.

=ASOKA.=--The _Saraca Indica_, or _Jonesia Asoka_, is one of the
sacred plants of India, which has from remotest ages been consecrated
to their temple decoration, probably on account of the beauty of its
orange-red blossoms and the delicacy of its perfume, which in the
months of March and April is exhaled throughout the night. The tree is
the symbol of love, and dedicated to Kâma, the Indian god of love. Like
the Agnus Castus, it is reported to have a certain charm in preserving
chastity: thus Sîtâ, the wife of Râma, when abducted by the monster
Râvana, escapes from the caresses of the monster and finds refuge in
a grove of Asokas. In the legend of Buddha, when Mâyâ is conscious of
having conceived the Bodhisattva, under the guise of an elephant, she
retires to a wood of Asoka trees, and then sends for her husband. The
Hindus entertain the superstition that a single touch of the foot of
a pretty woman is sufficient to cause the Asoka to flourish. The word
asoka signifies that which is deprived of grief, and Asoka, or the tree
without grief, is also one of the names of the Bodhidruma, the sacred
tree of Buddha.

=ASPEN.=--A legend referring to the tremulous motion of this tree
(_Populus tremula_--see POPLAR) is to the following effect:--“At the
awful hour of the Passion, when the Saviour of the world felt deserted
in His agony, when earth, shaken with horror, rang the parting knell
for Deity, and universal nature groaned: then, from the loftiest tree
to the lowliest flower, all felt a sudden thrill, and trembling bowed
their heads, all save the Aspen, which said: ‘Why should we weep and
tremble? The trees and flowers are pure and never sinned!’ Ere it
ceased to speak, an involuntary trembling seized its every leaf, and
the word went forth that it should never rest, but tremble on until
the Day of Judgment.” An old saying affirmed that the leaves of the
Aspen were made from women’s tongues, which never ceased wagging; and
allusion is made to this in the following rhyme by Hannay, 1622:--

  “The quaking Aspen, light and thin,
  In the air quick passage gives;
            Resembling still
            The trembling ill
  Of tempers of womankind,
            Which never rest,
            But still are prest
  To wave with every wind.”

The Bretons have a legend that the Saviour’s cross was made of Aspen
wood; and that the ceaseless trembling of the leaves of this tree marks
the shuddering of sympathetic horror. The Germans preserve an ancient
tradition that, during their flight into Egypt, the Holy Family came
to a dense forest, in which, but for an angelic guide, they must have
lost their way. As they entered this wilderness, all the trees bowed
themselves down in reverence to the infant God; only the Aspen, in
her exceeding pride and arrogance, refused to acknowledge Him, and
stood upright. Then the Holy Child pronounced a curse against her, as
He in after life cursed the barren Fig-tree; and at the sound of His
words the Aspen began to tremble through all her leaves, and has not
ceased to tremble to this day. Mr. Henderson, in his ‘Folk-lore of the
Northern Counties,’ states that this tradition has been embodied in a
little poem, which may be thus translated:--

  “Once as our Saviour walked with men below,
    His path of mercy through a forest lay;
  And mark how all the drooping branches show,
    What homage best a silent tree may pay!

  “Only the Aspen stands erect and free,
    Scorning to join the voiceless worship pure;
  But see! He casts one look upon the tree,
    Struck to the heart she trembles evermore!”

The Kirghises, who have become almost Mussulmans, have nevertheless
preserved a profound veneration for the sacred Aspen.----Astrologers
hold that the Aspen is a lunar tree.

=ASPHODEL.=--The Asphodel is the flower which flourished in the Elysian
Fields. Orpheus, in Pope’s ‘Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day,’ conjures the
infernal deities--

  “By the streams that ever flow;
  By the fragrant winds that blow
      O’er the Elysian flowers;
  By those happy souls who dwell
  In yellow meads of Asphodel,
      Or Amaranthine bowers.”

Homer tells us that, having crossed the Styx, the shades passed over a
long prairie of Asphodel; and Lucian makes old Charon say:--“I know why
Mercury keeps us waiting so long. Down here with us there is nothing to
be had but Asphodel, and libations and oblations, and that in the midst
of mist and darkness: but up in heaven it is all bright and clear, and
plenty of ambrosia there, and nectar without stint.” The fine flowers
of this plant of the infernal regions produced grains which were
believed by the ancients to afford nourishment to the dead. Accordingly
we find that the Greeks planted Asphodel and Mallows round graves. The
edible roots of the Asphodel were also wont to be laid as offerings in
the tombs of the departed, and, according to Hesiod, they served as
food for the poor. The Asphodel was held sacred to Bacchus, probably
because he visited the infernal regions, and rescued his mother Semele
from the kingdom of the departed. Wreaths of the Asphodel were worn
by Bacchus, Proserpine, Diana, and Semele. Asphodels were among the
flowers forming the couch of Jupiter and Juno, and Milton has named
them as put to the same use by Adam and Eve.

            “Flowers were the couch,
  Pansies, and Violets, and Asphodel,
  And Hyacinth, earth’s freshest, softest lap.”

Dr. Prior says that the Asphodel root was, under the name of _cibo
regio_ (food for a king), highly esteemed in the middle ages, but,
however improved by cultivation, it is likely to have been troublesome
by its diuretic qualities, and has probably on that account gone out
of fashion. Rapin, in his poem, refers to the Asphodel as forming an
article of food--

  “And rising Asphodel forsakes her bed,
  On whose sweet root our rustic fathers fed.”

=ASTER.=--The old English name of the Aster is Star-wort. Rapin says of
this flower--

  “The Attic star, so named in Grecian use,
  But called Amellus by the Mantuan Muse
  In meadows reigns near some cool streamlet’s side,
  Or marshy vales where winding currents glide.
  Wreaths of this gilded flower the shepherds twine,
  When grapes now ripe in clusters load the vine.”

The Aster is thus identified with the Amellus, of the Greek and Latin
poets, and, according to Virgil, the altars of the gods were often
adorned with wreaths of these flowers. In his Fourth Georgic the poet
prescribes the root of the Italian Star-wort (_Aster Amellus_) for
sickly bees. (See AMELLUS). The leaves of the Attic Star-wort (when
burnt) had the reputation of driving away serpents. In Germany, the
Star-wort is used by lovers as an oracle, to decide whether their love
is returned or not. The person consulting it repeats the words--

  “_Er liebt mich von Herzen
  Mit Schmerzen,
      Ja--oder Nein._”

At the recurrence of the words _ja_ and _nein_ a leaf is pulled
out, and the answer depends on which of these words is pronounced
as the last of the leaves is plucked. Göthe introduces this rustic
superstition in his tragedy of ‘Faust,’ where the luckless heroine
consults the floral oracle as to the affection entertained for her by
Faust. The French call the Italian Star-wort, or Amellus, _l’Œil de
Christ_, and the China Aster _la Reine Marguerite_----The Aster is
considered to be a herb of Venus.

=ASH.=--This tree (_Fraxinus excelsior_), called, on account of
its elegance, the Venus of the forest, and from its utility, the
husbandman’s tree, was regarded by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and
Scandinavians as a sacred tree, and as one of good omen. In the
Teutonic mythology, the Ash is the most venerated of trees, and the
Scandinavian Edda, the sacred book of the Northmen, furnishes a
detailed account of the mystic Ash Yggdrasill, or mundane tree, beneath
whose shade was the chief or holiest seat of the gods, where they
assembled every day in council. (See YGGDRASILL.) According to the
old Norse tradition, it was out of the wood of the Ash that man was
first formed; and the Greeks entertained a similar belief, for we find
Hesiod deriving his brazen race of men from it. The goddess Nemesis was
sometimes represented with an Ashen wand. Cupid, before he learnt to
use the more potent Cypress, employed Ash for the wood of his arrows.
At the Nuptials of Peleus and Thetis, Chiron appeared with a branch of
Ash, from which was made the lance of Peleus, which afterwards became
the spear of Achilles. Rapin writes of this tree--

  “But on fair levels and a gentle soil
  The noble Ash rewards the planter’s toil.
  Noble e’er since Achilles from her side
  Took the dire spear by which brave Hector died;
  Whose word resembling much the hero’s mind,
  Will sooner break than bend--a stubborn kind.”

There exists an old superstition, that a serpent will rather creep
into the fire than over a twig of the Ash-tree, founded upon the
statements of Pliny with respect to the magical powers of the Ash
against serpents. It was said that serpents always avoided the shade of
the Ash; so that if a fire and a serpent were placed within a circle
of Ash-leaves, the serpent, to avoid the Ash, would even run into the
midst of the fire. Cowley, enumerating various prodigies, says:--

  “On the wild Ash’s tops, the bats and owls,
  With, all night, ominous and baleful fowls,
  Sate brooding, while the screeches of these droves
  Profaned and violated all the groves.

         *       *       *       *       *

  But that which gave more wonder than the rest,
  Within an Ash a serpent built her nest,
  And laid her eggs; when once to come beneath
  The very shadow of an Ash was death.”

There exists a popular belief in Cornwall, that no kind of snake is
ever found near the “Ashen-tree,” and that a branch of the Ash will
prevent a snake from coming near a person. There is a legend that a
child, who was in the habit of receiving its portion of bread and milk
at the cottage door, was found to be in the habit of sharing its food
with one of the poisonous adders. The reptile came regularly every
morning, and the child, pleased with the beauty of his companion,
encouraged the visits. So the babe and the adder thus became close
friends. Eventually this became known to the mother (who, being a
labourer in the fields, was compelled to leave her child all day),
and she found it to be a matter of great difficulty to keep the snake
from the child whenever it was left alone. She therefore adopted the
precaution of binding an Ashen-twig about its body. The adder no longer
came near the child; but, from that day forward, the poor little one
pined away, and eventually died, as all around said, through grief at
having lost the companion by whom it had been fascinated.

On the subject of the serpent’s antipathy to the Ash, we find Gerarde
writing as follows:--“The leaves of this tree are of so great vertue
against serpents, that they dare not so much as touch the morning and
evening shadowes of the tree, but shun them afar off, as Pliny reports
(_lib._ 16, c. 13). He also affirmeth that the serpent being penned
in with boughes laid round about, will sooner run into the fire, if
any be there, than come neare the boughes of the Ash; and that the Ash
floureth before the serpents appeare, and doth not cast its leaves
before they be gon againe. We write (saith he) upon experience, that
if the serpent be set within a circle of fire and the branches, the
serpent will sooner run into the fire than into the boughes. It is a
wonderfull courtesie in nature, that the Ash should floure before the
serpents appeare, and not cast his leaves before they be gon againe.”
Other old writers affirm that the leaves, either taken inwardly, or
applied outwardly, are singularly good against the biting of snakes
or venomous beasts; and that the water distilled from them, and taken
every morning fasting, is thought to abate corpulence. The ashes of the
Ash and Juniper are stated to cure leprosy.

The pendent winged seeds, called spinners or keys, were believed to
have the same effect as the leaves: in country places there is to this
day an opinion current, that when these keys are abundant, a severe
Winter will follow. A bunch of Ash-keys is still thought efficacious as
a protection against witchcraft.

In marshy situations, the roots of the Ash will run a long way at a
considerable depth, thus acting as sub-drains: hence the proverb, in
some parts of the country, “May your foot-fall be by the root of the
Ash.” In the Spring, when the Ash and Oak are coming into leaf, Kentish
folk exclaim:--“Oak, smoke; Ash, squash.” If the Oak comes out first,
they believe the Summer will prove hot; if the Ash, it will be wet.

  “If the Oak’s before the Ash,
  You will only get a splash;
  If the Ash precedes the Oak,
  You will surely have a soak.”

Gilbert White tells us of a superstitious custom, still extant, which
he thinks was derived from the Saxons, who practised it before their
conversion to Christianity. Ash-trees, when young and flexible, were
severed, and held open by wedges, while ruptured children, stripped
naked, were pushed through the apertures, under a persuasion that they
would be cured of their infirmity. The operation over, the tree was
plastered up with loam, and carefully swathed. If the severed parts
coalesced in due course, the babe was sure to be cured; but if not,
the operation would probably be ineffectual. The same writer relates
another extraordinary custom among rustics: they bore a deep hole in
an Ash-tree, and imprison a live shrew mouse therein: the tree then
becomes a Shrew-Ash, whose twigs or branches, gently applied to the
limbs of cattle, will immediately relieve the cramp, lameness, and pain
supposed to attack the animal wherever a shrew mouse has crept over it.

Lightfoot says that, in the Highlands, at the birth of an infant, the
nurse takes a green Ash stick, one end of which she puts into the fire;
and, while it is burning, receives in a spoon the sap that oozes from
the other, which she administers to the child as its first food: this
custom is thought to be derived from the old Aryan practice of feeding
young children with the honey-like juice of the _Fraxinus Ornus_. The
sap of the Ash, tapped on certain days, is drunk in Germany as a remedy
for the bites of serpents.

In Northumberland, there is a belief that if the first parings of an
infant’s nails are buried under an Ash, the child will turn out a “top
singer.” In Staffordshire, the common people believe that it is very
dangerous to break a bough from the Ash. In Leicestershire, the Ash
is employed as a charm for warts. In the month of April or May, the
sufferer is taken to an Ash-tree: the operator (who is provided with a
paper of new pins) takes a pin, and having first struck it through the
bark, presses it through the wart until it produces pain; the pin is
then taken out and stuck into the tree, where it is left. Each wart is
similarly treated, a separate pin being used for each. The warts will
disappear in a few weeks. It is a wide-spread custom to stroke with a
twig from an Ash-tree, under the roots of which a horse-shoe has been
buried, any animal which is supposed to have been bewitched.

An Ashen herding stick is preferred by Scotch boys to any other,
because in throwing it at their cattle it is sure not to strike in
a vital part, and so kill or injure the animal, a contingency which
may occur, it seems, with other sticks. It is worthy of note that the
_lituus_ of the Roman Augur--a staff with a crook at one end--was
formed of an Ash-tree bough, the crook being sometimes produced
naturally, but more often by artificial means.

In many parts of England, the finding of an even Ash-leaf is considered
to be an augury of good luck; hence the old saying, so dear to tender

  “If you find an even Ash or a four-leaved Clover,
  Rest assured you’ll see your true-love ere the day is over.”

In Cornwall, this charm is frequently made use of for invoking good

  “Even Ash I thee do pluck,
    Hoping thus to meet good luck.
  If no good luck I get from thee,
    I shall wish thee on the tree.”

In Henderson’s ‘Northern Folk-lore,’ occur the following lines
regarding the virtues of even Ash-leaves:--

  “The even Ash-leaf in my left hand,
  The first man I meet shall be my husband.
  The even Ash-leaf in my glove,
  The first I meet shall be my love.
  The even Ash-leaf for my breast,
  The first man I meet’s whom I love best.
  The even Ash-leaf in my hand,
  The first I meet shall be my man.”

  “Even Ash, even Ash, I pluck thee,
  This night my true love for to see;
  Neither in his rick nor in his rear,
  But in the clothes he does every day wear.”

It is a tradition among the gipsies that the cross our Saviour was
crucified upon was made of Ash.

In Devonshire, it is customary to burn an Ashen faggot at
Christmastide, in commemoration of the fact that the Divine Infant at
Bethlehem was first washed and dressed by a fire of Ash-wood.

The Yule-clog or -log which ancient custom prescribes to be burnt on
Christmas Eve, used to be of Ash: thus we read in an old poem:--

  “Thy welcome Eve, loved Christmas, now arrived,
  The parish bells their tuneful peals resound,
  And mirth and gladness every breast pervade.
  The ponderous Ashen-faggot, from the yard,
  The jolly farmer to his crowded hall
  Conveys with speed; where, on the rising flames
  (Already fed with store of massy brands),
  It blazes soon; nine bandages it bears,
  And, as they each disjoin (so custom wills),
  A mighty jug of sparkling cider’s brought
  With brandy mixt, to elevate the guests.”

Spenser speaks of the Ash as being “for nothing ill,” but the tree has
always been regarded as a special attractor of lightning, and there is
a very old couplet, which says:--

  “Avoid an Ash,
  It courts the flash.”

Its character as an embodiment of fire is manifested in a remarkable
Swedish legend given in Grimm’s ‘German Mythology.’ Some seafaring
people, it is said, received an Ash-tree from a giant, with directions
to set it upon the altar of a church he wished to destroy. Instead,
however, of carrying out his instructions, they placed the Ash on the
mound over a grave, which to their astonishment instantly burst into

There is an old belief that to prevent pearls from being discoloured,
it is sufficient to keep them shut up with a piece of Ash-root.

Astrologers appear to be divided in their opinions as to whether the
Ash is under the dominion of the Sun or of Jupiter.

=ASVATTHA.=--The Indian Veda prescribes that for the purpose
of kindling the sacred fire, the wood of an _Asvattha_ (_Ficus
religiosa_), growing upon a _Sami_ (_Mimosa Suma_), should be employed.
The idea of a marriage suggested by such a union of the two trees
is also developed in the Vedas with much minuteness of detail. The
process by which, in the Hindu temples, fire is obtained from wood
resembles churning. It consists in drilling one piece of wood (the
_Asvattha_, symbolising the male element) into another (the _Sami_,
representing the female element). This is effected by pulling a string
tied to it, with a jerk, with one hand, while the other is slackened,
and so alternately until the wood takes fire. The fire is received on
cotton or flax held in the hand of an assistant Brahman. This Indian
fire-generator is known as the “chark.” (See also SAMI and PEEPUL).

=AURICULA.=--The old Latin name of this plant was _Auricula ursi_,
from the shape of the leaves resembling a bear’s ear. It is thought to
be the _Alisma_ of Dioscorides. Matthiolus and Pena call it _Sanicula
Alpina_, from its potency in healing wounds. Old herbalists have also
named it _Paralytica_ on account of its being esteemed a remedy for the
palsy. Gerarde calls it Bear’s-ear, or Mountain Cowslip, and tells us
that the root was in great request among Alpine hunters, for the effect
it produced in strengthening the head and preventing giddiness and
swimming of the brain overtaking them on high elevations. The plant is
reputed to be somewhat carnivorous, and cultivators place juicy pieces
of meat about the roots, so that they may absorb the blood.----In
Germany, the Auricula is considered emblematical of love of home.

=AVAKA.=--The _Avaka_ or _Sîpâla_ is an India aquatic plant, which
plays an important part in their funeral ceremonies. It is placed in a
cavity made, according to their custom, to the north-east of the sacred
fire _Ahavanîya_, and it is believed that the soul of the deceased
person passes into this cavity, and thence ascends with the smoke to
heaven. The _Avaka_ or _Sîpâla_ forms the food of the Gandharvas, who
preside over the India waters.

AVENS.--See Herb Bennett.

=AZALEA.=--This handsome shrub is narcotic and poisonous in all its
parts. Xenophon, in his narrative of the ‘Retreat of the Ten Thousand,’
in Asia, after the death of Cyrus, tells how his soldiers became
temporarily stupefied and delirious, as if intoxicated, after partaking
of the honey of Trebizond on the Black Sea. The baneful properties
of this honey arose from the poisonous nature of the blossoms of the
_Azalea Pontica_, from which the bees had collected it.

=BACCHARIS.=--This plant is the _Inula Conyza_, and was called
Baccharis after the god Bacchus, to whom it was dedicated. Virgil
speaks of Baccharis as being used for making garlands, and recommends
it as a plant which is efficacious as a charm for repelling calumny--

  “_Bacchari frontem
  Cingite, ne vati noceat mala lingua futuro._”

Its English name is the Ploughman’s Spikenard; and it was highly
esteemed by the old herbalists on account of the sweet and aromatic
qualities of its root, from which the ancients compounded an ointment
which was also known as Baccharis.

BACHELOR’S BUTTONS.--See Ranunculus.

=BALBAGA.=--The Indian Grass, _Eleusine Indica_, had, according to
De Gubernatis, the Vedic name of _Balbaja_: and, as a sacred herb,
was employed in Indian religious festivals for litter, in ceremonials
connected with the worship of the sacred Cow.

=BALDMONEY.=--According to Gerarde, the Gentian was formerly called
Baldmoyne and Baldmoney; but Dr. Prior considers that the name
appertains to _Meum athamanticum_, and that it is a corruption of the
Latin _valde bona_, very good. The Grete Herball, speaking of Sistra,
he says, gives the following explanation:--“Sistra is Dyll, some call
it Mew; but that is not so. Howbeit they be very like in properties and
vertue, and be put eche for other; but Sistra is of more vertue then
Mew, and the leaves be lyke an herbe called _Valde Bona_, and beareth
smaller sprigges as Spiknarde. It groweth on hye hylles” (See FELDWODE).

=BALIS.=--This herb was believed by the ancients to possess the
property of restoring the dead to life. By its means Æsculapius himself
was said to have been once resuscitated; and Pliny reports that,
according to the Greek historian Xanthus, a little dog, killed by a
serpent, was brought back to life by this wonderful herb _Balis_.

=BALSAM.=--The seed vessel of this plant contains five cells. When
maturity approaches, each of these divisions curls up at the slightest
touch, and darts out its seeds by a spontaneous movement: hence
its generic name _Impatiens_, and its English appellation _Noli me
tangere_--Touch me not. Gerarde calls it the Balsam Apple, or Apple of
Jerusalem, and tells us that its old Latin name was _Pomum Mirabile_,
or Marvellous Apple. He also states that the plant was highly esteemed
for its property of alleviating the pains of maternity, and that it
was considered a valuable agent to remove sterility--the patient first
bathing and then anointing herself with an oil compounded with the
fruit.----The Turks represent ardent love by this flower.----Balsam is
under the planetary influence of Jupiter.

=BALM.=--The _Melissa_, or Garden Balm, was renowned among the Arabian
physicians, by whom it was recommended for hypochondria and affections
of the heart, and according to Paracelsus the _primum ens Melissa_
promised a complete renovation of man. Drunk in wine, it was believed
to be efficacious against the bitings of venomous beasts and mad dogs.
A variety called Smith’s or Carpenter’s Balm, or Bawm, was noted as a
vulnerary, and Pliny describes it of such magical virtue, that Gerarde
remarks, “though it be but tied to his sword that hath given the wound,
it stancheth the blood.” On account of its being a favourite plant of
the bees, it was one of the herbs directed by the ancients to be placed
in the hive, to render it agreeable to the swarm: hence it was called
_Apiastrum_.----The astrologers claimed the herb both for Jupiter
and the Sun.----In connection with the Garden Balm, Aubrey relates
a legend of the Wandering Jew, the scene of which he places in the
Staffordshire moors. When on the weary way to Golgotha, Jesus Christ,
fainting and sinking beneath the burden of the cross, asked the Jew
Ahasuerus for a cup of water to cool his parched throat, he spurned the
supplication, and bade him speed on faster. “I go,” said the Saviour,
“but thou shalt thirst and tarry till I come.” And ever since that
hour, by day and night, through the long centuries, he has been doomed
to wander about the earth, ever craving for water, and ever expecting
the Day of Judgment, which alone shall end his frightful pilgrimage.
One Whitsun evening, overcome with thirst, he knocked at the door of
a Staffordshire cottager, and craved of him a cup of small beer. The
cottager, who was wasted with a lingering consumption, asked him in and
gave him the desired refreshment. After finishing the beer, Ahasuerus
asked his host the nature of the disease he was suffering from, and
being told that the doctors had given him up, said, “Friend, I will
tell thee what thou shalt do; and by the help and power of Almighty God
above, thou shalt be well. To-morrow, when thou risest up, go into thy
garden, and gather there three Balm-leaves, and put them into a cup of
thy small beer. Drink as often as you need, and when the cup is empty,
fill it again, and put in fresh Balm-leaves every fourth day, and thou
shalt see, through our Lord’s great goodness and mercy, that before
twelve days shall be past, thy disease shall be cured and thy body
altered.” So saying, and declining to eat, he departed and was never
seen again. But the cottager gathered his Balm-leaves, followed the
prescription of the Wandering Jew, and before twelve days were passed
was a new man.

=BALM OF GILEAD.=--The mountains of Gilead, in the east of the Holy
Land, were covered with fragrant shrubs, the most plentiful being the
_Amyris_, which yielded the celebrated Balm of Gilead, a precious gum
which, at a very early period, the Ishmaelites or Arabian carriers
trafficked in. It was to a party of these merchants that Joseph was
sold by his brethren as they came from Gilead, with their camels,
bearing spicery, and Balm, and Myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt
(Gen. xxxvii., 25). There were three productions from this tree, all
highly esteemed by the ancients, viz.: _Xylobalsamum_, a decoction
of the new twigs; the _Carpobalsamum_, an expression of the native
fruit; and the _Opobalsum_, or juice, the finest kind, composed of
the greenish liquor found in the kernel of the fruit. The principal
quantity of Balm has, however, always been produced by excision. The
juice is received in a small earthen bottle, and every day’s produce
is poured into a larger, which is kept closely corked. So marvellous
were the properties of this Balm considered, that in order to test its
quality, the operator dipped his finger in the juice, and then set fire
to it, expecting fully to remain scathless if the Balm was of average
strength. The Balm of Gilead has always had a wonderful reputation as
a cosmetic among ladies. The manner of applying it in the East is thus
given by a traveller in Abyssinia:--“You first go into the tepid bath,
till the pores are sufficiently opened; you then anoint yourself with
a small quantity, and as much as the vessels will absorb: never-fading
youth and beauty are said to be the consequences.” By the Arabs, it
is employed as a stomachic and antiseptic, and is believed by them to
prevent any infection of the plague.----Tradition relates that there is
an aspic that guards the Balm-tree, and will allow no one to approach.
Fortunately, however, it has a weakness--it cannot endure the sound of
a musical instrument. As soon as it hears the approaching torment, it
thrusts its tail into one of its ears, and rubs the other against the
ground, till it is filled with mud. While it is lying in this helpless
condition, the Balm-gatherers go round to the other side of the tree,
and hurry away with their spoil.----Maundevile says that the true
Balm-trees only grew in Egypt (near Cairo), and in India. The Egyptian
trees were tended solely by Christians, as they refused to bear if
the husbandmen were Saracens. It was necessary, also, to cut the
branches with a sharp flint-stone or bone, for if touched with iron,
the Balm lost its incomparable virtue. The Indian Balm-trees grew “in
that desert where the trees of the Sun and of the Moon spake to King
Alexander,” and warned him of his death. The fruit of these Balm-trees
possessed such marvellous properties, that the people of the country,
who were in the habit of partaking of it, lived four or five hundred
years in consequence.

=BAMBOO.=--The _Bambusa Arundinaceæ_ is one of the sacred plants of
India: it is the tree of shelter, audience, and friendship. As jungle
fires were thought to be caused by the stems of Bamboos rubbing
together, the tree derived from that fact a mystic and holy character,
as an emblem of the sacred fire.----Indian anchorites carry a long
Bamboo staff with seven nodes, as a mark of their calling. At Indian
weddings, the bride and bridegroom, as part of the nuptial ceremony,
get into two Bamboo baskets, placed side by side, and remain standing
therein for some specified time. The savage Indian tribe called Garrows
possess neither temples nor altars, but they set up a pillar of Bamboo
before their huts, and decorate it with flowers and tufts of cotton,
and sacrifice before it to their deity. In various parts of India
there is a superstitious belief that the flowering and seeding of
various species of Bamboo is a sure prognostication of an approaching
famine.----Europeans have noticed, as an invariable rule, in Canara,
that when the Bamboos flower and seed, fever prevails. At the foot of
the Ghauts, and round Yellapûr, it has been observed that when the
Bamboos flowered and seeded, fever made its appearance, few persons
escaping it. During blossom, the fever closely resembles hay fever at
home, but the type becomes more severe as the seeds fall.----The poor,
homeless fishermen of China, to supply themselves with vegetables,
have invented a system of culture which may move with them, and they
thus transport their gardens wherever they may go. This they do by
constructing rafts of Bamboo, which are well woven with weeds and
strong grass, and then launched on the water and covered with earth.
These floating gardens are made fast to the stern of their junks and
boats, and towed after them.

=BANANA.=--The Banana (_Musa sapientum_) and the Plantain (_M.
paradisiaca_) are so closely related, as to be generally spoken of
together. The Banana has been well designated the king of all fruit,
and the greatest boon bestowed by Providence on the inhabitants of hot
countries. According to Gerarde, who calls it in his Herbal, Adam’s
Apple Tree, it was supposed in his time by the Grecians and Christians
inhabiting Syria, as well as by the Jews, to be that tree of whose
fruit Adam partook at Eve’s solicitation--the Tree of the Knowledge of
Good and Evil, planted by the Lord Himself in the midst of the Garden
of Eden. It has also been supposed that the Grapes brought by the
Israelites’ spies to Moses out of the Holy Land, were in reality the
fruit of the Banana-tree.----In the Canary Islands, the Banana is never
cut across with a knife because it then exhibits a representation of
the Crucifixion. Gerarde refers to this mark, remarking that the fruit
“pleaseth and entiseth a man to eate liberally thereof, by a certaine
entising sweetnesse it yields; in which fruit, if it be cut according
to the length, oblique, transverse, or any other way, whatsoever, may
be seene the shape and forme of a crosse, with a man fastened thereto.
My selfe have seene the fruit, and cut it in pieces, which was brought
me from Aleppo, in pickle: the crosse, I might perceive, as the form
of a spred-Egle in the root of Ferne; but the man I leave to be sought
for by those which have better eies and judgement than my selfe.”----A
certain sect of Brahmans, called Yogis, place all their food in the
leaves of the Plantain, or Apple of Paradise, and other large leaves;
these they use dry, never green, for they say that the green leaves
have a soul in them; and so it would be sinful.

=BANYAN TREE.=--The Indian Fig-tree (_Ficus Indica_), of which one of
the Sanscrit names is _Bahupâda_, or the Tree of Many Feet, is one of
the sacred trees of India, and is remarkable for its vast size and
the singularity of its growth: it throws out from its lateral branches
shoots which, as soon as they reach the earth, take root, till, in
course of time, a single tree extends itself to a considerable grove.
Pliny described the Banyan with great accuracy, and Milton has rendered
his description almost literally:

  “Branching so broad along, that in the ground
  The bending twigs take root, and daughters grow
  About the mother tree; a pillared shade,
  High over-arched, with echoing walks between.
  There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat,
  Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
  At loop-holes cut through thickest shade.”

The Banyan rarely vegetates on the ground, but usually in the crown
of Palms, where the seed has been deposited by birds. Roots are sent
down to the ground, which embrace, and eventually kill, the Nurse-Palm.
Hence, the Hindus have given the Banyan the name of _Vaibâdha_ (the
breaker), and invoke it in order that it may at the same time break
the heads of enemies.----In the Indian mythology, the Banyan is
often confounded with the Bo-tree, and hence it is given a place in
heaven, where an enormous tree is said to grow on the summit of the
mountain Supârsva, to the south of the celestial mountain Meru, where
it occupies a vast space. Beneath the pillared shade of the Banyan,
the god Vishnu was born. His mother had sought its shelter, but she
was sad and fearful lest the terrible Kansa should put to death her
seventh babe, Vishnu, as he had already done her first six. Yasodâ, to
console the weeping mother, gave up her own infant daughter, who was
at once killed by Kansa’s servants; but Vishnu was saved. It is, says
De Gubernatis, at the foot of a gigantic Banyan, a _Bhândîra_, near
Mount Govardhana, that the Buddhist Vishnu plays with his companions,
and, by his presence, illuminates everything around him. The Banyan of
the Vedas is represented as being peopled with Indian parroquets, who
eat its fruit, which, however, does not exceed a Hazel-nut in size.
The Chinese Buddhists represent that Buddha sits under a Banyan-tree,
turned towards the East, to receive the homage of the god Brahma. Like
the sacred Bo-tree, the Banyan is regarded not only as the Tree of
Knowledge, but also as the tree of Indian seers and ascetic devotees.
Wherever a Bo-tree or a Banyan has stood, the place where it formerly
flourished is always held sacred.----There is in India a Banyan-tree
that is the object of particular veneration. It grows on the banks
of the Nerbudda, not far from Surat, and is the largest and oldest
Banyan in the country. According to tradition, it was planted by the
Seer Kabira, and is supposed to be three thousand years old. It is
said to be the identical tree visited by Nearchus, one of the officers
of Alexander the Great. The Hindus never cut it or touch it with
steel, for fear of offending the god concealed in its sacred foliage.
De Gubernatis quotes the following description of this sacred tree
given by Pietro Della Valle at the commencement of the seventeenth
century:--“On one side of the town, on a large open space, one sees
towering a magnificent tree, similar to those which I had noticed near
Hormuz, and which were called _Lul_, but here were known as _Ber_.
The peasants of this country have a profound veneration for this
tree, both on account of its grandeur and its antiquity: they make
pilgrimages to it, and honour it with their superstitious ceremonies,
believing that the goddess Pârvatî, the wife of Mahâdeva, to whom it
is dedicated, has it under her protection. In the trunk of this tree,
at a little distance from the ground, they have roughly carved what
is supposed to be the head of an idol, but which no one can recognise
as bearing any semblance to a human being; however, like the Romans,
they paint the face of the idol red, and adorn it with flowers, and
with leaves of a tree which they call here _Pan_, but in other parts
of India _Betel_. These flowers and leaves ought to be always fresh,
and so they are often changed. The pilgrims who come to visit the
tree receive as a pious souvenir the dried leaves which have been
replaced by fresh ones. The idol has eyes of gold and silver, and is
decorated with jewellery offered by pious persons who have attributed
to it the miraculous cure of ophthalmic complaints they have suffered
from.... They take the greatest care of the tree, of every branch, nay,
of every leaf, and will not permit either man or beast to damage or
profane it. Other Banyan or Pagod trees have obtained great eminence.
One near Mangee, near Patna, spread over a diameter of three hundred
and seventy feet, and it required nine hundred and twenty feet to
surround the fifty or sixty stems by which the tree was supported.
Another covered an area of one thousand seven hundred square yards;
and many of almost equal dimensions are found in different parts of
India and Cochin-China.”----In the _Atharvaveda_ mention is made
of an all-powerful amulet, which is a reduction, on a small scale,
of a Banyan-tree, possessing a thousand stems, to each of which is
attributed a special magical property.

=BAOBAB.=--The leviathan Baobab (_Adansonia_) is an object of
reverential worship to the negroes of Senegal, where it is asserted
that some of these trees exist which are five thousand years old. It
is reputed to be the largest tree in the world, and may readily be
taken at a distance for a grove: its trunk is often one hundred feet
in circumference; but its height is not so wonderful as its enormous
lateral bulk. The central branch rises perpendicularly, the others
spread out in all directions, and attain a length of sixty feet,
touching the ground at their extremities, and equalling in bulk the
noblest trees. The wood is spongy and soon decays, leaving the trunks
hollow. In these hollow trunks the negroes suspend the dead bodies of
those who are refused the honour of burial; and in this position the
bodies are preserved without any process of embalming. The magnificent
snowy blossoms are regarded with peculiar reverence at the instant they
open into bloom. The leaves are used medicinally, and as a condiment;
dried and powdered, they constitute Lalo, a favourite article with
the Africans, who mix it daily with their food, to prevent undue
perspiration; a fibre is obtained from the bark that is so strong as
to have given rise in Bengal to the saying, “As secure as an elephant
bound with a Baobab rope.” The gourd-like fruit, called Monkey-bread
and Ethiopian Sour Gourd, is also eaten, and is prized for its
febrifugal qualities.

=BARBERRY.=--The Barberry (_Berberis vulgaris_) was formerly called
the Pipperidge-bush, and was regarded with superstitious dislike by
farmers, who believed that it injured Wheat crops, even if growing a
hundred yards off, by imparting to the Corn the fungus which causes
rust.----In Italy, the Barberry is looked upon as the Holy Thorn,
or the plant which furnished the crown of Thorns used at our Lord’s
crucifixion: it seems to be so regarded because its Thorns grow
together in sets of three at each joint of the branch.----The Barberry
is under the dominion of Venus.

=BARLEY.=--Barley is a symbol of riches and abundance. The God Indra
is called “He who ripens Barley,” and in many of their religious
ceremonies the Indians introduce this cereal, viz., at the birth of an
infant, at weddings, at funerals, and at certain of their sacrificial
rites.----Barley is claimed by astrologers as a notable plant of Saturn.

=BAROMETZ.=--The Barometz, or Scythian Lamb (_Polypodium Barometz_),
is a name given to a Fern growing in Tartary, the root of which, says
Prof. Martyn, from the variety of its form, is easily made by art to
take the form of a lamb (called by the Tartars _Borametz_), “or rather
that of a rufous dog, which the common names in China and Cochin-China
imply, namely, _Cau-tich_ and _Kew-tsie_.” The description given of
this strange Fern represents the root as rising above the ground in an
oblong form, covered all over with hairs: towards one end it frequently
becomes narrower and then thicker, so as to give somewhat of the
shape of a head and neck, and it has sometimes two pendulous hairy
excrescences resembling ears; at the other end a short shoot extends
out into a tail. Four fronds are chosen in a suitable position, and are
cut off to a proper length, to represent the legs: and thus a vegetable
lamb is produced. Loureiro affirms that the root, when fresh cut,
yields a juice closely resembling the blood of animals.----Kircher has
given a figure of the Tartarian Lamb, in which the lamb is represented
as the fruit of some plant on the top of a stalk.----Parkinson, in
the frontispiece to his _Paradisus Terrestris_, has depicted this
Lamb-plant as growing in the Garden of Eden, where it appears to be
browsing on the surrounding herbage.----Scaliger has given a detailed
account of the Barometz, which he calls “a wondrous plant indeed among
the Tartars.” After remarking that Zavolha is the most considerable of
the Tartar hordes, he proceeds:--“In that province they sow a seed not
unlike the seed of a Melon, except that it is not so long. There comes
from it a plant which they call Borametz, that is to say, a lamb; and,
indeed, the fruit of that plant has exactly the shape of a lamb. We
see distinctly all the exterior parts--the body, the feet, the hoofs,
the head, and the ears; there wants, indeed, nothing but the horns,
instead of which it has a sort of wool that imitates them not amiss.
The Tartars fleece it, and make themselves caps of the skin. The pulp
that is within the fruit is very much like the flesh of crabs. Cut it,
and the blood gushes out, as from a wounded animal. This lamb feeds
itself upon all the grass that grows around it, and when it has eaten
it all up, it dries and dies away. But what perfects the similitude
between the Borametz and a lamb is that the wolves are very greedy of
this fruit, which no other animals ever care for.”----The elder Darwin,
in his poem on ‘The Loves of the Plants,’ makes the following allusion
to the Barometz:--

  “Cradled in snow and fanned by Arctic air,
  Shines, gentle Barometz! thy golden hair;
  Rooted in earth, each cloven hoof descends,
  And round and round her flexile neck she bends;
  Crops the gray coral Moss and hoary Thyme,
  Or laps with rosy tongue the melting rime,
  Eyes with mute tenderness her distant dam,
  Or seems to bleat, a _vegetable Lamb_.”

=BASIL.=--The English name of the _Ocymum basilicum_ is derived from
the Greek _basilikon_, royal, probably from its having been used in
some royal unguent, bath, or medicine.----Holy Basil, or _Tulasî_
(_Ocymum sanctum_), is by the Hindus regarded as a most sacred herb,
and they have given one of its names to a sacred grove of their
Parnassus, on the banks of the Yamuna. This holy herb is grown in
pots near every temple and dwelling of devout Hindus. It is sacred
to Vishnu, Kushna, and Lakshmi, but all the gods are interested in
it. Narada, the celestial sage, has sung the praises of the immortal
plant, which is perfection itself, and which, whilst protecting from
every misfortune those who cultivate it, sanctifies and guides them
to heaven. For this double sanctity it is reared in every Hindu
house, where it is daily watered and worshipped by all the members
of the household. Perhaps, also, it was on account of its virtues
in disinfecting and vivifying malarious air that it first became
inseparable from Hindu houses in India as the protecting spirit or
Lar of the family. The pious Hindus invoke the divine herb for the
protection of every part of the body, for life and for death, and
in every action of life; but above all in its capacity of ensuring
children to those who desire to have them. Among the appellations
given to the _Tulasî_ are--“propitious,” “perfumed,” “multi-leaved,”
“devil-destroying,” &c. The root is made into beads, which are worn
round the neck and arms of the votaries of Vishnu, who carry also
a rosary made of the seeds of the Holy Basil or the Sacred Lotus.
De Gubernatis has given some interesting details of the _Tulasî_
cultus:--“Under the mystery of this herb,” he says, “created with
ambrosia, is shrouded without doubt the god-creator himself. The
worship of the herb _Tulasî_ is strongly recommended in the last part
of the _Padmapurâna_, consecrated to Vishnu; but it is, perhaps, no
less adored by the votaries of Siva; Krishna, the popular incarnation
of the god Vishnu, has also adopted this herb for his worship; from
thence its names of _Krishna_ and _Krishnatulasî_. Sîtâ, the epic
personification of the goddess Lakshmî, was transformed, according to
the _Râmâyana_, into the _Tulasî_, from whence the name of _Sitâhvayâ_
given to the herb.” Because of the belief that the Tulasî opens the
gates of heaven to the pious worshipper, Prof. De Gubernatis tells us
that “when an Indian dies, they place on his breast a leaf of _Tulasî_;
when he is dead, they wash the head of the corpse with water, in which
have been dropped, during the prayer of the priest, some Flax seeds
and _Tulasî_ leaves. According to the _Kriyâyogasâras_ (xxiii.), in
religiously planting and cultivating the _Tulasî_, the Hindu obtains
the privilege of ascending to the Palace of Vishnu, surrounded by ten
millions of parents. It is a good omen for a house if it has been
built on a spot where the _Tulasî_ grows well. Vishnu renders unhappy
for life and for eternity infidels who wilfully, or the imprudent who
inadvertently, uproot the herb _Tulasî_: no happiness, no health, no
children for such! This sacred plant cannot be gathered excepting with
a good and pious intention, and above all, for the worship of Vishnu
or of Krishna, at the same time offering up this prayer:--‘Mother
_Tulasî_, be thou propitious. If I gather you with care, be merciful
unto me, O _Tulasî_, mother of the world, I beseech you.’”----Like the
Lotus, the Basil is not only venerated as a plant sacred to the gods,
but it is also worshipped as a deity itself. Hence we find the herb
specially invoked, as the goddess Tulasî, for the protection of every
part of the human frame, from the head to the feet. It is also supposed
that the heart of Vishnu, the husband of the Tulasî, is profoundly
agitated and tormented whenever the least sprig is broken of a plant
of Tulasî, his wife.----In Malabar, sweet Basil is cultivated as a
sacred plant, under the name of Collo, and kept in a little shrine
placed before the house.----In the Deccan villages, the fair Brahminee
mother may be seen early every morning, after having first ground the
corn for the day’s bread and performed her simple toilet, walking with
glad steps and waving hands round and round the pot of Holy Basil,
planted on the four-horned altar built up before each house, invoking
the blessings of heaven on her husband and his children. The herb is
planted largely on the river banks, where the natives bathe, as well as
at the entrance to their temples. They believe that the deities love
this herb, and that the god Ganavedi abides in it continually. When
travelling, if they cannot obtain the herb, they draw the form of the
plant on the ground with its root.----It is difficult to understand
why so sacred and so fragrant a herb as Sweet Basil should have become
the symbol of Hatred, unless it be because the ancients sometimes
represented Poverty by the figure of a female clothed in rags, and
seated by a plant of Basil. The ancient Greeks thought that when Basil
was sown, the act should be accompanied by abuse, without which it
would not flourish. Pliny also records that it throve best when sown
with cursing and railing. This explains the French saying, “_Semer
le Basilic_,” equivalent to slandering.----The plant has a decided
funereal symbolism. In Persia, where it is called _Rayhan_,

    “the Basil-tuft, that waves
  Its fragrant blossom over graves,”

is usually found in cemeteries. In Egypt, the same plant is scattered
over the tombs by the women who go twice or oftener a week to pray and
weep at the sepulchres of the dead. In Crete, the Basil is considered
a symbol of the Evil One, although it is to be found on every
window-ledge. It is unfortunate to dream of Basil, for it is supposed
to betoken grief and misfortune. It was probably these sinister and
funereal associations of the plant that induced Boccaccio to make the
unhappy Isabella conceal her murdered lover’s head by planting Basil
in the pot that contained it; although it is surmised that the author
of the ‘Decameron’ obtained the idea from Grecian sources.----It is,
however, satisfactory to find that in Italy the Basil is utilised for
other than funereal purposes. De Gubernatis tells us that in some
districts pieces of Basil are worn by maidens in their bosoms or at
their waists, and by married women in their hair: they believe also
that the perfume of Basil engenders sympathy, from which comes its
familiar name, _Bacia-nicola_--Kiss me, Nicholas! Rarely does the young
peasant girl pay a visit to her sweetheart without affixing behind her
ear a sprig of Basil, which she takes special care not to part with, as
that would be a token of scorn. In Turkey, they call Basil, _Amorino_.
In Moldavia, the Basil is regarded as an enchanted flower, whose spells
can stop the wandering youth upon his way, and make him love the maiden
from whose hand he shall accept a sprig.----In the East, Basil seeds
are employed to counteract the poison of serpents: in India the leaves
are used for the same purpose, as well as for the cure of several
diseases. Gerarde says that “they of Africke do also affirme that they
who are stung of the scorpion, and have eaten of it, shall feele no
paine at all.” Orisabius likewise asserts that the plant is an antidote
to the sting of those insects; but, on the other hand, Hollerius
declares that it propagates scorpions, and that to his knowledge an
acquaintance of his, through only smelling it, had a scorpion bred
in his brain.----Lord Bacon, in his Natural History, states that if
Basil is exposed too much to the sun, it changes into Wild Thyme,
although the two herbs seem to have small affinity. Culpeper quaintly
remarks: “Something is the matter; this herb and Rue will never grow
together--no, nor near one another; and we know the Rue is as great an
enemy to poison as any that grows.” Gerarde, however, tells us that
the smell of Basil is good for the heart and for the head.----The
plant is a paradox:--sacred and revered, yet dedicated to the Evil
One; of happy augury, yet funereal; dear to women and lovers, yet
emblem of hatred; propagator of scorpions, yet the antidote to their
stings.----Astrologers rule that Basil is a herb of Mars, and under the
Scorpion, and therefore called Basilicon.

=BAUHINIA.=--The leaves of the Bauhinia or Ebony-tree are two-lobed,
or twin--a character, which suggested to Plumier the happy idea of
naming the genus after the two famous brothers, John and Caspar Bauhin,
botanists of the sixteenth century.

=BEANS.=--Among the ancients, there appears to have been a
superstitious aversion to Beans as an article of food, arising from the
resemblance of the fruit to a portion of the human body. The Egyptians,
among whom the Sacred Bean was an object of actual worship, would
not partake of it as food, probably on that account; because by so
doing they would be fearful of eating what they considered was human,
and of consuming a soul. By some nations the seed was consecrated to
the gods.----The eating of Beans was interdicted to the Jewish High
Priest on the Day of Atonement from its decided tendency to bring on
sleep.----The goddess Ceres, when bestowing her gifts upon mankind,
expressly excluded Beans. The unhappy Orpheus refused to eat them;
Amphiaraus, the diviner, in order to preserve a clear vision, always
abstained from them; the Flamines, Roman priests, instituted by Numa,
would neither touch nor mention them; and the Grecian philosopher
Pythagoras, who lived only on the purest and most innocuous food,
invariably declined to partake of Beans of any description, giving as
his reason that, in the Bean, he recognised blood, and consequently
an animal, which, as a vegetarian, he could not consume. According to
tradition, the great philosopher, being pursued by his enemies, was
overtaken and killed, solely because, having in his flight reached a
field of Beans, he would not cross it for fear of trampling upon living
beings, the souls of the dead, who had entered temporarily, into the
vegetable existence. Cicero considered that the antipathy to Beans as
an article of food arose from their being considered impure, inasmuch
as they corrupted the blood, distended the stomach, and excited the
passions. Hippocrates considered them unwholesome and injurious to the
eyesight. They were also believed to cause bad dreams, and, moreover,
if seen in dreams, were deemed to portend evil.----One of the Greek
words for Bean is _Puanos_, and at the festival of Puanepsia, held in
the month of October, at Athens, in honour of Apollo, Beans and Pulse,
we are told, were sodden. The Romans offered Beans to their goddess
Carna on the occasion of her festival in the month of June.----The
Lemures, or evil spirits of those who had lived bad lives, according
to a Roman superstition, were in the habit, during the night-time,
of approaching houses, and then throwing Beans against them. The
Romans celebrated festivals in their honour in the month of May,
when the people were accustomed to throw black Beans on the graves
of the deceased, or to burn them, as the smell was supposed to be
disagreeable to the manes. This association of Beans with the dead is
still preserved in some parts of Italy, where, on the anniversary of a
death, it is customary to eat Beans and to distribute them to the poor.
Black Beans were considered to be male, and white female, the latter
being the inferior.----De Gubernatis relates several curious customs
connected with Beans. In Tuscany, the fire of St. John is lighted in
a Bean-field, so that it shall burn quickly. In Sicily, on Midsummer
Eve, Beans are eaten with some little ceremony, and the good St. John
is thanked for having obtained the blessings of a bountiful harvest
from God. At Modica, in Sicily, on October 1st, a maiden in love will
sow two Beans in the same pot. The one represents herself, the other
the youth she loves. If both Beans shoot forth before the feast of
St. Raphael, then marriage will come to pass; but if only one of the
Beans sprouts, there will be betrayal on the part of the other. In
Sicily and Tuscany, girls who desire a husband learn their fate by
means of Beans, in this fashion:--They put into a bag three Beans--one
whole, another without the eye, a third without the rind. Then, after
shaking them up, they draw one from the bag. The whole Bean signifies
a rich husband; the Bean without an eye signifies a sickly husband;
and the Bean without rind a husband without a penny.----The French
have a legend, of one Pipette, who, like our Jack, reaches the sky by
means of a Bean-stalk. In France, some parts of Italy, and Russia, on
Twelfth Night, children eat a cake in which has been baked a white Bean
and a black Bean. The children to whose lot fall the portions of cake
containing the Beans become the King and Queen of the evening.----An
old English charm to cure warts is to take the shell of a broad Bean,
and rub the affected part with the inside thereof; the shell is then
to be buried, and no one is to be told about the matter; then, as the
shell withers away, so will the wart gradually disappear. It is a
popular tradition that during the flowering of the Bean more cases of
lunacy occur than at any other season. In Leap Year, it is a common
notion that broad Beans grow the wrong way, _i.e._, the seed is set in
the pods in quite the contrary way to what it is in other years. The
reason given is that, because it is the ladies’ year, the Beans always
lie the wrong way--in reference to the privilege possessed by the fair
sex of courting in Leap Year. There is a saying in Leicestershire, that
if you wish for awful dreams or desire to go crazy, you have only to
sleep in a Bean-field all night.----Beans are under the dominion of
Venus. To dream of them under any circumstances means trouble of some

=BEDSTRAW.=--Our Lady’s Bedstraw (_Galium verum_) filled the manger
on which the infant Jesus was laid. In a painting of the Nativity
by N. Poussin, this straw is introduced. From its soft puffy stems
and golden flowers, this grass was in bygone times used for bedding,
even by ladies of rank,--whence the expression of their being “in
the straw.”----_Galium_ was formerly employed to curdle the milk in
cheese-making, and was also used before the introduction of Annatto,
to give a rich colour to Cheshire cheese. The old herbalists affirmed
that the root stirred up amorous desires, if drunk in wine, and that
the flowers would produce the same effect if smelt long enough. Robert
Turner says: “It challenges the preheminence above Maywort, for
preventing the sore weariness of travellers: the decoction of the herb
and flowers, used warm, is excellent good to bath the surbated feet of
footmen and lackies in hot weather, and also to lissome and mollifie
the stiffness and weariness of their joynts and sinews.”----In France,
_Galium_ is considered to be a remedy in cases of epilepsy.----Lady’s
Bedstraw is under the dominion of Venus.

=BEECH.=--Vieing with the Ash in stateliness and grandeur of outline,
the Beech (_Fagus_) is worthily given by Rapin the second place among

  “Mixt with huge Oaks, as next in rank and state,
  Their kindred Beech and Cerris claim a seat.”

According to Lucian, the oracles of Jupiter at Dodona were delivered
not only through the medium of the sacred Oaks in the prophetic grove
surrounding the temple, but also by Beeches which grew there. A large
part, if not the whole, of the Greek ship _Argo_ was built of _Fagus_,
or Beech timber, and as certain beams in the vessel gave oracles to
the Argonauts, and warned them against the approach of calamities, it
is probable that some, at least, of these prophetic beams were hewn
from the Dodonæan Beeches. It was from the top of two Beech-trees that
Minerva and Apollo, in the form of vultures, selected to watch the
fight between the Greeks and the Trojans.----The connection of the tree
with the god Bacchus appears to have been confined to its employment in
the manufacture of bowls for wine in the happy time when “No wars did
men molest, and only Beechen bowls were in request.” Cowley alludes to
this in the words--

  “He sings the Bacchus, patron of the Vine,
  The Beechen bowl foams with a flood of wine.”

Virgil notices the use of its smooth and green bark for receiving
inscriptions from the “sylvan pen of lovers;” and Ovid, in his epistle
from Œnone to Paris, refers to the same custom, gracefully noting that
the name of the fair one would grow and spread with the growth of the

  “The Beeches, faithful guardians of your flame,
  Bear on their wounded trunks Œnone’s name,
  And as their trunks, so still the letters grow;
  Spread on, and fair aloft my titles show.”

According to a French tradition, a blacksmith, who was one day beating
a bar of red-hot iron on his anvil, raised such a shower of sparks,
that some of them reached the eyes of God himself, who forthwith, in
His wrath, condemned the man to become a bear, with the condition that
he might climb at his pleasure all the trees excepting the Beech.
Changed into a bear, the man was for ever afterwards cogitating how
to uproot the tree. In this legend, the Beech, which is generally
considered a tree of good augury, becomes a specially favoured or
privileged tree. Pliny wrote that it should not be cut for fuel.
Gerarde says of it: “The wood is hard and firme, which being brought
into the house there follows hard travail of child and miserable
deaths, as it is reported; and therefore it is to be forborne, and not
used as fire wood.” The Beech-tree is believed to be exempt from the
action of lightning, and it is well known that Indians will seek its
shelter during a thunderstorm. It is the Danish symbol.--Astrologers
rule the Beech to be under the dominion of Saturn.

=BELINUNCIA.=--Under the appellation of Kêd, or Ceridwen, the Druids
worshipped the Moon, who was believed to exercise a peculiar influence
on storms, diseases, and certain plants. They consecrated a herb to
her, called _Belinuncia_, in the poisonous sap of which they dipped
their arrows, to render them as deadly as those malignant rays of the
Moon which were deemed to shed both death and madness upon men.

=BEL-TREE.=--The _Ægle Marmelos_, _Bilva_ (Sanscrit), or Bel-tree,
is held sacred in India. Belonging to the same natural order as the
Orange, its leaves, which are divided into three separate leaflets,
are dedicated to the Hindu Trinity, and Indians are accustomed to
carry one of them folded in the turban or sash, in order to propitiate
Siva, and ensure safety from accidents. The wood is used to form the
sacrificial pillars.----The Hindu women of the Punjab throw flowers
into a sacred river, by means of which they can foretell whether or not
they are to survive their husbands: but a much more ingenious rite is
practised by the Newars of Nepaul. To obviate the terrible hardships to
a young Hindu girl of becoming a widow, she is, in the first instance,
married to a Bel-fruit, which is then cast into a sacred river. Should
her future husband prove distasteful to her, this rite enables her to
obtain a divorce; and should the husband die, she can still claim the
title of wife to the sacred Bel-fruit, which is immortal; so that she
is always a wife and never a widow.

BELL-FLOWER.--See Blue-bell, and Campanula.

=BETEL.=--According to Indian traditions, the Betel was brought from
heaven by Arjuna, who, during his journey to Paradise, stole a little
bough of the sacred tree, which, upon his return to earth, he carefully
planted. In remembrance of this celestial origin of the tree, and
of the manner of its introduction to earth, Indians who desire to
plant the Betel invariably steal a few young shoots.----The Betel, or
Pepper-tree (_Piper betle_), is most highly esteemed by the Indian
races, who attribute to its leaves no less than thirty properties or
virtues, the possession of which, even by a plant of heavenly origin,
can scarcely be credited. It is the leaf of the Betel which serves to
enclose a few slices of the Areca Nut (sometimes erroneously called the
Betel Nut); and these, together with a little Chunam or shell-lime, are
what the natives universally chew to sweeten the breath and strengthen
the stomach. The poor, indeed, employ it to keep off the pangs of
hunger. In certain parts of the East, it is not considered polite to
speak to a superior without some of the Betel and Areca compound in
the mouth. At Indian marriage ceremonies, the bride and bridegroom
exchange between themselves the same Areca Nut, with its accompanying
Betel-leaf.----In Borneo, a favoured lover may enter the house of the
loved one’s parents, at night, and awaken her, to sit and eat Betel Nut
and the finest of Sirih-leaves from his garden.

=BETONY.=--The ‘Medicinal Betony,’ as Clare calls it, is _Betonica
officinalis_, and of all the simples praised by old herbalists, both
English and foreign, none (the Vervain excepted) was awarded a higher
place than Wood Betony. Turner, in his ‘Brittish Physician’ (1687),
writes:--“It would seem a miracle to tell what experience I have had
of it. This herb is hot and dry, almost to the second degree, a plant
of Jupiter in Aries, and is appropriated to the head and eyes, for the
infirmities whereof it is excellent, as also for the breast and lungs;
being boiled in milk, and drunk, it takes away pains in the head and
eyes. _Probatum._ Some write it will cure those that are possessed
with devils, or frantic, being stamped and applied to the forehead.”
He gives a list of between twenty or thirty complaints which Betony
will cure, and then says, “I shall conclude with the words I found
in an old manuscript under the virtues of it: ‘More than all this
have been proved of Betony.’” Gerarde gives a similar list, and adds,
that Betony is “a remedy against the bitings of mad dogs and venomous
serpents, being drunk, and also applied to the hurts, and is most
singular against poyson.” There is an old saying that, when a person is
ill, he should sell his coat, and buy Betony.----The Romans were well
acquainted with the medicinal properties of this herb. Pliny wrote of
the marvellous results obtained from its use, and also affirmed that
serpents would kill one another if surrounded by a ring composed of
_Betonica_. Antonius Musa, physician to Augustus, wrote a treatise
on the excellencies of _Betonica_, which he affirmed would cure
forty-seven different ailments. Franzius went so far as to assert that
the wild beasts of the forest, aware of its surpassing virtues, availed
themselves of its efficacy when they were wounded.----At a time when a
belief in witchcraft was rife in England, it was generally understood
that the house where _Herba Betonica_ was sown, was free from all
mischief. In Yorkshire, the Water Betony was formerly called Bishop’s
Leaves. In Italy, at the present day, there are several proverbs
relating to the virtues of Betony, one of which is, “May you have more
virtues than Betony;” and another, “Known as well as Betony.”

=BIGNONIA.=--One of the native names of the _Bignonia Indica_, or
Indian Trumpet-flower, is _Kâmadûti_, or the Messenger of Love.
Under the name of _Patala_, the _Bignonia suaveolens_ is specially
consecrated by the Indians to the god Brahma. The name of _Patala_,
however, is given in the Sanscrit to Durgâ, the wife of Siva, probably
on account of the colour of her idols, which assimilate to the colour
of the flowers of the Bignonia.

=BILBERRY.=--The origin of the Bilberry or Whortleberry (_Vaccinium
Myrtillus_), according to the mythology of the ancients, is as
follows:--Œnomaüs, father of the lovely Hippodamia, chose for his
attendant the young Myrtillus, son of Mercury. Proud of his skill,
he stipulated that all his daughter’s suitors should compete for the
prize in a chariot race with him. Pelops, who was eager to obtain the
beautiful Hippodamia, promised Myrtillus a large reward if he would
take out the linch-pin of his master’s chariot. Myrtillus was not
proof againt the offer: in consequence, the chariot was overturned,
and Œnomaüs mortally injured; but as he expired, he implored Pelops to
avenge him, which he did by throwing the treacherous attendant into
the sea. The waters having borne back his body to the shore, Mercury
changed it to the shrub called after his name, _Myrtillus_, a name
formerly given to the plant producing the Myrtle-berry, a fruit largely
imported in the middle ages, and used in medicine and cookery--of the
same genus as the English Bilberry, which is often found growing on the
sea-shore. The Scotch name of this shrub is Blaeberry, the praises of
which are often sung in Northern ballads.

  “Will ye go, lassie, go to the braes of Balquhidder,
  Whare the Blaeberries grow ’mong the bonny blooming Heather?”

Bilberries are held by the astrologers to be under Jupiter. (See also

=BIRCH.=--According to Scandinavian mythology, the Birch (_Betula
alba_) was consecrated to the god Thor, and symbolised the return of
Spring. The Greeks and Romans had not much knowledge of the tree,
but the latter seem to have regarded it with a feeling of dread in
consequence of the _fasces_ of the magistracy being composed of it, as
now, says Evelyn, “are the gentler rods of our tyrannical pedagogues
for lighter faults.” According to Pliny, the celebrated books which
Numa Pompilius composed seven hundred years before Christ, and which
were buried with him, were written on the bark of the Birch-tree.----It
is in the northern countries of Europe that the Birch flourishes, and
it is there the tree is held in the highest esteem. The Russians have
a proverb that the Birch excels in four qualities:--It gives light
to the world (with Birch-boughs torches are made); it stifles cries
(from Birch they extract a lubricant which they apply to the wheels of
carriages); it cleanses (in Russian baths, to promote perspiration,
they scourge the body with branches of Birch); it cures diseases (by
incision they obtain a liquor stated to have all the virtues of the
spirit of salt, and from which a wine is distilled, excellent as a
cordial and useful in cases of consumption). Moreover, in Russia,
the oil of the Birch is used as a vermifuge and a balsam in the cure
of wounds. In fact, to the peasants of the North, the Birch is as
beneficent as is the Palm to the Indians. No wonder, then, that the
Russians are very fond of the Birch, and surround their dwellings
with it; believing, as they do, that this tree is never struck by
lightning.----On the Day of Pentecost, it is a custom among young
Russian maidens to suspend garlands on the trees they love best, and
they are careful to tie round the stems of the Birch-trees a little
red ribbon as a charm to cause them to flourish and to protect them
from the Evil Eye. De Gubernatis quotes from a Russian author named
Afanassief, who tells us of a Birch that showed its appreciation
of the kindly attentions of a young girl in decking its stem, by
protecting her from the persecutions of a witch, who had become her
step-mother; and the same author makes mention of a certain white
Birch, which grew in the island of Buian, on the topmost of whose
branches it was currently believed the Mother of God might be seen
sitting.----Grohmann, a German writer, recounts the legend of a young
shepherdess, who was spinning in the midst of a forest of Birch-trees,
when suddenly the Wild Woman of the forest accosted her. The Wild Woman
was dressed in white, and had a garland of flowers upon her head:
she persuaded the shepherdess to dance with her, and for three days
kept up the dance until sunset, but so lightly that the grass under
her feet was neither trampled upon nor bent. At the conclusion of the
dance, all the yarn was spun, and the Wild Woman was so satisfied, that
she filled the pocket of the little shepherdess with Birch-leaves,
which soon turned into golden money.----Professor Mannhardt, says De
Gubernatis, divulges to us the means employed by the Russian peasants
to evoke the Lieschi, or Geni of the forest. They cut down some very
young Birch-trees, and arrange them in a circle in such a manner
that the points shall be turned towards the middle: they enter this
circle, and then they call up the spirit, who forthwith makes his
appearance. They place him on the stump of one of the felled trees,
with his face turned towards the East. They kiss his hand, and, whilst
looking between his legs, they utter these words:--“Uncle Lieschi,
show yourself to us, not as a grey wolf, not as a fierce fire, but as
I myself appear.” Then the leaves of the Aspen quiver and tremble,
and the Lieschi shows himself in human form, and is quite disposed to
render no matter what service to him who has conjured him--provided
only that he will promise him his soul.----De Gubernatis relates one
other anecdote respecting the Birch, which he says to the Esthonian
is the living personification of his country. It is related that an
Esthonian peasant noticed a stranger asleep beneath a tree at the
moment when it was struck by lightning. He awoke him. The stranger,
thanking him for his good offices, said: “When, far from your native
country, and feeling sorrowful and home-sick, you shall see a crooked
Birch, strike and ask of it: ‘Is the crooked one at home?’” One day the
peasant, who had become a soldier, and was serving in Finland, felt
dispirited and unhappy, for he could not help thinking of his home and
the little ones he had left behind. Suddenly he sees the crooked Birch!
He strikes it, and asks: “Is the crooked one at home?” Forthwith the
mysterious stranger appears, and, calling to one of his spirits, bids
him instantly transport the soldier to his native country, with his
knapsack full of silver.----The Swedes have a superstition that our
Saviour was scourged with a rod of the dwarf Birch, which was formerly
a well-grown tree, but has ever since that day been doomed to hide
its miserable and stunted head. It is called _Láng Fredags Ris_, or
Good Friday rod.----In France, it was in mediæval times the custom
to preserve a bough of the Birch as a sacred object. In the country
districts around Valenciennes, it is an old custom for lovers to hang
a bough of Birch or Hornbeam over the doorway of his lady-love. In
Haute Bretagne, as a charm to strengthen a weakly infant, they place
in its cot Birch-leaves, which have been previously dried in an oven.
There is an old English proverb, “Birchen twigs break no bones,” which
has reference to the exceedingly slender branches of the tree.----In
former days, churches were decked with boughs of the Birch, and
Gerarde tell us that “it serveth well to the decking up of houses
and banqueting-rooms, for places of pleasure, and for beautifying of
streets in the crosse and gang [procession] weeke, and such like.”
According to Herrick, it was customary to use Birch and fresh flowers
for decorative purposes at Whitsuntide:--

  “When Yew is out, then Birch comes in,
    And many flowers besides;
  Both of a fresh and fragrant kinne,
    To honour Whitsontide.”

The Scotch Highlanders think very highly of the Birch, and turn it to
all sorts of uses. With Burns, the budding Birch was a prime favourite
in the Spring-time. The Scotch proverb, which says of a very poor man
that he is “Bare as a Birk at Yule e’en,” probably refers to an old
custom of stripping the bark of the tree prior to converting it into
the yule log. The tree known in the Highlands as the Drooping Birk is
often grown in churchyards, where, as Scott says, “Weeps the Birch of
silver bark with long dishevell’d hair.” In Scottish ballads, the Birch
is associated with the dead, and more especially with the wraiths or
spirits of those who appear to be living after death. The following is
a good example:--

  “I dreamed a dreary dream last nicht;
    God keep us a’ frae sorrow!
  I dreamed I pu’d the Birk sae green
    Wi’ my true love on Yarrow.

  “I’ll redde your dream, my sister dear,
    I’ll tell you a’ your sorrow;
  You pu’d the Birk wi’ your true love;
    He’s killed, he’s killed on Yarrow.”

The Birch-tree is held to be under the dominion of Venus.

BITTER-SWEET.--See Solanum.

=BITTER VETCH.=--The Orobus, or Bitter Vetch, is supposed to represent
the herb mentioned in a passage in Pulci, which relates how an
enchanter preserves two knights from starvation, during a long journey,
by giving them a herb which, being held in the mouth, answers all the
purposes of food.----The Scotch Highlanders have a great esteem for the
tubercles of the Orobus root (which they call Corr or Cormeille); they
use them as masticatories, to flavour their liquor. They also affirm
that by the use of them they are enabled to repel hunger and thirst
for a considerable time. In times of scarcity, the roots have served
as a substitute for bread, and many think that the Bitter Vetch is the
_Chara_, mentioned by Cæsar, as affording food to his famished soldiers
at the siege of Dyrrhachium. The seeds, ground and tempered with wine,
were applied to heal the bitings of dogs and venomous beasts.

BLACK-THORN.--See Thorn.

BLAEBERRY.--See Bilberry and Whortleberry.

=BLUE-BELL.=--The Blue-bells of Scotland have long since become
household words. The flower (_Campanula latifolia_) is the finest and
most stately of the species, and although common enough on its native
hills, is scarce in England. It is associated with the feast of St.
George. (See CAMPANULA.)

BLUE-BOTTLE and BLUET.--See Centaury.

BO-TREE.--See Peepul.

=BORAGE.=--In former days, Borage (_Borago officinalis_) was noted as
one of the four “cordial flowers” most deserving of esteem for cheering
the spirits--the other three being the Rose, Violet, and Alkanet. Pliny
called Borage _Euphrosynum_, because it made men merry and joyful: and
to the same purport is the old Latin rhyme, “_Ego Borago gaudia semper
ago_.” All the old herbalists praise the plant for its exhilarating
effects, and agree with Pliny that when put into wine the leaves and
flowers of Borage make men and women glad and merry, driving away all
sadness, dulness, and melancholy. The “cool tankard” of our forefathers
was a beverage composed of the young shoots and blossoms of Borage
mingled with wine, water, lemon, and sugar. Lord Bacon was of opinion
that “if in the must of wine or wort of beer, while it worketh, before
it be tunned, the Burrage stay a short time, and be changed with fresh,
it will make a sovereign drink for melancholy passion.”----Borage,
astrologers tell us, is one of Jupiter’s cordials.

=BOX.=--The evergreen Box (_Buxus semperviva_) was specially
consecrated by the Greeks to Pluto, the protector of all evergreen
trees, as being symbolical of the life which continues through the
winter in the infernal regions, and in the other world.----A curious
superstition existed among the ancients in regard to the Box: although
it very much resembles the Myrtle, which was held sacred to Venus,
yet they carefully refrained from dedicating the Box to that goddess,
because they were afraid that through such an offering they would lose
their virility. They also, according to Bacon, entertained the belief
that the Box produced honey, and that in Trebizonde the honey issuing
from this tree was so noxious, that it drove men mad. Corsican honey
was supposed to owe its ill repute to the fact that the bees fed upon
Box. The Box is referred to by the Prophet Isaiah in his description of
the glory of the latter days of the Church: “The glory of Lebanon shall
come unto thee, the Fir-tree, the Pine-tree, and the Box-tree together,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary.” It is thought, also, to be the
Ashur-wood of the Scriptures, and to be referred to by Ezekiel when,
in describing the splendour of Tyre, he alludes to the benches of the
rowers as made of Ashur wood, inlaid with ivory. That the ancients were
accustomed to inlay Box-wood with ivory we know from Virgil and other
writers, who allude to this practice.----The Jews employ branches of
Box in erecting their tents at the Feast of Tabernacles.----Boughs of
Box were used formerly for decorative purposes, instead of the Willow,
on Palm Sundays. According to Herrick, it was once a time-honoured
custom on Candlemas Day to replace the Christmas evergreens with sprigs
of Box, which were kept up till Easter Eve, when they gave place to Yew.

  “Down with the Rosemary and Bays,
  Down with the Mistletoe;
  Instead of Holly now upraise
  The greener Box for show.”

Box-boughs were also in olden times regularly gathered at Whitsuntide
for decking the large open fire-places then in vogue.----In several
parts of the North of England, when a funeral takes place, a basin
full of sprigs of Box is placed at the door of the house from which
the coffin is taken up, and each mourner is expected to take a sprig,
and afterwards cast it on the grave of the deceased.----In Turkey, it
is a practice with widows, who go weekly to pray at their husbands’
tomb, to plant a sprig of Box at the head of the grave. The monastery
of St. Christine, in the Pyrenees, assumes the arms of the Knights of
St. Christine, viz., a white pigeon with a cross in its beak, to which
is attached the following legend:--The workmen who were employed to
build the monastery had the greatest difficulty in finding a suitable
foundation. After several ineffectual attempts, they one morning
perceived a white pigeon flying with a cross in its beak. They pursued
the bird, which perched on a Box-tree, but though it flew away on their
near approach, they found in the branches the cross which it had left:
this they took as a good omen, and proceeded successfully to lay the
foundation on the spot where the Box-tree had stood, and completed the
edifice.----To dream of Box denotes long life and prosperity, also a
happy marriage.

=BRACKEN FERN.=--There was formerly a proverb respecting the _Pteris
aquilina_, or common Brake Fern, popular in the country:--

  “When the Fern is as high as a spoon,
  You may sleep an hour at noon;
  When the Fern is as high as a ladle,
  You may sleep as long as you’re able;
  When the Fern begins to look red,
  Then milk is good with brown bread.”

In Ireland, the Bracken Fern is called the Fern of God, from an old
belief that if the stem be cut into three pieces, there will be seen on
the first slice the letter G, on the second O, and on the third D,--the
whole forming the sacred word God. There is still a superstition in
England, probably derived from some holy father, that in the cut
stem of the Bracken Fern may be traced the sacred letters I.H.S. In
Kent, and some other counties, these letters are deciphered as J.C.
In other parts of the country, the marks are supposed to delineate
an Oak, and to have first grown there in memory of the tree in which
King Charles sought shelter during his flight.----An old legend is yet
told, that James, the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth, after the battle
of Sedgemoor, was able to lie concealed for some days beneath the
dense Bracken Ferns; but one day, emerging from his retreat, he sat
down and began cutting some of the Fern-stems which had sheltered him.
Whilst doing this, he was seen by some peasants, who noticed the flash
of a diamond ring on one of his fingers. When, therefore, a reward
was offered soon afterwards for the Duke’s capture, they recalled the
circumstance, and sought for him where he lay concealed among the
Brakes.----Connected with this figure of an Oak in the Bracken-stem,
there is a saying, that if you cut the Bracken slantwise, you’ll see
a picture of an Oak-tree; the more perfect, the luckier your chance
will be. In Germany, the figure portrayed in the stem is popularly
recognised as the Russian Double Eagle. Of still more ancient origin,
however, is the opinion that the figure in the Brake Fern-stem is
that of an eagle, from whence it derived its name of Eagle Fern. In
Henderson’s ‘Folk Lore of the Northern Counties,’ we read that witches
detest the Bracken Fern because it bears on its root the letter C,
the initial of the holy name of Christ, which may be plainly seen
on cutting the root horizontally. It has, however, been suggested
that the letter intended is not the English C, but the Greek Χ,
the initial letter of the word Christos, which resembles closely the
marks on the root of the Bracken. These marks, however, have been also
stated to represent Adam and Eve standing on either side of the Tree of
Knowledge, and King Charles in the Oak. In some parts, lads and lasses
try to discover in the Bracken-stem the initials of their future wife
or husband.----Astrologers state that the Bracken Fern is under the
dominion of Mercury.

=BRAMBLE, or BLACKBERRY.=--The Bramble or Blackberry-bush (_Rubus
fruticosus_) is said to be the burning bush, in the midst of which
Jehovah appeared to Moses. It is the subject of the oldest apologue
extant. We read in Judges ix., 8-15, how Jotham, when bitterly
reproaching the men of Shechem for their ingratitude to his father’s
house, narrated to them, after the Oriental fashion, the parable of
the trees choosing a king, in which their choice eventually fell upon
the Bramble. According to some accounts, it was the Bramble that
supplied the Thorns which were plaited into a crown, and worn by our
Saviour just prior to the Crucifixion.----On St. Simon and St. Jude’s
Day (October 28th) tradition avers that Satan sets his foot on the
Bramble, after which day not a single edible Blackberry can be found.
In Sussex, they say that, after Old Michaelmas Day (10th October), the
Devil goes round the county and spits on the Blackberries. In Scotland,
it is thought that, late in the Autumn, the Devil throws his cloak
over the Blackberries, and renders them unwholesome. In Ireland, there
is an old saying, that “at Michaelmas the Devil put his foot on the
Blackberries;” and in some parts of that country the peasants will tell
their children, after Michaelmas Day, not to eat the _Grian-mhuine_
(Blackberries); and they attribute the decay in them, which about that
time commences, to the operation of the Phooka, a mischievous goblin,
sometimes assuming the form of a bat or bird, at other times appearing
as a horse or goat.----The ancients deemed both the fruit and flowers
of the Bramble efficacious against the bites of serpents; and it was
at one time believed that so astringent were the qualities of this
bush, that even its young shoots, when eaten as a salad, would fasten
teeth that were loose. Gerarde, however, for that purpose recommends
a decoction of the leaves, mixed with honey, alum, and a little
wine, and adds that the leaves “heale the eies that hang out.”----In
Cornwall, Bramble-leaves, wetted with spring water, are employed as a
charm for a scald or burn. The moistened leaves are applied to the burn
whilst the patient repeats the following formula:--

  “There came three angels out of the East,
  One brought fire, and two brought frost;
  Out fire and in frost;
  In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


A similar incantation to the above is used as a charm for inflammatory
disease. The formula is repeated three times to each one of nine
Bramble-leaves immersed in spring water, passes being meanwhile made
with the leaves _from_ the diseased part. A cure for rheumatism is to
crawl under a Bramble, which has formed a second root in the ground;
and to charm away boils, the sufferer should pass nine times, against
the Sun, under a Bramble-bush growing at both ends. In Devonshire,
a curious charm for the cure of blackhead or pinsoles consisted
in creeping under an arched Bramble. The person affected by this
troublesome malady has to creep on hands and knees under or through
a Bramble three times, with the Sun--that is, from east to west. The
Bramble must be of peculiar growth, forming an arch rooting at both
ends, and if possible reaching into two proprietors’ lands; so that
a Bramble is by preference selected, of which the original root is
in the hedge of one owner, and the end of the branch forming the
arch is rooted in the meadow of another.----The Bramble has funereal
associations, and its young shoots have long been used to bind down the
sods on newly-made graves in village churchyards. Jeremy Taylor, when
commenting on mortality, says, referring to this custom: “The Summer
gives green turf and Brambles to bind upon our graves.”----The Moat
of Moybolgue, in the County of Cavan, is a sacred place in Ireland,
where St. Patrick ministered. According to a legend, Honor Garrigan,
one Sunday during the saint’s lifetime, rode up the hill to church;
but espying a bunch of ripe Blackberries, she dismounted in order to
gather them. Her servant lad remonstrated upon the wickedness of her
breaking her fast before receiving the Holy Communion, but in vain;
his mistress ate the Blackberries, and then her hunger increased to
famine pitch, and she ate the boy and then the horse. St. Patrick,
alarmed by the cries of his congregation, who were afraid the wicked
woman would devour them also, shot her with his bow and arrow--her body
separating into four sections, which were buried in a field outside the
churchyard; St. Patrick prophesying to the terrified crowd that she
would lie quiet till nine times nine of the name of Garrigan should
cross the stream which separated the roads from the churchyard. When
that took place, she would rise again, and devour all before her; and
that would be the way she would be destroyed. The water of the stream
has ever since been held sacred, and effects miraculous cures.----The
Bramble is said to be a plant of Mars. To dream of passing through
places covered with Brambles, portends troubles; if they prick you,
secret enemies will do you an injury with your friends; if they draw
blood, expect heavy losses in trade. To dream of passing through
Brambles unhurt, denotes a triumph over enemies.

BREAKSTONE.--See Saxifrage.

=BROOM.=--The English royal line of Plantagenet undoubtedly derived
its name from the Broom (_Planta genista_), the _Gen_ of the Celts,
the _Genêt_ of the French, and from time immemorial the badge of
Brittany. According to Skinner, the house of Anjou derived the name
of Plantagenet from Fulke, the first earl of that name, who, it is
said, having killed his brother in order that he might enjoy his
principality, afterwards, touched by remorse, undertook a pilgrimage
to Jerusalem as a work of atonement; and being there soundly scourged
with Broom-twigs, which grew plentifully on the spot, he ever after
took the surname of Plantagenet, and bore the _Genêt_ as his personal
cognisance, which was retained by his noble posterity. Another legend,
however, relates that this badge was first adopted by Gefroi, Earl
of Anjou, the father of Henry II., and husband of Matilda, Empress
of Germany. Passing on his way to the battle-field through a rocky
pathway, on either side of which bushes of yellow Broom clung firmly
to the boulders, or upheld the crumbling earth, Gefroi broke off a
branch and fixed it as a plume in his cap, saying, “Thus shall this
golden plant ever be my cognisance--rooted firmly among rocks, and yet
upholding that which is ready to fall.” He afterwards took the name
of Plantagenet (_Planta genista_) and transmitted it to his princely
posterity. His son Henry was called the Royal Sprig of Genista, and
the Broom continued to be the family device down to the last of the
Plantagenets, Richard III. It may be seen on the great seal of Richard
I., its first official heraldic appearance.----In 1234, St. Louis
of France established a new order of Knighthood, called _l’Ordre du
Genest_, on the occasion of his marriage with Queen Marguerite. The
Knights of the Genest wore a chain composed of blossoms of the _Genêt_
(Broom) in gold alternately with white enamelled Fleurs de Lis, from
which was suspended, a gold cross with the motto “_Deus exaltat
humiles_.” One hundred Knights of the Order of the Genest acted as a
body-guard to the King. The order was long held in high esteem, and one
of its recipients was Richard II.----The Broom may well be symbolic
of humility, for, according to a Sicilian legend, it was accursed for
having made such a noise in the garden of Gethsemane during the time
that Jesus Christ was praying there, that His persecutors were thus
enabled to surprise Him. Hemmed in by His enemies, Jesus, turning
towards the traitorous shrub, pronounced on it this malediction:
“May you always make as much noise when you are being burnt.”----In
England, the Broom has always been held as one of the plants beloved by
witches. In Germany, the Broom is the plant selected for decorations
on Whit-Sunday: it is also used as a charm. When a limb has been
amputated, the charmer takes a twig from a Broom, and after pressing
the wound together with it, wraps it in the bloody linen, and lays it
in a dry place, saying:

  “The wounds of our Lord Christ
  They are not bound;
  But these wounds they are bound
          In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

In Tuscany, on the day of the _Fête-Dieu_, it is often employed. In
England, it is considered that if the Broom has plenty of blossoms, it
is the sign of a plentiful grain harvest. In Suffolk and Sussex, there
is a saying that--

  “If you sweep the house with blossomed Broom in May,
  You are sure to sweep the head of the house away.”

By the old herbalists the Broom was considered a panacea for a
multiplicity of disorders, and Gerarde tells us that no less a
personage than “that worthy Prince of famous memory, Henry VIII., of
England, was wont to drink the distilled water of Broome-floures,
against surfets and diseases thereof arising.”----Broom is under the
planetary influence of Mars.

=BRIONY.=--The poisonous fruit or berries of the Black Briony (_Tamus_)
are supposed to remove sunburns, freckles, bruises, black eyes, and
other blemishes of the skin. Another name of this wild Vine is Our
Lady’s Seal. The root of the White Briony may be made to grow in any
shape by placing it when young in an earthenware mould. In olden times,
designing people by this means obtained roots of frightful forms, which
they exhibited as curiosities, or sold as charms. The anodyne necklace,
which was a profitable affair for one Doctor Turner in the early part
of the present century, consisted of beads made of white Briony-root:
it was believed to assist in cutting the teeth of infants, around whose
neck it was hung.----Briony is under the dominion of Mars.

=BUCKTHORN.=--Of one variety of Buckthorn (_Rhamnus palinurus_) it is
said that Christ’s Crown of Thorns was composed. Of another variety
(_R. Frangula_) the Mongols make their idols, selecting the wood on
account of its rich hue.----The Buckthorn is under the dominion of

=BUGLOSS.=--The Bugloss (_Anchusa_) has been made the emblem of
Falsehood, because the roots of one of its species (_A. tinctoria_) are
used in making rouge for the face. In the wilds of America, the Indians
paint their bodies red with the root of a Bugloss (_Anchusa Virginica_)
indigenous to their country. Galen notices the use of the Bugloss as
a cosmetic in his time, and the rouge made from the roots of this
plant is said to be the most ancient of all the paints prepared for
the face.----Pliny says that the _Anchusa_ was used by the Romans for
colouring and dyeing; and adds, that if a person who has chewed this
plant should spit in the mouth of a venomous creature, he would kill
it.----The Viper’s Bugloss (_Echium vulgare_) derives its name from its
seed being like the head of a viper, and, according to Matthiolus, was
celebrated for curing its bites. Nicander also speaks of the Viper’s
Bugloss as one of those plants which cure the biting of serpents, and
especially of the viper, and that drive serpents away. Dioscorides, as
quoted by Gerarde, writes, “The root drunk with wine is good for those
that be bitten with serpents, and it keepeth such from being stung as
have drunk of it before: the leaves and seeds do the same.”----Bugloss
is reputed to be under the dominion of Jupiter.

=BULRUSH.=--King Midas, having preferred the singing of Marsyas, the
satyr, to that of Apollo, the god clapped upon him a pair of ass’s
ears. The king’s barber saw them, and, unable to keep the secret,
buried it at the foot of a cluster of Bulrushes. These Reeds, shaken by
the wind, continually murmured, “King Midas has ass’s ears.” Both the
_Scirpus lacustris_ and _Typha latifolia_ (the Reed Mace) are popularly
known as the Bulrush (a corruption of Pole Rush or Pool Rush). The
_Typha_ is depicted by Rubens, and the earlier Italian painters, as
the Reed put into the hands of Jesus Christ upon His crucifixion.
The same Reed is, on certain days, put into the hands of the Roman
Catholic statues of our Saviour. Gerarde calls this Reed Cat’s-tail,
and points out that Aristophanes makes mention of it in his ‘Comedy
of Frogs,’ “where he bringeth them forth, one talking with another,
being very glad that they had spent the whole day in skipping and
leaping among Galingale and Cat’s-tail.”----The Bulrushes, among which
the infant Moses was placed on the banks of the Nile, were Reeds not
unlike the _Typha_. The ark in which he was laid was probably a small
canoe constructed with the same Reed--the _Papyrus Nilotica_, which,
according to Egyptian belief, was a protection from crocodiles. Gerarde
says: “It is thought by men of great learning and understanding in
the Scriptures, and set downe by them for truth, that this plant is
the same Reed mentioned in the second chapter of Exodus, whereof was
made that basket or cradle, which was daubed within and without with
slime of that country, called _Bitumen Judaicum_, wherein Moses was
put, being committed to the water, when Pharaoh gave commandment that
all the male children of the Hebrews should be drowned.”----Boats and
canoes formed of the Papyrus are common in Abyssinia. In South America,
a similar kind of Bulrush is used for a like purpose.----The Bulrush is
under the dominion of Saturn.

=BURDOCK.=--Everyone is acquainted with the prickly burs of the
_Arctium Lappa_, or Burdock, which, by means of their hooks, are
apt to cling so tenaciously to the passer-by. There exists an old
belief among country lads, that they can catch bats by throwing these
burs at them. The plant is also known by the names of Great-bur,
Hur-bur, and Clot-bur, and has an ancient reputation for curing
rheumatism.----It was under the great leaf of a Burdock that the
original Hop-o’-my-Thumb, of nursery-rhyme celebrity, sought refuge
from a storm, and was, unfortunately, swallowed, enclosed in the leaf,
by a passing hungry cow.----In Albania, there is a superstitious belief
that, if a man has been influenced by the demons of the forest, the
evil spirit must be exorcised by the priest; a portion of the ceremony
consisting of the steeping of bread in wine, and spreading it on the
broad leaves of a Burdock.----Venus is the planet under whose rule
astrologers place Burdock.

=BURITI.=--The Buriti Palm (_Mauritia vinifera_) attains, in Brazil,
gigantic proportions, and its rich red and yellow fruit, “like quilted
cannon balls,” hang in bunches five feet long. From it flour, wine, and
butter are made, whilst the fibre of the leaves supplies thread for
weaving, &c. Another species, _M. flexuosa_, flourishes in the valleys
and swamps of South America, where the native Indians regard it with
great reverence, living almost entirely on its products; and, what is
very remarkable, building their houses high up amongst its leaves,
where they live during the floods.

=BURNET.=--The Burnet Saxifrage (_Pimpinella Saxifraga_) appears to be
considered a magical plant in Hungary, where it is called _Châbairje_,
or Chaba’s Salve, from an old tradition that King Chaba discovered
it, and cured the wounds of fifteen thousand of his soldiers after
a sanguinary battle fought against his brother.----In a work on
astrology, purported to be written by King Solomon, and translated
from the Hebrew by Iroé Grego, it is stated that the magician’s
sword ought to be steeped in the blood of a mole and in the juice of
Pimpinella.----In Piedmont, the Pimpinella is thought to possess the
property of increasing the beauty of women.----Burnet is a herb of the

=BUTCHER’S BROOM.=--A species of Butcher’s Broom, _Ruscus hypoglossum_,
was the Alexandrian Laurel of the Romans, who formed of this shrub the
so-called Laurel crowns worn by distinguished personages. It is the
Laurel generally depicted on busts, coins, &c.----The name of Butcher’s
Broom was given to this plant because in olden times butchers were in
the habit of sweeping their blocks with hand brooms made of its green
shoots. In Italy, branches of the plant, tied together, are commonly
employed as besoms for sweeping houses; and hucksters place boughs of
it round bacon and cheese to defend them from the mice. The _Ruscus
aculeatus_, besides its ordinary name of Butcher’s Broom, is called
Knee-holme, Knee-pulver, Knee-holly, Pettigree, and sometimes Jews’
Myrtle, because it is sold to the Jews for use during the Feast of the
Tabernacles. In combination with Horse-radish, the plant, boiled for a
decoction, is said to be serviceable in cases of dropsy; and its boughs
are often used in this country for flogging chilblains.----Butcher’s
Broom has been used and claimed by the Earls of Sutherland as the
distinguishing badge of their followers and clan. The present Duke
retains it, and every Sutherland volunteer still wears a sprig of
Butcher’s Broom in his bonnet on field days.----Butcher’s Broom is
under the dominion of Mars.

BUTTERCUPS.--See Ranunculus.

=CABBAGE.=--A Grecian legend recounts that the Cabbage (_Brassica_)
sprang from the tears of Lycurgus, Prince of Thrace, whom Dionysus had
bound to a Vine-stock as a punishment for the destruction of Vines
of which the Prince had been guilty. Perhaps this ancient legend may
account for the belief that the Cabbage, like the Laurel, is inimical
to the Vine; and it may also have given rise to the employment by the
Egyptians and the Greeks of this vegetable as a most powerful remedy
for the intoxication produced by the fruit of the Vine. Bacon, in his
_Sylva Sylvarum_, says: “So the Colewort (Cabbage) is not an enemy
(though that were anciently received) to the Vine onely; but it is an
enemy to any other plant, because it draweth strongly the fattest juyce
of the earth.” He also tells us that “it is reported that the shrub
called Our Ladie’s Seal (which is a kinde of Briony) and Coleworts, set
neare together, one or both will die.” Gerarde says that the Greeks
called the Cabbage _Amethustos_, “not onely because it driveth away
drunkennesse, but also for that it is like in colour to the pretious
stone called the Amethyst.”----The ancient Ionians, in their oaths,
invoked the Cabbage. Nicander calls the Cabbage a sacred plant.----In
Scotland, young women determine the figure and size of their future
husbands by drawing Cabbages, blindfolded, on Hallowe’en.----In some
country places, the housewife considers it a lucky omen if her Cabbages
grow “double,” _i.e._, with two shoots from one root; or “lucker,” that
is, with the leaves spreading open.----A Cabbage stalk or stump is a
favourite steed upon which the “good people,” or fairies, are wont
to travel in the air. Mr. Croker, in his ‘Fairy Legends of Ireland,’
relates that at Dundaniel, a village near Cork, in a pleasant outlet
called Blackrock, there lived not many years ago a gardener named
Crowley, who was considered by his neighbours as under fairy control,
and suffered from what they termed “the falling sickness” resulting
from the fatigue attendant on the journeys which he was compelled to
take; being forced to travel night after night with the good people
on one of his own Cabbage-stumps.----The Italian expressions, “Go
among the Cabbages,” and “Go hide among the Cabbages,” mean to die. In
the North, however, children are told that “Baby was fetched out of
the Cabbage-bed.”----In Jersey, the Palm Cabbage is much cultivated,
and reaches a considerable height. In La Vendée, the Cæsarean Cow
Cabbage grows sixteen feet high. Possibly these gigantic Cabbages
may have given rise to the nursery tales of some of the continental
states, in which the young hero emulates the exploits of the English
Jack and his Bean-stalk, by means of a little Cabbage, which grows
larger and larger, and finally, becoming colossal, reaches the
skies.----In England, there is a nursery legend which relates how the
three daughters of a widow were one day sent into the kitchen garden
to protect the Cabbages from the ravages of a grey horse which was
continually stealing them. Watching their opportunity, they caught him
by the mane and would not be shaken off; so the grey horse trotted away
to a neighbouring hill, dragging the three girls after him. Arrived
at the hill, he commanded it to open, and the widows’ daughters found
themselves in an enchanted palace.----A tradition in the Havel country,
North Germany, relates that one Christmas Eve a peasant felt a great
desire to eat Cabbage, and having none himself, he slipped into a
neighbour’s garden to cut some. Just as he had filled his basket, the
Christ Child rode past on his white horse, and said: “Because thou hast
stolen on the holy night, thou shalt immediately sit in the moon with
thy basket of Cabbage.” The culprit was immediately wafted up to the
moon, and there, as the man in the moon, he is still undergoing his
penalty for stealing Cabbages on Christmas Eve.----To dream of cutting
Cabbages denotes jealousy on the part of wife, husband, or lover, as
the case may be. To dream of anyone else cutting them portends an
attempt by some person to create jealousy in the loved one’s mind. To
dream of eating Cabbage implies sickness to loved ones and loss of
money.----Cabbages are plants of the Moon.

=CACTUS.=--The Cacti are for the most part natives of South America,
where their weird and grotesque columns or stems, devoid of leaves,
dot with green the arid plains of New Barcelona or the dark hillsides
of Mexico and California. They often attain the height of fifty feet,
and live to such an age as to have gained the name of “imperishable
statues.” Standing for centuries, they have been selected to mark
national boundaries, as for instance, between the English and French
possessions in the Island of St. Christopher, West Indies, and they
are also employed as hedges to lanes and roadways. In the arid plains
of Mexico and Brazil, the Cacti serve as reservoirs of moisture, and
not only the natives, by probing the fleshy stems with their long
forest knives, supply themselves with a cool and refreshing juice, but
even the parched cattle contrive to break through the skin with their
hoofs, and then to suck the liquid they contain. The splendid colours
of the Cactus flowers are in vivid contrast with the ugly and ungainly
stems.----There are sundry local legends and superstitions about these
plants of the desert. A certain one poisons every white spot on a
horse, but not one of any other colour. Another, eaten by horses, makes
them lazy and imbecile.----The number of known genera is eighteen, and
there are six hundred species, two of which are specially cultivated,
viz., _Opuntia Cochinellifera_ (Nopal plant), largely grown in Mexico,
as the food plant of the Cochineal insect (_Coccus Cacti_), which
produces a beautiful crimson dye; and _C. vulgaris_, or Prickly Pear,
which is cultivated for its grateful Gooseberry-like fruits in barren
rocky parts of North Africa and Southern Europe.----Peruvian sorcerers
make rag dolls, and stick the thorns of Cactus in them, or hide these
thorns in holes under or about houses, or in the wool of beds and
cushions, that those they wish to harm may be crippled, maddened, or

CALF’S-SNOUT.--See Antirrhinum.

=CAMELLIA.=--The flower of the beauteous Rose of Japan (_Camellia
Japonica_) has been well described as--

  “The chaste Camellia’s pure and spotless bloom,
  That boasts no fragrance and conceals no Thorn.”

The tree was introduced into Europe in 1639, and is named after G. J.
Kamel, or Camellus, a Moravian Jesuit, and traveller in Asia, who,
returning to Spain from the Isle of Luzon, sought an audience of
Queen Maria Theresa, and presented her with a mother-o’-pearl vase,
in which grew a small shrub with glossy green leaves, bearing two
flowers of dazzling whiteness. Plucking the fair bloom, she ran to the
king’s chamber, which he was pacing in one of his periodical fits of
melancholy. “Behold the new flower of the Philippines,” she cried, as
her husband welcomed her with a fond embrace; “I have kept the best
for you; the other you shall present to-night to Rosalez, who plays
so well in Cinna, at the Theatre del Principe.” Ferdinand pronounced
the flower of which his wife was so enraptured to be “beautiful but
scentless,” but spite of the latter defect, the plant was assiduously
cultivated in the hothouses of El Buen Retiro, and called after the
giver, the Camellia.----In Japan, the Camellia is a large and lofty
tree, greatly esteemed by the natives for the beauty of its flowers and
evergreen foliage, and grown everywhere in their groves and gardens: it
is also a native of China, and figures frequently in Chinese paintings.
The _Camellia Sasanqua_, the _Cha-Hwa_ of the Chinese, has fragrant
flowers, and its dried leaves are prized for the scent obtained from
them; a decoction is used by the ladies of China and Japan as a
hair-wash.----This shrub so resembles the Tea-plant, both in leaf and
blossom, that they are not readily distinguished: the leaves are mixed
with Tea to render its odour more grateful.

=CAMPANULA.=--One of the chief favourites in the family of
Campanulaceæ, or Bell-flowers, is _Campanula Speculum_, or Venus’s
Looking-glass. The English name was given to this little plant
probably because its brilliant corollas appear to reflect the sun’s
rays, although some authorities state that it is so called from the
glossiness of the seeds. Still another derivation is the resemblance
of the flower’s round-shaped bloom to the form of the mirror of the
ancients, which was always circular; and the plant being graceful
and extremely pretty, it was appropriated to the Goddess of Beauty.
The classics, however, ignore all these derivations, and give us the
following account of the origin of the

            “Floral bough that swingeth
  And tolls its perfume on the passing air.”

In one of her rambles on earth, Venus accidentally dropped a certain
mirror which she was carrying, and which possessed the quality of
beautifying whatever it reflected. A shepherd picked it up; but no
sooner had he gazed upon its wondrous reflecting surface, than he
forgot forthwith his favourite nymph, and it is to be presumed himself
as well; for, like another Narcissus, he became enamoured of his own
visage, and could do nothing but admire his own charms. Cupid, who had
discovered his mother’s loss, and found out how matters stood with
the foolish shepherd, became fearful of the consequences of such a
silly error; he, therefore, broke the magic mirror, and transformed
the glittering fragments into those bright little flowers, which have
ever since been called Venus’s Looking-glass.----Miller mentions
seventy-eight kinds of Campanula, the best known of which are the
Canterbury-bells, Coventry-bells, the Heath-bell, and the Giant
Throat-wort, a flower mentioned by Sir Walter Scott in his poem of

        “He laid him down,
  Where purple Heath profusely strown,
  And Throat-wort, with its azure bell,
  And Moss, and Thyme, his cushion swell.”


=CAMPHOR.=--The Camphire or Camphor-tree (_Laurus Camphora_) is
principally found in China and Japan. Camphor is obtained by boiling
the wood of this tree, in which the gum exists, ready formed. The
Arabians at a very early period were acquainted with the virtues of the
Camphor-trees of Sumatra and Borneo, the produce of which is known as
Native Camphor.

CAMPION.--See Lychnis, and Ragged Robin.

=CANDY-TUFT.=--The Iberis, or, as we call it in English, Candy-tuft
(from Candia, whence we first received the plant), is singularly devoid
of any poetical or traditional lore. Old Gerarde tells us that Lord
Edward Zouche sent him some seeds which he sowed in his garden, and
reared in due course. He calls it Candie Mustard, _Thlaspi Candiæ_,
the latter being one of the names by which the plant was known in
France. In that country, more importance seems to have been attached
to the flower, or, at any rate, more notice was taken of it by poets
and literati, for we find that one of the species was distinguished
as being the emblem of architecture, from the fact that its flowers
are disposed in stories from the base to the summit of the stalk,
resembling in some little degree the open columns of one of the most
delicate orders of architecture. Rapin, the French Jesuit poet, alludes
to this flower in his poem on Gardens, and briefly gives the mythology
of _Thlaspis_ in the following lines:--

        “Now, on high stems will Matricaria rear
  Her silver blooms, and with her will appear
  Thlaspis, a Cretan youth, who won the fair:
  Happy if more auspicious Hymen’s rites
  Had with pure flames adorned their nuptial lights.”

=CANNA.=--The Burmese esteem as sacred the _Bohdda Tharanat_ (_Canna
Indica_, or Indian Shot), so named from its seeds, which are used for
the beads of the rosary. The flowers are red, or sometimes white. The
Burman believes that it sprang from Buddha’s blood; and the legend
relates that his evil-minded brother-in-law and cousin Dewadat, enraged
that he was not allowed to have a separate assembly of his own, went to
the top of a hill, and rolled down a huge stone, intending to destroy
the most excellent payah. But the boulder burst into a thousand pieces,
and only one little piece bruised Buddha’s toe, and drew a few drops
of blood, whence sprang the sacred flower, the _Bohdda Tharanat_. The
renowned physician Zaywaku healed the great teacher’s wound in a single
day. The earth soon afterwards opened and swallowed up the sacrilegious

=CANTERBURY BELLS.=--The Nettle-leaved Bell-flower, _Campanula
Trachelium_, was so called by Gerarde from growing plentifully in the
low woods about Canterbury, and possibly in allusion to its resemblance
to the hand-bells which were placed on poles, and rung by pilgrims when
proceeding to the shrine of Thomas à Becket--St. Thomas, of England.
There is, however, a tradition extant that the name of Canterbury Bells
was given to the _Campanula_ in memory of St. Augustine.

=CARDAMINE.=--The faint sweet Cuckoo-flower, common in meadows and
by brook sides, is the _Cardamine pratensis_. It was so called, says
Gerarde, because it flowers in April and May, “when the cuckoo doth
begin to sing her pleasant notes without stammering.” The flower is
also called Lady’s Smock, and Our Lady’s Smock, from the resemblance
of its pale flowers to little smocks hung out to dry, as they used to
be once a year, at that season especially. Shakspeare alludes to it in
these lines:--

  “When Daisies pied and Violets blue,
    And Lady-smocks all silver white,
  And Cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,
    Do paint the meadows with delight.
  When shepherd’s pipe on oaten straws,
    And maidens bleach their Summer smocks,” &c.

The Cuckoo-buds here alluded to are supposed to be a species of
Ranunculus; and, perhaps, as the _Cardamine pratensis_ is rather a pale
blue than a silver-white flower, Shakspeare alluded in these lines
to _C. amara_, whose brilliantly-white blossoms might well be taken
for linen laid out to bleach. The plant derives its name _Cardamine_
from its taste of Cardamoms. It is also called Meadow Cress. For some
reason, if this flower was found introduced into a May-day garland,
it was torn to pieces immediately on discovery. Our Lady’s Smock is
associated by the Catholics with the Day of the Annunciation.----The
Cardamine is a herb of the Moon.

=CARDINAL-FLOWER.=--Of the extensive _Lobelia_ family the _L.
Cardinalis_, or Cardinal’s Flower, is, perhaps, the most beautiful.
Its blossoms are of so brilliant a scarlet, as to have reminded the
originator of its name of the scarlet cloth of Rome, while its shape is
not altogether dissimilar to the hat of the Romish dignitary. Alphonse
Karr, remarking on the vivid hue of the Cardinal’s Flower, says that
even the Verbena will pale before it.

=CARLINE THISTLE.=--The white and red Carline Thistles (_Carlina
vulgaris_) derive their name from Charlemagne, regarding whom the
legend relates that once--“a horrible pestilence broke out in his army,
and carried off many thousand men, which greatly troubled the pious
Emperor. Wherefore, he prayed earnestly to God; and in his sleep there
appeared to him an angel, who shot an arrow from the cross-bow, telling
him to mark the plant upon which it fell, for that with that plant he
might cure his army of the pestilence. And so it really happened.” The
plant upon which the arrow alighted was the Carline Thistle, and, as
Gerarde tells us, Charlemagne’s army was, through the benefit of the
root delivered and preserved from the plague.--The Carline Thistle is
under the dominion of Mars.

=CARNATION.=--The Carnation (_Dianthus caryophyllus_) is generally
supposed to have obtained its name from the flesh-colour of its
flowers; but it was more correctly spelt by old writers, Coronation, as
representing the _Vetonica coronaria_ of the early herbalists, and so
called from its flowers being used in the classic _coronæ_ or chaplets.
Thus Spenser, in his ‘Shepherd’s Calendar’ says: “Bring Coronations and
Sops-in-wine, worn of paramours.” From Chaucer we learn that the flower
was formerly called the Clove Gilliflower, and that it was cultivated
in English gardens in Edward the Third’s reign. In those days, it was
used to give a spicy flavour to wine and ale, and from hence obtained
its name of Sop-in-wine:--

  “Her springen herbes, grete and smale,
  The Licoris and the Setewales,
  And many a Clove Gilofre,
  --------to put in ale,
  Whether it be moist or stale.”

The name Gilliflower (formerly spelt Gyllofer and Gilofre)
is a corruption of the Latin _Caryophyllum_, a Clove (Greek,
_Karuophullon_); and has reference to the spicy odour of the flower,
which was used as a substitute for the costly Indian Cloves in
flavouring dainty dishes as well as liquors. The Gilliflower was also
thought to possess medicinal properties. Gerarde assures us, that “The
conserve made of the flowers of the Clove Gilloflower and sugar is
exceeding cordiall, and woonderfully above measure doth comfort the
heart, being eaten now and then.” It was, also, thought good against
pestilential fevers.----A red Carnation distinguishes several of the
Italian painters. Benvenuto Tisio was called “Il Garofalo,” from his
having painted a Gilliflower in the corner of his pictures.----The
Carnation is under the dominion of Jupiter. (See also GILLIFLOWER).

=CAROB.=--The Carob-tree, or St. John’s Bread (_Ceratonia Siliqua_)
flourishes in the East, and in Palestine (to quote from Gerarde) there
is “such plenty of it, that it is left unto swine and other wilde
beasts to feed upon, as our Acorns and Beech-mast.” Hence it has long
been supposed by many that the shells of the Carob-pod were the husks
which the Prodigal Son was fain to feed upon, although they were what
“the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him’ (Luke xv., 16).----In
Germany, as in England, the Carob obtained the name of St. John’s
Bread, from the popular belief that the Baptist fed upon it whilst in
the wilderness. Gerarde says: “This is of some called Saint John’s
Bread, and thought to be that which is translated Locusts, whereon
Saint John did feed when he was in the wildernesse, besides the wilde
honey whereof he did also eat; but there is small certainty of this;
but it is most certain that the people of that country doe feed on
these pods.” By others it has been supposed that the Locusts on which
John the Baptist fed were the tender shoots of plants, and that the
wild honey was the pulp in the pod of the Carob, whence it derived
the name of St. John’s Bread.----According to a Sicilian tradition,
the Carob is a tree of ill-repute, because it was on one of this
species that the traitor Judas Iscariot hung himself.----In Syria and
Asia Minor, the Carob, venerated alike by Christian and Mussulman, is
dedicated to St. George, whose shrines are always erected beneath the
shadow of its boughs.

=CARROT.=--The wild Carrot (_Daucus Carota_) is also called Bird’s-nest
or Bee’s-nest, because, in its seeding state, the umbel resembles
a nest.----In the reign of James the First, ladies adorned their
head-dresses with Carrot-leaves, the light feathery verdure of which
was considered a pleasing substitute for the plumage of birds.----The
ancient Greeks called the Carrot _Phileon_, because of its connection
with amatory affairs. We read in Gerarde in what this consisted. He
remarks that the Carrot “serveth for love matters; and Orpheus, as
Pliny writeth, said that the use hereof winneth love; which things
be written of wilde Carrot, the root whereof is more effectual
than that of the garden.” According to Galen, the root of the wild
Carrot possessed the power of exciting the passions. The seed was
administered to women under the belief that it induced and helped
conception.----To dream of Carrots signifies profit and strength to
them that are at law for an inheritance, for we pluck them out of the
ground with our hand, branches, strings, and veins.----Carrots are held
to be under Mercury.

=CASHEW.=--The nuts of the Cashew (_Anacardium occidentale_) are
supposed by the Indians to excite the passions. The negroes of the West
Indies say a branch of the Cashew-tree supplied the crown of Thorns
used at our Saviour’s crucifixion, and that, in consequence, one of the
bright golden petals of the flower became black and blood-stained.

=CASSAVA.=--The South American Cassava (_Jatropha Manihot_) is also
known as the edible-rooted physic-nut, and in Brazil it bears the name
of Mandioc. There are two kinds of Cassavas--the bitter and the sweet.
From the roots of both bread is made, the tubers being first peeled and
then ground into farina, and a poisonous juice expressed. Should this
juice be drunk by cattle or poultry, they will become speedily much
swollen, and die in convulsions; but if the same liquid is boiled with
meat, and seasoned, it forms a favourite soup, called by the Brazilians
_Casserepo_. The juice is used by the Indians for the poisoning of
arrows: it is sometimes fermented, and converted into an intoxicating
liquor in great favour with the Indians and negroes. Tapioca is a kind
of starch prepared from the farina of Cassava roots.

=CASSIA.=--The Cassia mentioned by Moses in Exodus xxx., 24 (called in
Hebrew _Kidda_, the bark), was a sweet spice commanded to be used in
the composition of the holy oil employed in the consecration of the
sacred vessels of the Tabernacle. It is supposed to have been the bark
of an aromatic tree, known by the ancients as _Costus_, preparations of
the bark and root of which were sometimes burnt on the pagan altars.
There were three sorts of Costus--the Arabian, the Indian, and the
Syrian; the root of the first of these was most esteemed for its
aromatic properties: it had a fragrant smell similar to the perfume of
Orris or Violets, and was called _Costus dulcis_ or _odoratus_.

=CASSIA-TREE.=--The Cassia, or Senna-tree, belongs to a genus numerous
in species, which are generally diffused in warm countries: among them
is the Moon-tree of the Chinese, and this Cassia is considered by them
to be the first of all medicaments. They have a saying, “The Cassia
can be eaten, therefore it is cut down,” which probably explains their
belief that in the middle of the Moon there grows a Cassia-tree, at
the foot of which is a man who is endeavouring continually to fell it.
This man is one Kang Wou, a native of Si-ho. Whilst under the tuition
of a Geni, he committed a grave fault, for which he was condemned from
henceforth to cut down the Cassia-tree. They call the Moon, therefore,
the _Kueïlan_, or the disk of the Cassia. The Chinese give other
reasons for associating the Cassia with the Moon. They say that it is
the only tree producing flowers with four petals which are yellow--the
colour of a metal, an element appertaining to the West, the region
where the Moon appears to rise. Then the Cassia-flower opens in Autumn,
a period when sacrifices are offered to the Moon; and it has, like the
Moon, four phases of existence. During the seventh Moon (August) it
blossoms. At the fourth Moon (May) its inflorescence ceases. During
the fifth and sixth Moon (June and July) its buds are put forth, and
after these have opened into leaf, the tree again bears flowers.
Anglo-Indians call the _Cassia Fistula_, or Umultuss-tree, the Indian
Laburnum: its long cylindrical pods are imported into England, and a
sugary substance extracted from the pulp between the seeds is commonly
used as a laxative. Gerarde says this pulp of _Cassia Fistula_, when
extracted with Violet water, is a most sweet and pleasant medicine,
and may be given without danger to all weak people of what age and sex
soever. Lord Bacon writes in his Natural History:--“It is reported by
one of the ancients, that Cassia, when it is gathered, is put into
the skins of beasts, newly flayed, and that the skins corrupting, and
breeding wormes, the wormes doe devoure the pith and marrow it, and so
make of it hollow; but meddle not with the barke, because to them it is

=CATCH-FLY.=--The _Silene_, or Catch-fly, received its English name
from its glutinous stalk, from which flies, happening to light upon it,
cannot disengage themselves. Gerarde gives the plant the additional
name of Limewort, and adds, that in his time they were grown in London
gardens, “rather for toies of pleasure than any virtues they are
possessed with.”

=CAT MINT.=--Gerarde, probably copying from Dodoens, says of Cat Mint
or Cat Nep, that “cats are very much delighted herewith, for the smell
of it is so pleasant unto them, that they rub themselves upon it, and
swallow or tumble in it, and also feed on the branches very greedily.”
There is an old proverb respecting this herb--

  “If you set it, the cats will eat it;
  If you sow it, the cats won’t know it.”

According to Hoffman, the root of the Cat Mint, if chewed, will make
the most gentle person fierce and quarrelsome; and there is a legend
of a certain hangman who could never find courage to execute his task
until he had chewed this aromatic root. Nep or Cat Mint is considered a
herb of Venus.

=CEDAR.=--Numerous are the allusions made in the Bible to the Cedars
of Lebanon (_Cedrus Libani_), the tree which Josephus says was first
planted in Judea by Solomon, who greatly admired this noble tree, and
built himself a palace of Cedar on Lebanon itself. The celebrated
Temple of Solomon was built of hewn stone, lined with Cedar, which
was “carved with knops and open flowers; all was Cedar, there was no
stone seen.” Since King Solomon’s time, the Cedar forest of Lebanon has
become terribly reduced, but Dr. Hooker, in 1860, counted some four
hundred trees, and Mr. Tristram, a more recent traveller in the Holy
Land, discovered a new locality in the mountains of Lebanon, where
the Cedar was more abundant. Twelve of the oldest of these Cedars
of Lebanon bear the title of “Friends of Solomon,” or the “Twelve
Apostles.” The Arabs call all the older trees, saints, and believe an
evil fate will overtake anyone who injures them. Every year, at the
feast of the Transfiguration, the Maronites, Greeks, and Armenians
go up to the Cedars, and celebrate mass on a rough stone altar at
their feet.----The Cedar is made the emblem of the righteous in the
92nd Psalm, and is likened to the countenance of the Son of God in
the inspired Canticles of Solomon. Ezekiel (xxxi., 3-9) compares the
mighty King of Assyria to a Cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches, and
says, as a proof of his greatness and power, that “the Cedars in the
garden of God could not hide him.” In the Romish Church, the Cedar
of Lebanon, because of its height, its incorruptible substance, and
the healing virtues attributed to it in the East, is a symbol of the
Virgin, expressing her greatness, her beauty, and her goodness.----The
Jews evidently regarded the Cedar as a sacred tree: hence it was used
in the making of idols. According to a very old tradition, the Cedar
was the tree from which Adam obtained the forbidden fruit in the Garden
of Eden. The ancient legend relating how the Cross of Christ was formed
of a tree combining in itself the wood of the Cypress, Cedar, and Pine,
will be found under the heading CYPRESS. Another tradition states
that of the three woods of which the Cross was composed, and which
symbolised the three persons of the Holy Trinity, the Cedar symbolised
God the Father.----Pythagoras recommended the Cedar, the Laurel, the
Cypress, the Oak, and the Myrtle, as the woods most befitting to honour
the Divinity.----The Shittim wood of the Scriptures is considered
by some to have been a species of Cedar, of which the most precious
utensils were made: hence the expression _Cedro digna_ signified
“worthy of eternity.”----The Cedar is the emblem of immortality.----The
ancients called the Cedar “life from the dead,” because the perfume of
its wood drove away the insects and never-dying worms of the tombs.
According to Evelyn, in the temple of Apollo at Utica, there was found
Cedar-wood nearly two thousand years old; “and in Sagunti, of Spain, a
beam, in a certain oratory consecrated to Diana, which had been brought
from Zant two hundred years before the destruction of Troy. The statue
of that goddess in the famous Ephesian Temple was of this material
also, as was most of the timber-work in all their sacred edifices.” In
a temple at Rome there was a statue of Apollo Sosianus in Cedar-wood
originally brought from Seleucia. Virgil states that Cedar-wood was
considered to be so durable, that it was employed for making images
of the gods, and that the effigies of the ancestors of Latinus were
carved out of an old Cedar. He also informs us that Cedar-wood was
used for fragrant torches.----Sesostris, King of Egypt, is reported to
have built a ship of Cedar timber, which, according to Evelyn, was “of
280 cubits, all gilded without and within.”----Gerarde says that the
Egyptians used Cedar for the coffins of their dead, and Cedar-pitch in
the process of embalming the bodies.----The books of Numa, recovered in
Rome after a lapse of 535 years, are stated to have been perfumed with
Cedar.----The Chinese have a legend which tells how a husband and wife
were transformed into two Cedars, in order that their mutual love might
be perpetuated. A certain King Kang, in the time of the Soungs, had
as secretary one Hanpang, whose young and beautiful wife Ho the King
unfortunately coveted. Both husband and wife were tenderly attached to
one another, so the King threw Hanpang into prison, where he shortly
died of grief. His wife, to escape the odious attentions of the King,
threw herself from the summit of a high terrace. After her death, a
letter was discovered in her bosom, addressed to the King, in which
she asked, as a last favour, to be buried beside her dear husband.
The King, however, terribly angered, would not accede to poor Ho’s
request, but ordered her to be interred separately. The will of heaven
was not long being revealed. That same night two Cedars sprang from the
two graves, and in ten days had become so tall and vigorous in their
growth, that they were able to interlace their branches and roots,
although separated from one another. The people henceforth called
these Cedars “The trees of faithful love.”----Tchihatcheff, a Russian
traveller, speaks of vast Cedar forests on Mount Taurus in Asia Minor:
the tree was not introduced into England till about Evelyn’s time, nor
into France till 1737, when Bernard de Jussieu brought over from the
Holy Land a little seedling of the plant from the forests of Mount
Lebanon. A romantic account is given of the difficulty this naturalist
experienced in conveying it to France, owing to the tempestuous weather
and contrary winds he experienced, which drove his vessel out of its
course, and so prolonged the voyage, that the water began to fail. All
on board were consequently put on short allowance; the crew having to
work, being allowed one glass of water a day, the passenger only half
that quantity. Jussieu, from his attachment to botany, was reduced
to abridge even this small daily allowance, by sharing it with his
cherished plant, and by this act of self-sacrifice succeeded in keeping
it alive till they reached Marseilles. Here, however, all his pains
seemed likely to be thrown away, for as he had been driven, by want of
a flower-pot, to plant his seedling in his hat, he excited on landing
the suspicions of the Custom-house officers, who at first insisted on
emptying the strange pot, to see whether any contraband goods were
concealed therein. With much difficulty he prevailed upon them to spare
his treasure, and succeeded in carrying it in triumph to Paris, where
it flourished in the Jardin des Plantes, and grew until it reached one
hundred years of age, and eighty feet in height. In 1837 it was cut
down, to make room for a railway.----According to the ancient Chaldean
magicians, the Cedar is a tree of good omen--protecting the good and
overthrowing the machinations of evil spirits.----M. Lenormant has
published an Egyptian legend concerning the Cedar, which De Gubernatis
has quoted. This legend recites that Batou having consented to
incorporate his heart with the Cedar, if the tree were cut the life
of Batou would at the same time be jeopardised; but if he died his
brother would seek his heart for seven years, and when he had found
it, he would place it in a vase filled with divine essence, which was
to impart to it animation, and so restore Batou to life.... Anpou, in
a fit of rage, one day enters Batou’s house, and slays the shameless
woman who had separated him from his brother. Meanwhile Batou proceeds
to the valley of Cedars, and places, as he had announced, his heart
in the fruit of the tree at the foot of which he fixes his abode. The
gods, not desiring to leave him solitary, create a woman, endowed with
extraordinary beauty, but carrying evil with her. Falling madly in love
with her, Batou reveals to the woman the secret of his life being bound
up with that of the Cedar. Meantime the river becomes enamoured of
Batou’s wife; the tree, to pacify it, gives it a lock of the beauty’s
hair. The river continues its course, carrying on the surface of its
waters the tress, which diffuses a delicious odour. It reaches at
last the king’s laundress, who carries it to his majesty. At the mere
sight and perfume of the tress, the king falls in love with the woman
to whom it belongs. He sends men to the vale of Cedars to carry her
off; but Batou kills them all. Then the king despatches an army, who
at last bring him the woman whom the gods themselves had fashioned.
But while Batou lives she cannot become the wife of the king; so she
reveals to him the secret of her husband’s twofold life. Immediately
workmen are despatched, who cut down the Cedar. Batou expires directly.
Soon Anpou, who had come to visit his brother, finds him stretched
out dead beside the felled Cedar. Instantly he sets out to search for
Batou’s heart; but for four years his search is fruitless. At the end
of that period the soul of Batou yearns to be resuscitated: the time
has arrived when, in its transmigrations, it should rejoin his body.
Anpou discovers the heart of his brother in one of the cones of the
tree. Taking the vase which contains the sacred fluid, he places the
heart in it; and, during the day, it remains unaffected, but so soon as
night arrives, the heart becomes imbued with the elixir. Batou regains
all his members; but he is without vigour. Then Anpou gives to him the
sacred fluid in which he had steeped the heart of his young brother,
and bids him drink. The heart returns to its place, and Batou becomes
himself again. The two brothers set out to punish the unfaithful one.
Batou takes the form of a sacred bull. Arrived at the Court, Batou,
metamorphosed into the bull, is welcomed and fêted. Egypt has found
a new god. During one of the festivals he takes the opportunity of
whispering into the ear of her who had formerly been his wife: “Behold,
I am again alive--I am Batou! You plotted and persuaded the king to
fell the Cedar, so that he might occupy my place at your side when I
was dead. Behold, I am again alive--I have taken the form of a bull!”
The queen faints away at hearing these words; but speedily recovering
herself, she seeks the king and asks him to grant her a favour--that
of eating the bull’s liver. After some hesitation, the king consents,
and orders that a sacrifice shall be offered to the bull, and that
then he shall be killed; but at the moment the bull’s throat is cut,
two drops of blood spirt out: one falls to the ground, and forthwith
two grand Perseas (the Egyptians’ tree of life) shoot forth. The king,
accompanied by his wife, hastens to inspect the new prodigy, and one
of the trees whispers in the queen’s ear that he is Batou, once more
transformed. The queen, relying on the doting affection which the king
entertains for her, asks him to have this tree cut down for the sake of
the excellent timber it will afford. The king consents, and she hastens
to superintend the execution of his orders. A chip struck from the tree
whilst being felled, falls into the mouth of the queen. Shortly she
perceives that she has become _enceinte_. In due course she gives birth
to a male infant. It is Batou, once more entering the world by a novel

=CELANDINE.=--The Great or Major Celandine (_Chelidonium major_)
is also called Swallow-wort and Tetter-wort, and is thought to be
efficacious in the cure of warts and cutaneous disorders. It derives
its name from the Greek _Chelidon_, a swallow--not, says Gerarde,
“because it first springeth at the coming in of the swallowes, or dieth
when they go away, for as we have saide, it may be founde all the
yeare, but because some holde opinion that with this herbe the dams
restore sight to their young ones, when their eies be put out.” This
magical property of the Celandine was first propounded by Aristotle,
and afterwards repeated by Pliny, Dodoens, Albert le Grand, Macer, and
most of the old botanical writers. Coles fully believed the wonderful
fact, and remarks: “It is known to such as have skill of nature, what
wonderful care she hath of the smallest creatures, giving to them a
knowledge of medicine to help themselves, if haply diseases annoy them.
The swallow cureth her dim eyes with Celandine; the wesell knoweth well
the virtue of Herb Grace; the dove the Verven; the dogge dischargeth
his mawe with a kinde of grasse,” &c. Lyte also, in his ‘Herbal,’
fully supported the ancient rustic belief that the old swallows used
Celandine to restore sight to their young. He says the plant was called
Swallow-herb, because “it was the first found out by swallowes, and
hath healed the eyes and restored sight to their young ones that have
had harme in their eyes or have been blinde.” Celandine has long
been popular among village simplers as a remedy when diluted with
milk against thick spots in the eye.----It is said that the lack of
medical knowledge among the ancients induced the belief in the magical
properties of Celandine. They saw in the _Chelidonium a Cœli donum_,
and hence were anxious to endow it with celestial properties.----The
red and violet Celandines, or Horned Poppies, are mentioned by Ben
Jonson among the plants used by witches in their incantations.

The Lesser Celandine (_Ranunculus Ficaria_) is perhaps better known as
the Pile-wort, a name given to it in allusion to the small tubers on
the roots, which, on the doctrine of plant signatures, indicated that
the plant was a remedial agent in this complaint.----Astrologers assign
Celandine to the Sun, and the Pile-wort to Mars.

=CENTAURY.=--This flower, the well known Blue-bottle of the cornfields,
is fabled to have derived its name from Chiron, a centaur, who is
stated to have taught mankind the use of plants and medicinal herbs.
According to Pliny, Chiron cured himself with this plant from a wound
he had accidentally received from an arrow poisoned with the blood of
the hydra. M. Barthelemy writes how, when Anacharsis visited the cave
of Chiron, the centaur, on Mount Pelion, he was shown a plant which
grew near it, of which he was informed that the leaves were good for
the eyes, but that the secret of preparing them was in the hands of
only one family, to whom it had been lineally transmitted from Chiron
himself.----Mythology has another origin for the _Centaurea Cyanus_.
According to this account, the flower was called Cyanus, after a youth
so named, who was so enamoured of Corn-flowers, that his favourite
occupation was that of making garlands of them; and he would scarcely
ever leave the fields, whilst his favourite blue flowers continued to
bloom. So devoted was his admiration, that he always dressed himself in
clothes of the same brilliant hue as the flower he loved best. Flora
was his goddess, and of all the varied gifts, her Corn-flower was the
one he most appreciated. At length he was one day found lying dead in
a cornfield, surrounded with the blue Corn-flowers he had gathered:
and soon after the catastrophe, the goddess Flora, out of gratitude
for the veneration he had for her divinity, transformed his body into
the _Centaurea Cyanus_, the Blue-bottle of English cornfields.----In
Lucan’s ‘Pharsalia,’ the Centaury is one of the plants named as being
burned with the object of driving away serpents.

  “Beyond the farthest tents rich fires they build,
  That healthy medicinal odours yield:
  There foreign Galbanum dissolving fries,
  And crackling flames from humble Wallwort rise;
  There Tamarisk, which no green leaf adorns,
  And there the spicy Syrian Costos burns:
  There Centaury supplies the wholesome flame,
  That from Thessalian Chiron takes its name;
  The gummy Larch-tree, and the Thapsos there,
  Woundwort and Maidenweed perfume the air:
  There the long branches of the long-lived Hart,
  With Southernwood their odours strong impart,
  The monsters of the land, the serpents fell,
  Fly far away, and shun the hostile swell.”

The Corn-flower is called in Russia _Basilek_ (the flower of Basil),
and attached to it is a legend that a handsome young man of this name
was enticed away by a nymph named Russalka, allured into the fields,
and transformed into the Corn-flower.----Plants have always been a
favourite means of testing the faith of lovers; and the Centaury or
Bluet of the cornfields was the flower selected by Margaret as the
floral oracle from which to learn the truth respecting Faust.

  “There is a flower, a purple flower,
  Sown by the wind, nursed by the shower,
  O’er which love breathed a powerful spell,
  The truth of whispering hope to tell.
  Now, gentle flower, I pray thee tell,
  If my lover loves me, and loves me well:
  So may the fall of the morning dew
  Keep the sun from fading thy tender blue.”

The Centaury is known as the Hurt-sickle, because it turns the edges
of the reapers’ sickles: its other familiar names are Blue-bottle,
Blue-blow, Bluet, and Corn-flower.----It is held by astrologers to be
under Saturn.

=CEREUS.=--The crimson-flowered _Cereus_ (_Cereus speciosissimus_),
belonging to the natural order _Cactaceæ_, is generally known in
England as the Torch Thistle, and is fabled to have been the torch
borne by Ceres in the daytime. _Cereus flagelliformis_ is the
pink-flowered creeping Cereus, the long round stems of which hang
down like cords. _Cereus grandiflorus_ is the night-blowing Cereus,
which begins to open its sweet-scented flowers about eight o’clock in
the evening; they are fully blown by eleven, and by four o’clock next
morning they are faded and droop quite decayed. The Old Man’s Head, or
Monkey Cactus, _Cereus senilis_, is another member of this family.

=CHAMELÆA.=--The Spurge-Olive or Chamelæa (_Cneorum tricoccum_) is a
humble shrub, whose three-leaved pale-yellow flowers were consecrated
to the god Janus. The month of January, placed under the protection
of Janus, was represented in the guise of an old man, who held in his
hand a flower of the Chamelæa. After flowering, the shrub produces
three-cornered berries, which are at first green, then red, and finally
brown. The plant in England was formerly called the Widow-wail, for
what reason we know not, but Gerarde says, “_quia facit viduas_.”

=CHAMOMILE.=--According to Galen, the Egyptians held the Chamomile
(_Anthemis nobilis_) in such reverence, that they consecrated it
to their deities: they had great faith in the plant as a remedy
for agues. Gerarde tells us that Chamomile is a special help
against wearisomeness, and that it derives its name from the Greek
_Chamaimelon_, Earth-Apple, because the flowers have the smell of an
Apple.----In Germany, Chamomile-flowers are called _Heermännchen_, and
they are traditionally supposed to have once been soldiers, who for
their sins died accursed.----The Romans supposed the _Anthemis_ to be
possessed of properties to cure the bites of serpents.----Chamomile is
considered to be a herb of the Sun.

=CHAMPAK.=--The Champa or Champak (_Michelia Champaca_) is one of the
sacred plants of India. The blue Champak-flower is of the greatest
rarity, and is regarded as being the principal ornament of Brahma’s
heaven. It is, in fact,

  “That blue flower which Brahmins say
  Blooms nowhere but in Paradise,”

for the earthly sort has yellow blossoms with which the Hindu maidens
are fond of ornamenting their raven hair. The tree is sacred to Vishnu,
and is, therefore, an object of reverential regard on the part of the
Hindus, who cultivate it for the fragrance of its flowers, which is so
strong that the bees, fearful of being overcome, will scarcely ever
alight upon them. The Hindus apply to the Champak-flowers the most
flattering appellations, which celebrate its wondrous delicacy and
form, its glittering golden hue, and its voluptuous perfume.

=CHERRY.=--About the year 70 B.C., Lucullus, after his victory over
Mithridates, brought from Cerasus, in Pontus, the Cherry-tree, and
introduced it into Italy. It was planted in Britain a century later,
but the cultivated sorts disappeared during the Saxon period. “Cherries
on the ryse,” or on the twigs, was, however, one of the street cries
of London in the fifteenth century. These Cherries were, perhaps,
the fruit of the native wild Cherry, or Gean-tree, as the cultivated
Cherry was not re-introduced till the reign of Henry VIII., whose
fruiterer brought it from Flanders, and planted a Cherry orchard at
Teynham.----An ancient legend records that, before the birth of our
Saviour, the Virgin Mary longed extremely to taste of some tempting
Cherries which hung upon a tree high above her head; so she requested
Joseph to pluck them. Joseph, however, not caring to take the trouble,
refused to gather the Cherries, saying sullenly, “Let the father of
thy child present thee with the Cherries if he will!” No sooner had
these words escaped his lips, than, as if in reproof, the branch of the
Cherry-tree bowed spontaneously to the Virgin’s hand, and she gathered
its fruit and ate it. Hence the Cherry is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
There is a tradition that our Saviour gave a Cherry to St. Peter,
cautioning him at the same time not to despise little things.----The
ancient Lithuanians believed that the demon Kirnis was the guardian
of the Cherry. In Germany and Denmark there is a tradition that evil
spirits often hide themselves in old Cherry-trees, and delight in
doing harm to anyone who approaches them. The Albanians burn branches
of the Cherry-tree on the nights of the 23rd and 24th of December,
and the nights of the 1st and 6th of January--that is to say on the
three nights consecrated to the new sun; and they preserve the ashes
of these branches to fertilise their Vines. They say that in so doing
they burn the evil spirits hidden in the trees, who are destructive
to vegetation.----At Hamburg, there is an annual festival called the
Feast of the Cherries, when children parade the streets, carrying
boughs laden with the fruit. This observance dates from the year 1432,
when the Hussites threatened the immediate destruction of Hamburg.
The inhabitants, in despair, dressed all the children in black, and
despatched them to the Hussite leader, P. Rasus, to plead with him.
The warrior, touched at the sight of so many little helpless ones,
promised that he would spare the city, and after feasting the children
with Cherries, sent them back rejoicing and waving in their hands the
Cherry-boughs.----There is an old proverb current in Germany, France,
and Italy, that you should never eat Cherries with the rich, because
they always choose the ripest, or, even worse, eat the luscious fruit,
and throw the stones and stalks to their companions.----The gum which
exudes from the Cherry-tree is considered equal in value to gum-arabic.
Hasselquist relates that during a siege upwards of one hundred men were
kept alive for nearly two months, without any other nutriment than that
obtained by sucking this gum.----The Cherry is held by astrologers
to be under the dominion of Venus.----To dream of Cherries denotes
inconstancy and disappointment in life.

=CHESNUT.=--The Chesnut (_Fagus Castanea_) was classed by Pliny among
the fruit trees, on account of the value of the nut as an article of
food. He states that the tree was introduced from Sardis in Pontus, and
hence was called the Sardian Acorn. The Chesnuts of Asia Minor supplied
Xenophon’s whole army with food in their retreat along the borders of
the Euxine. Once planted in Europe, the Chesnut soon spread all over
the warm parts. It flourished in the mountains of Calabria, and is the
tree with which Salvator Rosa delighted to adorn his bold and rugged
landscapes.----The _Castagno dei cento cavalli_ (Chesnut of the hundred
horses) upon Mount Etna is probably the largest tree in Europe, being
more than 200 feet in circumference.----Chesnuts are included in the
list of funereal trees. In Tuscany, the fruit is eaten with solemnity
on St. Simon’s Day. In Piedmont, they constitute the appointed food
on the eve of All Souls’ Day, and in some houses they are left on the
table under the belief that the dead poor will come during the night
and feast on them. In Venice, it is customary to eat Chesnuts on St.
Martin’s Day, and the poor women assemble beneath the windows and sing
a long ballad, or, after expressing their good wishes towards the
inmates of the house, ask for Chesnuts to appease their hunger. (See

=CHOHOBBA.=--The Mexicans regard with peculiar sanctity and reverence
a herb which grows in their country, and which they call Chohobba.
If they wish an abundant crop of Yucca or Maize, if they wish to
know whether a sick chief will recover or die, if they desire to
learn whether a war is likely to occur, or, in fact, if they desire
any important information, one of their chiefs enters the building
consecrated to their idols, where he prepares a liquid obtained from
the herb Chohobba, which can be absorbed through the nose: this
fluid has an intoxicating effect, and he soon loses all control over
himself. After awhile, he partly recovers, and sits himself on the
ground, with head abased, and hands beneath his knees, and so remains
for some little time. Then he raises his eyes, as if awaking from a
long sleep, and gazes upwards at the sky, at the same time muttering
between his teeth some unintelligible words. No one but his relatives
approaches the chief, for the people are not allowed to assist at the
rite. When the relatives perceive that the chief is beginning to regain
consciousness, they return thanks to the god for his recovery, and ask
that he may be permitted to tell them what he has seen whilst in his
trance. Then the half-dazed chief relates what the god has told him
regarding the particular matters he had wished to enquire about.

=CHOKE PEAR.=--The fruit of the Wild Pear, _Pyrus communis_, is so hard
and austere as to choke: hence the tree has been called the Choke Pear.
It is supposed to have been a Pear of this description that caused the
death of Drusus, a son of the Emperor Claudius. He caught in his mouth,
and swallowed, a Pear thrown into the air, but owing to its extreme
hardness, it stuck in his throat and choked him.

CHRISTMAS ROSE.--See Hellebore.

=CHRIST’S HERB.=--The Black Hellebore is called Christ’s Herb or
Christmas Herb (_Christwurz_), says Gerarde, “because it floureth about
the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (See HELLEBORE.)

=CHRIST’S LADDER.=--In the fourteenth century, the _Erythræa
Centaurium_ was called Christ’s Ladder (_Christi scala_), from the name
having been mistaken for Christ’s Cup (_Christi schale_), in allusion
to the bitter draught offered to our Lord upon the Cross.

=CHRIST’S PALM.=--The _Ricinus communis_ is commonly known as _Palma
Christi_, or Christ’s Palm. The same plant is also reputed to have been
Jonah’s Gourd.

=CHRIST’S THORN.=--Gerarde, in his Herbal, calls the _Paliurus_,
Christ’s Thorn or Ram of Libya; and he writes: “Petrus Bellonius,
who travelled over the Holy Land, saith, that this shrubby Thorne
_Paliurus_, was the Thorne wherewith they crowned our Saviour Christ,
his reason for the proofe hereof is this, That in Judea, there was
not any Thorne so common, so pliant, or so fit for to make a crown
or garland of, nor any so full of cruell sharpe prickles. It groweth
throughout the whole countrey in such abundance, that it is there
common fuell to burn; yea, so common with them there as our Gorse,
Brakes, and Broome is here with us. Josephus (_lib._ 1, _cap._ 2 of his
_Antiquities_) saith, That this Thorne hath the most sharp prickles of
any other; wherefore that Christ might bee the more tormented, the Jews
rather tooke this than any other.” The shrub still abounds in Judea,
and has pliable branches armed with sharp spines. (See THORN.)

=CHRYSANTHEMUM.=--The leaf and flower of the _Chrysanthemum Indicum_
were long ago adopted as, and are still, the special emblem and blazon
of Mikados of Japan. One of the most popular of the Japanese festivals
is that held in honour of the golden Chrysanthemum, or _Kiku_. The
Japanese florists display their Chrysanthemums built up into the forms
of their gods or heroes; thus, in their exhibitions, are to be seen
effigies of Benkei, the Hercules of Japan, gorgeously apparelled in
white, purple, and yellow Pompons; the Sun Goddess, decked in golden
blooms; Jimmu Tenno, a popular hero, and endless groups of gods and
goddesses, and mythological heroes and heroines.----The Chrysanthemum
was first introduced into England in 1764 by Miller, who received
a _Kok fa_, or _Chrysanthemum Indicum_ from Nîmpu, and cultivated
it at the botanical garden at Chelsea. In the seventeenth century
a Chrysanthemum was grown in Dantsic.----Three Chrysanthemums (the
Corn Marigold, the Ox-eyed Daisy, and the Fever-few) are natives of
England, but as they bloom in summer when flowers are plentiful, and
not in November, as our garden varieties do, it has not been so well
worth while to bestow care in raising and improving them. The Autumn
Chrysanthemums are descended from either the Chinese or the Indian
varieties, the former of which have white flowers and the latter
yellow. The Pompon varieties are derived from the Chusan Daisy,
introduced into England from China by Mr. Fortune in 1846. In their
wild state they are all, indeed, even the Japanese forms of the Chinese
flowers, much like Daisies, with a yellow disc surrounded by rays of
florets, but by cultivation the disc-florets are assimilated to those
of the ray, and the flower assumes a homogeneous appearance only
faintly suffused with yellow towards the centre.

=CINCHONA.=--The Cinchona, or Jesuit’s Bark-tree (_Cinchona
officinalis_), is a native of Peru. The famous bark was introduced
into Europe through the medium of Ana de Osorio, Countess Cinchon, and
Vice-Queen of Peru, after whom the powdered bark was called “Countess’s
Powder.” The use of the bark was first learned from the following
circumstances:--Some Cinchona-trees being thrown by the winds into a
pool, lay there until the water became so bitter that everyone refused
to drink it, till one of the inhabitants of the district being seized
with violent fever, and finding no water wherewith to quench his
thirst, was forced to drink of this, by which means he became perfectly
cured; and afterwards, relating his cure to others, they made use of
the same remedy.

=CINNAMON.=--Bacon, in his ‘Natural History,’ speaks thus of the
Cinnamon (_Laurus Cinnamomum_):--“The ancient Cinnamon was of all
other plants, while it grew, the dryest; and those things which are
knowne to comfort other plants did make that more sterill: for, in
showers, it prospered worst: it grew also amongst bushes of other
kindes, where commonly plants doe not thrive; neither did it love
the Sunne.” Solomon, in his Canticles, mentions Cinnamon among the
precious spices; and Moses was commanded to use “sweet Cinnamon” in
the preparation of the holy oil used to anoint the Tabernacle and the
sacred vessels, and to consecrate Aaron and his sons to the priesthood.
The Emperor Vespasian was the first to take chaplets of Cinnamon to
Rome, wherewith to decorate the temples of the Capitol and of Peace. It
is related, that Alexander the Great, whilst at sea, perceived he was
near the coast of Arabia, from the scent of Cinnamon wafted from the
still distant shore.----The Mahometans of India used to have a curious
belief that the Cinnamon-tree is the bark, the Clove the flower, and
the Nutmeg the fruit, of one and the same tree; and most of the writers
of the Middle Ages thought that Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, and Nutmegs
were the produce of one tree.----Gerarde tells us, that there was
formerly much controversy concerning the true Cinnamon and Cassia of
the ancients, but he considered the tree whose bark is Cassia to be a
bastard kind of Cinnamon. The Cinnamon, he says, has pleasant leaves
and fair white flowers, which turn into round black berries, the size
of an Olive, “out of which is pressed an oile that hath no smell at all
untill it be rubbed and chafed between the hands: the trunk or body,
with the greater arms or boughs of the tree, are covered with a double
or twofold barke, like that of the Corke-tree, the innermost whereof
is the true and pleasant Cinnamon, which is taken from this tree and
cast upon the ground in the heate of the sun, through whose heate it
turneth and foldeth itselfe round together.” The tree thus peeled,
recovered itself in three years, and was then ready to be disbarked
again.----Tradition states that the ancient Arabian priests alone
possessed the right of collecting the Cinnamon. The most patriarchal
of them would then divide the precious bark, reserving the first
bundle for the Sun. After the division had taken place, the priests
left to the Sun itself the task of lighting the sacred fire on the
altar where the high priest was to offer a sacrifice.----Theophrastus
narrates that the Cinnamon flourished in the valleys frequented by
venomous serpents; and that those who repaired thither to collect it
were compelled to wear bandages on their hands and feet. After the
Cinnamon was collected, it was divided into three portions, of which
one was reserved for the Sun, which, with glowing rays, quickly came
and carried it off.----Herodotus says, that Cinnamon was gathered from
the nest of the Phœnix.----An old writer affirms that the distilled
water of the flowers of the Cinnamon-tree excelled far in sweetness all
the waters whatsoever. The leaves yield oil of Cloves; the fruit also
yields an oil, which was formerly, in Ceylon, made into candles, for
the sole use of the king; the root exudes an abundance of Camphor; and
the bark of the root affords oil of Camphor, as well as a particularly
pure species of Camphor.

=CINQUEFOIL.=--In former days, Cinquefoil (_Potentilla_) much prevailed
as an heraldic device; the number of the leaves answering to the
five senses of man. The right to bear Cinquefoil was considered an
honourable distinction to him who had worthily conquered his affections
and mastered his senses. In wet weather the leaves of the Cinquefoil
contract and bend over the flower, forming, as it were, a little tent
to cover it--an apt emblem of an affectionate mother protecting her
child. Cinquefoil was formerly believed to be a cure for agues; four
branches being prescribed for a quartan, three for a tertian, and one
for a quotidian.----Cinquefoil is deemed a herb of Jupiter.

=CISTUS.=--The Cistus, according to Cassianus Bassus, derives its
name from a Grecian youth named Kistos. Under this title is embraced
a most extensive genus of plants celebrated all over the world for
their beauty and fragility. Gerarde and Parkinson call them Holly
Roses, a name which has become changed into Rock Roses.----From the
_Cistus Creticus_ (frequently called the _Ladaniferous Cistus_) is
obtained the balsam called Ladanum, a kind of resin, prized for its
tonic and stomachic properties, but more highly valued as a perfume,
and extensively used in oriental countries in fumigations. This resin,
which is secreted from the leaves and other parts of the shrub, is
collected by means of a kind of rake, to which numerous leather
thongs are appended instead of teeth. In olden times this resin was
believed to have been gathered from the shrubs by goats who rubbed
their beards against the leaves, and so collected the liquid gum; but
Gerarde affirms this to have been a monkish tradition--a fable of the
“Calohieros, that is to say, Greekish monkes, who, of very mockery,
have foisted that fable among others extant in their workes.” Be this
as it may, Bacon records the fact in his ‘Natural History,’ remarking:
“There are some teares of trees, which are kembed from the beards
of goats; for when the goats bite and crop them, especially in the
morning, the dew being on, the teare cometh forth, and hangeth upon
their beards: of this sort is some kinde of Ladanum.”

=CITRON.=--A native of all the warm regions of Asia, the Citron was
introduced into Europe from Media, and hence obtained the name of
_Malus Medica_. During the feast of the Tabernacles, the Jews in their
synagogues carry a Citron in their left hand; and a conserve made of
a particular variety of the fruit is in great demand by the Jews, who
use it during the same feast. According to Athenæus, certain notorious
criminals, who had been condemned to be destroyed by serpents, were
miraculously preserved, and kept in health and safety by eating
Citrons. Theophrastus says that Citrons were considered an antidote to
poisons, for which purpose Virgil recommended them in his Georgics.
Gerarde thus translates the passage:--

  “The countrey Media beareth juices sad,
  And dulling tastes of happy Citron fruit,
  Than which no helpe more present can be had,
  If any time stepmothers, worse than brute,
  Have poyson’d pots, and mingled herbs of sute
  With hurtful charmes: this Citron fruit doth chase
  Black venome from the body in every place.
  The tree itselfe in growth is large and big,
  And very like in show to th’ Laurell-tree;
  And would be thought a Laurell leafe and twig,
  But that the smell it casts doth disagree:
  The floure it holds as fast as floure may be:
  Therewith the Medes a remedie do finde
  For stinking breaths and mouthes, a cure most kinde,
  And helpe old men which hardly fetch their winde.”

Della Valle, an Italian traveller of the seventeenth century, relates
how, at Ikkeri, he saw an Indian widow, on her way to the funeral
pyre, riding on horseback through the town, holding in one hand a
mirror, in the other a Citron, and whilst gazing into the mirror she
uttered loud lamentations. De Gubernatis thinks that perhaps the
Citron was the symbol of the life become bitter since the death of her
husband.----Rapin recommends the Citron for heart affections:--

  “Into an oval form the Citrons rolled
  Beneath thick coats their juicy pulp unfold:
  From some the palate feels a poignant smart,
  Which though they wound the tongue, yet heal the heart.”

=CLAPPEDEPOUCH.=--The _Capsella Bursa pastoris_, or Shepherd’s
Purse, was so called from the resemblance of its numerous flat
seed-pouches to a common leather purse. Dr. Prior says that the Irish
name of Clappedepouch was applied to the plant in allusion to the
licensed begging of lepers, who stood at the crossways with a bell
and a clapper. Hoffmann von Fallersleben, in his _Niederländische
Volkslieder_, says of them: “Separated from all the world, without
house or home, the lepers were obliged to dwell in a solitary, wretched
hut by the roadside; their clothing so scanty that they often had
nothing to wear but a hat and a cloak, and a begging wallet. They would
call the attention of the passers-by with a bell or a clapper, and
received their alms in a cup or a bason at the end of a long pole. The
bell was usually of brass. The clapper is described as an instrument
made of two or three boards, by rattling which they excited people to
relieve them.” The lepers, Dr. Prior thinks, would get the name of
Rattle-pouches, and this be extended to the plant, in allusion to the
little purses which it hangs out by the wayside. The plant was also
known by the names of Poor Man’s Parmacetie, and St. James’s Weed--the
former in allusion to its medicinal virtues. (See SHEPHERD’S PURSE). It
is considered a herb of Saturn.

=CLEMATIS.=--The _Clematis vitalba_, Gerarde informs us, was called
Travellers’ Joy, “as decking and adorning waies and hedges when
people travell.” It was also termed “Old Man’s Beard,” from the hoary
appearance of its seeds; and Virgin’s Bower, out of compliment to Queen
Elizabeth, and in allusion to its climbing habits. It became the emblem
of Artifice because beggars, in order to excite compassion, were in
the habit of making false ulcers in their flesh by means of its twigs,
the result often being a real sore.----The _Clematis flammula_, or
upright Virgin’s Bower, is an acrid plant, that inflames the skin.
Miller says of it that if one leaf be cropped in a hot day in the
summer season, and bruised, and presently put to the nostrils, it will
cause a smell and pain like a flame.----_Clematis integrifolia_, or
Hungarian Climber, is known in Little Russia as _Tziganka_ (the Gipsy
Plant). Prof. De Gubernatis has given in his _Mythologie des Plantes_
the following legend connected with this plant:--The Cossacks were once
at war with the Tartars. The latter having obtained the advantage, the
Cossacks commenced to retreat. The Cossack hetman, indignant at the
sight, struck his forehead with the handle of his lance. Instantly
there arose a tempest, which whirled away the Cossack traitors and
fugitives into the air, pounded them into a thousand fragments, and
mingled their dust with the earth of the Tartars. From that earth
springs the plant _Tziganka_. But the souls of the Cossacks, tormented
by the thought of their bones being mixed with the accursed earth of
the stranger, prayed to God that he would vouchsafe to disseminate
it in the Ukraine, where the maidens were wont to pluck _Clematis
integrifolia_ to weave into garlands. God hearkened to their Christian
prayers, and granted their patriotic desires. It is an old belief in
Little Russia that if everybody would suspend Briony from his waistbelt
behind, these unfortunate Cossacks would come to life again.

=CLOVE.=--The aromatic Clove-tree (_Caryophyllatus aromaticus_)
is a native of the Moluccas, where its cultivation is carefully
guarded by the Dutch. The islanders wear its white flowers as a mark
of distinction. These flowers grow in bunches at the end of the
branches, and are succeeded by oval berries, which are crowned with
the calyx. It is these berries, beaten from the trees before they are
half grown, and allowed to dry in the sun, which are the Cloves of
commerce. The Clove is considered to be one of the hottest and most
acrid of aromatics; its pungent oil (which is specifically heavier
than water) has been administered in paralytic cases. Gerarde says,
that the Portuguese women, resident in the East Indies, distilled from
the Cloves, when still green, a certain liquor “of a most fragrant
smell, which comforteth the heart, and is of all cordials the most
effectual.”----There is an old superstition, still extant, that
children can be preserved from evil influences and infantile disorders,
by having a necklace of Cloves suspended as an amulet round the neck.

=CLOVER.=--The old English names for Clover were Trefoil and
Honey-suckles.----The word Clover is derived from the Anglo-Saxon
_Clœfre_. The club of Hercules was called by the Latins _clava
trinodis_; and the “club” of our playing cards is so named from
its resemblance to a Clover-leaf--a leaf with three leaflets
(_tria folia_). Hence the herb’s generic name of _Trifolium_, or
Trefoil.----Hope was depicted by the ancients as a little child
standing on tiptoe, and holding a Clover-flower in his hand. Summer
is also represented with the Trefoil.----In the Christian Church,
the Trefoil is held to be the symbol of the Trinity; hence Clover is
used for decorations on Trinity Sunday. It is often employed as an
architectural emblem: the limbs of crosses are sometimes made to end in
Trefoils, and church windows are frequently in the same form.----Clover
possesses the power of vegetating after having existed in a dormant
state for many years. If lime is powdered and thrown upon the soil,
a crop of white Clover will sometimes arise where it had never been
known to exist; this spontaneous coming-up of the flower is deemed
an infallible indication of good soil.----Clover-grass is reputed
always to feel rough to the touch when stormy weather is at hand;
and its leaves are said to start and rise up, as if it were afraid
of an assault.----The Druids held the Clover, or Trefoil, in great
repute, and it is believed that they considered it a charm against
evil spirits. Formerly the Clover was thought to be not only good for
cattle, but noisome to witches, and so “the holy Trefoil’s charm,” was
very generally prized as a protective.----A sprig of Clover with only
two leaves on it is employed by the lads and lasses of Cambridgeshire,
Norfolk, and Suffolk, as a charm to enable them to ascertain the names
of their future wives and husbands:--

  “A Clover, a Clover of two,
  Put it on your right shoe;
  The first young man [or woman] you meet,
  In field street, or lane,
  You’ll have him [or her] or one of his [or her] name.”

Gerarde says that the meadow Trefoil (especially that with the black
half-moon upon the leaf), pounded with a little honey, “takes away the
pin and web in the eies, ceasing the pain and inflammation thereof
if it be strained and dropped therein.” The finding of a four-leaved
Clover is considered especially fortunate, not only in England, but
in France, Switzerland, and Italy. It is believed to almost ensure
happiness, and in the case of young girls a husband very speedily.
There is old couplet which records that--

  “If you find an even Ash-leaf or a four-leaved Clover,
  You’ll be bound to see your true love ere the day be over.”

In Scotland, the possessor of a piece of four-bladed Clover is reputed
to have a prescience when witchcraft is attempted to be practised upon
him; and in the North of England this lucky leaf is placed in dairies
and stables, to preserve them from the spells of witches.----There is a
Cornish fairy tale which is intimately associated with the four-leaved
Clover:--One evening a maiden set out to milk the cows later than
usual: indeed, the stars had begun to shine before she completed her
task. “Daisy” (an enchanted cow), was the last to be milked, and the
pail was so full that the milk-maid could hardly lift it to her head.
So to relieve herself, she gathered some handfuls of Grass and Clover,
and spread it on her head in order to carry the milk-pail more easily.
But no sooner had the Clover touched her head, than suddenly hundreds
of little people appeared surrounding Daisy, dipping their tiny hands
into the milk, and gathering it with Clover-flowers, which they sucked
with gusto. Daisy was standing in the long Grass and Clover, so some of
these little creatures climbed up the stalks and held out Buttercups,
Convolvuluses, and Foxgloves, to catch the milk which dropped from
the cow’s udder. When the astonished milk-maid, upon reaching home,
recounted her wonderful experiences to her mistress, the goodwife at
once cried out: “Ah! you put a four-leaved Clover on your head.”----To
dream of seeing a field of Clover is of happy augury, indicating
health, prosperity, and much happiness. To the lover it foretells
success, and that his intended wife will have great wealth.----Clover
is under the dominion of Venus.

=CLUB-MOSS.=--The Stag’s-horn, Fox’s-tail, or Club-Moss (_Lycopodium
clavatum_), is used in the North of England, Sweden, and Germany, in
wreaths worn on festive occasions. The powder or dust which issues
from its spore cases, is highly inflammable, and is collected for
fireworks and for producing stage lightning. It is the _Blitz-mehl_, or
lightning-meal of the Germans. The Fir Club-Moss (_L. Selago_) is made
by the Highlanders into an eye ointment. In Cornwall, the Club-Moss is
considered good against all diseases of the eyes, provided only it is
gathered in the following manner:--On the third day of the moon, when
it is seen for the first time, show it the knife with which the Moss is
to be cut, repeating the while--

  “As Christ healed the issue of blood,
  Do thou cut what thou cuttest for good.”

Then, at sundown, the Club-Moss may be cut by the operator kneeling,
and with carefully washed hands. The Moss is to be tenderly wrapped
in a fair white cloth, and afterwards boiled in water procured from
the spring nearest the spot where it grew. The liquor is to be applied
as a fomentation. The Club-Moss may also be made into an ointment,
with butter made from the milk of a new cow. These superstitious
customs have probably a Druidic origin, and tend to identify the
Selago or Golden Herb of the Druids with the Club-Moss, as the Selago
was held sacred by them, and gathered with many mystic observances.
(See SELAGO.)----In many parts of Germany, certain Fairy-folk, called
Moss-women, are popularly believed to frequent the forests. In
Thuringia, these little women of the wood are called _Holzfrala_, and
in one of the legends of the Fichtelgebirge (a mountain-chain near
the junction of Saxony, Bavaria, and Bohemia), we find it stated that
there was a poor child whose mother lay sick of a fever. Going into the
forest to gather Strawberries, the child saw a little woman entirely
clothed with golden Moss--presumably Selago. The Moss-woman asked
the child for some of the fruit, and her request having been readily
acceded to, the Moss-woman ate her Strawberries and tripped away. When
the child reached home, she found the fruit which she had carried in
a jug was transformed to gold. The Moss dress of the little woman is
described as being of a golden colour, which shone, when seen at a
distance, like pure gold, but on close inspection lost all its lustre.
It is thought that many of the stories about hidden treasure which are
rife on the Fichtelgebirge are to be attributed to the presence there
of this curious species of vegetation.

=COCOA-NUT PALM.=--The _Cocos Nucifera_ (Sanscrit _Nârikera_), or
Cocoa-Nut Palm is the most extensively-cultivated tree in the world,
and its importance to myriads of the human race is almost beyond
conception. George Herbert wrote truly of this Palm:--

                “The Indian Nut alone
  Is clothing, meat and trencher, drink and can,
  Boat, cable, sail, mast, needle, all in one.”

A vigorous tree will grow one hundred feet high, and produce annually
one hundred Nuts.----The Chinese call the Cocoa-Nut _Yüe-wang-t’ou_
(head of Prince of Yüe) from a tradition that a certain Prince Lin-yi,
who was at enmity with the Prince of Yüe, sent an assassin to cut
off the head of his enemy. The deed was executed, and the severed
head being caught in the branches of a Palm, it remained suspended
there, and was transformed into a Cocoa-Nut, with two eyes in its
shell.----The Portuguese are said to have given the name of Coco to
the Nut because at one end of the Nut are three holes, resembling the
head of a cat when mewing (_Coca_).----The Indians, when unable to
recover the corpse of one of their people who has been slain, but whom
they wish to honour, form an effigy of Reeds, and surmount it with a
Cocoa-Nut, which is supposed to represent the head of the deceased.
This sham corpse they cover with Dhak wood, after which they offer up
prayers, and then burn it. The Cocoa-Nut is regarded by the natives of
India as an oracle in cases of sickness. Thus, if an Indian has fallen
ill, they spin a Cocoa-Nut on its end; if the Nut falls towards the
west, he will die; if to the east, he will recover. The Deccan Indians
never commence any building without first offering Cocoa-Nuts to their
gods.----When a Fijian child is sick, and its friends want to know
if it will live or die, they shake a bunch of dry Cocoa-Nuts: if all
fall off, the little one will recover; if one remains, it will die.
The Fijians also spin Cocoa-Nuts, and then prophecy of future events
according to the direction in which the eye of the Nut lies when it
rests still.

=COCKLE.=--The Corn Cockle, or Gith (_Agrostemma Githago_) is a
troublesome weed, of which Gerarde says: “What hurt it doth among
Corne, the spoile of bread, as well as in colour, taste, and
unwholesomenesse, is better knowne than desired.” In the Book of Job,
the Cockle coming up instead of the Barley is spoken of as a great
misfortune; but it could not have been the Corn Cockle, which is
unknown in Palestine and Arabia.----The plant is alluded to in an old
English nursery rhyme, in which a garden allowed to run wild is said to

  “Full of weeds and Cockle seeds.”

=COFFEE.=--The Coffee-plant (_Coffea Arabica_) derives its name from
the Kingdom of Caffa, in Africa, where it grows abundantly. The bloom
of this tree is similar to the Jasmine in figure and fragrance, while
its fruit has the appearance of a Cherry; the liquor prepared from
the fruit or berry is said to have been drunk, in Ethiopia, from
time immemorial. The Galla, a wandering nation of Africa, in their
incursions in Abyssinia, being obliged to traverse immense deserts,
and to travel swiftly, were accustomed to carry nothing with them to
eat but Coffee roasted till it could be pulverised, and then mixed
with butter into balls, and put into a leather bag. One of these, the
size of a billiard ball, was said to keep them in strength and spirits
during a whole day’s fatigue, better than bread or meat.----To dream of
drinking coffee is a favourable omen, betokening riches and honour. To
the lover it foretells a happy marriage.

_COLCHICUM._--The Meadow Saffron, or Colchicum, derives its name from
Colchis, a country on the eastern shore of the Euxine, where it once
grew in such abundance as to have led Horace thus to allude to it:--

  “Or tempered every baleful juice
  Which poisonous Colchian glebes produce.”

Colchicum was one of the herbs highly prized and made use of by the
enchantress Medea. It is poisonous, and, according to Dioscorides,
kills by choking, as do poisonous Mushrooms. Gerarde recommends anyone
who has eaten Colchicum, to “drinke the milke of a cow, or else death
presently ensueth.”----Colchicum is a herb of the Sun.

=COLTSFOOT.=--The shape of its leaves has given the _Tussilago Farfara_
its English name of Colt’s-foot, although, as Gerarde points out, it
might more appropriately be termed Cough-wort. The plant has its Latin
name from _tussis_, a cough, and for many centuries has been used in
pulmonary complaints. It formed the basis of Coltsfoot lozenges, long
celebrated as a cure for coughs.----The Bavarian peasants make garlands
of the sweet-scented Colt’s-foot on Easter Day, and cast them into the
fire.----Colt’s-foot, or Foal’s-foot, is a herb of Venus.

=COLUMBINE.=--The English name of the _Aquilegia_ is derived from
the Latin _columba_, a pigeon, from the resemblance of its nectaries
to the heads of pigeons in a ring round a dish, a favourite device
of ancient artists. The generic name comes from _aquila_, an eagle,
from the fancied resemblance of the same parts of the flower to the
claw of the king of birds.----The plant was formerly sometimes called
_Herba leonis_, from a belief that it was the favourite herb of the
lion.----The Columbine is held to be under the dominion of Venus.

=CONJUGALIS HERBA.=--This herb, De Gubernatis considers to be, in all
probability, the same as is known in Piedmont as _Concordia_ (according
to Gerarde, a kind of wild Tansy), concerning which M. Bernadotti had
sent him the following particulars:--“In the valleys of Lanzo, when
two lovers wish to assure themselves that their marriage will take
place, they proceed to search for the plant called _Concordia_. They
say that this plant is exceedingly scarce, and hence very difficult to
find. Its root is divided into two parts, each representing a hand with
five fingers. On finding this plant, it is necessary to uproot it in
order to see if the two hands are united--a certain sign that the union
will take place. If, on the contrary, the two hands are separated, the
marriage will be broken off.” (See CONCORDIA.)

=CORIANDER.=--From a passage in the Book of Numbers, where Manna is
likened to Coriander-seed, it would seem that “Coriander’s spicy seed”
was commonly used by the Israelites. The bitter Coriander is one of
the five plants mentioned by the Mishna as one of the “bitter herbs”
ordained by God to be eaten by the Jews at the Feast of the Passover.
It was esteemed as a spice by the Arabs, Egyptians, and Hindus. The
plant’s foliage has a strong and offensive odour, but its little round
fruit is pleasantly aromatic, and its seeds, when covered with sugar,
form the well-known Coriander comfits. Robert Turner, in the ‘Brittish
Physician,’ says that the powder of the seeds taken in wine, stimulate
the passions; and Gerarde affirms that the juice of the green leaves,
“taken in the quantity of four dragmes, killeth and poisoneth the
body.”----Coriander is held to be under the planetary influence of

=CORN.=--The generic name of Corn, which is applied to all kinds
of grain, is one of several words, which being common to the
widely-separated branches of the Indo-European race, prove the practice
of tillage among our ancestors before they left their first home in
Central Asia.----The Greeks worshipped Demeter, and the Romans Ceres,
as the goddess of Corn, and she is supposed to have been the same
deity as Rhea and Tellus, and the Cybele, Bona Dea, Berecynthia of
the Phrygians, the Isis of the Egyptians, Atergates of the Syrians,
and the Hera of the Arcadians. Ceres was generally represented as
a beautiful woman, with a garland of ears of Corn on her head, a
wheatsheaf by her side, and the cornucopia, or horn of plenty, in
her hand. To commemorate the abduction of her daughter Proserpine
by Pluto, a festival was held about the beginning of harvest, and
another festival, lasting six days, was held in remembrance of the
goddess’s search for her daughter, at the time that Corn is sown in the
earth. During the quest for Proserpine, the earth was left untilled
and became barren; but upon the return of Ceres, she instructed
Triptolemus of Eleusis in all the arts appertaining to agriculture
and the cultivation of Corn, and gave him her chariot, drawn by two
dragons, wherein he might travel over the whole earth and distribute
Corn to all its inhabitants. On his return to Eleusis, Triptolemus
restored the chariot to Ceres, and established the famed Eleusinian
festivals and mysteries in her honour. This festival, observed every
fourth year, and dedicated to Demeter (Ceres) and Proserpine, was the
most solemn of all the sacred feasts of Greece, and was so religiously
observed, that anyone revealing its secret mysteries, or improperly
taking part in the ceremonials, was put to an ignominious death. During
the festival, the votaries walked in a solemn procession, in which
the holy basket of Ceres was carried about in a consecrated cart, the
people on all sides shouting Hail, Demeter!----In their sacrifices,
the ancients usually offered Ceres a pregnant sow, as that animal
often destroys the Corn and other crops. While the Corn was yet in
grass they offered her a ram, after the victim had been thrice led
round the fields.----Among the Romans, twelve priests named Arvales,
supposed to have been descended from the nurse of Romulus, celebrated
in April and July the festivals called Ambarvalia. These priests, who
wore crowns composed of ears of Corn, conducted processions round
the ploughed fields in honour of Ceres, and offered as sacrifices at
her shrine a sow, a sheep, and a bull. The rites of the Arvales were
founded specially on the worship of Corn.----It is believed that among
the Greeks, the story of Proserpine brought back from the infernal
regions by her mother Ceres, and finally adjudged to pass six months
on earth, and six months in Hades, symbolises Corn as the seed of
Wheat, and its condition during Winter and Summer.----De Gubernatis
considers that the story of Proserpine has its Indian equivalent in
the myth of the birth of Sîtâ, daughter of King Janaka, the Fecundator.
Sîtâ was not born of a woman, but issued either from a furrow in the
earth, or from the middle of an altar.----The _Vishnupurâna_ mentions
several species of grain which have been specially created by the
gods; amongst them being Rice, Barley, Millet, and Sesamum. In the
sacrifices of the Hindoos, they offer several sorts of Corn to ensure
abundant harvests. Indra is the great husbandman of the heavens, which
he renders fertile: he is also the divinity of the fields, and, like
the Scandinavian god Thor, the presiding deity of Corn. It is he who
fertilises the earth in his capacity of god of tempests and rain. The
employment of Corn in sacrificial rites, was common in India of the
Vedic period, in Greece, and in Rome; and in the same countries we
find Corn used during nuptial ceremonies. Thus in Vedic India, it was
customary to scatter two handfuls of Corn over the clasped hands of
the bride and bridegroom, and a similar proceeding still takes place
amongst the Parsees. An analogous custom existed amongst the Romans. At
an Indian wedding, after the first night, the mother of the husband,
with all the female relatives, come to the young bride, and place on
her head a measure of Corn--emblem of fertility. The husband then
comes forward and takes from his bride’s head some handfuls of the
grain, which he scatters over himself. Similar usages exist at the
present day in many parts of Italy, relics of the old Roman custom of
offering Corn to the bride. In Gwalior, at one part of the marriage
ceremony, the priests shout vociferously, only stopping now and then to
cast over the bride and bridegroom showers of Corn, Millet, and Rice.
In some parts of Central India, at the end of the rainy season, the
people congregate on the banks of the lakes, and launch on the water,
as an offering, pots of earth, containing sprouting Wheat.----On the
banks of the Indus, there is believed to grow some miraculous Corn on
the spot where formerly were burnt the remains of the Buddhist King
Sivika, who sacrificed his life for a pigeon. The Chinese Buddhists
made pilgrimages, during the middle ages, to the place where Sivika
had lived and died; and here it was that the miraculous Wheat grew,
which the sun had no power to scorch. A single grain of this Wheat
kept its happy possessor from all ills proceeding from cold as well
as from fever.----The Chinese, regarding Corn as a gift from heaven,
celebrate with sacrifices, prayers, and religious rites, both seedtime
and harvest. They also think that in the heavens there is a special
constellation for Corn, composed of eight black stars, each of which
has under its special protection one of the eight varieties of Corn,
viz., Rice, Millet, Barley, Wheat, Beans, Peas, Maize, and Hemp. When
this cereal constellation is clear, it is a sign that the eight kinds
of Corn will ripen; but when, on the contrary, it is dim and obscured,
a bad harvest is looked for. The Emperor Ven-ti, who reigned 179 years
before Christ, is said to have incited his subjects to the more
zealous cultivation of Corn, by ploughing with his own hands the land
surrounding his palace.----The Chaldeans recognised a god of grain,
called Sérakh; the Assyrians, a god of harvests, named Nirba; the
Romans, a goddess, Segetia or Segesta, who was invoked by husbandmen,
that their harvests might be plentiful. Among the Romans, indeed, the
growth of Corn was under the special protection of different deities;
hence the worship they paid to Seia, who protected Corn before it
sprang up above the earth; to Occator, the god of harrowing; to
Sarritor, the god of weeding; to Nodotus, the god who watched over the
blade when it became knotty; and to Robigus, the god who protected the
Corn from blights.----In the sepulchres of the Egyptian kings, which
have of late years been opened, was discovered, carefully preserved in
closed vessels, Corn, the grains of which retained both their pristine
form and colour; when tested, this Corn was found, after several
thousand years, still to retain its vitality. The matchless wealth of
ancient Egypt was probably in great measure due to its Corn. The Bible
history of Joseph, and the narrative of the ten plagues, set forth how
famed the land of Egypt was in those days for its Wheat. The mode of
culture in that country now is exceedingly simple: when the inundations
of the Nile have subsided, the grain is thrown upon the mud; and if by
chance it should be considered too hard, the seed is lightly ploughed
in. No further care is bestowed until the ripening of the produce in
the following April.----Corn was unknown among the Mexicans when their
country was first visited by Europeans; the foundation of the vast
Wheat harvests of Mexico is said to have been three or four grains,
which a slave of Cortez discovered in 1530, accidentally mixed with
some Rice.----Peru was indebted for the introduction of Corn to a
Spanish lady, Maria de Escobar, who conveyed a few grains to Lima,
cultivated them, and distributed the seed among the farmers. The
first grains of Corn which reached Quito, were conveyed thither by
Father Josse Rixi, a Fleming, who sowed them near the Monastery of St.
Francis, where the monks still preserve and show, as a precious relic,
the rude earthen vessel wherein the seeds first reached them.----Among
the Arabs there is a tradition that when Adam was driven out of
Paradise he took with him three plants,--an ear of Corn, chief of all
kinds of food; a bunch of Dates, chief of fruits; and a slip of Myrtle,
chief of sweet-scented flowers.----There is a curious custom which
still survives in a few districts of Brittany, by which the good faith
of lovers is sought to be proved. On St. John’s Eve, the men, wearing
branches of green Wheat-ears, the women with Flax-blossoms, come to one
of the pillar stones, or dolmens, still standing, dance around it, and
then place their wreath upon it: if the wreath remain fresh for some
time after, the lover is to be trusted; but should it shrivel up within
a day or two, so will the love wither and fade away.----In some parts
of Italy, there is a belief that on the night of the third of May the
blessing of Heaven descends on the Corn in the form of a minute red
insect, which remains on the Wheat only for two or three days.----In
Piedmont, it is a custom in certain districts, on the last day of
February, for the children to roam the meadows, crying, “March, March,
arrive! and for every grain of Wheat let us receive a hundred.”----At
Venice, on Midsummer Eve, young girls sow some Corn in a pot, which
they then place in a position where the sun cannot enter; after eight
days they remove the pot: the Corn has then sprouted; and if it is
green and healthy, it is a token to the girl that she will have a rich
and handsome husband; but if the sprout is yellow or white, it is a
sign that the husband will be anything but a good one.----In Corsica,
after a wedding, just before the feast, the men and children retire,
and the women seat the bride on a measure full of Corn, from which
they have each previously taken a handful. The women then commence
saying an invocation, and during this each one scatters the handful of
Corn over the bride’s head.----In English harvest-fields the prettiest
girl present is chosen to cut the last handful of Corn.----In Sweden,
if a grain of Corn be found under the table when sweeping on a New
Year’s morn, it is believed to be a portent of an abundant crop that
year.----A tuft of Corn or Grass was given by Eugène and Marlborough
as a cockade to the German, Dutch, and English soldiers comprising
the army. The faction of the Fronde opposed to Cardinal Mazarin wore
stalks of Corn to distinguish them.----Corn and Grapes typify the
Blessed Eucharist. An ear of Corn is a prominent emblem in Freemasonry,
proving that the order did not originally confine their intellects or
their labours to building operations, but also devoted themselves to
agriculture.----Astrologers appear to be divided in their opinions
as to whether Corn is under the dominion of Venus or the Sun.----In
dreams, to pluck Corn-ears portends secret enemies; otherwise, dreams
of Corn betoken good fortune, prosperity, and happiness.

CORN-FLOWER. See Centaury.

CORN-MARIGOLD. See Chrysanthemum.

=CORNEL.=--After Romulus had marked out the bounds of his rising city,
he threw his javelin on the Mount Palatine. The weapon, made of the
wood of the Cornel (_Cornus mascula_), stuck fast in the ground, took
root, grew, threw out leaves and branches, and became a flourishing
tree. This prodigy was considered as the happy presage of the power
and duration of the infant empire.----According to some accounts, the
Cornel, or Cornelian Cherry, is the tree which sprang from the grave
of Prince Polydorus, who was assassinated by Polymnestor. The boughs
of this tree dropped blood when Æneas, journeying to Italy, attempted
to tear them from the tree.----The Greeks consecrated the Cornel to
Apollo; and when, in order to construct the famed wooden horse during
the siege of Troy, they felled, on Mount Ida, several Cornelian-trees
in a grove, called Carnea, dedicated to the god, they provoked his
anger and indignation: to expiate this sacrilege, the Greeks instituted
the festival called Carnea.----The Cornel is under Venus.


=COSTMARY.=--This plant, the _Balsamita vulgaris_, owes its name of
Costmary to the Greek Kostos, an unknown aromatic plant, and to the
fact of its being dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. A variety of the
plant is also called, after her, Maudlein, either in allusion to her
box of scented ointment or to its use in the uterine affections over
which, as the special patroness of unchaste women, she presided. In old
times, the plant was known as _Herba Sanctæ_ or _Divæ Mariæ_.----The
Costmary is held to be under Jupiter.

=COSTUS.=--The _Costus speciosus_, an Indian swamp tree, celebrated for
its sweet fruit, is a sacred tree, and in the Hindu mythology figures
as Kushtha, one of the trees of heaven. It is a magical tree, curing
fevers, and is looked upon as the first of medicinal plants. It is
represented as the friend and companion of Soma, the god of Ambrosia.
It is called the Revealer of Ambrosia, inasmuch as its fruit grew on
the summit of Mount Himavant at the moment when the golden boat of the
gods touched its summit, and by its illuminating powers enabled them to
find the Ambrosia.

=COTTON-PLANT.=--The Cotton-plant (_Gossypium_) was first cultivated
in the East, whence were procured the finest muslins (so named from
Mosul, in Mesopotamia, where it was first made), calico (from Calicut,
in India), and Nankeen (from Nankin, in China, where the yellow
Cotton-plants grow). Now the Cotton-plant gives employment to millions
of people, sends thousands of ships across the sea, and binds together
the two great Anglo-Saxon nations. Although so useful, the Cotton is
not one of the sacred plants of India: in an Indian poem, however,
the plant is noticed favourably:--“We love the fruits of the Cotton
because, although tasteless, they have the property of concealing
that which ought to be concealed” (in allusion to the use of cotton
as clothing). The Khonds, whenever founding a new settlement, always
plant first a Cotton-plant, which they hold sacred and religiously
preserve.----M. Agassiz, in his work on Brazil, recounts a strange
legend respecting the _Gossypium Brazilianum_. Caro Sacaibu, the first
of men, was a demi-god. His son, Rairu, an inferior being, obeyed the
instructions of his father, who, however, did not love him. To get rid
of him, Sacaibu constructed an armadillo, and buried it in the earth,
leaving visible only the tail, rubbed with Mistletoe. Then he ordered
his son to bring him the armadillo. Rairu obeyed, but scarcely had
he touched the tail, when, aided by Sacaibu, it dragged Rairu to the
bottom of the earth. But thanks to his wit, Rairu contrived to make his
way to the surface again, and told Sacaibu that in the subterranean
regions lived a race of men and women, who, if transported to earth,
would cultivate it. Sacaibu allowed himself to be convinced of this,
and accordingly descended in his turn to the bottom of the earth by the
aid of a rope composed of Cotton, which he had sown for the first time
on the occasion. The first men brought to earth by means of Sacaibu’s
rope were small and ugly, but the more rope he pulled up, the handsomer
became the men, until just as he was about to pull out the handsomest
the Cotton rope broke, and the brightest specimens of humanity were
doomed for ever to remain in the bowels of mother earth. That is the
reason why, in this earth of ours, beauty is so scarce.

COVENTRY BELLS.--See Campanula.

=COWSLIP.=--The familiar name, Cowslip, is presumed to be derived
from the Anglo-Saxon _Cú-slyppe_: Skeat thinks because the plant was
supposed to spring up where a patch of cow-dung had fallen. The flowers
of the common Cowslip, Petty Mullein, or Paigle (_Primula veris_), are,
in some parts of Kent, called Fairy Cups. The odour of Cowslips is said
to calm the heart. A pleasant and wholesome wine is made from them,
resembling Muscadel. It is said to induce sleep. Says Pope:--

                  “For want of rest,
  Lettuce and Cowslip wine--_probatum est_.”

Cowslip-balls are made in the following manner:--The umbels or heads
are picked off as close as possible to the top of the main stalks. From
fifty to sixty of these are hung across a string stretched between the
backs of two chairs. The flowers are then pressed carefully together,
and the string tied tightly, so as to collect them into a ball. Care
should be taken to have all the flowers open, so as to make the surface
of the ball even.----Culpeper, the astrological herbalist, says that
the Greeks gave the name of Paralysis to the Cowslip because the
flowers strengthened the brain and nerves, and were a remedy for palsy.
He adds, that Venus lays claims to this herb, and it is under the sign

=COWSLIP OF JERUSALEM.=--The Virginian Cowslip or Lungwort (_Pulmonaria
officinalis_), is called Cowslip of Jerusalem, Sage of Jerusalem, Sage
of Bethlehem, Wild Comfrey and Lung-wort, being supposed, from its
spotted leaves, to be a remedy for diseased lungs. Linnæus christened
the plant _Dodecatheon_, or Twelve Divinities, because, in April, it
is crowned with twelve pink flowers reversed.----The Lung-wort is
considered to be a herb of Jupiter.

=COW-TREE.=--The ancient inhabitants of Venezuela regarded as sacred
the _Chichiuhalquehuill_, Tree of Milk, or Celestial Tree, that
distilled milk from the extremity of its branches, and around which
were seated infants who had expired a few days after their birth. A
Mexican drawing of this Celestial Tree is preserved in the Vatican,
and is noticed by Humboldt, who first heard of the _Palo de Vaca_,
or Cow-tree, in the year 1800, and supposed it to be peculiar to
the Cordillera of the coast. It was also found by Mr. Bridemeyer, a
botanist, at a distance of three days’ journey to the east of Caraccas,
in the valley of Caucagua, where it is known by the name of _Arbol
de Leche_, or the Milk-tree; and where the inhabitants profess to
recognise, from the thickness and colour of the foliage, the trunks
that yield the most juice,--as the herdsman distinguishes, from
external signs, a good milch cow. At Barbula, this vegetable fountain
is more aptly termed the _Palo de Vaca_, or Cow-tree. It rises, as
Humboldt informs us, like the broad-leaved Star-apple (_Chrysophyllum
Cainito_), to a height of from thirty to forty feet, and is furnished
with round branches, which, while young, are angular, and clothed
with a fine heavy down. The trunk, on being wounded, yields its
agreeable and nutritious fluid in the greatest profusion. Humboldt
remarks that “a few drops of vegetable juice recall to our minds all
the powerfulness and the fecundity of nature. On the barren flank of
a rock grows a tree with coriaceous and dry leaves. Its large woody
roots can scarcely penetrate into the stone. For several months of the
year, not a single shower moistens its foliage. Its branches appear
dead and dried; but when the trunk is pierced, there flows from it a
sweet and nourishing milk. It is at the rising of the sun that this
vegetable fountain is most abundant. The blacks and natives are then
seen hastening from all quarters, furnished with large bowls to receive
the milk, which grows yellow, and thickens at its surface. Some empty
their bowls under the tree itself, others carry the juice home to their
children. We seem to see the family of a shepherd who distributes the
milk of his flock.”

=CRANE’S BILL.=--The Crane’s Bill, or English Geranium, derived its
name from a fancied resemblance of the fruit to the beak of that bird.
Another name for the plant is Dove’s Foot.----Astrologers say that it
is under the dominion of Mars.

=CRANBERRY.=--The Cranberry (_Vaccinium Oxycoccus_) was formerly known
as the Marsh-wort or Fen-berry. The Druids called the plant _Samolus_,
and used great ceremonies in gathering it; these consisted in a
previous fast, in not looking back during the time of their plucking
it, and lastly in using their left hand only. This plant was considered
to be particularly efficacious in curing the diseases incident to swine
and cattle.

=CRESS.=--Chaucer calls the Cress by its old Saxon name of _Kers_,
which may possibly have been the origin of the vulgar saying of not
caring a “curse” for anything--meaning a Cress. Gerarde tells us that
the Spartans were in the habit of eating Cresses with their bread; this
they did no doubt on account of an opinion held very generally among
the ancients that those who ate Cress became firm and decided, for
which reason the plant was in great request. Water-Cresses, according
to astrologers, are herbs of the Moon.

CROSS-FLOWER.--See Milkwort.

=CROCUS.=--Legendary lore derives the name of this flower from a
beautiful youth named Crocus, who was consumed by the ardency of his
love for the shepherdess Smilax, and was afterwards metamorphosed
into the flower which still preserves his name; Smilax being also
transformed, some accounts say into a flower, others into a Yew.

  “Crocus and Smilax may be turned to flowers,
  And the Curetes spring from bounteous showers.”--_Ovid._

Rapin says:--

  “Crocus and Smilax, once a loving pair,
  But now transformed, delightful blossoms bear.”

According to a Grecian legend, the Crocus sprang from the blood of
the infant Crocus, who was accidentally struck by a metal disc thrown
by Mercury whilst playing a game.----One of the Sanscrit names of the
Crocus, or Saffron, is _asrig_, which signifies “blood.” The dawn
is sometimes called by the classic poets, on account of its colour,
_crocea_.----The ancients often used to adorn the nuptial couch with
Crocus-flowers, perhaps because it is one of the flowers of which,
according to Homer, the couch of Jove and Juno was composed.

  “And sudden Hyacinths the turf bestrow,
  And flowery Crocus made the mountains glow.”

The Egyptians, at their banquets, encircled their wine cups with
garlands of Crocus and Saffron, and in their religious processions
these flowers were carried with other blooms and aromatics.----The Jews
made use of the Saffron Crocus (_Crocus sativus_) as an aromatic, and
in the Song of Solomon it is referred to as highly appreciated:--“Thy
plants are an orchard of Pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; Camphire,
with Spikenard; Spikenard and Saffron,” &c.----The Greeks employed the
Crocus in the composition of their perfumes. Thus Hipponax says:--

  “I then my nose with baccaris anointed
  Redolent of Crocus.”

The Romans were so fond of the Crocus, that they not only had their
apartments and banqueting halls strewed with this plant, but they
also composed with it unguents and essences which were highly prized.
Some of the latter were often made to flow in small streams at their
entertainments, or to descend in dewy showers over the audience. Lucan,
in his ‘Pharsalia,’ describing how the blood runs out of the veins
of a person bitten by a serpent, says that it spouts out in the same
manner as the sweet-smelling essence of Saffron issues from the limbs
of a statue. In both Greece and Rome, as in later years in this land,
Crocus was a favourite addition to dishes of luxury, and Shakspeare
speaks of Saffron to colour the warden pies.----In olden times, Crocus
was held to be a great cordial and strengthener of the heart and lungs;
it was also considered useful in the plague and similar pestilences;
and was said to excite amatory passions.----Robert Turner states that
the plant was sometimes called _Filias ante Patrem_, because it puts
forth flowers before the leaves. This old herbalist, who lived in the
reign of Charles II., would seem to have been a thorough Royalist,
for after remarking that large crops of Saffron-flowers were grown at
Saffron-Walden, he adds that the crop “must be gathered as soon as it
is blown, or else it is lost; so that Jack Presbyter for covetousness
of the profit can reach his Sabbatarian conscience to gather it on
Sunday; and so he can do anything else that redounds to his profit,
tho’ it destroy his brother.”----The Crocus or Saffron is a herb of the
Sun, and under the Lion.

=CUCKOO FLOWERS.=--Various flowers are called after the “harbinger
of Spring.” In old works, the name “Cuckoo Flower” was given to the
_Lychnis flos cuculi_, but is now generally applied to the Lady’s Smock
(_Cardamine pratensis_). Cuckoo Gilliflower was a name also given to
the _Lychnis flos cuculi_, on account of its blooming at the time the
Cuckoo’s song was heard. “Cuckoo’s Bread,” or “Cuckoo’s Meat” is the
Wood Sorrel, _Oxalis Acetosella_. Shakspeare’s “Cuckoo Buds of yellow
hue” are probably the buds of the Crowfoot. “Cuckoo Grass” is the
_Luzula Campestris_, a grass-like Rush, flowering at the time of the
Cuckoo. “Cuckoo Pint,” or “Pintle” is the _Arum maculatum_.

=CUCUMBER.=--In the East, the Cucumber (_Cucumis sativa_) has been
cultivated from the earliest periods. When the Israelites complained
to Moses in the wilderness, comparing their old Egyptian luxuries with
the Manna of the wilderness, they exclaimed: “We remember the fish
which we did eat in Egypt freely, the Cucumbers, and the Melons.”
Isaiah, depicting the desolation of Judah, said: “The daughter of
Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard--as a lodge in a garden of
Cucumbers”--in allusion to the practise of cultivating Cucumbers in
open fields.----Although, says De Gubernatis, the Buddhists derive
the name of _Ikshvâku_ from _Ikshi_ (Sugar-cane), we must not forget
that the wife of Sagara, to whom was promised sixty thousand children,
first gave birth to an Ikshvâku, that is to say, to a Cucumber. Just
as the Cucumber and the Pumpkin or Gourd are gifted with fecundity and
the desire to climb, so Trisanku, one of the descendants of Ikshvâku,
had the ambition to ascend to heaven, and he obtained that favour
by the assistance of the sage Visvamitra.----There was formerly a
superstitious belief in England that Cucumbers had the power of killing
by their natural coldness. Gerarde says “they yield to the body a
cold and moist nourishment, and that very little, and the same not
good.”----To dream of Cucumbers denotes recovery to the sick, and that
you will speedily fall in love; or if you are in love, that you will
marry the object of your affection. It also denotes moderate success
in trade; to a sailor a pleasant voyage.----Cucumbers are under the
influence of the Moon.

=CUMIN.=--According to Theophrastus, the ancients were accustomed to
sow the seed of Cumin (_Cuminum Cyminum_), with an accompaniment of
oaths and maledictions, just as they were wont to do in the case of
Basil: this singular custom was probably some form of incantation,
to preserve this highly-reverenced plant from the dreaded effects of
the Evil Eye, and to cause it to flourish well. Among the Greeks,
Cumin symbolised meanness and cupidity: the people nicknamed Marcus
Antoninus, _Cumin_, on account of his avarice; and misers were jokingly
spoken of as persons who had eaten Cumin.----The plant appears to have
been regarded as specially possessing the power of retention. Thus in
Germany, in order to prevent newly-made bread from being stolen by
Wood-demons, the loaves had Cumin put in them. In Italy, a similar
custom prevails; and in some places it is supposed that the Cumin
possesses the power of keeping the thief in the house along with the
bread which he wished to steal. In some parts of Italy they give Cumin
to pigeons in order to make them tame and fond of their home; and Cumin
mixed with flour and water is given to fowls with the same object.
Country lasses also endeavour to make their lovers swallow it, in order
to ensure their continued attachment and fidelity. Or, if the lover is
going to serve as a soldier, or has obtained work in a distant part of
the country, his sweetheart gives him a newly-made loaf seasoned with
Cumin, or, perhaps, a cup of wine in which Cumin has been previously
powdered and mixed.----The ancients were acquainted with the power
of Cumin to cause the human countenance to become pallid, and Pliny
mentions two cases in which the herb was so employed.

=CURRANT.=--According to the Iranian legend of the Creation, the first
human couple, Maschia and Maschiäna, issued from a Currant-bush. At
first there was only one Currant-bush, but in process of time the one
bush became separated into two. To these two plants Ormuzd, the Iranian
supreme deity, imparted a soul, and thus from the Currant-bushes issued
the first two human beings.----To dream of Currants denotes happiness
in life, success in your undertakings, constancy in your sweetheart,
and to the farmer and tradesman riches.----The Currant-tree is under
the influence of Venus.

=CYCLAMEN.=--The Greeks had several names for the Cyclamen, and the
Romans also distinguished it by a variety of titles, as _Tuber terræ_
and _Terræ rapum_, from its Turnip-like root, _Panis Porcinus_,
_Orbicularis_, _Arthanita_, and _Cyclamen_, on account of the roundness
of its root. It was called Sow-bread and Swine-bread because, in
countries where it is abundant, it forms the chief food of herds of
swine.----This plant was formerly regarded as a most potent assistant
by midwives, and it was recommended to them by the surgeons of the
day. The peculiar shape of its root was in itself suggestive of its
employment by these good women, and the virtues of the plant were
regarded with superstitious reverence. Thus we find Gerarde stating,
that the mere wearing of the root, “hanged about women,” had a
salutary effect; and that he himself had instructed his wife to employ
its leaves when tending divers women in their confinement. The old
herbalist also tells us that he had Cyclamens growing in his garden,
but that for fear any matrons should, accidentally, step over them, and
by this means bring on miscarriage, he fenced them in with sticks, and
laid others crossways over them, “lest any woman should, by lamentable
experiment, find my words to be true, by their stepping over the same.”
He further warns those who are about to become mothers not to touch or
take this herb, or to come near unto it, on account of “the naturale
attractive vertue therein contained.” According to Theophrastus,
Cyclamen was employed by the ancients to excite love and voluptuous
desires.----Placed in a dormitory, this plant was supposed to protect
the inmate:--

  “St. John’s Wort and fresh Cyclamen she in his chamber kept,
  From the power of evil angels to guard him while he slept.”

The old English names of Cyclamen were Sow-bread and Swine-bread.----It
was considered under the dominion of Mars.

=CYPRESS.=--Ovid tells us of the “taper Cypress,” that it is sacred to
Apollo, and was once a fair youth, Cyparissus by name, who was a great
favourite of the god. Cyparissus became much attached to a “mighty
stag,” which grazed on the fertile fields of Cæa and was held sacred
to Carthæan nymphs. His constant companion, this gentle stag was one
day unwittingly pierced to the heart by a dart thrown by the luckless
youth. Overcome with remorse, Cyparissus would fain have killed himself
but for the intervention of Apollo, who bade him not mourn more than
the loss of the animal required. Unable, however, to conquer his grief,
Cyparissus at length prayed the superior powers, that as an expiation,
he should be doomed to mourn to all succeeding time: the gods therefore
turned him into a Cypress-tree. Ovid thus relates the tale:--

  “And now of blood exhausted he appears,
  Drained by a torrent of continual tears;
  The fleshy colour in his body fades,
  And a green tincture all his limbs invades;
  From his fair head, where curling locks late hung,
  A horrid bush with bristled branches sprung,
  Which, stiff’ning by degrees, its stem extends,
  Till to the starry skies the spire ascends.
  Apollo sad looked on, and sighing cried,
  Then be for ever what thy prayer implied;
  Bemoaned by me, in others grief excite,
  And still preside at every funeral rite.”--_Congreve._

According to another account, Silvanus, god of the woods (who is
sometimes represented holding a branch of Cypress in his hand), became
enamoured of a handsome youth named Cyparissus, who was changed into
the tree bearing his name. Rapin gives the following version of the

  “A lovely fawn there was--Sylvanus’ joy,
  Nor less the fav’rite of the sportive boy,
  Which on soft grass was in a secret shade,
  Beneath a tree’s thick branches cooly laid;
  A luckless dart rash Cyparissus threw,
  And undesignedly the darling slew.
  But soon he to his grief the error found,
  Lamenting, when too late, the fatal wound:
  Nor yet Sylvanus spared the guiltless child,
  But the mischance with bitter words reviled,
  This struck so deep in his relenting breast,
  With grief and shame, and indignation prest,
  That tired of life he melted down in tears,
  From whence th’ impregnate earth a Cypress rears;
  Ensigns of sorrow these at first were born,
  Now their fair race the rural scenes adorn.”

In a legend current among the Greeks, the Cypress owes its origin
to the daughters of Eteocles, King of Thebes. Carried away by the
goddesses in a whirlwind, which kept revolving them in endless
circles, they were at length precipitated into a pond, upon which
Gæa took compassion on the young girls, and changed them into
Cypress-trees.----Perhaps owing to its funereal and sorrowful
character, the Cypress has been named as the tree which furnished
the wood of the Saviour’s Cross.----An ancient legend referred to in
the ‘Gospel of Nicodemus,’ Curzon’s ‘Monasteries of the Levant,’ and
other works, carries the history of the Cross back as far as the time
of Adam. In substance it is as follows:--Adam, one day, fell sick,
and sent his son Seth to the Garden of Eden to ask the guardian angel
for some drops of the oil of mercy, distilled from the Tree of Life.
The angel replied that none could have that till five thousand years
had passed, but gave him a slip of the tree, which was afterwards
planted on Adam’s grave, and grew into a goodly tree with three
branches. Another version states that the Angel in Paradise gave Seth
three seeds, which he placed under Adam’s tongue before burial, from
which they grew into the Cypress, the Cedar, and the Pine. These were
subsequently carried away by Moses, who cut his rod from them, and King
David transplanted them near a fountain at Jerusalem, where the three
saplings combined and grew into one grand tree. Under its umbrageous
shade he composed his Psalms and lamented his sins. His son Solomon
afterwards cut it down for a pillar in his Temple, but no one was able
to fix it there. Some say it was preserved in the Temple, while others
aver that it formed a bridge across a marsh, which the Queen of Sheba
refused to pass, being deterred by a vision of its future burden. It
was afterwards buried in the Pool of Bethesda, thereby accounting for
the healing properties possessed by its waters. At the Passion, it
floated and was taken for the Cross, or, as some say, for the upright
beam. Henry Maundrell speaks of a Greek convent, about half an hour’s
distance from Jerusalem, where they showed him a hole in the ground
under the high altar, where the stump of the tree stood. Sir John
Maundevile also says that the spot where the tree grew at Jerusalem was
pointed out to him; the wood, he states, formed a bridge over the brook
Cedron.----Some versions of the legend of the wood of the Cross state
it was made of Cypress, Cedar, Pine, and Box: one names Cypress for
the body, Palm for the hands, Cedar for the support of the feet, and
Olive for the superscription.----Another version states that the cross
beam was of Cypress; the upright beam of “immortal Cedar;” the title of
Olive; and the foot-rest of Palm: hence the line--

  “_Ligna crucis Palma, Cedrus, Cupressus, Oliva._”

In all countries, and from the earliest times, the Cypress has been
deemed the emblem of woe. Gerarde tells us, that it had the reputation
of being deadly, and that its shadow was unfortunate. Horace, Virgil,
and Ovid all refer to it as a tree both gloomy and funereal. By the
Greeks and Romans alike, the “sad” tree was consecrated to Pluto
and Proserpine, as well as to the Fates and the Furies. The Greeks
crowned with Cypress their tragic Muse Melpomene, and it became an
accompaniment of Venus in the annual processions in which she was
supposed to lament over Adonis.----The ancients planted the Cypress
around graves, and in the event of a death, placed it either before
the house or in the vestibule, so that no one about to perform a
sacred rite might enter a place polluted with a dead body. The Cypress
was probably selected for this purpose because of the belief that,
when once cut down, it never springs up again.----But, in connection
with its funereal associations, the Cypress has always been highly
esteemed as an undying tree, ever verdant, flourishing (_Cupressus
sempervirens_) and odorous, and a tree of which the wood, like the
Cedar, is incorruptible. Theophrastus attributes great honour to the
tree, and points out how the roofs of old temples became famous by
reason of its wood, and that the timber of which the rafters were made
was deemed everlasting, because it was unhurt by rotting, moth, worm,
or corruption. Martial describes the Cypress as deathless. Gerarde
identifies it with the _Thya_ of Pliny and Homer: “He showeth that
this is burned among the sweet smells which Circe was much delighted
withall.... The verse is extant in the fifth booke of Odysses,
where he mentioneth that Mercurie, by Jupiter’s commandment, went
to Calypsus’ den, and that he did smell the burnt trees, _Thya_ and
_Cedrus_, a great way off.” Theocritus and Virgil both allude to
the fragrance of the Cypress, and on account of the balsamic scent
of its timber, chips of it were sometimes employed to flavour wine
with. The Athenians buried their heroes in coffins of this wood, and
the Egyptians made of it those apparently indestructible chests that
contain the mummies of a bygone age.----Pausanias tells us, that the
Greeks guarded scrupulously the Cypresses which grew over the Tomb of
Alcmæon, and that these trees attained such a height, that they cast
their shadows on the neighbouring mountain. The same writer mentions
several groves of Cypress which were looked upon as sacred by the
Greeks; for instance, those which surrounded the Temples of Bellerophon
and Æsculapius, one of the shrines of Venus, the Tomb of Lais, near
Corinth, and a dense wood of Cypress, where were to be seen statues of
Apollo, Mercury, and Rhea. Diodorus Siculus, Plato, and Solinus speak
of groves of Cypress which were held sacred in Crete, near the ruins
of the reputed dwelling of Rhea, and in the vicinity of the Cavern of
Zeus. Solinus also remarks on the peculiarity of the Cretan Cypresses
in sprouting afresh after being cut down.----P. della Valla, a great
traveller of Evelyn’s time, tells of a wonderful Cypress, then extant,
near the tomb of Cyrus, to which pilgrimages were made. This tree was
hollowed within, and fitted for an oratory, and was noted for a gummy
transudation which it yielded, reputed by the Turks to turn, every
Friday, into drops of blood.----Plato desired to have the laws engraved
on tablets of Cypress, because he thought the wood more durable even
than brass: the antique idol of Vejovis (or Vedius), in Cypress-wood,
at the Capitol, corroborates this notion. Semiramis selected the
timber of the Cypress for his bridge across the Euphrates; the valves,
or doors, of the Ephesian temple were of this material, as were also
the original gates of St. Peter’s, Rome. It has been thought that the
_Gopher_, mentioned in Genesis (vi., 14), of which the Ark was built,
was really _Kupros_, _Cupar_, or _Cuper_, the Cypress. Epiphanius
relates that some relics of the Ark (_circa campos Sennaar_) lasted
even to his days, and was judged to have been of Cypress. Certain it
is that the Cretans employed it in ship-building, and that so frequent
was the Cypress in those parts of Assyria where the Ark was supposed
to have been built, that the vast armadas which Alexander the Great
sent forth from Babylon were constructed of it. Of Cypress-wood were
formed Cupid’s darts, Jove’s sceptre, and the club of Hercules used
in recovering the cows stolen by the robber Cacus. Either of Fig- or
Cypress-wood were fashioned the obscene statues of Priapus set up by
the Romans in their gardens and orchards, which were presided over by
this lascivious god, who exercised a peculiar faculty of detecting
and punishing thieves. The thunderbolts of Indra possessed the like
distinctive power. In Northern mythology, the club of Hercules and
the thunderbolts of Indra are replaced by the mallet of Thor, which
it is not difficult to recognise in the mallet of Cypress-wood that,
in Germany, was formerly believed to impart the power of discovering
thieves.----From its qualities, the Cypress acquired throughout the
East a sacred character. This was more particularly the case in Persia.
In the Zend-Avesta, it is accounted divine--consecrated to the pure
light of Ormuzd, whose word was first carved on this noble tree. Parsi
traditions tell of a Cypress planted by Zoroaster himself, which grew
to wondrous dimensions, and beneath the branches of which he built
himself a summer-house, forty yards high and forty yards broad. This
tree is celebrated in the songs of Firdusi as having had its origin in
Paradise. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Cypress, a tree of
Paradise, rising in a pyramidal form, with its taper summit pointing
to the skies, like the generating flame, should be planted at the
gates of the most sacred fire-temples, and, bearing the law inscribed
by Zoroaster, should stand in the forecourt of the royal palace and
in the middle of pleasure gardens, as a reminiscence of the lost
Paradise. This is the reason why sculptured images of the Cypress are
found in the temples and palaces of Persepolis; for the Persian kings
were servants of Ormuzd. Sacred Cypresses were also found in the very
ancient temple of Armavir, in Atropatene, the home of Zoroaster and
his light-worship. The Cypress, indeed, reverenced all over Persia,
was transmitted as a sacred tree down from the ancient Magi to the
Mussulmans of modern times.----From Asia, the Cypress passed to the
island of Cyprus (which derived its name from the tree), and here the
primitive inhabitants worshipped, under the Phœnician name Beroth, a
goddess personified by the Cypress-tree.----According to Claudian, the
Cypress was employed by the goddess Ceres as a torch, which she cast
into the crater of Etna, in order to stay the eruption of the volcano,
and to imprison there Vulcan himself.----An Italian tradition affirms
that the Devil comes at midnight to carry off three Cypresses confided
to the care of three brothers--a superstitious notion evidently
derived from the fact that the tree was by the ancients consecrated to
Pluto.----Like all the trees connected with the Phallica, the Cypress
is at once a symbol of generation, of death, and of the immortal
soul.----In Eastern legends, the Cypress often represents a young
lover, and the Rose, his beloved. In a wedding song of the Isle of
Crete, the bridegroom is compared to the Cypress, the bride to the
scented Narcissus. In Miller’s _Chrestomathie_ is a popular Russian
song, in which a young girl tells her master that she has dreamed of
a Cypress and of a Sugar-tree. The master tells her that the Cypress
typifies a husband, and the Sugar-tree a wife; and that the branches
are the children, who will gather around them.----At Rome, according to
Pliny, they used to plant a Cypress at the birth of a girl, and called
it the _dotem_ of the daughter.----The oldest tree on record is the
Cypress of Somma, in Lombardy. An ancient chronicle at Milan proves it
was a tree in Julius Cæsar’s time, B.C. 42. It is 121 feet high, and
23 feet in circumference at one foot from the ground. Napoleon, when
laying down the plan for his great road over the Simplon, diverged
from a straight line to avoid injuring this tree.----To dream of a
Cypress-tree denotes affliction and obstruction in business.


=DAHLIA.=--The Dahlia (_Dahlia variabilis_) is first mentioned in
a History of Mexico, by Hernandez (1651): it was next noticed by
Menonville, who was employed by the French Minister to steal the
cochineal insect from the Spaniards in 1790. The Abbé Cavanilles first
described the flower scientifically from a specimen which had bloomed
in the Royal Garden of Madrid the previous year, and he named the plant
after his friend Andrew Dahl, the Swedish botanist.----The Dahlia was
introduced into England in 1789 by Lady Bute from Madrid, but this
single plant speedily perished. Cavanilles sent specimens of the three
varieties then known to the Jardin des Plantes in 1802, and the flower
was very successfully cultivated in France, so that in 1814, on the
return of peace, the improved varieties of the Dahlia created quite a
sensation among English visitors to Paris. Meanwhile, Lady Holland had
in July, 1804, sent Dahlia-seeds to England from Madrid, and ten years
after we find her husband thus writing to her:--

  “The Dahlia you brought to our isle
    Your praises for ever shall speak;
  Mid gardens as sweet as your smile,
    And in colour as bright as your cheek.”

It is singular that this favourite flower should have been twice
introduced to England through the ladies of two of her most noted
statesmen, and that the first introduction should mark the year when
France became revolutionized, and the second that which saw Napoleon
made Emperor of the French nation: it is from these incidents that
the Dahlia in floral language has been selected as the symbol of
“instability.”----In Germany and Russia, the flower is called Georgina,
after a St. Petersburg professor.

=DAISY.=--The legend connected with the Daisy, or _Bellis_, runs that
this favourite little flower owes its origin to one of the Belides, who
were grand-daughters of Danaus, and belonged to the race of Nymphs,
called Dryads, presiding over woodlands, pastures, and meadows: she is
said to have encouraged the suit of the rural divinity, Ephigeus, but
whilst dancing on the sward with him, chanced to attract the admiration
of Vertumnus, the guardian deity of orchards, and to enable her to
escape from his amorous embrace, she was transformed into the humble
flower named _Bellis_. Thus Rapin says:--

  “When the bright ram, bedecked with stars and gold,
  Displays his fleece, the Daisy will unfold
  To nymphs a chaplet, and to beds a grace,
  Who once herself had borne a virgin’s face.”

Chaucer, however, who appears to have been passionately fond of the
Daisy, and never tired of singing its praises, tells us that the Queen
Alceste was changed into the flower, and that she had as many virtues
as there were florets in it.

  “Hast thou not a book in thy cheste,
  The great goodnesse of the Queene Alceste
  That turned was into a Daisie?
  She that for her husband chose to die,
  And eke to gone to hell rather than lie.
  And Hercules rescued her, parde,
  And brought her out of hell again to bliss?
  And I answered againe, and said ‘Yes,’
  Now I knowe her, and this is good Alceste,
  The Daisie, and mine own hertes rest?”

Ossian gives another origin. Malvina, weeping beside the tomb of
Fingal, for Oscar and his infant son, is comforted by the maids of
Morven, who narrate how they have seen the innocent infant borne on a
light mist, pouring upon the fields a fresh harvest of flowers, amongst
which rises one with golden disc, encircled with rays of silver, tipped
with a delicate tint of crimson. “Dry thy tears, O Malvina,” cried the
maidens; “the flower of thy bosom has given a new flower to the hills
of Cromla.”----The ancient English name of the flower was Day’s Eye,
in which way it was written by Ben Jonson; and Chaucer calls it the
“ee of the daie.” Probably it received this designation from its habit
of closing its petals at night and during rainy weather.----There is a
popular superstition, that if you omit to put your foot on the first
Daisy you see in Spring, Daisies will grow over you or someone dear to
you ere the year be out; and in some English counties an old saying is
current that Spring has not arrived until you can plant your foot upon
twelve Daisies.----Alphonse Karr, speaking of the Paquerette, or Easter
Daisy, says, “There is a plant that no insect, no animal attacks--that
ornament of the field, with golden disc and rays of silver, spread in
such profusion at our feet: nothing is so humble, nothing is so much
respected.” (See Marguerite).----Daisy-roots worn about the person were
formerly deemed to prove efficacious in the cure of certain maladies;
and Bacon, in his _Sylva Sylvarum_, tells us “There is also a received
tale, that boiling of Daisy-roots in milk (which it is certain are
great driers) will make dogs little.”----An old writer (1696) says
that they who wish to have pleasant dreams of the loved and absent
should put Daisy-roots under their pillow.----It is considered lucky to
dream of Daisies in Spring or Summer, but bad in the Autumn or Winter.
Daisies are herbs of Venus, under Cancer.

=DAMES’ VIOLET.=--The species of Rocket called _Hesperis matronalis_,
the Night-smelling Rocket, is much cultivated for the evening
fragrance of its flowers: hence the ladies of Germany keep it in pots
in their apartments, from which circumstance the flower is said to
have obtained the name of Dames’ Violet. It is also called Damask
Violet, a name derived from the Latin _Viola Damascena_, the Damascus
Violet. In French this is _Violette de Damas_, which has probably
been misunderstood as _Violette des Dames_, and has hence become, in
English, Dames’ Violet. (See ROCKET.)

=DANDELION.=--The Dandelion (_Taraxacum officinale_) derives its name
from the French _Dent de lion_, lion’s tooth. (Latin, _Dens leonis_).
In nearly every European language the flower bears a similar name,
given to it presumably either from the whiteness of its root, the
auriferous hue of its flower, which recalls the golden teeth of the
heraldic lion, or its jagged leaf, which was supposed to resemble a
lion’s tooth. De Gubernatis connects the name with the Sun (_Helios_),
and states that a lion was the animal-symbol of the Sun, and that all
plants named after him are essentially plants of the Sun. Certainly the
appearance of the Dandelion-flower is very suggestive of the ancient
representations of the Sun.----In German Switzerland, the children form
chains of the stalks of Dandelions, and holding the garland in their
hands, they dance round and round in a circle.----The Dandelion is
called the rustic oracle: its flowers always open about five a.m. and
shut at eight p.m., serving the shepherd for a clock--

                  “Leontodons unfold
  On the swart turf their ray-encircled gold,
  With Sol’s expanding beam the flowers unclose,
  And rising Hesper lights them to repose.”--_Darwin._

As the flower is the shepherd’s clock, so are the feathery seed-tufts
his barometer, predicting calm or storm. These downy seed-balls,
which children blow off to find out the hour of the day, serve for
other oracular purposes. Are you separated from the object of your
love?--carefully pluck one of the feathery heads, charge each of the
little feathers composing it with a tender thought; turn towards the
spot where the loved one dwells; blow, and the seed-ball will convey
your message faithfully. Do you wish to know if that dear one is
thinking of you, blow again; and if there be left upon the stalk a
single aigrette, it is a proof you are not forgotten. Similarly the
Dandelion is consulted as to whether the lover lives east, west, north,
or south, and whether he is coming or not.

  “Will he come? I pluck the flower leaves off,
    And at each, cry, yes--no--yes;
  I blow the down from the dry Hawkweed,
    Once, twice--hah! it flies amiss!”--_Scott._

Old herbalists had great faith in the Dandelion as a wonderful help to
consumptive people. More recently, in the county of Donegal, an old
woman skilled in simples has treated her patients for “heart fever,”
or dyspepsia, as follows:--She measures the sufferer three times round
the waist with a ribbon, to the outer edge of which is fastened a green
thread. If the patient be mistaken in supposing himself affected with
heart fever, this green thread will remain in its place, but should
he really have the disorder, it is found that the green thread has
left the edge of the ribbon and lies curled up in the centre. At the
third measuring, the simpler prays for a blessing. She next hands the
patient nine leaves of “heart fever grass,” or Dandelion, gathered
by herself, directing him to cut three leaves on three successive
mornings.----Hurdis, in his poem of ‘The Village Curate,’ fantastically
compares the sparkling undergraduate and the staid divine to the
Dandelion in the two stages of its existence:--

              “Dandelion this,
  A college youth, that flashes for a day
  All gold: anon he doffs his gaudy suit,
  Touched by the magic hand of some grave bishop,
  And all at once becomes a reverend divine--how sleek.

         *       *       *       *       *

  But let me tell you, in the pompous globe
  Which rounds the Dandelion’s head, is couched
  Divinity most rare.”

To dream of Dandelions betokens misfortune, enemies, and deceit on
the part of loved ones. Astrologers claim the Dandelion as a plant of

=DANEWORT.=--The Dwarf Elder (_Sambucus Ebulus_) is said only to grow
where blood has been shed, either in battle or in murder. A patch of
it thrives on ground in Worcestershire, where the first blood was
drawn in the civil war between the Royalists and the Parliament. The
Welsh call it _Llysan gwaed gwyr_, or “Plant of the blood of men.”
A name of similar import is its English one of Death-wort. It is
chiefly in connection with the history of the Danes in England, that
the superstition holds; wherever the Danes fought and bled, there did
the Dwarf Elder, or Dane’s Wood, spring up and flourish. According
to Aubrey, the plant obtained the name of Danewort, Daneweed, or
Dane’s blood, because it grew plentifully in the neighbourhood of
Slaughterford, Wilts, where there was once a stout battle fought with
the Danes. Parkinson, however, thinks the plant obtained the name of
Danewort because it would cause a flux called the Danes.

=DAPHNE.=--The generic name of Daphne has been given to a race of
beautiful low shrubs, after the Nymph Daphne, who was changed by the
gods into a Laurel, in order that she might escape the solicitations
of Apollo (see LAUREL); because many of the species have Laurel-like
leaves. The sweet-scented Daphne Mezereon is very generally known
as the Lady Laurel, and is also called Spurge Olive, Spurge Flax,
Flowering Spurge, and Dwarf Bay. The name of Mezereon is probably
derived from its Persian name, _Madzaryoun_, which signifies “destroyer
of life,” in allusion to the poisonous nature of its bright red
berries. Gerarde says, “If a drunkard doe eat one graine or berrie of
it, he cannot be allowed to drinke at that time; such will be the heate
of his mouth, and choking in the throte.” A decoction of this plant,
mixed with other ingredients, is the Lisbon diet-drink, a well-known
alterative.----The Russian ladies are reputed to rub their cheeks
with the fruit of the Mezereon, in order, by the slight irritation,
to heighten their colour.----The Spurge Laurel (_Daphne Laureola_)
possess similar properties to the Mezereon. It is called _Ty-ved_ in
Denmark, and is sacred to Tyr, the Scandinavian god of war. It is the
badge of the Highland Grahams.----The Flax-leaved Daphne, called by
Gerarde the Mountain Widow-Wayle, is supposed to be the herb Casia,
mentioned by Virgil and other Roman writers; the _Cneoron_ of the

=DATE.=--The Date Palm (_Phœnix dactylifera_) is the Palm of the Oases,
and supplies not only food for man and beast, but a variety of useful
commodities. This Palm has plume-like leaves, and grows from sixty to
eighty feet high, living to a great age, and providing yearly a large
crop of fruit. The male and female flowers are borne on separate trees,
and it is remarkable that there is a difference in the fructification
of the wild Date and the cultivated, though both are the same species.
The wild Dates impregnate themselves, but the cultivated trees do
not, without the assistance of art. Pontanus, an Italian poet of the
fifteenth century, gives a glowing description of a female Date-tree
which had stood lonely and barren, near Otranto, until at length a
favouring wind wafted towards it the pollen of a male that grew at a
distance of fifteen leagues. Father Labat has told of a Date-tree that
grew in the island of Martinico, and produced fruit which was much
esteemed; but when an increase of the number of Date-trees was wanted,
not one could be reared from the seed, and they had to send to Africa
for Dates, the stones of which grew readily and produced abundantly.
The Date Palm is so abundant in the country between the States of
Barbary and the desert (which produces no other kind of tree), that
this region is designated as the Land of Dates (_Biledulgerid_).----The
Palm of Palestine is the Date Palm. When the sacred writers wished to
describe the majesty and beauty of rectitude, they appealed to the
Palm as the fittest emblem which they could select. “He shall grow up
and flourish like the Palm-tree” is the promise of David to the just.
Mahomet, like the Psalmist of Israel, was wont to compare the virtuous
and generous man to the Date-tree:--“He stands erect before his Lord;
in every action he follows the impulse received from above; and his
whole life is devoted to the welfare of his fellow-creatures.”----The
inhabitants of Medina, who possess the most extensive plantations of
Date-trees, say that their prophet caused a tree at once to spring
from the kernel at his command, and to stand before his admiring
followers in mature fruitfulness and beauty.----The Tamanaquas of South
America have a tradition that the human race sprang again from the
fruits of the Date Palm after the Mexican age of water.----The Arabs
say that when Adam was driven out of Paradise, the Date, the chief of
all fruits, was one of the three things which he took with him; the
other two being the Myrtle and an ear of Wheat.----A popular legend
concerning the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, narrates how a
Date Palm, at the command of the child Jesus, bowed down its branches
to shade and refresh His mother. Sozomenos relates that, when the Holy
Family reached the end of their journey, and approached the city of
Heliopolis, in Egypt, a tree which grew before the gates of the city,
and was regarded with great veneration as the seat of a god, bowed
down its branches at the approach of the infant Christ.----Judæa was
typified by the Date Palm upon the coins of Vespasian and Titus. With
the Jews, the Date Palm has always been the symbol of triumph, and they
carry branches of it in their right hands, in their synagogues, at the
Feast of the Tabernacles, in commemoration of their forefathers having
gained possession of the Promised Land. In the Christian Church, the
remembrance of the Saviour’s ride into Jerusalem amid the hosannas of
the people, is associated with the waving of the branches of the Date
Palm by the joyous multitude.----An ardent spirit, distilled from Dates
and water, is much used by Mahommedans, as it does not come within
the prohibition of the Koran against wine. Palm wine is also made
from the Date; it is the sap or juice of the tree, and can only be
obtained by its destruction.----A curious folk-lore tale of the Chinese
records how Wang Chih, a patriarch of the Taouist sect, when one day
gathering fire-wood in the mountains of Ku Chow, entered a grotto where
some old men were playing at chess. One of the old men handed him a
Date-stone, telling him to put it into his mouth. This done, he ceased
to feel hunger or thirst. By-and-bye, one of the players said: “It is
long since you came here--return at once.” Wang Chih went to take up
his axe, and found the handle had mouldered into dust. He went home,
but found that centuries had elapsed since the day he set out to cut
wood: thereupon he retired to a mountain cell, and devoting himself to
religious exercises, finally attained immortality.

=DEAD TONGUE.=--The Water Hemlock (_Œnanthe crocata_) has received the
name of Dead Tongue from its paralysing effects on the organs of voice.
Threlkeld tells of eight lads who had eaten it, and of whom “five died
before morning, not one of them having spoken a word.” Gerarde relates,
that this plant having by mistake been eaten in a salad, “it did well
nigh poyson those that ate of it, making them giddie in their heads,
waxing very pale, staggering, and reeling like drunken men.”----The
plant is described as “one of Saturn’s nosegays.”


=DEODAR.=--The sacred Indian Cedar (_Cedrus Deodara_) forms vast
forests in the mountains of Northern India, where it grows to a height
varying from fifty to a hundred feet and upwards. It is the _Devadâru_,
or tree-god of the _Shastras_, which, in many of the ancient hymns
of the Hindus, is the symbol of power and majesty. The tree is often
mentioned by the Indian poets. It was introduced into this country in

=DHAK.=--The Dhak, or Bastard Teak (_Butea frondosa_), is one of the
sacred trees of India, and one of the most striking of the Indian
arboreous _Leguminosæ_. Both its wood and leaves are highly reverenced,
and used in religious ceremonies. The natives, also, are fond of
offering the beautiful scarlet flowers in their temples, and the
females intertwine the blossoms in their hair.----The flowers yield a
superb dye.

=DILL.=--The aromatic plant Dill (_Anethum graveolens_) is by some
supposed to have derived its name from the old Norse word _dilla_,
dull; the seeds being used as a carminative to cause infants to
sleep. Boiled in wine, and drunk, the plant was reputed to excite
the passions. Dill was formerly highly appreciated as a plant that
counteracted the powers of witches and sorcerers:--

    “The Vervain and the Dill,
  That hindereth witches of their will.”

Astrologers assign Dill to the domination of Mercury.

=DITTANY.=--The ancients consecrated the Dittany of Crete (_Origanum
Dictamnus_) to the goddess Lucina, who presided over the birth of
children; and she was often represented wearing a crown of this
Dittany. The root was particularly recommended by the oracle of
Phthas. The Grecian and Roman women attributed to this plant the most
extraordinary properties during childbirth, which, it was believed
greatly to facilitate. It is reported, says Gerarde, “that the wilde
goats or deere in Candy, when they be wounded with arrowes, do shake
them out by eating of this plant, and heal their wounds.” According to
Virgil, Venus healed the wounded Æneas with Dittany. Plutarch says that
the women of Crete, seeing how the goats, by eating Dittany, cause the
arrows to fall from their wounds, learnt to make use of the plant to
aid them in childbirth. Gerarde recounts that the plant is most useful
in drawing forth splinters of wood, bones, &c., and in the healing of
wounds, “especially those made with invenomed weapons, arrowes shot out
of guns, or such like.” The juice, he says, is so powerful, that by its
mere smell it “drives away venomous beasts, and doth astonish them.”
When mixed with wine, the juice was also considered a remedy for the
bites of serpents. According to Apuleius, however, the plant possessed
the property of killing serpents.

The Dittany of Crete, it should be noted, is not to be confounded
with the Dittany, Dittander, or Pepper-wort of the English Herbals.
This plant, the _Lepidium latifolium_, from its being used by thrifty
housewives to season dishes with, obtained the name of Poor Man’s
Pepper. It was held to be under Mars.

=DOCK.=--In Cornwall, as a charm, the leaves of the common Dock, wetted
with spring water, are applied to burns, and three angels are invoked
to come out of the East. It is a common practice, in many parts of
England, for anyone suffering from the stings of a Nettle to apply a
cold Dock-leaf to the inflamed spot, the following well-known rhyme
being thrice repeated:--

  “Out Nettle, in Dock:
  Dock shall have a new smock.”

Docks are said by astrologers to be under the dominion of Jupiter.

=DRACÆNA.=--The Dracæna, or Dragon-tree (_Dracæna Draco_), derives its
name from the Greek _Drakaina_, a female dragon. This tree is found in
the East India Islands, the Canaries, Cape Verde, and Sierra Leone.
Gerarde thus describes it:--“This strange and admirable tree groweth
very great, resembling the Pine-tree.” Among its leaves “come forth
little mossie floures, of small moment, and turn into berries of the
bignesse of Cherries, of a yellowish colour, round, light, and bitter,
covered with a threefold skin, or film, wherein is to be seen, as
Monardus and divers others report, the form of a dragon, having a long
neck and gaping mouth, the ridge, or back, armed with sharp prickles
like the porcupine, with a long taile and foure feet, very easie to be
discerned.... The trunk, or body of the tree, is covered with a tough
bark, very thin and easie to be opened or wounded with any small toole
or instrument; which being so wounded in the dog days, bruised or
bored, yields forth drops of a thick red liquor of the name of the tree
called Dragon’s Tears, or _Sanguis Draconis_, Dragon’s Bloud.”----This
Dragon’s Blood, or Gum Dragon, is well known in medicine as an
astringent.----The tooth-brushes called Dragon’s-root, are made from
the root of the Dragon-tree, cut into pieces about four inches long,
each of which is beaten at one end with a wooden mallet to split it
into fibres.----The venerable Dragon-tree of Orotava was for many
centuries worshipped as a most sacred tree by the Guanches, or original
inhabitants of the Canary Islands. It was considered the twin wonder of
the Island of Teneriffe, dividing its interest with the mighty Peak.
Humboldt saw it in 1799, when it was considered the oldest and largest
of living trees (the giant trees of California being then unknown).
The great traveller writes concerning it:--“Its trunk is divided into
a great number of branches, which rise in the form of candelabra, and
are terminated by tufts of leaves like the Yucca: it still bears every
year both leaves and fruit: its aspect feelingly recalls to mind that
‘eternal youth of Nature,’ which is an inexhaustible source of motion
and of life.” Since then this sacred tree has been entirely shattered
and destroyed by successive storms.

DREAM PLANT.--See Pulsatilla.

=DRYAS.=--The pretty evergreen, Dryas, which blooms on the mountain
summits, was so named by Linnæus after the Dryades, or nymphs of the
Oaks,--the leaves bearing some resemblance to those of the Oak.

=DURIAN.=--The Durian (_Durio Zibethinus_) is a native of the East
Indies. The fruit of this tree, which is about the size of a man’s
head, is regarded by the Malays as the king of fruit, and is reputed
to be the most delicious of all the fruits of India. The custard-like
pulp in which the large seeds are imbedded, is the part eaten fresh,
and resembles cream; yet it is accompanied by such an intolerable
stench that, according to Rumphius and Valentyn, it is by law forbidden
to throw them out near any public path in Amboyna. The smell is said
to resemble certain putrid animal substances, yet all agree that if
the first repugnance is once overcome, the fruit is most enjoyable.
This fruit is employed as a bait to catch the civet cat; the outer
covering is boiled down, and used as a wash for the skin. The seeds are
converted into flour, and also used as vegetable ivory.

=DURVA.=--According to Wilson, Durva is the Sanscrit name of the
_Agrostis linearis_, but Carey applies the name to _Panicum Dactylon_.
This species of Millet, like the sacred Kusa grass, is held in much
reverence by the Hindus. In De Gubernatis’ _Mythologie des Plantes_,
the author states that in the _Atharvaveda_, they implore the Durva,
which grows in the water (_i.e._, in marshy places), and which has a
hundred roots and a hundred stems, to give absolution for a hundred
faults, and to prolong for a hundred years the life of him who invokes
it. The fact that this herb is the tenderest, the freshest, and the
most substantial food for cattle, added to its beauty, has gained
it respect; but the Indians think, besides, that a nymph is hidden
in the plant. When they celebrate, in India, the festival of the
god Indra, on the 14th day of the lunar month Bhadra, they sing and
dance, and offer fourteen different kinds of fruit to the god. In that
ceremony, the devotees wear, attached to the right arm, leaves of the
Durva. At Indian weddings, the women bind together the right arm of
the husband and the left arm of his bride with the leaves of Durva.
In the Vedic age (and the custom still exists in certain parts of
India), before building a house, it was customary to place on the four
corner foundation stones some Durva. This plant figures, also, among
the eight ingredients which compose the _Arghya_, that is to say, the
symbolic offering of Indian hospitality. According to a stanza of the
_Panchatantra_, the Durva sprang from the hair of the cow, as the blue
Lotus arose from the cow’s evacuations. The leaf of the Durva is so
highly esteemed, that it has passed into a proverb or familiar saying.
This leaf is especially attractive to gazelles. The preceding stanza
proclaims how happy are those gazelles who eat the herb Durva, for they
will never gaze on the face of a man whom riches have made false.

=EBONY.=--The _Diospyros Ebenaster_ is generally considered to be the
true Ebony-tree. This Date-Plum is a native of Ceylon, Cochin China,
and the East Indies. Bishop Heber describes the Ebony-tree of Ceylon as
a magnificent forest tree, with a tall, black, slender stem, spotted
with white. Some judges, however, consider that the real Ebony-tree
is the _Diospyrus Ebenus_, a native of Jamaica.----In ancient times it
was much more in use and esteem. Pluto, the sovereign of the infernal
regions, is represented as seated on a throne of Ebony; the statues of
the Egyptian gods were wrought in Ebony. According to Pausanias, the
statue of the Pythian Apollo was formed of this wood; and that writer
recounts that a Cyprian, well versed in plant lore, had told him that
the true and veritable Ebony was a plant that produced neither leaf,
flower, nor fruit; and, moreover, that it grew entirely underground in
certain places known to the Æthiopians, who periodically visited those
spots, and took away the wood.----Pulverised Ebony, mixed with the
charcoal of a burnt snail, is recommended by Sidrach as an application
to lessen the white of the eye.----There is an old saying, that a bad
man’s heart is as black as Ebony. This, probably, originated from the
fact, that while the alburnum of the Ebony-tree is white, its foliage
soft and silvery, and its flowers brilliant, the heart alone is really
black.----Among the many wonders described by Sir John Maundevile, as
having been seen by him when on his Eastern travels, in the fourteenth
century, was a certain table of Ebony, or black wood, “that once used
to turn into flesh on certain occasions, but whence now drips only oil,
which, if kept above a year, becomes good flesh and bone.”

=EDELWEISS.=--The Edelweiss, or Alpine Cudweed (_Leontopodium Alpinum_
or _Gnaphalium_), grows on the Swiss mountains on the line of perpetual
snow, and from thence is brought down by travellers as a proof that
they reached this altitude. As in many cantons it only grows in nearly
inaccessible places, it is considered an act of daring to gather it,
and the flower is therefore much valued by the Swiss maidens as a proof
of the devotion of their lovers. Although hardy, this plant is delicate
and fragile, enveloping itself in soft down, and only blooming on
rocks exposed in full midday. Its bloom is surrounded by white velvety
leaves; even the stem has a down upon it.----With the exception of
the _Alpenrose_, no other mountain flower is so characteristic of the
Alpine districts, so dear to the native heart, so celebrated by Alpine
poets, or so popular among Swiss tourists. Indeed, its very popularity
has threatened to lead to its extinction in the districts most
frequented by visitors; and to prevent this, the German and Tyrolese
Alpine Clubs have imposed fines for plucking the Edelweiss, and the
Austrian Alpine Club has forbidden its members to continue the custom
of wearing a sprig of Edelweiss in their hats.----The worst persecutors
of the plant are the picturesque Bergano herdsmen and herdboys, who
come up from the Italian side of the Alps at the beginning of the
season, and remain on the mountains with their flocks until the snow
begins to fall. They pluck up the Edelweiss mercilessly by the roots,
which they endeavour to dispose of to passing travellers. The Communes
of the Upper Engadine have taken the plant under their protection,
and sellers of the plant in its living condition are subject to a
fine. The Edelweiss, however, is plentiful still in tracts a little
out of the orthodox tourists’ routes, and at Pontresina grows in such
profusion as to be used as food for cattle. The Edelweiss is also known
by the name of the _Cotonnier_, and is sometimes called Lion’s-foot,
because of the resemblance of its woolly hairy flower to the foot of a

=EGG PLANT.=--The _Solanum Melongena_ has derived the name of Egg
Plant from the shape of its fruit, which is formed like a hen’s egg,
and varies in colour from white to pale yellow, pale red, and purple.
In the East Indies, they broil this fruit, and eat it with pepper and
salt, and the fruit is also relished in Batavia, Greece, Barbary, and
Turkey. The inhabitants of the British isles in the West Indies call it
Brown-John or Brown-jolly. Miller calls the plant the larger-fruited
Nightshade, and says that in his time it was cultivated in the
gardens of Spain by the title of _Barenkeena_. The Italians call it
_Melanzana_, a corruption of the plant’s ancient Latin name of _Mala
insana_, from whence also came its old English name of Raging Apple or
Mad Apple. There does not appear to be any reason for these strange
names, although Gerarde cautiously remarks that “doubtless these
Apples have a mischievous qualitie, the use whereof is utterly to bee

=EGLANTINE.=--The Sweet Briar (_Rosa rubiginosa_) is generally
understood to be the Eglantine of old English poets, although the name
has given rise to much discussion, both as to its meaning, and as to
the shrub to which it applies. Chaucer and more ancient poets spelt the
word “Eglatere.”

  “The hegge also, that yede in compas,
  And closed in all the greene herbere,
  With Sicamour was set and Eglatere.”

But it seems doubtful whether by Eglatere was meant the Yellow Rose
(_Eglanteria_), the Sweetbriar, the Dog Rose, or some other species.
According to Gerarde, it was a shrub with a white flower. Shakspeare,
Spenser, Shenstone, Sir W. Scott, Keats, and other poets identify
Eglantine with Sweetbriar; but Milton mistook it for the Honeysuckle or
Woodbine, for he speaks of

  “Sweetbriar or the Vine,
  Or the twisted Eglantine.”

According to a superstition current in Schleswig, when Satan fell
from heaven, he endeavoured, in order to reascend to the celestial
regions, to make himself a ladder with the thorns of the Eglantine.
God, however, would not permit the Eglantine to grow upwards, but only
to extend itself as a bush. Then, out of spite, Satan turned its thorns
downwards, pointing towards the earth.----Another legend records that
Judas Iscariot hung himself on the Eglantine, and that since then it
has been an accursed tree: hence to this day its berries are called
_Judas beeren_ (Judas berries).----The five graceful fringed leaflets,
which form the special beauty of the Eglantine flower and bud, have
given rise to the following rhymed riddle:--

  “Of us five brothers at the same time born,
  Two from our birthday ever beards have worn;
  On other two none ever have appeared,
  While the fifth brother wears but half a beard.”

=ELDER.=--The Elder or Ellan-tree (_Sambucus_), in Scandinavian
mythology, was consecrated to Hulda, the goddess of love, and to
Thor, the god of Thunder, and is connected with many ancient Northern

The Danes believe that in the Elder there dwells a being known as
the Hylde-moer (Elder-mother) or Hylde-qvinde (Elder-woman), by whom
all injuries done to the Elder are avenged. In a small court in the
Nybonder, a district of Copenhagen, there stands a weird tree, which at
dusk is reputed to move up and down the passage, and sometimes to peep
through the windows at the children. It is not deemed advisable to have
furniture made of Elder-wood. Tradition says that a child having been
laid in a cradle made of Elder-wood, the Hylde-moer came and pulled it
by the legs, nor would she let it have any rest until it was taken out
of the cradle. A peasant once heard his children crying in the night,
and on inquiring the cause, was told that some one had been there and
sucked them; and their breasts were found to be swollen. This annoyance
was believed to have arisen, from the fact that the room was boarded
with Elder. The Elder branches may not be cut until permission has
been asked in the words, “Hylde-moer, Hylde-moer, allow me to cut thy
branches.” Then, if no objection be made by the spirit of the tree, the
hewer proceeds, taking care first to spit three times, as a precaution
against molestation. In Denmark, it is believed that he who stands
under an Elder-bush at twelve o’clock on Midsummer Eve, will see Toly,
the king of the elves, go by with all his train. Perhaps on account
of the supernatural halo surrounding it, the Elder was regarded as a
cure for various diseases. A Danish formula prescribes the taking of an
Elder-twig by a person afflicted with toothache, who must first put it
in his mouth, and then stick it in the wall, saying, “Depart thou evil
spirit.” Ague may be cured by taking a twig of Elder, and sticking it
in the ground, without speaking a word; the disease will then pass into
the twig, and attach itself to the first person who approaches the spot.

In Russia, there is a belief that Elder-trees drive away bad and
malignant spirits, out of compassion to humanity, and that they promote
long life.

In Sweden, women about to become mothers kiss the Elder; and it is
thought that no one can damage the tree with impunity.

In Germany, the Elder is regarded with great respect. From its leaves
a febrifuge is made: from its berries a sort of sour preserve, and a
wonder-working electuary; the moon-shaped clusters of flowers are
narcotic, and are used in baking small cakes. The smell of the leaves
and blossoms has the reputation of causing giddiness, whence arises the
saying that “he who goes to sleep under an Elder-tree will never wake.”
The cross which is affixed to the rod on which the Easter Palms are
fastened is made of Elder-wood, as well as the cross which is carried
before the coffin in the funeral procession. Although essentially a
tree of shade and of death, yet it and the funeral cross just mentioned
are known by the name of “Livelong.” It is a favourite hiding-place for
children when playing at “hide-and-seek.” The pith of the branches,
when cut in round flat shapes, is dipped in oil, lighted, and then put
to float in a glass of water; its light on Christmas Eve is thought to
reveal to the owner all the witches and sorcerers in the neighbourhood.
Since this tree drives away spirits, it is often planted by the side
of manure sheds, keeping them damp by its shade, and also protecting
from evil influences the cattle in the adjoining shed. It is commonly
believed that he who injures an Elder-tree will suffer from its
vengeance. “Holderstock” (Elderstock) is a name of endearment given by
a lover to his beloved, and is derived from Hulda, the old goddess of

In Lower Saxony, it was customary to ask permission of the Elder-tree
before cutting it, in the words, “Lady Elder, give me some of thy wood;
then will I also give thee some of mine when it grows in the forest.”
This was repeated three times, with folded hands and bended knees.
Pusch Kait, the ancient Prussian god of the earth, was supposed to live
under the Elder-tree.

In the Tyrol, an Elder-bush, trimmed into the form of a cross, is often
planted on the new-made grave; and if it blooms, it is a sign that
the soul of the dead person is in Paradise. The Tyroleans have such a
regard for the tree, that, in passing it, they always raise their hat.

In Bohemia, three spoonfuls of the water which has been used to bathe
an invalid are poured under an Elder, with “Elder, God sends me to
thee, that thou may’st take my fever upon thee.” This must be repeated
on three successive days, and if the patient has not meanwhile passed
over water, he will recover.----The Serbs introduce a stick of Elder,
to ensure good luck, during their wedding festivities.

In Savoy, branches of Elder are carried about on May-day. In Sicily, it
is thought a bough of Elder will kill serpents, and drive away robbers
better than any other stick. In Labruguière, France, if an animal is
ill, or has a wound infested by vermin, they lead it to the foot of an
Elder-tree, and twirling a bough in their hands, they bow to the tree,
and address it as follows:--“Good-day, Mons. Yèble; if you do not drive
away the vermin, I shall be compelled to cut both your limbs and your
trunk.” This ceremony performed, a certain cure is confidently looked
for. In the country districts round Valenciennes, if an Elder-bough is
hung outside the door, it is indicative of a coquette inhabiting the

In England, the Elder has been regarded with superstition from very
early times, and is looked upon as a tree of bad omen. Branches of
Elder were formerly considered to be typical of disgrace and woe. In
the _Canones editi sub Edgaro Rege_ it is enacted that every priest
forbid the vain practices that are carried on with Elder-sticks, and
also with various other trees.

In Gloucestershire, and some other counties, the peasantry will on
no account burn Elder or Ellan-wood, the reason being, that it was
supposed to be one of the trees from which the wood of the Cross was
formed. In a rare tract on Gloucestershire superstitions, a figure
is given of an Elder-wood cross borne constantly about the person
as a cure for rheumatism. This cross consisted of a small piece cut
from a young shoot just above and below a joint, so as to leave the
bud projecting at each end of it, after the fashion of a rude cross.
To be efficient, the Elder must have grown in consecrated ground. In
Tortworth and other Gloucestershire churchyards are to be found such
trees, and applications for pieces of them are still made.

In Sussex, an Elder-stick, with three, four, or more knots upon it, is
carried in the pocket as a charm against rheumatism.

In the Eastern counties, the Elder is popularly considered to be the
tree of whose wood the Cross was made: it is therefore an unlucky tree,
and one that should never be bound up in faggots. On this account,
also, the Elder is considered safe from the effects of lightning. In
some parts there is a vulgar prejudice that if boys be beaten with an
Elder-stick, their growth is sure to be checked.

In Huntingdonshire, there exists the Danish belief in a being called
the Elder-mother, so that it is not always safe to pluck the flowers.
No household furniture should be made of Elder-wood, least of all a
cradle, for some evil will certainly befall the child sleeping in it.

The Elder-tree has been credited with possessing a peculiar fascination
for witches and elves, who love to lurk beneath the shadow of its
branches, and who are wont to bury their offspring at its foot. On the
other hand, the tree has been said to exercise a protective influence
against the attacks of witches and wizards, and similar evil-disposed
persons; and it has been suggested that this is the reason why the tree
is so often found in the neighbourhood of cottages. It was thought that
the tree was obnoxious to witches because their enemies use the green
juice of its inner bark for anointing the eyes. Any baptised person
whose eyes are touched with it can see what the witches are about in
any part of the world. It was possible by magic art to render witches
sensible of blows given to them with an Elder-stick, but this has to
be managed by someone versed in the habits of witches. A cross made of
the Elder, affixed to cow-houses and stables, was supposed to protect
cattle from all possible harm.

Shakspeare, in ‘Love’s Labour Lost,’ says “Judas was hanged on an
Elder,” and this belief was general among early writers, and is
constantly alluded to by authors of the Elizabethan period; but the
name Judas-tree was applied to the _Cercis siliquastrum_ (which is the
tree which still bears it), about the same period. Gerarde, indeed,
definitely tells us of the Cercis, “This is the tree whereon Judas did
hang himselfe, and not upon the Elder-tree, as is stated.” On the other
hand, that old Eastern traveller, Sir John Maundevile, tells us that
the very Elder-tree upon which Judas hanged himself was to be seen in
his day close to the Pool of Siloe; whilst the legend which connects
Judas with the Elder-tree is alluded to by Ben Jonson, and is thus
referred to in ‘Piers Plowman’:--

  “Judas, he japed
  With Jewen silver
  And sithen on an Eller
  Hanged hymselve.”

But not only is the ill-omened Elder credited with being connected with
the death of Judas, but there is a wide-spread belief that it was the
“accursed tree” on which the Redeemer’s life was given up; therefore,
although fuel may be scarce and these sticks plentiful, in some places
the superstitious poor will not burn them.----In Scotland, according
to a writer in the ‘Dublin Magazine,’ it is called the Bour-tree, and
the following rhyme is indicative of the belief entertained in that

  “Bour-tree, Bour-tree, crooked rung,
  Never straight and never strong,
  Ever bush and never tree,
  Since our Lord was nailed on thee.”

In Chambers’s ‘Book of Days’ is an instance of the belief that a
person is perfectly safe under the shelter of an Elder-tree during a
thunderstorm, as the lightning never strikes the tree of which the
Cross was made. Experience has taught that this is a fallacy, although
many curious exceptional instances are recorded. In Napier’s Folk-lore
of the Northern Counties we read of a peculiar custom:--the Elder is
planted in the form of a cross upon a newly-made grave, and if it
blooms they take it as a sure sign that the soul of the dead person is

It is not considered prudent to sleep under an Elder. Evelyn describes
the narcotic smell of the tree as very noxious to the air, and narrates
that a certain house in Spain, seated among Elder-trees, diseased and
killed almost all the inhabitants, “which, when at last they were
grubbed up, became a very wholesome and healthy place.” As regards
the medical virtues of the tree, Evelyn exclaims:--“If the medicinal
properties of the leaves, bark, berries, &c., were thoroughly known, I
cannot tell what our countryman could ail for which he might not fetch
a remedy from every hedge, either for sickness or wound.” And he goes
on to describe a variety of medicinal uses for the bark, buds, berries,
leaves, and flowers; summing up the virtues of the Elder with the
remark that “every part of the tree is useful, as may be seen at large
in Blockwitzius’s anatomie thereof.” In this work is the following
description of an amulet for the use of an epileptic subject, which
is to be made of the Elder growing on a Sallow:--“If in the month of
October, a little before the full moon, you pluck a twig of the Elder,
and cut the cane that is betwixt two of its knees, or knots, in nine
pieces, and these pieces, being bound in a piece of linen, be in a
thread so hung about the neck that they touch the spoon of the heart,
or the sword-formed cartilage; and, that they may stay more firmly in
that place, they are to be bound thereon with a linen or leather roller
wrapt about the body, till the thread break of itself. The thread being
broken, and the roller removed, the amulet is not at all to be touched
with bare hands, but it ought to be taken hold on by some instrument,
and buried in a place that nobody may touch it.”

One mode of charming warts away is to take an Elder-shoot, and rub it
on the part, then cut as many notches on the twig as you have warts,
bury it in a place where it will soon decay, and as it rots away the
warts will disappear. Another plan is to obtain a green Elder-stick,
and rub the warts well with it, after which bury the stick to rot away
in muck.

The black berries of the Elder are full of a deep violet-coloured
juice, which, according to Virgil, the god Pan had his face smeared
with, in compliance with the old Roman custom of painting their gods on
solemn occasions.

To dream of Elder-berries denotes sickness. The tree is under the
dominion of Venus.

=ELECAMPANE.=--Of the Elecampane (_Inula Helenium_), Rapin writes:--

  “Elecampane, the beauteous Helen’s flower,
  Mingles among the rest her silver store;
  Helen, whose charms could royal breasts inspire
  With such fierce flames as set the world on fire.”

When Paris carried off the celebrated Helen, the lovely wife of
Menelaus was said to have had in her hand a nosegay of the bright
yellow flowers of the Elecampane, which was thenceforth named Helenium,
in her honour. The Romans employed the roots of Elecampane as an edible
vegetable; the monks, who knew it as _Inula campana_, considered it
capable of restoring health to the heart; and the herbalists deemed
it marvellously good for many disorders, and admirable as a pectoral
medicine. Elecampane lozenges have long been popular. Turner, in his
‘Brittish Physician,’ calls the _Inula campana_, the Sun-flower, and
says that the root chewed fastens loose teeth, and preserves them from
rotting, and that the distilled water of the green leaves makes the
face fair. From its broad leaves, the Elecampane is sometimes called
the Elf-dock.----It is held to be under Mercury.

=ELICHRYSUM.=--This species of everlasting flower derived its name,
according to Themistagoras, from the nymph Elichrysa, who having
adorned the goddess Diana with its blossoms, the plant was called after
her, Elichryson. Its old English name was Golden Flower, or Golden
Moth-wort, and Gerarde tells us that the blossoms, if cut before they
are quite ripe, will remain beautiful a long time after. “For which
cause of long lasting the images and carved gods were wont to weare
garlands thereof: whereupon some have called it ‘God’s floure.’ For
which purpose Ptolemy, King of Ægypt, did most diligently observe them,
as Pliny writeth.”

=ELM.=--The ancients had a tradition that, at the first sound of the
plaintive strains which proceeded from the lyre of Orpheus, when he was
lamenting the death of Eurydice, there sprang up a forest of Elms; and
it was beneath an Elm that the Thracian bard sought repose after his
unavailing expedition to the infernal regions to recover his lost love.
Rapin thus tells the tale:--

      “When wretched Orpheus left the Stygian coast,
  Now hopeless since again his spouse was lost,
  Beneath the preferable shade he sate
  Of a tall Elm, and mourned his cruel fate:
  Where Rhodope rears high her steepy brow,
  While Heber’s gentle current strays below.
  On his sweet lyre the skilful artist played,
  Whose all-commanding strings the woods obeyed;
  And crowding round him formed a hasty shade.
  There Cypress, Ilex, Willows, Planes unite,
  And th’ Elm, ambitious of a greater height,
  Presents before his view a married Vine,
  Which round her husband, Elm, did circling twine,
  And warned him to indulge a second flame;
  But he neglects th’ advice, and slights the dame:
  By fatal coldness still condemned to prove
  A victim to the rage of female love.”

The “wedding of the Elm to the Vine,” alluded to in the above lines,
was a very favourite topic among the old Roman poets; Virgil, indeed,
selects the junction of the Elm and the Vine as the subject of one
whole book of his ‘Georgics.’ The ancients twined their Vines round
the trunks of the Elm; and the owner of a Vineyard tended his Elms
as carefully as his Vines.----When Achilles killed the father of
Andromache, he erected in his honour a tomb, around which nymphs came
and planted Elms.----Perhaps on account of its longevity, or because
it produces no fruit, the Greeks and Romans considered the Elm a
funereal tree: in our own times, it is connected with burials, inasmuch
as coffins are generally made of its wood.----The ancients called
the Elm, the tree of Oneiros, or of Morpheus, the god of sleep. As a
widespreading shady tree, it is selected by Virgil (Æn. vi.) as the
roosting-place of dreams in gloomy Orcus:--

  “Full in the midst a spreading Elm displayed
  His aged arms, and cast a mighty shade;
  Each trembling leaf with some light visions teems,
  And heaves impregnated with airy dreams.”

It was in connection with the title of Tree of Dreams (_Ulmus
Somnorum_), that the Elm became, like the Oak, a prophetic tree.----On
the Continent, an Elm is often found on the village-green, beneath
whose boughs justice used formerly to be administered, and meetings
held: there was one at Gisors, on the frontier of Normandy, where the
kings of France and Dukes of Normandy used to hold conference together,
and which was large enough to shelter both their trains; this tree
was upwards of two hundred years old when cut down by order of King
Philippe Auguste, out of hatred to our Plantagenet kings. One of the
oldest Elms in England is a stump at Richmond, now fenced in, and
covered with Ivy, which was planted by Queen Elizabeth herself, and has
on that account always been known as the Queen’s Elm.----Formerly the
leafing of the Elm was made to regulate both field and garden work, as
seen in the following rustic rhyme:--

  “When the Elmen leaf is as big as a mouse’s ear,
  Then to sow Barley never fear.
  When the Elmen leaf is as big as an ox’s eye,
  Then say I, ‘Hie, boys, hie!’”

In olden times, the falling of the leaves of an Elm was thought to
prognosticate a murrain. In Sicily, they have a custom of binding the
trunk of a Fig-tree with branches of Elm, from a belief that they would
prevent the young Figs from falling before they became thoroughly
ripe.----The Elm is held to be under the influence of Saturn.----“The
Seven Sisters” was the name bestowed on seven Elm-trees at Tottenham,
which gave the name to the road from thence to Upper Holloway. In
Bedwell’s History of Tottenham, written in the year 1631, he describes
Page Green by the side of the high road at that village, and a group
of Elms in a circle, with a Walnut in the centre. He says: “This tree
hath this many yeares stod there, and it is observed yearely to live
and beare leavs, and yet to stand at a stay, that is, to growe neither
greater or higher. This people do commonly tell the reason to bee, for
that there was one burnt upon that place for the profession of the
Gospell.” There was also a connecting link between the Walnut-tree and
the Seven Sisters, by which it was surrounded. There were seven Elms
planted by seven sisters respectively. The tree planted by the smallest
of the sisters was always irregular and stunted in growth. There was an
eighth sister who planted an Elm in the midst of the other seven, and
the legend relates that it withered and died when she died, and that
then a Walnut-tree grew in its place. The Walnut-tree has long since
gone, and probably the Elms have now disappeared.

=ENCHANTER’S NIGHTSHADE.=--Formerly the _Atropa Mandragora_ used to
bear this name, but by some mistake it has been transferred to the
_Circæa Lutetiana_, an insignificant plant named after Circe, the
famed enchantress, probably because its fruit, being covered with
hooked prickles, lays hold of the unwary passers-by, as Circe is said
to have done by means of her enchantments. The Mandrake was called
“Nightshade,” from having been classed with the _Solanum_ tribe, and
“Enchanter’s” from its Latin name Circæa, a name which it obtained,
according to Dioscorides, because Circe, who was expert in herbal lore,
used it as a tempting powder in amorous concerns.

=ENDIVE.=--The Endive or Succory (_Cichorium_) is, according to the
oldest Greek Alexandrian translations of the Bible, one of the “bitter
herbs” which the Almighty commanded the Israelites to eat with the lamb
at the institution of the Feast of the Passover. The garden Endive
(_C. Endivia_) is probably the plant celebrated by Horace as forming a
part of his simple diet: its leaves are used in salads, and its root,
under the name of Chicory, is extensively used to mingle with Coffee.
Immense quantities of Endive were used by the ancient Egyptians, who
called it _Chicouryeh_, and from this word is derived the generic name
_Cichorium_.----The wild Succory (_C. Intybus_) opens its petals at 8
a.m., and closes them at 4 p.m.

  “On upland slopes the shepherds mark
  The hour when, to the dial true,
  _Cichorium_ to the towering lark
  Lifts her soft eye, serenely blue.”

The Germans say that once upon a time the Endives were men under a
ban. The blue flowers, which are plentiful, were good men; the white
flowers, much rarer, were evil-doers.----The blue star-like blossom
is a most popular flower in Germany: it is the _Wegewarte_--the
watcher of the roads; the _Wegeleuchte_, or lighter of the road;
the _Sonnenwende_, or Solstice; the _Sonnenkraut_, or herb of the
sun; and the _Verfluchte Jungfer_, or accursed maiden. An ancient
ballad of Austrian Silesia recounts the history of a young girl who
for seven years mourned for her lover, fallen in the wars. When her
friends wished to console her, and to procure for her another lover,
she replied: “I shall cease to weep only when I become a wild flower
by the wayside.”----Another version of the German legend is that a
loving maiden anxiously expected the return of her betrothed from
a voyage upon which he had long since set out. Every morning she
paced the road where she had last bade adieu to him; every evening
she returned. Thus she wearily passed her time during many a long
month. At last, utterly worn out with watching and waiting, she sank
exhausted by the wayside, and, broken-hearted, expired. On the spot
where she breathed her last sigh sprang up a little pale flower which
was the _Wegewarte_, the watcher of the road.----In Bavaria, the same
legend is met with, differing only in details. A young and beautiful
princess was abandoned by her husband, a young prince of extraordinary
beauty. Grief exhausted her strength, and finding herself on the
point of death, she exclaimed: “Ah, how willingly would I die if I
could only be sure of seeing my loved one, wherever I may be. Her
ladies-in-waiting, hearing her desire, solemnly added: “And we also
would willingly die if only we were assured that he would always see us
on every roadside.” The merciful God heard from heaven their heart-felt
desires, and granted them. “Happily,” said He, “your wishes can be
fulfilled; I will change you into flowers. You, Princess, you shall
remain with your white mantle on every road traversed by your husband;
you, young women, shall remain by the roadside, habited in blue, so
that the prince must see you everywhere.” Hence the Germans call the
wild Succory, _Wegewarten_.----Gerarde tells us that Placentinus and
Crescentius termed the Endive, _Sponsa solis_, Spouse of the Sun (a
name applied by Porta to the Heliotrope), and we find in De Gubernatis’
_Mythologie des Plantes_, the following passage:--“Professor Mannhardt
quotes the charming Roumanian ballad, in which is recounted how the
Sun asked in marriage a beautiful woman known as _Domna Florilor_,
or the Lady of the Flowers; she refused him, whereupon the Sun, in
revenge, transformed her into the Endive, condemned for ever to gaze
on the Sun as soon as he appears on the horizon, and to close her
petals in sadness as the luminary disappears. The name of _Domna
Florilor_, a kind of Flora, given by the Roumanians to the woman loved
by the Sun, reminds us somewhat of the name of Fioraliso, given in
Italy to the Cornflower, and which I supposed to have represented the
Sun. The Roumanian legend has, without doubt, been derived from an
Italian source, in its turn a development of a Grecian myth--to wit,
the amour of the Sun, Phœbus, with the lovely nymph Clytie.” (See
HELIOTROPE).----There is a Silesian fairy tale which has reference
to the Endive:--The magician Batu had a daughter named Czekanka, who
loved the youthful Wrawanec; but a cruel rival slew the beloved one. In
despair, Czekanka sought her lover’s tomb, and killed herself beside
it. Whilst in her death throes, she was changed into the blue Succory,
and gave the flower its Silesian name _Czekanka_. Wrawanec’s murderer,
jealous of poor Czekanka, even after her death, threw on the plant a
swarm of ants, in the hope that the little insects might destroy the
Succory, but the ants, on the contrary, in their rage, set off in
pursuit of the murderer, and so vigorously attacked him, that he was
precipitated into a crevasse on the mountain Kotancz.----In Germany and
in Rome, where a variety of estimable qualities are ascribed to the
plant, they sell Endive-seed as a panacea, but especially as a love
philtre. They would not uproot it with the hand, but with a bit of
gold or a stag’s horn (which symbolise the disk and the rays of the
Sun), on one of the days of the Apostles (June 29th and July 25th).
A girl thus uprooting an Endive will be assured of the constancy of
her lover.----Endive, carried on the person, is supposed to enable a
lover to inspire the object of his affections with a belief that he
possesses all the good qualities she could wish for. Endive-root breaks
all bonds, removes thorns from the flesh, and even renders the owner
invisible.----The herb is held to be under the rule of Venus.

=ERAGROSTIS.=--Among the Hindus, the _Eragrostis cynosuroides_ is
considered a sacred Grass, and is employed by them for strewing the
floors of their temples. In England, it is known as Love Grass.

=ERYSIMUM.=--The Hedge Mustard, Bank Cress, or Jack-by-the-Hedge
(_Erysimum Barbarea_) is called by the French St. Barbara’s Hedge
Mustard and the Singer’s Plant (_herbe au chantre_), and up to the time
of Louis XIV. was considered an infallible remedy in cases of loss of
voice. Racine, writing to Boileau, recommended the syrup of Erysimum
to him when visiting the waters of Bourbonne, in order to be cured of
loss of voice. Boileau replied that he had heard the best accounts of
the Erysimum, and that he meant to use it the following summer.----The
plant is held to be under Mercury.

=ERYNGO.=--The Sea Eryngo (_Eryngium maritimum_) is, perhaps, better
known by the name of Sea Holly, which has been given it on account of
the striking resemblance of its foliage to the Holly. According to
Rapin, Eryngo possessed magical properties, inasmuch as, if worn by
young married women, it ensured the fidelity of their husbands. On this
account, Sappho employed it to secure the love of Phaon, the handsome
boatman of Mitylene, for whom the poetess had conceived so violent a
passion, that at length, mortified at his coldness, she threw herself
into the sea. Rapin says:--

  “Grecian Eryngoes now commence their fame,
  Which, worn by brides, will fix their husband’s flame,
  And check the conquests of a rival dame.
  Thus Sappho charmed her Phaon, and did prove
  (If there be truth in verse) his faith in love.”

Plutarch records that, if one goat took the herb Sea Holly into
her mouth, “it caused her first to stand still, and afterwards
the whole flock, until such time as the shepherd took it from her
mouth.” Eryngo-root was formerly much prized as a tonic, and in Queen
Elizabeth’s time, when prepared with sugar, was called Kissing Comfits.
Lord Bacon, recommending the yolks of eggs as very nourishing, when
taken with Malmsey or sweet wine, says: “You shall doe well to put in
some few slices of Eringium-roots, and a little Amber-grice, for by
this meanes, besides the immediate facultie of nourishment, such drinke
will strengthen the back.”

=EUGENIA.=--In Burmah, the _Eugenia_ is regarded as a sacred plant.
When a spray is cut, prayers and supplications for absent friends and
relatives are offered up before it, and twigs and leaves of it are
kept in consecrated water in almost every house, and occasionally the
different apartments are sprinkled with it as a protective against
ghosts, ogres, and evil spirits. The twigs of _Eugenia_ are sometimes
hung about the eaves, and in many cases a small plant is kept growing
in a pot in the house, so that its benign influence may keep harm
away.----In cases of cholera epidemic, the natives of the affected
district betake themselves to a Buddhist monastery, carrying presents
and a small pot partly filled with water, and containing leaves of a
species of _Eugenia_ (Tha-byay-bin), and some coarse yellow string
wound round a small stick. These pots are blessed by the Buddhist
abbot, and are then taken away by the people, who either hang up the
yellow string in little bags round the eaves of their houses, or else
wear it coiled round the left wrist. The pots of water and sprigs of
_Eugenia_ are kept in the house to guard it from infection.

=EUPATORIUM.=--Agrimony has derived its name of _Eupatorium_ from
Mithridates Eupator, King of Pontus, who was skilled in botany and
physic, and used this plant as an antidote against the poison with
which his enemies at court attempted to destroy him. _E. Ayapana_, a
native of Brazil, has long been famed for curing the bites of serpents,
and its leaves, when fresh bruised, are useful when applied to the face
of ulcers.----In Italy and Russia, magical properties are attributed to
this plant.

=EUPHORBIA.=--The Euphorbia or Medusa Head possesses the peculiar
property of blooming in warm water after apparent death. The milky
juice of _Euphorbia Canariensis_, and some other species of Spurge,
produces the drug Euphorbium. The juice of _E. heptagona_ furnishes the
Ethiopians with a deadly poison for their arrows. At Bodo, in India,
before the doorway of every house is cultivated a plant of the sacred
Sidj, a species of Euphorbia, which is looked upon both as the domestic
and national divinity, and to this plant the natives address their
prayers and offer up hogs as sacrifices.

=EVERLASTING FLOWERS.=--Writing of the _Gnaphalium Alpinum_, Gerarde
tells us that in his day English women called it “Live-long,” or
“Live-for-ever.” From hence has originated the name Everlasting,
applied to the genus _Gnaphalium_. The ancients crowned the images
of their gods with garlands made of these flowers, and from this
circumstance they were frequently called God’s flowers. In Spain and
Portugal, they are still used to decorate the altars and the images of
the saints. The French have named the Gnaphalium, _Immortelle_, and
employ it in the manufacture of the garlands and devices which they
place on their coffins and graves. Old writers call the plant Cudweed,
Cottonweed, Gold-flower, Goldilocks, Golden Stœchas, and Golden-flower
Gentle. One species has obtained the name of _Herba Impia_, because the
later flowers grow higher, and, as Gerarde says, “overtop those that
come first, as many wicked children do unto their parents.”

=EYEBRIGHT.=--The Eyebright or Euphrasy (_Euphrasia officinalis_)
was formerly called Euphrosyne, after one of the Graces. This name
became subsequently corrupted to Euphrasy. The plant was also known
as Ocularis and Ophthalmica, on account of its use in the treatment
of disorders of the eye. According to Coles, it obtained the name of
Eyebright from its being employed by the linnet to clear its sight;
other old authors also say that birds made use of it to repair their
vision. Arnoldus affirms that the plant restored sight to people who
had been blind a long while; and Gerarde says that, taken either alone
or in any other way, it preserves the sight, and, “being feeble and
lost, it restores the same: it is given most fitly being beaten into
pouder; oftentimes a like quantitie of Fennell-seed is added thereto,
and a little Mace, to the which is put so much sugar as the weight of
them all commeth to.” It was also believed to comfort the memory, and
assist a weak brain. Milton, Drayton, Shenstone, and other poets have
celebrated the powers of Euphrasy, and we find Spenser writing:--

  “Yet Euphrasie may not be left unsung,
  That gives dim eyes to wander leagues around.”

Astrologers state that the Eyebright is under the sign of the Lion, and
the Sun claims dominion over it.

=FAIR MAIDS.=--Fair Maids of February are Snowdrops, so called from
their delicate white blossoms opening about the second of that month,
when it was customary for maidens, dressed in white, to walk in
procession at the Feast of the Purification. Fair Maids of France are
double Crowfoots, or a particular variety, originally introduced from
France, viz., _Ranunculus aconitifolius_.

=FELDWODE.=--Medea, the enchantress, is said by Gower to have employed
a certain herb, Feldwode:--

  “Tho toke she Feldwode and Verveine,
  Of herbes ben nought better tweine.”

This herb is generally supposed to have been the yellow Gentian, or
Baldmoney, _Gentiana lutea_. (See GENTIAN.)

=FENNEL.=--Fenckle, or Fennel (_Fœniculum_), was employed by the
ancients in the composition of wreaths, to be worn by victors after the
games in the arena. The gladiators mixed this plant with their food
to increase their strength. The god Sylvanus was sometimes crowned
with Fennel.----In later times, Fennel was strewn across the pathway
of newly-married couples, and was generally liked for its odour; thus
Ophelia says: “There’s Fennel for you, and Columbine.”----Pliny records
that serpents are wonderfully fond of this plant, inasmuch as it
restores them to youth by causing them to cast their old skin, and by
its use they recover their sight if it becomes dim. Gerarde says, that
the seed “drunke for certaine daies together, fasting, preserveth the
eyesight, whereof was written this distichon following:--

  _“Fœniculum, Rosa, Verbena, Chelidonia, Ruta,
  Ex his fit aqua quæ lumina reddit acuta._

  “Of Fennell, Roses, Vervain, Rue, and Celandine,
  Is made a water, good to cheere the sight of eine.”

The ancients believed that the use of Fennel gave strength to the
constitution, and made fat people grow lean. The roots of Fennel,
pounded with honey, were considered a remedy for the bites of
mad dogs.----Fennel is one of the numerous plants dedicated to
St. John, and was formerly hung over doors and windows on his
vigil.----Astrologers state it is a herb of Mercury under Virgo.

=FERN.=--Among Celtic and Germanic nations the Fern was formerly
considered a sacred and auspicious plant. Its luck-bringing power was
not confined to one species, but belonged to the tribe in general,
dwelling, however, in the fullest perfection in the seed, the possessor
of which could wish what he would, and the Devil would be obliged to
bring it to him. In Swabia, they say that Fern-seed brought by the
Devil between eleven and twelve on Christmas night enables a man to do
as much work as twenty or thirty ordinary men.

In mediæval days, when sorcery flourished, it was thought the Fern-seed
imparted to its owner the power of resisting magical charms and
incantations. The ancients believed that the Fern had no seeds, but
our ancestors thought it had seed which was invisible. Hence, after
the fantastic doctrine of signatures, they concluded that those who
possessed the secret of wearing this seed about them would become
invisible. Thus, we find that, in Shakspeare’s ‘Henry IV.,’ Gadshill
says: “We steal as in a castle, cock-sure: we have the receipt of
Fern-seed, we walk invisible.”

The people of Westphalia are wont to relate how one of their countrymen
chanced one Midsummer night to be looking for a foal he had lost, and
passing through a meadow just as the Fern-seed was ripening, some of
it fell into his shoes. In the morning he went home, walked into the
sitting-room, and sat down, but thought it strange that neither his
wife, nor indeed any of his family, took the slightest notice of him.
“I have not found the foal,” said he. Everybody in the room started and
gazed around with scared looks, for they had heard the man’s voice,
but saw no one. Thinking that he was joking, and had hid himself, his
wife called him by his name. Thereupon he stood up, planted himself
in the middle of the floor, and said, “Why do you call me? Here I am
right before you.” Then they were more frightened than ever, for they
had heard him stand up and walk, and still they could not see him. The
man now became aware that he was invisible, and a thought struck him
that possibly he might have got Fern-seed in his shoes, for he felt
as if there was sand in them. So he took them off, and shook out the
Fern-seed, and as he did so he became visible again to everybody.

A belief in the mystic power of Fern-seed to make the gatherer walk
invisible is still extant. The English tradition is, that the Fern
blooms and seeds only at twelve o’clock on Midsummer night--St. John’s
Eve--just at the precise moment at which the Saint was born--

  “But on St. John’s mysterious night,
    Sacred to many a wizard spell,
  The hour when first to human sight
    Confest, the mystic Fern-seed fell.”

In Dr. Jackson’s Works (1673) we read that he once questioned one of
his parishioners as to what he saw or heard when he watched the falling
of the Fern-seed, whereupon the man informed him that this good seed
is in the keeping of Oberon (or Elberich), King of the Fairies, who
would never harm anyone watching it. He then said to the worthy doctor,
“Sir, you are a scholar, and I am none. Tell me, what said the angel to
our Lady; or what conference had our Lady with her cousin Elizabeth,
concerning the birth of St. John the Baptist?” Finding Doctor Jackson
unable to answer him, he told him that “the angel did foretell John
Baptist should be born at that very instant in which the Fern-seed--at
other times invisible--did fall: intimating further that this saint of
God had some extraordinary vertue from the time or circumstance of his

To catch the wonder-working seed, twelve pewter plates must be taken
to the spot where the Fern grows: the seed, it is affirmed, will pass
through eleven of the plates, and rest upon the twelfth. This is one
account: another says that Midsummer night is the most propitious
time to procure the mystic Fern-seed, but that the seeker must go
bare-footed, and in his shirt, and be in a religious state of mind.

In ancient days it was thought the demons watched to convey away the
Fern-seed as it fell ere anyone could possess themselves of it. A
writer on Brittany states that he remembers to have heard recounted
by one who had gathered Fern-seed, that whilst he was prosecuting his
search the spirits grazed his ears, whistling past them like bullets,
knocking off his hat, and hitting him with it all over his body. At
last, when he thought that he had gathered enough of the mystic seed,
he opened the case he had been putting it into, and lo! it was empty.
The Devil had evidently had the best of it.

M. Marmier, in his _Légendes des Plantes_, writes:--“It is on Midsummer
night that you should go and seek the Fern-seed: he who is fortunate
enough to find it will indeed be happy. He will have the strength
of twenty men, he will discover precious metals in the bowels of the
earth, he will comprehend the present and the future. Up to the present
time, however, no one has been able to secure this precious seed.
It ripens but for a minute, and the Devil guards it with ferocious

De Gubernatis, in his _Mythologie des Plantes_, publishes a
communication sent him by the Princess Marie Galitzin Prazorovskaïa,
on the subject of the flowering of the Fern, the details of which she
obtained from a Russian peasant. “On Midsummer night, before twelve
o’clock, with a white napkin, a cross, a Testament, a glass of water,
and a watch, one seeks in the forest the spot where the Fern grows; one
traces with the cross a large circle; one spreads the napkin, placing
on the cross the Testament and the glass of water. Then one attentively
looks at one’s watch: at the precise midnight hour the Fern will bloom:
one watches attentively; for he who shall see the Fern-seed drop shall
at the same time see many other marvels; for example, three suns, and a
full moon, which reveals every object, even the most hidden. One hears
laughter; one is conscious of being called; if one remains quiet one
will hear all that is happening in the world, and all that is going to

In a work by Markevic, the author says:--“The Fern flowers on Midsummer
night at twelve o’clock, and drives away all unclean spirits. First
of all it put forth buds, which afterwards expand, then open, and
finally change into flowers of a dark red hue. At midnight, the flower
opens to its fullest extent, and illuminates everything around. But at
that precise moment a demon plucks it from its stalk. Whoever wishes
to procure this flower must be in the forest before midnight, locate
himself near the Fern, and trace a circle around it. When the Devil
approaches and calls, feigning the voice of a parent, sweetheart,
&c., no attention must be paid, nor must the head be turned, for if
it is, it will remain so. Whoever becomes the happy possessor of the
flower has nothing to fear: by its means he can recover lost treasure,
become invisible, rule on earth and under water, and defy the Devil.
To discover hidden treasure, it is only necessary to throw the flower
in the air: if it turns like a star above the Sun, so that it falls
perpendicularly in the same spot, it is a sure indication that treasure
is concealed there.”

A very ancient method prescribed for obtaining the mystic Fern-seed is
given by Dr. Kuhn. At the Summer solstice, if you shoot at the Sun when
it has attained its mid-day height, three drops of blood will fall:
they must be gathered up and preserved, for that is the Fern-seed.

The Franche-Comté peasantry talk of a mysterious plant that misleads
travellers. According to a German authority, this plant is no other
than the Fern on Midsummer night. As we have seen, on that night the
Fern is reputed to flower, and to let fall its seed: he who secures
this seed, becomes invisible; but if the unsuspecting traveller passes
by the Fern without noticing it, he will be assuredly misled, even
although well acquainted with the road. This is the reason why, in
Thuringia, they call the Fern _Irrkraut_, the misleading plant.

In Poland, there is a popular notion that the plucking of Fern produces
a violent thunderstorm.

In Germany, they call the Fern _Walpurgiskraut_, the superstition being
that, on the _Walpurgisnacht_, the witches procure this plant in order
to render themselves invisible. In Lombardy, there exists a popular
superstition akin to this. The witches, they say, are particularly fond
of the Fern; they gathered it to rub in their hands during a hailstorm,
turning it from the side where the hail falls the thickest.

The root of the common Male Fern (_Filix mas_), was an important
ingredient in the love-philtres of former days. An old Gaelic bard

  “’Twas the maiden’s matchless beauty
    That drew my heart anigh;
  Not the Fern-root potion,
    But the glance of her blue eye.”

In olden times the young scroll-like fronds of this Fern were called
Lucky Hands, or St. John’s Hands, and were believed to protect the
possessor from sorcery, witches’ spells, and the Evil Eye. In Germany,
the Male Fern was formerly called _Johanniswurtzel_; and both on the
Continent, and in England, it was the custom, on Midsummer Eve, to
gather this Fern, which was sold to the credulous, who wore it about
their persons, and mingled it with the water drunk by their cows, as
a protection against all evil spirits, and to ensure good luck. It is
believed, in Thuringia, that if anyone carries Fern about him, he will
be pursued by serpents until he throws it away. In Sweden, the plant is
called Snake-bane.

An ancient notion prevailed, that the Male Fern had an antipathy to
the Reed; and that where one grew, the other was sure to be absent.
According to Dioscorides, “the root hereof is reported to be good for
those that have ill spleens; and being stamped with swine’s grease and
applied, it is a remedy against the pricking of the Reed.” Other old
herbalists state, that the roots of the Male Fern, and the Lady Fern
(_Filix fœmina_), boiled in oil, produced “very profitable ointments to
heal wounds.” The _Ophioglossum_ had, in olden times, the reputation of
being a cure for the bite of serpents. (See also BRACKEN).

According to Cornish fairy mythology, the Fern was connected with
the Small Folk, who are believed to be the spirits of the people who
inhabited Cornwall thousands of years ago--long before the birth of
Christ. In the legend of the Fairy Widower, a pretty girl, Jenny
Permuen, a village coquette, one day set off to “look for a place.”
At the junction of four cross roads, she sat down on a boulder of
granite, and thoughtlessly began to break off the beautiful fronds of
Ferns which grew all around. Suddenly a young man appeared before her,
and addressing her by name, enquired what brought her there. Jenny
replied that she wished to obtain a situation, and was on her road to
the market town. The young man said he was a widower, and in want of
a young woman to take care of his little son; and that as he liked
Jenny’s good looks, he would engage her there and then for a year
and a day, and pay her well; but that he should require her to swear
his oath, which consisted in kissing a Fern-leaf, and repeating the

  “For a year and a day,
  I promise to stay.”

Jenny was charmed and flattered; all sorts of visions rose before her
eyes, and, without hesitation, she took the oath and followed the
stranger eastward. In silence the pair walked on, until the girl was
quite weary; then they sat down on a bank, and the young man taking a
bunch of leaves passed them rapidly over Jenny’s eyes: her weariness
departed as if by magic, and she found herself in fairy-land, with her
mysterious master. He led her to a splendid mansion, and introduced her
to his little boy, who was so beautiful that he instantly won her love.
The girl continued at her duties in fairy-land for the allotted time;
then, one morning, upon awaking, she found herself sleeping in her own
bed in her mother’s cottage; and the old gossips of the village, upon
hearing her story, knew that she had been carried by the Small People
to some of their countries under the hills.

=FIG.=--There are several mythological accounts of the origin of the
Fig. According to one, Lyceus, one of the Titans, pursued by Jupiter,
was metamorphosed into a Fig-tree by the goddess Rhea. Another story
attributes to her husband, Saturn, the origin of the Fig-tree, and
on this account the inhabitants of Cyrene deck the statue of the god
with crowns of Figs. A third myth relates that the Fig-tree is the
offspring of the loves of Oxylus, King of Elis, with a Hamadryad.
Bacchus, however, was generally considered to have introduced the
Fig to mortals: hence the tree was sacred to him, and he is often
represented as crowned with Fig-leaves. On this account, also, it was
customary to make an offering of the first Figs to the jovial god. At
the Canephoria festivals at Athens, in honour of Bacchus, the female
votaries wore round their necks collars composed of dried Figs; and at
the Dionysian festivals, a basket of Figs formed a prominent feature
in the procession.----At Rome, the Fig was carried next to the Vine in
the processions in honour of Bacchus, as the patron of plenty and joy;
and Bacchus was supposed to have derived his corpulence and vigour,
not from the Vine, but from the Fig. Under the name of the _Ficus
ruminalis_, the Romans jealously guarded the sacred wild Fig-tree,
upon the roots of which stranded the cradle containing the infants
Romulus and Remus, when the Tiber bore it to the foot of the Palatine.
Fig-trees are seldom affected by lightning, but this celebrated Ruminal
Fig-tree of Rome was once struck during a thunderstorm, and was ever
afterwards held doubly sacred; the ancients considering that lightning
purified every object it touched. The Romans bestowed upon Jupiter
the surname of Ruminus, because he presided over the nourishment of
mankind, and they had a goddess Rumina, who presided over the female
breasts, and whose oblations were of milk only. These words are both
derived from _ruma_, a teat; and hence the tree under which Romulus
and Remus had been suckled by the she-wolf was the _Rumina Ficus_, a
name most appropriate, because the Fig was the symbol of generation and
fecundity. The Fig was consecrated to Juno, as the goddess presiding
over marriages and at nuptial festivities. Figs were always carried
in a mystic vase. The statues of Priapus, god of orchards, were often
made of the wood of the Fig, and the tree was also dedicated to
Mercury. Notwithstanding this reverence for the _Ficus ruminalis_,
the Romans considered the Fig a tree at once impure and ill-omened.
This is shown by the actions of the Arvales (twelve priests of Rome,
descended from the nurse of Romulus), who made special expiations
when the Fig-tree--the impure tree--sprang up by chance on the roof
of the temple of the goddess Dia, where Vestals officiated. After
they had uprooted the desecrating tree, they destroyed the temple as
being defiled.----Pausanias relates that, according to an oracle, the
Messenians were to be abandoned by heaven in their struggles with
the Spartans, so soon as a goat (_tragos_) should drink the water of
the Neda: the Messenians, therefore, drove out of their country all
the goats. But in Messenia grew the wild Fig, which was also called
_tragos_. One of these wild Figs having sprung up on the banks of the
Neda, its branches soon dipped into the flowing waters of the river
beneath it. The oracle was fulfilled--a _tragos_ had drunk the water
of the Neda: soon afterwards the Messenians were defeated.----The
soothsayer Calchas, according to tradition, owed his death in a
measure to the Fig-tree. Challenged by the seer Mopsus, of whom he
was jealous, to a trial of their skill in divination, Calchas first
asked his antagonist how many Figs a neighbouring tree bore. “Ten
thousand except one,” was the reply of his rival, “and one single
vessel can contain them all.” The Figs were carefully gathered, and his
predictions were literally true. It was then the turn of Mopsus to try
his adversary. Calchas failed to answer the question put to him, and
Mopsus was adjudged victor. So mortified was Calchas at the result of
this trial, that he pined away and died.----The ancient Egyptians held
the Fig-leaf sacred to the goddess Isis.----The Fig is supposed to have
been the first cultivated fruit tasted by man: beneath the boughs of
the Fig-tree Adam hid himself after having eaten the forbidden fruit;
with its leaves he endeavoured to hide his nakedness. Cakes of Figs
were included in the presents of provisions by which the wife of Nabal
appeased the wrath of David (1 Sam. XXV., 18). The want of blossom on
the Fig-tree was considered as one of the most grievous calamities by
the Jews; for, growing as it did in Palestine on the Vine, the tree
became with the Israelites an emblem of peace and plenty, and that
security which, in ancient times, was thought to be enjoyed by “every
man under his own Fig-tree.” Near the city of On, there was shown
for many centuries the sacred Fig-tree under which the Holy Family
rested during the flight into Egypt.----St. Augustine tells us, in his
Confessions, that while still unconverted and in deep communion with
his friend Alypius on the subject of the Scriptures, the contest within
his mind was so sharp, that he hastened from the presence of his friend
and threw himself down beneath a Fig-tree, weeping and lamenting.
Then he heard what seemed the voice of a child proceeding apparently
from the tree, repeating again and again “_Tolle, lege_,” (Take and
read); and returning to his friend, he took up the sacred volume, and
opened it at St. Paul’s words: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” He
was struck with the coincidence; and considering it a Divine call, he
then and there resolved to take up the religious profession.----In
India, the Fig-tree is greatly esteemed; one species, _Ficus
glomerata_, is held sacred by the Hindus; and the _Ficus Indica_, or
Banyan-tree, is one of the most highly venerated trees on the earth
(see BANYAN).----The Andalusians have a saying, “On this life depends,”
in connection with the Fig-tree, the fruit of which they eat, fasting,
in the morning. The Germans have a proverb, “Figs will not grow either
on Brambles or Thistles.” Another proverb tells us that “He who has
Figs has riches.”----In Sicily, the Fig-tree is looked upon as a tree
of ill-omen. It is there thought to be the tree on which Judas hung
himself, and never to have thrived well since that occurrance. There
is an old superstition that in each leaf of a Fig-tree lurks an evil
spirit; and certain blood-thirsty spectres, called _Fauni Ficarii_,
are mentioned in legends.----At Avola, it is popularly believed to be
unwise to sleep beneath the shade of a Fig-tree during the warmth of
Summer; should, however, anyone be foolhardy enough to do so, there
will appear before him the figure of a nun, holding a knife in her
hand, who will compel him to say whether he will take it by the blade
or by the handle; if he answer, by the blade, he will be forthwith
slain; but should he select the handle, he will have all manner of
good fortune in store for him.----In Palermo, they deck the Fig-tree
with branches of the wild Fig woven into garlands, in order to ensure
the fruit ripening.----A Fig-tree has something to do in the way of
preventing hydrophobia, if we may believe the following ancient English
superstition:--“For tear of mad hound, take the worms which be under a
mad hound’s tongue, snip them away, lead them round about a Fig-tree,
give them to him who hath been rent; he will soon be healed.”----To
dream of Figs implies an accession of wealth, prosperity, and
happiness, the realisation of wishes, and a happy old age.

=FILBERT.=--John Gower, in his _Confessio Amantis_, suggests that the
origin of the word Filbert is to be sought in the metamorphosis of
the Thracian princess Phyllis into a Nut-tree, or, more precisely,
into the Almond; this view is strengthened by the fact that the
old English names for both tree and nut was Fylberde, or Filberd;
although another explanation of this word is that the tree was so
called after a King Philibert. In olden times the distinction drawn
between nuts of a good and those of the best quality, was by terming
the former the short-bearded, and the latter the long-bearded, or
full-bearded--whence, according to a popular belief, by corruption,
Filbert.----Authorities in dream lore tell us that to dream of Filberts
is a happy augury, a sign of good health and happy old age. It also
denotes success in love, and happiness in the married state, with
a numerous family, who will marry well, and occupy a high place in
society.----Filbert-trees are held to be under the dominion of Mercury.

=FIR.=--The ancient Egyptians adopted the Fir-cone as the symbol of
their goddess Isis.----The Fir is the Fire-tree, the most inflammable
of woods. Gerarde writes of Firs in Cheshire, Staffordshire, and
Lancashire, “where they grew in great plenty, as is reputed, before
Noah’s floud; but then being overturned and overwhelmed, have lien
since in the woods and waterie moorish grounds, very fresh and sound,
untill this day; and so full of a resinous substance, that they burne
like a torch or linke, and the inhabitants of those countries do call
it Fir-wood and Fire-wood unto this day.”----In the traditions of
northern countries, the Fir occupies a similar position to the Pine.
He is king of the forest; and so, in Switzerland and the Tyrol, the
Geni of the Forest is always represented with an uprooted Fir-tree in
his hand. This Geni dwells by preference in the Fir, and especially
loves old trees. When one of these trees is cut down, the Geni grieves,
and pleads for its life. Old Firs, like old Oaks and Birches, are
especially respected when standing solitary.----De Gubernatis relates
an anecdote of a colossal Fir-tree which grew by itself, at Tarssok,
in Russia. This tree had withstood several lightning-blasts, and was
supposed to be several hundred years old, as shown by its barkless
trunk and its bare branches. At last, in a gale of wind, it fell;
but so great a respect had the country-people for the old tree, that
they would not make any profit from the sale of the huge trunk, but
presented the proceeds to the Church.----In Denmark, Sweden, Russia,
and Germany, they use the Fir as the Christmas-tree, and this custom
has now taken firm root in England.----Just as in many parts of
Germany, on Christmas-night, they beat trees, so that they may bear
fruit, so at Hildesheim in Hanover, at Shrove-tide, the peasantry
solicit gifts from the women, whipping them meanwhile with branches
of Fir or Rosemary. This curious custom is supposed to signify their
desire to have children. In Northern Germany, newly-married couples
often carry in their hands branches of Fir, with lighted candles
affixed, perhaps in imitation of the Roman _fasces_. At Weimar, and
other places, they plant Fir-trees before the house where a wedding has
taken place. In Austrian Silesia, the May-pole is always of Fir. In
the Harz, on Midsummer night, they decorate Fir-trees with flowers and
coloured eggs, or, more generally, branches of Fir, which they stick in
the ground, and dance around, singing the while some verses appropriate
to the occasion. In Northern Germany, when they drive the cattle to
pasture for the first time, they often decorate the last cow with small
boughs of Firs, as showing their wish for a pasturage favourable to
the fecundity of the cattle.----From wounds made in the Balm of Gilead
Fir (_Abies Balsamea_), a very fine turpentine is obtained, which is
sometimes sold as the true Balm of Gilead.----To dream you are in a
forest of Fir-trees is a sign of suffering.----A Moldavian legend
relates that, out of envy, the elder sister of a queen changed the
two beautiful twin princes she had just given birth to, for two ugly
black children, which she placed in their cradle instead. She then
buried the young princes alive in the garden, and as soon as possible
went to the king, and told him his queen had given birth to two odious
black babies. The king in revenge shut up his wife in a dungeon, and
made the elder sister his queen. Suddenly, among the flowers of the
garden, there spring up two Fir-trees, who, in the evening, talk and
confide to each other that they cannot rest whilst their mother is
weeping in her lonely dungeon. Then they make themselves known to the
poor ex-queen as her children, and tell her how much they love and pity
her. Meanwhile the wicked queen awakes one night and listens. She is
filled with dread, and makes the king promise that the two Fir-trees
shall be cut down. Accordingly, the young trees are felled and thrown
into the fire; when, immediately, two bright sparks fly out, and fall
far away among the flowers: they are the two young princes, who have
again escaped, and who are now determined to bring to light the crime
of their detestable aunt. Some time after there is a grand festival at
the king’s palace; and a great “claca” (assembly) is gathered there
to string pearls for the queen. Among the guests appear two beautiful
children, with golden hair, who seem to be twin brothers. Whilst the
pearl-stringing goes on, stories are told by the guests, and at last it
comes to the turn of the twin brothers, who relate the sad story of the
imprisoned queen, and reveal the crime of her sister. As they speak,
their pearls continue to string themselves in a miraculous manner,
so that the king, observing this, knows that they are telling the
truth. When their story is finished, he acknowledges them as his sons,
restores their mother to her position as queen, and orders her wicked
sister to be torn asunder by wild horses.

FLAG.--See Acorus and Iris.

=FLAME TREE.=--The _Nuytsia floribunda_, called the Flame or Fire-tree,
is a native of West Australia. This tree is most remarkable in many
respects: it belongs to the same Natural Order as the Mistletoe--an
order numerous in species, most of those inhabiting warm countries
having brilliantly-coloured flowers, and, with two exceptions, strictly
parasitical on the branches of other trees. One of these exceptions
is the Flame-tree; but although _Nuytsia floribunda_ is terrestrial,
and has all the aspect of an independent tree, it is thought to be
parasitical on the roots of some neighbouring tree or shrub, because
all attempts to rear seedlings have proved unsuccessful. Its trunk is
soft, like pith, yet it has a massive appearance. Its gorgeous fiery
flowers are more brilliant than flames, for they are undimmed by smoke.

=FLAX.=--There are certain plants which, having been cultivated from
time immemorial, are not now to be found in a wild state, and have
no particular history. The common Flax (_Linum usitatissimum_) has
been thought to be one of these. Flax is mentioned both in Genesis
and Exodus: at least Joseph was clothed in _linen_, and the Flax was
blighted in the fields. But modern research has shown that the Flax
of the ancients was _Linum angustifolium_, the narrow-leaved Flax;
and the same fact has been developed in regard to the Flax of the
Lake-dwellers in Switzerland.----The fine linen of Egypt is frequently
referred to in Scripture, and specimens of this fabric are to be seen
in the linen in which the Egyptian mummies are enfolded. That Flax
was also grown in ancient times in Palestine, may be inferred from
the fact that Rahab hid the Hebrew spies among the Flax spread on her
roof.----In the mythology of the North, Flax is supposed to be under
the protection of the goddess Hulda, but the plant’s blue blossom is
more especially the flower of Bertha, whose blue eyes shine in its
calyx, and whose distaff is filled by its fibres.----Indian mysticism
likens the grey dawn and the brightening daybreak to luminous linen
and its weavers. The celestial bride, Aurora, weaves the nuptial
garment--the robe of the celestial bridegroom, the Sun.----The gods
attire themselves in luminous robes--white or red, silver or gold.
Earthly priests have adopted the white robe in India, Egypt, Asia
Minor, Rome, and in all Christian countries. The offspring of the
Flax, according to a tradition, represent the rays of the Sun, and
clothe the great luminary.----In Sicily, to cure headache produced by
exposure to the Sun, they burn, with certain incantations, flaxen tow
in a glass, from which they have poured out the water it contained:
they then place the glass on a white plate, and the plate on the head
of the patient: they contend that by this means they extract from his
head, and impart to the Flax, all the virtue of the Sun.----Flax is
the symbol of life and of prolific vegetation: on this account, in
Germany, when an infant thrives but badly, or does not learn to walk,
they place it naked, either in the Spring or on Midsummer-day, upon
the turf, and scatter some Flax-seed on this turf and on the infant
itself: then, as soon as the Flax commences to grow, the infant should
also begin to thrive and to walk.----To dream of Flax is reputed to
augur a good and happy marriage; to dream of spinning Flax, however,
betokens coming troubles.----There is an old superstition that Flax
will only flower at the time of day at which it was originally sown.
He who sows it must first seat himself thrice on the sack, turning
to the east. Stolen seeds mingled with the rest cause the crop to
thrive.----Flax when in bloom acts as a talisman against witchcraft,
and sorcery can be practised even with the dry stalks. When the shreds
are spun or woven into shirts, under certain incantations, the wearer
is secure from accidents or wounds.----It was the goddess Hulda who
first taught mortals the art of growing Flax, of spinning, and of
weaving it. According to the legendary belief in South Tyrol, she is
the especial patroness of the Flax culture in that district. Hulda is
also the sovereign of the Selige Fräulein, the happy fairy maidens
who keep watch and guard over the Flax-plants. Between Kroppbühl and
Unterlassen, is a cave which is believed by the country people to have
been the entrance to Queen Hulda’s mountain palace. Twice a year she
passed through the valley, scattering blessings around her path--once
in Summer, when the blue flowers of the Flax were brightening the
fields, and again during the mysterious “twelve nights” immediately
preceding our feast of the Epiphany, when, in ancient days, the gods
and goddesses were believed to visit the earth. Hulda visited the
cottagers’ homes in the Winter nights to examine the distaff. If the
Flax was duly spun off, prosperity attended the family; but laziness
was punished by trouble and blighted crops. Hulda’s fairy people, the
Selige Fräulein, would sometimes visit deserving folks and aid the
Flax-spinning: there is a legend that a peasant woman at Vulpera,
near Tarash, thinking that she ought to reward her fairy assistants,
set before them a sumptuous meal, but they shook their heads sadly,
and, giving the poor woman a never-failing ball of cotton, they said,
“This is the recompense for thy goodwill--payment for payment,”--and
immediately vanished.

=FLEA-BANE.=--The star-shaped yellow Flea-bane, or wild Marigold
(_Inula dysenterica_), received its name from the belief that its odour
was repulsive to fleas, gnats, and other insects. On the flowers of
this plant, as well as on those of _Agnus Castus_, the Grecian women
were made to sleep during the feast of Thesmophoria. The Arabs extol
this plant highly as a remedy for wounds. One of their traditions
records that flowers of the _Inula_, bruised, were used by the
patriarch Job as an application to those grievous sores which he so
pathetically laments. Hence the Flea-bane is called by the men of the
desert “Job’s Tears.”

=FLOS ADONIS.=--In most European countries the Flos Adonis (the
dark-crimsoned _Adonis autumnalis_) still retains in its nomenclature
a legendary connection with the blood of the unfortunate Adonis, and
is called by the Germans _Blutströpfchen_ to the present day.----Just
as from the tears of the sorrowing Venus, which fell as she gazed on
the bleeding corpse of the beautiful Adonis, there sprang the Anemone,
or Wind-flower, so from the blood of the lamented boy which poured
forth from the death-wound inflicted by the boar, there proceeded the
Adonis-flower, or Flos Adonis. Referring to this, Rapin writes--

  “Th’ unhappy fair Adonis likewise flowers,
  Whom (once a youth) the Cyprian Queen deplores;
  He, though transformed, has beauty still to move
  Her admiration, and secure her love;
  Since the same crimson blush the flower adorns
  Which graced the youth, whose loss the goddess mourns.”

And Shakspeare, in his poem on Venus and Adonis, says--

  “By this the boy that by her side lay killed
      Was melted like a vapour from her sight;
  And in his blood that on the ground lay spilled
      A purple flower sprang up, chequered with white,
  Resembling well his pale cheeks and the blood
  Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood.”

=FLOWER DE LUCE.=--The Iris has obtained this name, which is derived
from the French _Fleur de Louis_, from its having been assumed as his
device by Louis VII., of France. This title of _Fleur de Louis_ has
been changed to Fleur de Luce, _Fleur de Lys_, and _Fleur de Lis_. (See
IRIS).----A curious superstition exists in the district around Orleans,
where a seventh son without a daughter intervening is called a Marcon.
It is believed that the Marcon’s body is marked somewhere with a _Fleur
de Lis_, and that if a patient suffering under King’s Evil touch this
_Fleur de Lis_, or if the Marcon breathe upon him, the malady will be
sure to disappear.


=FLOWERS OF HEAVEN.=--Under the names of Rain Tremella and Star Jelly
is known a strange gelatinous substance, of no precise form, but of a
greenish hue, which creeps over gravelly soils, and is found mixed up
with wet Mosses on rocks besides waterfalls: when moist, it is soft
and pulpy, but in dry weather it becomes thin, brittle, and black in
colour. Linnæus called it _Tremella Nostoc_, but it is now classed with
the _Algæ Gloiocladeæ_ under the name of _Nostoc commune_, a name first
used by the alchymist Paracelsus, but the meaning of which is unknown.
During the middle ages, some extraordinary superstitions were afloat
concerning this plant, which was called Cœlifolium, or Flowers of
Heaven. By the alchemists it was considered a universal menstruum. The
country people in Germany use it to make their hair grow. In England,
the country folk of many parts, firmly believed it to be the remains of
a falling star, for after a wet, stormy night, these Flowers of Heaven
will often be found growing where they were not to be seen the previous

=FLOWERING ROD.=--There is a legend in the Apocryphal Gospel of Mary,
according to which Joseph was chosen for Mary’s husband because his
rod budded into flower, and a dove settled upon the top of it. In
pictures of the marriage of Joseph and Mary, the former generally holds
the flowering rod. The rod by which the Lord demonstrated that He had
chosen Aaron to be His priest, blossomed with Almond-flowers, and was
laid up in the Ark (see ALMOND).

=FORGET-ME-NOT.=--The Forget-me-not is a name which, like the
Gilliflower, has been applied to a variety of plants. For more than two
hundred years it was given, in England, France, and the Netherlands, to
the ground Pine, _Ajuga Chamæpitys_. From the middle of the fifteenth
century until 1821, this plant was in all the botanical books called
Forget-me-not, on account of the nauseous taste which it leaves in the
mouth. Some of the old German botanists gave the name _Vergiss mein
nicht_ to the _Chamædrys vera fœmina_, or _Teucrium Botrys_. _Forglemm
mig icke_, the corresponding Danish name, was given to the _Veronica
chamædrys_. This plant was in English called the Speedwell, from its
blossoms falling off and flying away, and “Speedwell” being an old form
of leave-taking, equivalent to “Farewell” or “Good-bye.” In the days
of chivalry, a plant, whose identity has not been ascertained, was
called “_Souveigne vous de moy_,” and was woven into collars. In 1465,
one of these collars was the prize at a famous joust, fought between
Lord Scales, brother to Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV., and a
French knight of Burgundy. Certain German botanists, as far back as the
sixteenth century, seem, however, to have given the name Forget-me-not
to the _Myosotis palustris_; and this name has become inseparably
connected with the flower, borne on the wings of the following poetic
legend:--A knight and his lady-love, who were on the eve of being
united, whilst strolling on the bank of the blue Danube, saw a spray
of these pretty flowers floating on the waters, which seemed ready
to carry it away. The affianced bride admired the delicate beauty of
the blossoms, and regretted their fatal destiny. At this hint, the
lover did not hesitate to plunge into the stream. He soon secured the
flowers, but the current was too strong for him, and as it bore him
past his despairing mistress, he flung the fatal flowers on the bank,
exclaiming, as he was swept to his doom, “_Vergiss mich nicht!_”

  “And the lady fair of the knight so true,
    Aye remembered his hapless lot;
  And she cherished the flower of brilliant hue,
  And braided her hair with the blossoms blue,
    And she called it Forget-me-not.”

According to Grimm, the original Forget-me-not was a certain
Luck-flower, concerning which there is a favourite legend in Germany
(see KEY-FLOWER). And there is another traditional origin of the
flower, which for antiquity should have the precedence of all others.
According to this version, Adam, when he named the plants in Paradise,
cautioned them not to forget what he called them. One little flower,
however, was heedless, and forgot its name. Ashamed of its inattention
and forgetfulness, the flower asked the father of men, “By what name
dost thou call me?” “Forget-me-not,” was the reply; and ever since
that humble flower has drooped its head in shame and ignominy.----A
fourth origin of the name “Forget-me-not” is given by Miss Strickland
in her work on the Queens of England. Writing of Henry of Lancaster
(afterwards Henry IV.), she says:--“This royal adventurer, the banished
and aspiring Lancaster, appears to have been the person who gave to the
_Myosotis_ its emblematical and poetical meaning, by writing it, at the
period of his exile, on his collar of S.S., with the initial letter of
his _mot_ or watchword, _Souveigne vous de moy_, thus rendering it the
symbol of remembrance.” It was with his hostess, at the time wife of
the Duke of Bretagne, that Henry exchanged this token of goodwill and
remembrance.----The Italians call the _Myosotis, Nontiscordar di me_,
and in one of their ballads represent the flower as the embodiment of
the spirit of a young girl who was drowned, and transformed into the
_Myosotis_ growing by the river’s banks.----The ancient English name
of the _Myosotis palustris_ was Mouse-Ear-Scorpion-Grass; “Mouse-Ear”
describing the oval leaves, and “Scorpion” the curve of the one-sided
raceme, like a scorpion’s tail.----According to some investigators,
the Forget-me-not is the Sun-flower of the classics--the flower into
which poor Clytie was metamorphosed--the pale blossom which, says
Ovid, held firmly by the root, still turns to the sun she loves.
Cæsalpinus called it _Heliotropium_, and Gerarde figured it as such.
(See HELIOTROPE).----The Germans are fond of planting the Forget-me-not
upon their graves, probably on account of its name; for the beauty of
the flower is lost if taken far from the water.----It is said that
after the battle of Waterloo, an immense quantity of Forget-me-nots
sprung up upon different parts of that sanguinary field, the soil of
which had been enriched by the blood of heroes.----A writer in ‘All
the Year Round’ remarks, that possibly the story of the origin of the
Forget-me-not’s sentimental designation may have been in the mind of
the Princess Marie of Baden, that Winter day, when, strolling along
the banks of the Rhine with her cousin, Louis Napoleon, she inveighed
against the degeneracy of modern gallants, vowing they were incapable
of emulating the devotion to beauty that characterised the cavaliers
of olden times. As they lingered on the causeway-dykes, where the
Neckar joins the Rhine, a sudden gust of wind carried away a flower
from the hair of the princess, and sent it into the rushing waters.
“There!” she exclaimed, “that would be an opportunity for a cavalier
of the olden days to show his devotion.” “That’s a challenge, cousin,”
retorted Louis Napoleon, and in a second he was battling with the rough
waters. He disappeared and reappeared to disappear and reappear again
and again, but at length reached the shore safe and sound with his
cousin’s flower in his hand. “Take it, Marie,” said he, as he shook
himself; “but never again talk to me of your cavalier of the olden

=FOXGLOVE.=--The name of _Digitalis_ (from _digitale_, a thimble or
finger-stall) was given to the Foxglove in 1542, by Fuchs, who remarks
that hitherto the flower had remained unnamed by the Greeks and Romans.
Our forefathers sometimes called it the Finger-flower, the Germans
named it _Fingerhut_, and the French _Gantelée_--names all bestowed on
account of the form of the flower, regarding which Cowley fancifully

  “The Foxglove on fair Flora’s hand is worn,
  Lest while she gather flowers, she meet a thorn.”

The French also term the Foxglove _Gants de Notre Dame_ and _Doigts de
la Vierge_. Various explanations have been given as to the apparently
inappropriate English name of Foxglove, which is, however, derived from
the Anglo-Saxon _Foxes-glof_; and was presumably applied to the flower
from some bygone connection it had with the fox, and its resemblance to
a glove-finger. Dr. Prior’s explanation is worth quoting, however, if
only for its ingenuity. He says: “Its Norwegian names, _Rev-bielde_,
Fox-bell, and _Reveleika_, Fox-Music, are the only foreign ones that
allude to that animal; and they explain our own, as having been, in the
first place, _foxes-glew_, or music (Anglo-Saxon _gliew_), in reference
to a favourite instrument of earlier times, a ring of bells hung on an
arched support--a tintinnabulum--which this plant, with its hanging
bell-shaped flowers, so exactly represents.”----The Foxglove is the
special fairy flower: in its spotted bells the “good folk” delight to
nestle. It is called in Ireland, Lusmore, or the Great Herb, and also
Fairy-cap--a retreat in which the merry little elves are said to hide
themselves when a human foot approaches to disturb their dances. The
bending of the plant’s tall stalks is believed to denote the presence
of supernatural beings, to whom the flower is making its obeisance. In
the Irish legend of Knockgrafton, the hero, a poor hunchback, reputed
to have a great knowledge of herbs and charms, always wears a sprig
of the Fairy-cap, or Lusmore, in his little straw hat, and hence is
nicknamed Lusmore. The Shefro, or gregarious fairy, is represented as
wearing the corolla of the Foxglove on his head. Browne describes Pan
as seeking these flowers as gloves for his mistress:--

  “To keep her slender fingers from the sunne,
  Pan through the pastures oftentimes hath runne,
  To pluck the speckled Foxgloves from their stem,
  And on those fingers neatly placed them.”

In Wales, the bells of the Foxglove are termed _Menyg Ellyllon_,
or goblins’ gloves. No doubt on account of its connection with the
fairies, its name has been fancifully thought to have originally been
the Fairy Folks’ Glove. The witches are popularly supposed to have
held the Foxglove in high favour, and to have decorated their fingers
with its largest bells, thence called “Witches’ Bells.”----Beautiful
as it is, the _Digitalis_ is a dangerous plant; no animal will touch
it, and it exercises a singular influence over mankind: it impedes
the circulation of the blood. We read in ‘Time’s Telescope’ for 1822,
that the women of the poorer class in Derbyshire indulged in copious
draughts of Foxglove-tea, as a cheap means of obtaining the pleasures
of intoxication. It produces a great exhilaration of spirits, and has
some singular effects on the system.----Robert Turner tells us that
the Foxglove is under Venus, and that, in Hampshire, it is “very well
known by the name of Poppers, because if you hold the broad end of
the flower close between your finger and thumb, and blow at the small
head, as into a bladder, till it be full of wind, and then suddenly
strike it with your other hand, it will give a great crack or pop.” The
Italians call the plant _Aralda_, and have this proverb concerning it:
“_Aralda tutte piaghe salda_”--“Aralda salveth all sores.” Although
containing a poison, the Foxglove yields a medicine valuable in cases
of heart-disease, inflammatory fevers, dropsy, &c.

  “The Foxglove leaves, with caution given,
  Another proof of favouring Heaven
      Will happily display.”

=FRANGIPANNI.=--The _Plumieria acuminata_, or Frangipanni plant,
bears immense clusters of waxy flowers which exhale a most delicious
odour: these flowers are white, with a yellow centre, and are flushed
with purple behind. The plant is common throughout Malaya, where Mr.
Burbidge says it is esteemed by the natives as a suitable decoration
for the graves of their friends. Its Malay name, _Bunga orang sudah
mati_, is eminently suggestive of the funereal use to which it is
put, and means literally “Dead Man’s Flower.”----Frangipanni powder
(spices, Orris-roots, and Musk or Civet) was compounded by one of the
Roman nobles, named Frangipanni, an alchymist of some repute, who
invented a stomachic, which he named Rosolis, _ros-solis_, sun-dew. The
Frangipanni tart was the invention of the same noble.

=FRANKINCENSE.=--Leucothea, the daughter of the Persian king Orchamus,
attracted the notice of Apollo, who, to woo her, assumed the form
and features of her mother. Unable to withstand the god’s “impetuous
storm,” Leucothea indulged his love; but Clytia, maddened with
jealousy, discovered the intrigue to Orchamus, who, to avenge his
stained honour, immured his daughter alive. Apollo, unable to save
her from death, sprinkled nectar and ambrosia over her grave, which,
penetrating to the lifeless body, changed it into the beautiful
tree that bears the Frankincense. Ovid thus describes the nymph’s

  “What Phœbus could do was by Phœbus done.
  Full on her grave with pointed beams he shone.
  To pointed beams the gaping earth gave way;
  Had the nymph eyes, her eyes had seen the day;
  But lifeless now, yet lovely, still she lay.
  Not more the god wept when the world was fired,
  And in the wreck his blooming boy expired;
  The vital flame he strives to light again,
  And warm the frozen blood in every vein.
  But since resistless fates denied that power,
  On the cold nymph he rained a nectar shower.
  Ah! undeserving thus, he said, to die,
  Yet still in odours thou shalt reach the sky.
          The body soon dissolved, and all around
  Perfumed with heavenly fragrances the ground.
  A sacrifice for gods uprose from thence--
  A sweet, delightful tree of Frankincense.”--_Eusden._

The tree which thus sprang from poor Leucothea’s remains was a
description of Terebinth, now called _Boswellia thurifera_, which
is principally found in Yemen, a part of Arabia. Frankincense is
an exudation from this tree, and Pliny tells some marvellous tales
respecting its mode of collection, and the difficulties in obtaining
it. Frankincense was one of the ingredients with which Moses was
instructed to compound the holy incense (Exodus xxx.). The Egyptians
made great use of it as a principal ingredient in the perfumes which
they so lavishly consumed for religious rites and funeral honours.
As an oblation, it was burned on the altars by the priests of Isis,
Osiris, and Pasht. At the festivals of Isis an ox was sacrificed filled
with Frankincense, Myrrh, and other aromatics. On all the altars
erected to the Assyrian gods Baal, Astarte, and Dagon, incense and
aromatic gums were burnt in profusion; and we learn from Herodotus that
the Arabians alone had to furnish a yearly tribute of one thousand
talents of Frankincense.---Ovid recommends Frankincense as an excellent
cosmetic, and says that if it is agreeable to gods, it is no less
useful to mortals.----Rapin writes that “Phrygian Frankincense is held

  “In sacred services alone consumed,
  And every Temple’s with the smoke perfumed.”

Dr. Birdwood states that there are many varieties of the
Frankincense-tree, yielding different qualities of the “lubân” or milky
gum which, from time immemorial, has sent up the smoke of sacrifice
from high places.----Distinct records have been found of the traffic
carried on between Egypt and Arabia in the seventeenth century B.C. In
the paintings at Dayr al Báhri, in Upper Egypt, are representations
both of bags of Olibanum and of Olibanum-trees in tubs, being conveyed
by ships from Arabia to Egypt; and among the inscriptions deciphered
by Professor Dümichen are many describing shipments of precious
woods, incense, and “verdant incense trees brought among the precious
things from the land of Arabia for the majesty of their god Ammon, the
lord of the terrestrial thrones.”----The Philistines reverently burnt
Frankincense before the fish-god Dagon. In ancient days it was accepted
as tribute. Darius, for instance, received from the Arabians an annual
tribute of one thousand talents of Frankincense.----When the Magi, or
wise men of the East, following the guidance of the miraculous star,
reached Bethlehem and paid their homage to the infant Saviour, they
made an offering of gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, by which symbolical
oblation they acknowledged Him as King (gold), God (incense), and Man
(Myrrh).----The Roman Catholic and Greek churches, especially the
churches of South America, consume an immense quantity of Olibanum, as
do the Chinese in their joss-houses.

=FRAXINELLA.=--The Fraxinella (_Dictamnus_) is deemed a most sacred
plant by the fire-worshippers of India, and is highly reverenced
by them on account of its singular powers of luminosity. The plant
is covered with minute glands which excrete volatile oil: this
is continually evaporating from its surface, and forms a highly
inflammable atmosphere round the plant. If a light be brought near it,
the plant is enveloped by a transient flame, but without sustaining any
injury. When gently rubbed, the plant emits a delicious scent, like

FRIAR’S CAP.--See Monkshood.

=FRITILLARY.=--The origin of the _Fritillaria_, or Crown Imperial, is
given by Rapin in the following lines:--

      “Then her gay gilded front th’ Imperial Crown
  Erects aloft, and with a scornful frown
  O’erlooks the subject plants, while humbly they
  Wait round, and homage to her highness pay;
  High on the summit of her stem arise
  Leaves in a verdant tuft of largest size;
  Below this tuft the gilded blossoms bent,
  Like golden cups reversed, are downwards sent;
  But in one view collected they compose
  A crown-like form, from whence her name arose.
  No flower aspires in pomp and state more high,
  Nor, could her odour with her beauty vie,
  Would lay a juster claim to majesty.
  A _Queen_ she was whom ill report belied,
  And a rash husband’s jealousy destroyed;
  Driv’n from his bed and court the fields she ranged,
  Till spent with grief was to a blossom changed,
  Yet only changed as to her human frame:
  She kept th’ Imperial beauty and the name;
  But the report destroyed her former sweets:
  Scandal, though false, the fair thus rudely treats,
  And always the most fair with most injustice meets.”

This flower is a native of Persia, and was for some time known as
_Lilium Persicum_. According to Madame de Genlis, it derived its
majestic name of Crown Imperial from the celebrated _Guirlande de
Julie_. The Duke de Montausier, on New Year’s Day, 1634, presented his
bride, Julie de Rambouillet, with a magnificent album, on the vellum
leaves of which were painted a series of flowers, with appropriate
verses. The principal poem was by Chapelain, who chose this Persian
Lily as his theme, and, knowing the bride to be a great admirer of
Gustavus Adolphus, represented in his verses that the flower sprang
from the life-blood of the Swedish King when he fell mortally wounded
on the field of Lützen; adding that had this hero gained the imperial
crown, he would have offered it with his hand to Julie, but as the
Fates had metamorphosed him into this flower, it was presented to her
under the name of _La Couronne Impériale_. In later days the flower
received the name of _Fritillaria_ (from _Fritillus_, a dice box,
the usual companion of the chequer-board), because its blossoms are
chequered with purple and white or yellow.

=FUMITORY.=--This plant, which Shakspeare alludes to as Fumiter,
derived its name from the French _Fume-terre_, and Latin _Fumus terræ_,
earth-smoke. It was so named from a belief, very generally held in
olden times, that it was produced without seed from smoke or vapour
rising from the earth. Pliny (who calls it _Fumaria_) states that
the plant took its name from causing the eyes to water when applied
to them, as smoke does; but another opinion is that it was so called
because a bed of the common kind, when in flower, appears at a distance
like a dense smoke. Rapin has these lines on the plant:--

  “With the first Spring the soft Fumaria shows
  On stern Bavaria’s rocks her sev’ral hues;
  But by report is struck by certain fate,
  When dreadful thunders echo from their height;
  And with the lightning’s sulph’rous fumes opprest,
  Her drooping beauties languish on her breast.”

Dioscorides says that the juice dropped into the eyes clears the sight,
and also that the juice, having a little gum Arabic dissolved therein,
and applied to the eyelids when the hairs have been pulled out, will
keep them from growing again.----According to astrologers, Fumitory is
a herb of Saturn.

=GANG FLOWER.=--The Milk-wort, _Flos Ambarvalis_, Cross-, Procession-,
Gang-, or Rogation-Flower (_Polygala vulgaris_), was so called from its
blossoming in Gang-week or Rogation-week, when processions were made in
imitation of the ancient Roman Ambarvalia (see CORN), to perambulate
the parishes with the Holy Cross and Litanies, to mark boundaries,
and to invoke God’s blessing upon the crops; upon which occasions
Gerarde tells us “the maidens which use in the countries to walke the
procession do make themselves garlands and nosegaies” of the Milk-wort,
which the old herbalist likewise informs us is so called on account of
its “vertues in procuring milke in the breasts of nurses.”

=GARLIC.=--The tapering-leaved Garlic (_Allium sativum_) derives its
name from two Anglo-Saxon words, meaning the Spear-plant. The Egyptians
so appreciated Garlic, that they were accustomed to swear by it, and
even to worship it. Referring to this, Juvenal satirically remarks:
“Each clove of Garlic hath a sacred flower.” Nevertheless, no Egyptian
priest was permitted to eat Garlic. The Israelites, who had learnt in
Egypt to prize this vegetable, murmured at being deprived of its use,
and expressed their preference of it to Manna itself.----In Asia Minor,
Greece, Scandinavia, and Northern Germany, Garlic is popularly believed
to possess magical properties of a beneficent nature. According to the
‘Lay of Sigurdrîfa,’ protection from witchcraft may be ensured by the
addition of Garlic to a beverage. The Sanscrit name for Garlic means
the Slayer of Monsters. Galen relates that it was considered inimical
to all cold poisons, and to the bites of venomous beasts. Macer
Floridus affirms that the eating of Garlic fasting ensured immunity
from all ills attending change of climate or the drinking of unknown
water. The roots, hung round the necks of blind cattle, were supposed
to induce restoration of sight. Clusius relates that the German miners
found the roots very powerful in defending them from the assaults of
impure spirits which frequented mines.----In England, Garlic obtained
the name of Poor Man’s Treacle, or Triacle, from its being considered
an antidote to animal poison. Bacon tells us that, applied to the
wrists, and renewed, Garlic was considered a cure for long agues: in
Kent, and probably in other counties, it is placed in the stockings of
a child with the whooping-cough, in order to allay the complaint.----De
Gubernatis states that the Bolognese regard Garlic as the symbol of
abundance; at the festival of St. John, everyone buys it, to preserve
themselves from poverty during the year. In Sicily, they put Garlic
on the beds of women during confinement, and they make three signs of
the cross with it to charm away polypus. In Cuba, thirteen cloves of
Garlic at the end of a cord worn round the neck for thirteen days,
is considered to safeguard the wearer against the jaundice, provided
that, in the middle of the night of the thirteenth day, he proceeds to
the corner of two streets, takes off his Garlic necklet, and, flinging
it over his head, runs instantly home without turning round to see
what has become of it.----The broad-leaved Garlic was formerly called
Buckrams, Bear’s Garlic, Ramsies, and Ramsins, the last name being
referred to in the proverb--

  “Eat Leekes in Lide, and Ramsins in May,
  And all the year after physitians may play.”

We read that if a man dream of eating Garlic, it signifies that he will
discover hidden secrets, and meet with some domestic jar; yet to dream
he has it in the house is lucky.----Garlic is under the dominion of

GEAN.--See Cherry.

=GENTIAN.=--The Gentian (_Gentiana_) was so called after Gentius, King
of Illyria, who first discovered the medicinal virtues of this bitter
plant. Gentius having imprisoned the ambassadors sent to his court by
the Romans, they invaded his kingdom, conquered it, and led the royal
botanist and his family in triumph through the streets of Rome. The old
name of this flower was _Gentiana cruciata_, and it was also called _S.
Ladislai Regis herba_, in regard to which latter appellation, there
is a curious legend:--During the reign of King Ladislas, the whole of
Hungary was afflicted with the plague. Compassionating his unfortunate
subjects who were dying by thousands, the pious king prayed that if
he shot an arrow into the air, the Almighty would vouchsafe to guide
it to the root of some herb that might be employed efficaciously in
arresting the terrible plague. The king discharged an arrow, and, in
falling, it cleft the root of the _Cruciata_ (Gentian), which was at
once tried, and found to possess the most astonishing curative powers
when administered to sufferers from the plague.----According to old
Robert Turner, the herbalist, Gentian, or Felwort, “resists poisons,
putrefaction, and the pestilence, and helps digestion; the powder of
the dry roots helps bitings of mad dogs and venomous beasts, opens
the liver, and procures an appetite. Wine, wherein the herb hath been
steept, being drunk, refreshes such as are over-wearied by travel,
or are lame in their joynts by cold or bad lodgings.” Gerarde states
that it is put into counterpoisons, “as into the composition named
_Theriaca diatessaron_, which Ætius calleth _Mysterium_, a mystery, or
hid secret.” Formerly the names of Baldmoney and Baldmoyne were applied
to the Felwort or Gentian. (See BALDMONEY and FELDWODE.)----Gentian is
under the dominion of Mars.

GERANIUM.--See Crane’s Bill.

GILL.--See Ivy.

=GILLIFLOWER.=--The appellation of Gilliflower has been applied,
apparently as a kind of pet name, to all manner of plants. Formerly the
word was spelt _gyllofer_ and _gilofre_, from the French _giroflée_
and Italian _garofalo_, words derived from the Latin _Caryophyllum_
and Greek _Karuophullon_, a Clove, in allusion to the flower’s spicy
odour. The name was originally given by the Italians to the Carnation
and plants of the Pink tribe, and was so used by Chaucer, Spenser,
and Shakspeare. Afterwards both writers and gardeners bestowed the
name on the _Matthiola_ and _Cheiranthus_. At the present time the
word has almost fallen out of use, but in books will be found to be
applied to the Clove Gilliflower, _Dianthus Caryophyllus_ (the true
Gilliflower); the Marsh Gilliflower, or Ragged Robin (_Lychnis flos
cuculi_); Queen’s, Rogue’s, or Winter Gilliflower, the Dame’s Violet
(_Hesperis matronalis_); Stock Gilliflower (_Matthiola incana_); Wall
Gilliflower (_Cheiranthus Cheiri_); and Water Gilliflower (_Hottonia
palustris_).----The Gilliflower is in old songs represented as one of
the flowers thought to grow in Paradise. Thus, in a ballad called ‘Dead
Men’s Songs,’ occurs the following verse:--

  “The fields about the city faire
    Were all with Roses set,
  Gillyflowers and Carnations faire
    Which canker could not fret.”

(See also CARNATION).

=GINSENG.=--The Chinese consider the far-famed Ginseng (_Panax
quinquefolia_) the most valuable production of nature. It is their
specific for all disorders of the lungs or of the stomach, curing
asthma, strengthening the eyesight, renewing a worn-out constitution,
delaying the approach of old age, and acting as a counterpoison. The
Dutch naturalists thus described the Ginseng:--“Its name is taken from
its shape, because its represents a man (in Chinese _Gin_) striding
with his legs. It is a larger and stronger species of our Mandrake. The
dried root is of a yellow colour, streaked round with blackish veins,
as if drawn with ink. It yields when chewed an unpleasant sweetness,
mixed with bitterness. The Chinese will give three pounds of gold
for one pound of it.” To the Chinese this shrub is in some measure a
foreign production, as it is found only in Manchoo Tartary; but it
does not owe all its reputation to its distant origin; the Tartars
also prize it, and give it a name (_Orhota_) expressive of its quality
as the chief of plants. They endeavour to procure it at the risk of
losing their lives or liberty, equally endangered by the nature of the
country where it is found, and by the policy of the Chinese Government,
which endeavours to monopolise this much-esteemed production. A large
extent of country to the north-east of Pekin, covered with inaccessible
mountains, and almost impassable forests infested with wild beasts, and
affording no means of subsistence, is separated from the province of
Leao Tong by a strong barrier of stakes, always carefully protected by
guards of Chinese soldiers who seize and punish unlicensed intruders:
this is the native country of Ginseng, and these precautions are
considered necessary to preserve the valued plant from depredation.
The Père Jartoux, who was employed in the survey of Tartary by order
of the Emperor Kam-he, describes the mode of gathering the Ginseng, as
it was practised at that time. He had frequently met with the party
of Tartars employed on the service, but on this occasion ten thousand
Tartars were commanded to gather all the Ginseng that could be found;
and after deducting two ounces from the quantity gathered by each man,
they were allowed for the remainder its weight in pure silver. This
army of botanists divided themselves into companies of a hundred men,
with a chief to each company. The whole territory was then apportioned
to the several divisions; each division formed a line, and, slowly
advancing, traversed that portion of country allotted to it; nearly six
months were spent in the occupation, and the whole territory was thus
searched through. Of the Ginseng thus collected the root is the only
part preserved.

=GLADIOLUS.=--The Corn-flag, or Sword-flag (_Gladiolus_), has been
thought by some to be the flower alluded to by Ovid as the blossom
which sprang from the blood of Hyacinthus when he was accidentally
slain by Apollo with a quoit--the flower which bears displayed upon
its petals the sad impression of the Sun-god’s sighs-_Ai, Ai!_ (See
HYACINTH). The upper root of the Sword-flag was supposed by the old
herbalists to provoke amatory passions, whilst the lower root was
thought to cause barrenness.----The Gladiolus is a plant of the Moon.

=GLASTONBURY THORN.=--In Loudon’s _Arboretum Britannicum_, the
Glastonbury Thorn is mentioned as the _Cratægus Oxyacantha præcox_.
This variety of the Hawthorn blossoms during the Winter, and was for
many years believed religiously to blow on Christmas-day. The Abbey
of Glastonbury, in Somersetshire, which is now a ruin, and of whose
origin only vague memorials exist, was said by the monks to have been
the residence of Joseph of Arimathea. The high ground on which the old
abbey was erected used in early days to be called the Isle of Avalon.
The Thorn-tree stood on an eminence to the south-west of the town of
Glastonbury, where a nunnery, dedicated to St. Peter, was in after
times erected. The eminence is called Weary-all Hill; and the same
monkish legend which accounts for the name of the hill, states also the
origin of the Thorn. It seems that when Joseph of Arimathea, to whom
the original conversion of this country is attributed, arrived at this
spot with his companions, they were weary with their journey, and sat
down. St. Joseph then stuck his stick in the ground, when, although
it was a dry Hawthorn staff, it took root and grew, and thenceforth
commemorated the birth of Christ in the manner above mentioned. This
rendered its blossoms of so much value in all Christian nations, that
the Bristol merchants exported them as things of price to foreign
lands. It had two trunks or bodies until the time of Queen Elizabeth,
when a Puritan cut down one of them, but left the other, which was
about the size of an ordinary man. This desecration of the tree brought
condign punishment upon the over-zealous Puritan, for, according to
James Howell, a writer of the period, “some of the prickles flew into
his eye, and made him monocular.” The reputation which the Glastonbury
Thorn still retained, notwithstanding the change of religion, may be
estimated by the fact that King James and his Queen, and other persons
of distinction, gave large sums for small cuttings from the original
tree. Until the time of Charles I., it was customary to carry a branch
of the Thorn in procession at Christmas time; but during the civil war,
in that reign, what remained of the tree was cut down; plants from its
branches are, however, still in existence, for a vintner of the place
secured a slip, and planted it in his garden, where it duly flowered
on the 25th December. When the new style was introduced in 1752, the
alteration (which consisted of omitting eleven days) seems to have been
very generally disliked by the mass of the people. The use which was
made of the Glastonbury Thorn to prove the impropriety of the change is
not a little curious. The alteration in the Christmas Day, which was
held that year and since on a day which would have been January 5th,
was particularly obnoxious, not only as disturbing old associations,
but as making an arbitrary change from what was considered the true
anniversary of the birth of Christ. In several places, where real or
supposed slips from the Glastonbury Thorn existed, the testimony of the
plant against the change was anxiously sought on the first Christmas
Day under the new style. As the special distinction of the Thorn arose
from its supposed connection with the great event commemorated on that
day, it was argued that it must indicate the true anniversary, and that
its evidence would be conclusive on the subject. The event of one of
these references (at Quainton, in Buckinghamshire) is thus recorded in
the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ for 1753:--“Above 2000 people came here this
night (December 24th, 1752, N.S., being the first Christmas Eve under
the new calendar), with lanthorns and candles, to view a Thorn-tree
which grows in this neighbourhood, and which was remembered (this year
only) to be a slip from the Glastonbury Thorn; that it always budded
on the 24th, was full-blown the next day, and went off at night. But
the people, finding no appearance of a bud, it was agreed that December
25th n.s. could not be the right Christmas Day, and accordingly they
refused going to Church, or treating their friends as usual. At length
the affair became so serious, that the ministers of the neighbouring
villages, in order to appease the people, thought it prudent to give
notice that the old Christmas Day should be kept holy as usual.” The
slips of the Thorn seem to have been everywhere unanimous in this
opposition to the new style. There still exist at Glastonbury, within
the precincts of the ruins of the Abbey, two distinct trees, which,
doubtless, sprang from the Thorn of Joseph of Arimathea, and which
continue to blossom during the winter months.

=GLOBE FLOWER.=--The botanical name of the Globe Flower, _Trollius
Europæus_, is supposed to be of Scandinavian origin, and to signify
a magic flower. The plant is also called Globe Ranunculus and Globe
Crow-foot, from the globular form of its calyx. The flower was formerly
known as the Troll-flower, and in Scotland as the Luckan Gowan (Cabbage
Daisy). Its name of Troll was probably derived from the Swedish word
_troll_, a malignant supernatural being,--a name corresponding to the
Scotch Witches’ Gowan, and given to the _Trollius_ on account of its
acrid poisonous qualities. It is a common flower on the Alps, and has
been employed from time immemorial by the Swiss peasantry to make
garlands of on rural festive celebrations. In the northern counties
of England, at the beginning of June, the Globe-flower is sought with
great festivity by the young people, who adorn their doors and cottages
with wreaths and garlands composed of its blossoms.

=GOAT’S BEARD.=--The yellow Goat’s Beard (_Tragopogon pratensis_) is
one of the best floral indices of the hour of the day, for it opens at
sunrise and closes at noon.

  “And goodly now the noon-tide hour,
  When from his high meridian tower
  The sun looks down in majesty,
  What time about the grassy lea
  The Goat’s Beard, prompt his rise to hail
  With broad expanded disk, in veil
  Close mantling wraps its yellow head,
  And goes, as peasants say, to bed.”--_Bp. Mant._

Other names of this plant are Noon-day Flower, Go-to-bed-at-noon, Star
of Jerusalem, and Joseph’s Flower. No satisfactory explanation has ever
been given with respect to the last two names, nor is it known whether
the Joseph referred to is the son of Jacob, the Virgin Mary’s husband,
or Joseph of Arimathea.

=GOLDEN ROD.=--The tall straight-stemmed Golden Rod (_Solidago virga
aurea_) was formerly called Wound-weed, and on account of its healing
powers received its scientific name _solidago_, from “_in solidum ago
vulnera_,” “I consolidate wounds.” It was brought from abroad in a
dried state, and sold in the London markets by the herb-women of Queen
Elizabeth’s days, and Gerarde tells us that it fetched half-a-crown
an ounce. About that time, however, it was found in Hampstead ponds,
and when it was seen to be a native plant, it became valueless and was
discarded from use; which, says Gerarde, “plainely setteth forth our
inconstancie and sudden mutabilitie, esteeming no longer of anything,
how pretious soever it be, than whilest it is strange and rare. This
verifieth our English proverbe, ‘Far fetcht and deare bought is best
for ladies.’”----According to tradition, the Golden Rod is also a
divining-rod, and points to hidden springs of water as well as to
treasures of gold and silver.----Astrologers say that Golden Rod is a
plant of Venus.

GOLD CUP and GOLD KNOBS.--See Ranunculus.

GOLD, GOLDING, and GOWAN.--See Marigold.

=GOLDILOCKS.=--This name is applied to _Ranunculus auricomus_,
_Chrysocoma Linosyris_, _Amaranthus luteus_ (Golden Flower Gentle),
and, by Gerarde, to _Muscus capillaris_ (Golden Maidenhair Moss).
_Camelina sativa_ is the Gold of Pleasure.

=GOLUBETZ.=--There is a popular belief in Russia, that anyone drinking
a draught of water in which this plant of the marshes has been steeped,
will be exempt from attacks by bears.

=GOOD HENRY.=--The Allgood, English Mercury, Good Henry, or Good King
Harry (_Chenopodium Bonus Henricus_) seems to have been given its name
of Good Henry to distinguish it from a poisonous plant called _Malus
Henricus_. Grimm explains that the name Henry has reference in this
case to elves and kobolds, which were called Heinz and Heinrich.

=GOOL-ACHIN.=--The _Plumeria acutifolia_, a tree of American origin,
is called by the