Old Wives’ Tales About Plants

Folk lore is rich in stories of plants and the effects they have on people. These range from cures for rheumatism to plants that make dogs mad, from those that ward off plagues to others that free rooms of mice, from fertility potions to cures for coughs.

There are even plants that have amusing stories about their value in aiding eager lovers to find a husband or wife, although mainly it has been women who wish to know who their beau will be. Here are some stories associated with plants and love.

Love potions and charms have long been part of plant lore. An old love charm practised on St. Luke’s Day, the 18th of October, was to take Marigold flowers, a little Wormwood and sprigs of Thyme and Marjoram and to dry them gently before a fire. They were then simmered with vinegar and honey over a slow fire. On going to bed, lovers desirous of a partner would anoint themselves with this and repeat the following lines three times: “St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me, In dreams let me my true-love see”.Old Wives' Tales About Plants misteltoe

This supposedly ensured that the lover had a vision of a new partner.

Good and bad news Mistletoe has a “good news, bad news” aspect to it. For many years it has created an excuse for gathering illicit kisses at Christmas, but it is said that if a girl is not kissed under the mistletoe before her marriage she will never have children. Also, unless the piece of mistletoe that had people kissing under it was taken down and burned on Twelfth Night, it was believed that those who kissed under it would be quarrelling before the beginning of the following year.

Love lore

Daisies are associated with several superstitions of a romatic nature. One is that if a girl holds a daisy and one-by-one pulls off the petals, while repeating the words “be loves me, be loves me not”, the final petal will give her the answer. However, as the petals are usually present in odd numbers, if the chant begins on the proposition that be loves her, she is fairly sure to have confirmation of it! Significantly, at one time the Daisy was known as the Measure of Love.

Another story about daisies is that when you can put your foot over seven of their flowers, summer has arrived.

Love and marriage Foretelling of the man a girl will marry is always a major part of folklore. If on Hallowe’en a girl went out into the garden after dark and sprinkled hem pseed while chanting the following lines, she might see her future lover over her shoulder: “Hempseed I sow, Hempseed I throw, Let him who be my true love Come after me”.

Apple pips are said to provide a test for true love. Ito girl thought of her boy-friend while placing an apple pip on a bar of a hot fire — at the same time reciting the following lines — its reaction would indicate his faithfulness:

“If you love me, bound and fly,

If you hate me, lie and die”.

The Ash tree is said to play a role in helping a girl to learn of her future husband. She had to place an ash leaf in her left shoe. The first man she met after ding this was her husband-to-be.

If a family wished to know if there would be a wedding in their family that year, they had only to examine a Myrtle growing in their garden. If the Myrtle flourished it indicated a marriage.

A test to see if a couple would get married is for each of them, at the same time, to drop an acorn into a bowl of water. If the acorns float together, the couple would marry happily.

Time telling

Dandelions have a romantic association, as well as entertaining children as clocks. When fully-open flower heads are blown, the number of puffs taken to remove the seed heads is said to indicate the time of day. For an unmarried girl, the number of puffs needed indicates the number of years before she gets married.

Fern folklore

Ferns— ideal on shady patios— are steeped in folklore, some with a romantic association. One story is that if the spores of bracken are carried in a pocket or handbag it ensures that the owner’s loved one will never leave.

Good luck

Common Ivy, the parent of many colourfully-leaved offspring used indoors as houseplants, is considered to be a good-luck plant. A girl wishing to find a husband would pick a leaf and while holding it to her heart would recite the following verse:

Ivy, Ivy, I love you, In my bosom I put you, The first young man who speaks to me, My future husband will be”.

Another romantic association with ivy is that if a young man gathers ten leaves on Hallowe’en night, throws one away and places the other under his pillow, it will make him dream of his future wife.

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