Category Archives: herblore

Eucalyptus


Eucalyptus Tree, Pine River Island, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Eucalyptus
Myrtaceae

Common Names:

“Eucalypts”, “Gum Trees”, “mallees”, “mallet”, “marlock”, “Apple Box”,

Taphonomy/Taxonomy:

Over 700 Species.

Localities:

Native to Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia. Might be native to the Archipelagos of the Philippines as well as Taiwan. With over 700 Species, 691 are found in Australia, and 15 of the species can be found outside of Australia, with only 9 species not local to Australia. Eucalyptus species are found cultivated in other parts of the world, especially in tropical/subtropical regions in the Americas, Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East, China, and India.

Description:

One of the most dominant fast growing trees found in Australia, the Eucalypus is a diverse species of Myrtle Family trees and shrubs.Single stemmed with a crown forming a minor proportion of the tree height for the trees found in forests, and single stemmed with short branches above ground level for those in the woodlands. Those that are multi-stemmed from the ground level but rarely taller than 10 meter height are called “Mallees” and have crowns at the ends of the branchlets. Leaves are lanceolate shaped, alternate, petiolate, and waxy/glossy evergreen though some tropical species lose their leaves during termination of a dry season. The leaves are covered with oil glands. Mature trees have numerous full leafs and are towering giants offering patchy shade as the leaves droop downwards. Leaves of the seedlings are sometimes sessile, glaucous, and opposite. There are numerous differences between species. The flowers are very distinct for the Eucalyptus as well as its capsule/gumnut fruit. White, cream, pink/red, or yellow fluffy stamened flowers with no petals enclosed by a operculum cap composed of fused petals, sepals, or a combination. When the stamens expand, the operculum breaks off splitting from the cup-like flower base and is what gives to the naming of the tree. Fruis are cone-shaped, woody with valves at its ends that release the seeds. Full or Half Barks can range from smooth to textured, stringybarks, ironbarks, tessellated, boxed with short fibres, or ribbon barked with a satiny sheen as white, grey, green, copper, or cream colored. Dead bark can sometimes be retained in the lower half of the trunks/stems. Relating to the Gum Tree family as many species will release gummy sap where a break on a branch or the bark occurs. Its roots control sitting water, drainage, and irrigation. Some species of Eucalyptus are amongst the tallest trees in the world. The oils in the wood, bark, and leaves are highly flammable and can become explosive during forest fires.

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The Tree Leaves Oracle & Folk Fellowship

The Tree Leaves’ Oracle and Folk Fellowship
* www.treeleavesoracle.org * 1991 – Present * Livejournal Community * Facebook Group *

Founded in 1991 as an underground Neo-Pagan newsletter, evolving into an arts and crafts wandering business, “Tree Leaves” eventually mutated into a cooperative / collective of folk enthusiasts, folklorists, artists, musicians, religionists, and culturalists who seek to preserve folk and tree lore, culture, ways, religion, art, music, and beliefs. As a cooperative, members network together, share ideas, theories, concepts, art, techniques, and lore to help one another preserve traditions, knowledge, and beliefs that have been generated in the past, present, and future. Tree Leaves sprouted from an entity known as “The Tree Leaves’ Oracle”. (The Tree Leaves’ Oracle started as a community newsletter and grew into a journal. It became an organization, a store, a company, and was reduced back to a journal offered by the Folk Fellowship to it’s membership. From 2007-2008 it became a faerie and art store in historic Manitou Springs, Colorado.)

When “The Tree Leaves’ Oracle” started out as a Tallahassee Florida publication in 1991 it very quickly shifted into a nomadic arts/crafts/oils/ and herbal sachets nomadic peddling business founded at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon that same year. In 1993 a not-for-profit special-interest group was formed for the study of folklore and the offering of folk artist networking as a avenue for drum circles, talent shows, classes, and discussion groups. This special-interest group became known as “The Tree Leaves’ Folk Fellowship”. Tree Leaves soon took off on it’s own and escaped the financial support of “The Tree Leaves’ Oracle”. In fact, as the “The Tree Leaves Oracle, Inc.” collapsed as a corporation, the Folk Fellowship was still holding activities and networking several hundred enthusiasts of folk culture (and a membership base of a couple hundred). The Tree Leaves Folk Fellowship was officially born and founded as a separate entity in November of 1995 with conceptual activities sprouting in 1994. Through membership dues and support, the fellowship offered it’s collective a bi-annual journal called The “Tree Leaves’ Oracle”, a quarterly newsletter known as “Tree Talk”, an annual membership directory, a web site, and a board of Directors and volunteers who actively organized activities, events, and question/answer support for those seeking answers about folk culture. Because of difficulties with volunteer support, The Tree Leaves’ Folk Fellowship closed it’s person-to-person activities and community support on September 1st of 1998. By October 1, 1998 Tree Leaves had mutated into a internet organization that operated on a strictly cyber-basis. (although Tree Leaves’ Folk Fellowship forest groups still held activities in their local areas) The official organization stopped holding events, printing paper publications, and no longer offered telephone or person-to-person guidance & support. After careful consideration of the expenses involved in becoming a non-profit tax-exempt organization, Tree Leaves decided to remain not-for-profit and allow other organizations to donate support and funding for it’s operation and existence. The journal, website and former newsletters were shortly made available for free online. Their folk journal is sporadically still published online for free viewing by anyone with internet access. From 1998 to 2000, Tree Leaves was adopted by the research and design firm known as “Leafworks, Inc.” (a company now defunct). From the death of Leafworks, Tree Leaves operated under the wings of Wandering Leaf Designs. Reproduction of all cyber published materials was available for a nominal printing or reproduction cost through copyright held by Wandering Leaf, LLC. (now defunct)

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The Eight Fold Path

© 1986-1990; 1990-2000; 2001-2010; 2011: Technogypsie.com/Treeleavesoracle.org/Leaf McGowan. Edited and adapted earlier versions for use in training a magical apprentice rite/workshop on Monday, 16 August 2010. No portion of this text may be copied or reproduced without permission from author: technogypsie@gmail.com.

The Eightfold Path to Altered States of Consciousness

In Ritual or spellcraft, the ritualist/magician/witch/Druid needs to incorporate the altered states of consciousness in order to tap into a higher consciousness and the field of energy from which to do magical workings. This is also the method utilized for connecting with otherworldly entities on their levels of existence – whether that be the otherworld, the faerie world, the spirit realm, ancestral realm, or Realm of Deities. The more elements that can be implemented for altered consciousness from the 8 fold path, the stronger your altered state of consciousness will become, and the stronger, more dramatic, and serious the working will be. Including all 8 forms of the Eight Fold Path will ensure complete success with your working – however, sometimes it is not logistically possible to include all 8.

By mastering your state of consciousness at will with intent helps focalize the energy and controls the magical current, opening communication with Deity and entities, and finding successful results. Altering one’s consciousness is not always safe, so one needs to be aware of what they are doing, the process by which they are operating within, and what methodology they utilize to achieve various results. It is the means to achieving Prana, Mana, or the Magical Life Force.

1. MEDITATION OR TRANCE

“Path of Breath” – The first of the Eightfold Path is accomplished by altering state of consciousness through specific forms of breathing. This is often achieved by emptying the mind, embracing a state of stillness, encompassing a state of serenity, and inducing a state of tranquility. Implementation of visualization, focused thought, projection, intention, concentration of intention, and trance work are all elements of this path. The highest point in the first path is projection of the astral body.

2. RITUAL/CHANTS/SPELLS/CHARMS

The second of the the Eightfold Path is the creation of sacred space and by doing deliberate intentional activities imbued with symbology, meaning, and projection. By creating a space in which to do the sacred, you achieve altering a point in time, space, and continuum. When you utilize symbols, spells, chants, tools, amulets, talismans, and mantras – it creates focus, rhythm, rhyme, replication, and circulates the energy achieved within and without.

3. RHYTHM, MUSIC, AND DANCE

The third of the Eightfold Path is by incorporating rhythmic repetitive motions, dancing, drumming, or music making. Dancing repetitively or wildly, ecstatically, or frantic rhythmic moving or motion of the body, spirit, and/or soul creates trance-like states, altered states of consciousness, and chemical/physical changes in the body, mind, and spirit. Circle dances, spiral dances, cone of power raising, drum circle dances, etc. will circulate, build up, and propel energy within and without.

4. ASCETIC PATH: FASTING, DEPRIVATION, PURIFICATION

The fourth of the Eightfold Path is accomplished by placing the physical body into an extreme state of deprivation, deprival, or change of environment from the usual comfort zone. This can include fasting, sensory deprivation, purification ordeals, etc. Some physical environments that can induce these atmospheres are sweat lodges, saunas, hot springs, isolation tanks, and/or pure darkness. By deprivation, the physical and mental body will react with its own energy fields creating visions, omens, oracles, prophecies, and hallucinations. The mind will generate images, ideas, thoughts, and processes that will assist the body to survive or transition.

5. IMBIBING SACRED PLANTS, “SPIRITS”, OR ALTEROGENS

The fifth of the Eightfold Path is communing with Spirits or entities that can include a “chemical” nature that poisons or possesses the physical body and mental state of the brain. Utilizing the “Spirits” or entities of plants and substances to chemically alter the mind/body into a state of consciousness. Drugs, alcohol, ethnobotanical plants with shamanic side effects are common instruments for this alteration. This path is onne of the most notorious instant methods for altering the state of consciousness, especially when one has difficultly doing it by means of their physical body without the introduction of a separate substance/spirit into the body. One needs to have a good relationship (or develop one) with the plant or spirit in question. Every plant, alcohol, or drug has a “spirit” – this is why alcohol is often referred to as “spirits”. It has a consciousness and by blending together that spirit with yours, will alter the state to the consciousness one seeks. This can include food and drink – as anything entering into the body alters its chemical and biological state. Cakes and Ale, Waters of Life, hosts, Body & Blood of Christ, sacrements, etc are common found types of this path in most religions. This can also include incense, oils, scents, and fragrances that can alter one’s being by the senses. Read my article on “Spirits” of Alcohol here: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=1080.

6. PATH OF THE FLESH / SEX

The sixth path is the Path of the Flesh or Sexual Magic / Tantra / Love / Lust. The utilization of “sexual energy” as a means to open one’s self to the spirits. Sexual energy, generated alone or with a partner, raises the strongest forms of magical power, contact with prana, mana, the akh, the ba, the ka, and instantly alters the state of consciousness by a natural means of chemicals with reaction in the body that can even overpower the fifth path of the plant or altergen. This is accomplished with masturbation, Sexual thought, Sexual play or stimulation, Intercourse and/or interaction with others that can introduce this state instantly. This is often accomplished in ritual with Sex Magic, The Great Rite, Tantra, etc. The rituals of love and lust can also tap this energy and be embraced to alter the state of consciousness with which to connect to spirits, Deities, the Otherworld, and prana.

7. PATH OF ORDEALS/PAIN

The seventh path is by going through an ordeal, a tragedy, embracing or experiencing pain or physical/emotional trauma. This, like chemicals or spirits, sex or deprivation, chemically and physically alters the mind, body, and spirit and launches a state of altered consciousness. By embracing this altered state – it becomes easier to focus that manifestation of power into projected will to focus on what is willed to be achieved. The intentional or careful use of pain to place the body into an altered state of consciousness is the most common ordeal one can manifest. Pain and endurance, trials, or challenges will effect change in state sometimes as powerfully equal as the path of the flesh or sex. This is often done in ritual or ceremony by means of flagellation, BDSM, tattooing, blood-runes carved into the flesh, the Sundance, cutting, wounding, or self infliction.

8. POSSESSION/EVOCATION/PATH OF THE HORSE

The final path of the Eight is Possession, Evocation, or allowing oneself to be ridden like a horse. This is the intentional act of permitting direct spirit-possession to bring Deities or spirts into the body for a short period of time. This can also be the most dangerous form of altering one’s consciousness. Some individuals are wired to do this, others are not. Much study and focus must be achieved before embracing this method.

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Prana, Mana, The Life Force

Spirit Force, Life Force, The Force, Mana, Prana, Spiritual Energy

Many see this as the all creating and destroying eternal force in the universe from which all life – whether biological or spirit comes from or departs to. Some call it the Creator, some see it as above any Creator or God/desses. Some call it a Supreme Being, others call it the Universe. Some call it “Energy” while others call it “Magic”. Some give it a consciousness while others see it as a energy field. Every religion, cult, belief system, form of spirituality and even alternative medicinal practices embrace and address it. It is seen as a variety of phenomena that is observed or experienced by some observers in a particular faith, spirituality, or religion. It is seen as the “energy” that is the life force that flows within and between all things. It is Life. It is the “breath of life”. It is seen as the continuum that unites body with the mind and spirit. It is what makes a animal be “alive”, or a plant “grow”, or a lightning bolt scream across the sky. It is the force behind gravity, science, and magic. Some see it as “vitality” or “vitalism”, “subtle bodies”, “qi”, “prana”, “mana”, or “kundalini”. Some say you can see this energy force as “vibrations”, “rays of light”, “fields”, or “auras”. It is the web of life that connects all life together. PRANA is the Sanskrit term for “vital life”. It comes from the roots “pra” meaning “to fill” and Latin “plenus” meaning “full”. It is seen as one of the five organs of vitality or sensation, as “breath”, “speech”, “sight”, “hearing”, and “thought”. It is the notion of the vital life sustaining force of all life and vital energy. Mana as a Oceanic term for the impersonal force or quality that lives within animals and inanimate objects. It is seen as the “stuff of which magic is formed” as well as the substance from which souls are made.

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Faerie Trees

 


Fairy Tree, the Curraugh, Kildare, Ireland

Faerie Trees
United Kingdom and Ireland

Faerie trees are mythical hotspots of otherworldly and/or faerie activity. Faerie trees are seen as the haunts of Faeries. They are fiercely protected by the Fae. It is believed that any human foolish enough to pass by a host-tree late at night will find their arms bruised or pinched by small faerie fingers. Three thorn trees growing closely together are especially potent. Thorn trees hung with ribbons or rags are good gifts to faeries of the tree. Faerie trees are most associated with the Oak, Ash, and Thorn. Sometimes it is associated with the Rowan tree. Others claim its the Elder, Blackthorn, Hazel, and/or Alder. The trees most twisted together are the most notorious of faerie trees – and this is common amongst the Elder. If two thorns and an elder are found together it warns of great danger as do Oak, Ash, and Thorn. In the British Isles, the Rowan is believed to protect one from witchcraft and enchantment. Its berries opposite its stalk display tiny five pointed stars or pentagrams which are notable protective symbols. Color red, as in the flavor of the berry, is also seen as a protection against enchantment. The tree is believed to afford protection to the dwellings by which it grew and often people would take branches of the tree to be carried for personal protection from witchcraft. The belief in them go back to classical mythology, whereas legends tell us that ‘Hebe’, the Goddess of youth, once dispensed rejuvenating ambrosia to the Gods from her magical chalice. When she lost this cup to demons, the Gods sent an eagle to recover the cup. The feathers and drops of blood which the eagle bled in the fight, fell to the earth, whereas each one of them turned into a Rowan tree – the legendary Faerie Tree. It is because of this it is believed that the Rowan derived the shape of its leaves from eagle’s feathers and its berries look like the droplets of blood. The Rowan is also prominent in Norse mythology as being the tree from where the first woman was made. The Mountain Ash were also associated as Faerie Trees which are the most well-known of the Rowan. The wood of the Rowan is often used for staves, wands, divining rods, and walking sticks. Berries are often used to make alcoholic drinks.


The Curraugh, Kildare, Ireland

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Gorse

 

 

 

 

Gorse

Ulex europaeus or common names: Gorse, furze, furse, or whin

Taxonomy: Kingdom: Plantae; Division: Magnoliophyta; Class: Magnoliopsida; Order: Fabales; Family: Fabaceae; Subfamily: Faboideae; Genus: Ulex; Species: U. europaeus; Binomial name: Ulex europaeus L.

Gorse is a common name for the Ulex europaeus, a genus of roughly 20 species of spiny evergreen shrubs that are native to Western Europe and Northwest Africa. It is closely related to the ‘Broom’ Family hosting green stems with small leaves. The plant is extremely dry in its branches and leaves – making it a severe fire hazard with an explosive burst with wildland fires. Because of the quick fire explosions and passing on of the waves of flames – gorse is very good at withstanding fire damage and spreads its seed pods best when torched by wildfire. Burnt stumps will sprout new growth from the roots. The branches host extreme spininess with shoots branching out 1-4 cms long. It can grow up to 2-3 meters tall (7-10 feet). Leaves of younger plants are trifoliate resembling a small clover leaf before they evolve into scales or small spines. All of the species host yellow flowers. Many of these species grow in sunny sites in dry, sandy soils. Flowers bloom from late autumn throughout the winter season with flowers strongest in the spring. Some gorse is always in flower and host a coconut-like scent. Gorse is the perfect environment for wildlife nesting and protecting its inhabitants from predators due to the dense thorny cover.
Culinary: The flowers are edible and often used in salads, tea, and in the manufacture of a non-grape based wine. It is high in protein and commonly used to feed livestock as fodder.
Common uses: Used as livestock fodder. Bundles of gorse used to fire traditional bread ovens. According to Jasmine ( jasmine@archaeosophia.co.uk / http://www.archaeosophia.co.uk ) “Gorse may also used in the vitrification of Iron Age hill-forts in Scotland; experimental archaeology has shown that the temperatures it can reach are high enough to turn rock to glass. The fires would have to be kept burning for about a week to maintain the process… In 1934, Vere Gordon Childe and his colleague designed a test wall that was 12 feet long, six feet wide and six feet high, which was built for them at Plean Colliery in Stirlingshire. “They used old fireclay bricks for the faces and pit props as timber, and filled the cavity between the walls with small cubes of basalt rubble. They covered the top with turf and then piled about four tons of scrap timber and brushwood against the walls and set fire to them. Because of a snowstorm in progress, a strong wind fanned the blazing mixture of wood and stone so that the inner core did attain some vitrification of the rock”. Modern foresters can attest to gorse fires raging across hillsides well in excess of 800 degrees centigrade on open ground – a covered, stoked fire fed over time would be capable of vitrification and gorse not only freely covers most Scottish hillsides, but is one species which seems to actively flourish after fires – the perfect renewable resource.” [Thanks Jasmine!]
Folklore: ‘When gorse is in flower, kissing is in fashion” is a common rhyme.

 

 

 


Gorse
The Curraugh, Kildare, Ireland

Our Official Page on Gorse is now located at: http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/gorse/.

Our Official Page on “Foxglove” is located at http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/foxglove/.

Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via Technogypsie.com at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Articles and Research papers are done at the Author’s expense. If you donate below, you’ll help contribute to the costs of the research that provided this article. Any Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

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The Wishing Steps of Rock Close

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Wishing Steps

Wishing Steps
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

Onwards with the quest for charms and blessings, just after kissing the legendary Blarney Stone for the gift of gab we wandered into The Rock Close of Blarney Castle. It was time to visit the wiley old witch of Blarney for a endowment of wishes. The witch requires the wisher to walk backwards up and down the steps with their eyes closed without stopping for a moment or thinking of anything other than the wish – then that wish will come true within a year. Of course I did it, and those who know me can only guess what my wish was … The roughly hewn 21-24 limestone steps climb up through an archway of limestone rocks. The steps can be wet and very slippery. Legend states that the witch was forced to do these blessings on the steps as a way for her to pack for her firewood she uses in the Witches kitchen located at the top of the steps. It is believed that if you go up the stairs early in the morning you will see dying embers in the fire pit of the Witches’ Kitchen and Stone which is supposedly lit every night by the Blarney Castle Witch.

The witch supposedly grants the wish within a year’s time. Others say a “year and a day”. My wish came true in precisely a year and 2 months. On June 28, 2010 I wished to be united with my soul mate and twin flame that previous prophecies said I’d meet. I also always had dreams as a child I’d marry an Irish woman. A year later in 2011 I was supposed to go to Ireland but while in Scotland ran out of money and called to tell my Irish friends I wasn’t able to come for a visit. They asked if I was going to Burning Man to which I replied, “I couldn’t afford it”. They had a position open for me as staff in helping build the Celtic dragon effigy for Ireland at Burning Man, so I went. I had a theme camp set up called “Tir na nOg” and was a base camp for the Irish crew. The night of the Effigy burn, I was a fire guardian and while watching the perimeter, had a friend from Colorado come fire spin for the event and she needed a safety person – unable to assist as I was already tied up with the boundary, I looked around the audience and saw a woman dressed like a leprechaun who was sober – I asked her to assist and she did. Afterwards I invited her back to our Tir na nOg camp, fed her fairy food and drink, and we fell in love. It turned out she was from Ireland, via the Pacific Northwest after working a summer on Vancouver Island, and lived in Cork – a stone’s throw from the Blarney Witch. She was looking for other Irish to hang out with. I moved to Dublin with her, two months later at the Stone of Destiny was inspired to propose to her, and we soon after married and gave birth to a beautiful son. So every year we return to the Blarney Witch to thank her for playing cupid. In our experience, we believe the wishing steps work.

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The Blarney Poison Garden


The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

The Poison Garden:
Blarney Castle, Ireland * 021-4385252 * vwww.blarneycastle.ie *

One of the most intriguing features of the castle grounds of Blarney Castle for a botanist, scientist, or herbalist is the castle’s “Poison Garden”. A collection of plants embracing the world’s most deadliest toxins, one can walk amongst danger and see, smell, and view from close proximity what plants take the lives of hundreds of thousands of human lives annually. The garden has been active since the 18th century and a popular tourist attraction along with the other gardens on the grounds as the estate extends to over 1,000 acres of gardens (the poison garden is just a small tiny yard). The garden is located hidden behind the Castle’s battlements. Some of the more toxic or illegal of substances are located within large black conical iron cages to protect them from the tourist and the viewer from their toxicity. Some of the garden’s plants are controlled substances and therefore heavily monitored. During my 2010 and 2012 visits, many of the caged plants were empty, including the cannabis specimen. This specimen was Taken by the local gardai in 2010. Upon a visit in 2013, the Cannabis plant is not only present but enormous.

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Cannabis plant, Blarney Castle’s Poison Garden, Ireland

Of the ones I photographed and wrote about below, are:

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Cherry Laurel



Cherry Laurel
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Cherry Laurel:
Prunus laurocerasus [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Rosales: Rosaceae: Prunus: Prunus laurocerasus ]

Common Names:
Cherry Laurel, English Laurel

Localities:
Native to regions bordering the Black Sea in southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe, from Albania to Bulgaria east through Turkey and Iran. It is a invasive species in the United Kingdom and Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Species:
There are over 40 cultivars; Numerous varieties of Cherry Laural, Magnofolia is the large leaf’ed one, Otto Luyken is compact with abundant flowers, Schipkaensis is the hardiest wid spreading smaller leaved plant; Zabeliana has narrow willow type leaves.

Description:
A low, compact spreading evergreen shrub or upright small tree, with a maximum height of 20-25 feet and 18 feet width with 2-6 in long / 1/2 to 1 inch wide narrowly oblong smooth edged dark green above and paler green below leaves. The shiny leathery leaves flower into fragrant white 1/4 inch long flowers in narrow cylindrical clusters 2-5 inches long in late spring and summer. The flowers blossom into 1/2 inch long oval green drooping fruits that are believed to be mildly poisonous. It has a rapid growth patern coupled with being a evergreen, tolerant of drought and shade, thereby out competing and killing off native plant species making it an invasive species in some parts of the world.

Cultivation:
Can handle difficult growing conditions including shaded and dry soils.

Common Uses:
Common as a garden ornamental and a favorite in North American yards. Common in landscaping. Leaves repel weevils, fleas, and lice.

Culinary Uses:
Cherries are edible, but the rest of the plant can be poisonous. Leaves are used like bay leaves (laurel family) as a culinary spice albeit the leaves has toxins.

Medicinal Uses:
Most parts of the plant are poisonous including the seeds as they contain cyanogenic glycosides and amygdalin.

Magical Uses:
The leaves can be used to ward off evil spirits.

Folklore and History:


Cherry Laurel
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

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The Chaste Tree



Vitus agnus – Chastus – Chaste tree
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Chaste Tree:
Vitex agnus-castus [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Lamiales: Lamiaceae: Vitex: Vitex agnus-castus ]

Common Names: Vitex, Chaste Tree, Chasteberry, Hemp tree, Abraham’s Balm, Chaste Lamb-Tree, Safe Tree, monk, or Monk’s Pepper

Localities:
Native of the Mediterranean region; woodlands of southern Europe and dry areas of western Asia.

Species:

Description:
The Chaste Tree is an sprawling deciduous aromatic tree or large shrub that grows height and equal width of 1-5 meters and is most notable for its aromatic flowers and leaves. Its palmately compound leaves and tender stem grow upwards of 10 cm with 5-7 fingerlike leaflets (similar in appearance to the leaves of a marijuana plant), blossoming into violet to blue to deep purple flowers and fruits on new wood in late spring and early summer that bear medicinal seeds.

Cultivation:
Best cultivated in warm temperate and subtropical regions, native to woodlands and dry areas requiring full sun or partial shade with well-drained soil.

Common Uses:
Is a popular fruit plant used to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and supports sustainable landscaping. Branches were used to make furniture.

Culinary Uses:
The seeds are sometimes used as a seasoning, similar to black pepper.

Medicinal Uses:
The seeds of the Chaste Tree are medicinal and harvested by gently rubbing berries loose from the stem. Leaves ,flowers, and berries are consumed as decoctions, tinctures, teas, syrups, elixirs, or raw and help interact with hormonal circadian rhythms, as a tonic for male/female reproductive systems, and improve fertility. It is a carminative, a anxiolytic, a aphrodisiac, and an anaphrodisiac. Extracts have proven effective in managing premenstrual stress syndrome (PMS) and cyclical breast pain (mastalgia). Low doses it is used to suppress sexual desire by inhibiting activation of dopamine 2 receptors, but in higher doses the binding activity is sufficient to reduce the release of prolactin thereby influencing levels of follicle-stimulating hormones and estrogen in women and testosterone in men. It is also described in literature as a fertility-promoting herb used as such from Ancient Greek times to increase odds of conceiving a baby and to reat symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance, skin conditions, and PMS. Science has found confirmation with this to help stimulate and stabilize reproductive hormones involved in ovulation, cycle balance, and menstrual regularity. A hot decoction of the seeds are used as a contraceptive.

Magical Uses:
Believed to invoke chastity and celibacy, quieting desires of the flesh.

Folklore and History: Called Monk’s Pepper as it was once used by monks as a anti-libido medicine to remain chaste – which gave name to the Chaste Tree. It was believed in ancient times to be a anaphrodisiac though others claim it to be an aphrodisiac. The Chaste tree was associated with various Greek festivals – especially one held in honor of Demeter, the Greek Goddess of agriculture / fertility / marriage / and women who remained chaste during the festival who used tree blossoms to adorn the temples during the festivities. Roman virgins carried twigs of the tree as a symbol of their chastity. Hera, the Goddess protectress of marriage, was born under as chaste tree. Pliny claimed it “checks violent sexual desire”. Also said if one keeps a twig in their hand or in their girdle won’t suffer from chafing between the thighs.

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Oleander



Oleander
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Oleander
Nerium oleander [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Gentianales: Apocynaceae: Apocynoideae: Wrightieae: Nerium: Nerium oleander ]

Common Names: Oleander

Localities:
Commom from Morocco to Portugal eastward into the Mediterranean and throughout southern Asia to Yunnan and southern China.

Species:

Description:
The Oleander tree is a poisonous evergreen shrub or small tree that grows upwards of 2-6 meters tall with spreading or erect branches sprouting thick and leathery dark green narrow lanceolate leaves in pairs or whorls of three, upwards of 5-21 cm long, 1-4 cm broad with a margin; blossoming white / pink / red/ or yellow 2.5-5 cm diameter flowers in clusters at the end of each branch with deep 5 lobed corollas with a fringe round the central corolla tube. These produce long narrow capsulated fruits 5-23 cm long that open at maturity to release numerouse downy seeds.

Cultivation:
Grows typically around dry stream beds. Best in warm subtropical regions. It is drought tolerant and tolerate occasional light frost. It is deer resistant and tolerant of poor soils and drought. It is very easy to grow as it is adaptable and requires little maintenance able to survive without water for weeks.

Common Uses:
Gardening ornamental, oddly very common in school yards though very toxic to children.

Culinary Uses:
If ingested in sufficient quantity is very toxic.

Medicinal Uses:
Oleander is one of the most poisonous plants in the world with numerous toxic compounds. The most potent toxins in oleander are oleandrin and neriine which are cardiac glycosides which are present in all parts of the plant, concentrated in the sap. The bark contains rosagenin known for its strychnine-like effects. Upwards of 10-20 leaves consumed by an adult can create adverse reactions and a single leaf lethal to a child. In Southern India, mashing and ingesting oleander seeds are a common method for suicide. Ingestion creates gastrointestinal and cardiac effects, with nauseau, vomiting, excess salivation, abdominal pain, diarrhea with or withou blood, and colic. Poisoning requires immediate treatment, with charcoal being common to absorb toxins and digoxin immune fab as the best antidote. It is very toxic to livestock with as little as 100 g of leaves able to kill a adult horse. There are internet rumors that Oleander is a potential treatment for skin cancer and for anti-viral treatments. It has been endorsed in the supplement “OPC Extract” for its use in treating HIV.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: Its name was derived from the old latin name for flower used first in the ancient city of Volubilis in Morocco. Pliny the Elder wrote in 77 CE that despite its toxicity was a effective snakebite cure if taken in wine with rue. Historically used in Mesopotamia 15th c. BCE for healing; Babylonians mixed oleander with licorice to treat hangovers, and Arab physicians used it as a cancer treatment as early as 8th century CE. The Bible refers to Oleander as “the Desert Rose”.

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Poison Ivy



Poison Ivy/Oak
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Poison Ivy
Toxicodendron radicans [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Rosids: Sapindales: Anacardiaceae: Toxicodendron: Toxicodendron radicans ]

Common Names:

Localities:
Poison Ivy grows throughout North America, in the United States and through Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba of Canada as well as the mountainous regions of Mexico.

Species:
Its similar species, poison oak – Toxicodendron rydbergii is found in the western United States.

Description:
Poison Ivy is a dioecious poisonous North American plant growing either as a trailing vine (upwards of 10-25 cm), a shrub (upwards of 1.2 meters), or as a climbing vine growing on trees. It is an understory plant in the forest. This vine has reddish hairs that are like leaves, that branch off light to dark green leaves that turn bright red in the fall. Leaflets of mature leaves are shiny ranging from 3-12 cm long, but rarely upwards of 30 cm in length, each leaflet has few to no teeth along its edges and hosting a smooth surface, clustering alternate on the vine that produces numerous aerial rootlets as well as adventitious roots that can spread from rhizomes or root crowns. It blossoms inconspicuous yellowish or greenish white flowers bundled in clusters up to 8 cm above the leaves from May to July. Flowers fruit into berry-like drupes that mature from August to November with a greyish white color feeding many birds and animals that disperse the seeds in their droppings.

Cultivation:
Is found in wooded areas along plant edge areas, in exposed rocky areas, open fields, and disturbed areas. It is shade tolerant. It is not sensitive to soil moisture but does not grow in deserts or arid conditions. It can habitate a wide variety of soil types, as well as areas subject to seasonal flooding, or brackish water.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
Poison Ivy produces urushiol, a clear liquid in the sap that causes an itching rash to those who encounter it. It creates a reaction that is urushiol-induced to cause dermatitis that 70-85% of the human population allergically reacts to that can progres to anaphylaxis. Poison Ivy attacks upwards of 350,000 people a year. If the plant is burned and the smoke inhaled, it will cause a rash on the lungs causing pain and possible fatal respiratory issues; If eaten it will damage the mouth and digestive tract. The rash can lasts 1-4 weeks depending on severity and treatment. Its oil can stay active for several years, so handling dead leaves and vines, exposed gloves or clothes, can cause a reaction.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: “Leaves of three, let it be”; “Raggy rope, don’t be a dope”; “One, two, three? don’t touch me!”; “Berries white, run in fright”; “Berries white danger in sight”; “LOnger middle stem, stay away from them”; “Red leaflets in the spring, it’s a dangerous thing”; “Side leaflets like mitens, will itch like the dickens”; “If butterflies land there, don’t put your hand there”; and “If it’s got hair, it won’t be fair”; are folk rhymes to teach children to avoid the plant.


Poison Ivy/Oak
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

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White Hellebore: Veratrum album


Veratrum album, White helleborene
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

White Hellebore
Veratrum album [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Monocots: Liliales: Melanthiaceae: Veratrum: Veratrum album ]

Common Names: Bearsfoot, stinking hellebore, sabadilla, European Hellebore, Weisse Niesswurz, False Helleborine, White Veratrum

Localities:
White Hellebore is common throughout Europe, Lapland to Italy but does not occur in the British Isles; also found in Eurasia, the Alps, the Pyrenees, Russia, East Asia, Siberia, Northern China, Japan, and Northern Africa.

Species:
Helleborus orientalis (used for indigestion and diarrhea); Veratrum Californicum is a species found in Colorado and the Western U.S>;

Description:
White Hellebore is a perennial herb that grows up to 3.5 to 5 feet high with a blackish or brownish-white fleshy oblong horizontal rhizome that is as thick as a finger, which when fresh has an alliaceous odor but loses its smell fast as it drys. It is whitish or pale yellow white internally. Stem is straight, round, and striated that sprouts alternate plaited and broad-ovate leaves that blossom yellowish-white hermaphrodite flowers that have 8 lines in diameter and five large petal like sepals with 8-10 inconspicuous tubular petals with many stamens 3-10 pistils.

Cultivation:
Grows in moist grassy sub-alpine meadows and open woodlands.

Common Uses:
White Helloebore is primarily used for veterinary medicine. It was first used as a pesticide in Rome and Greece. It is used externally to kill lice. It was one of the four classic poisons in the classical world.

Culinary Uses:
The rhizome is sweet tasting at first, then biter and acrid leaving the tongue tingly and numb.

Medicinal Uses:
White Hellebore is extremely poisonous as a violent irritant and is one of the principal poisons used in European history for arrows and daggers. The parts of the plant used are primarily the root and rhizome. When powdered it is ash-colored and deteriorates the longer you keep it. It contains jervine, pseudo-jervine, rubijervine, veratralbine, and veratrine. It has fatty matter composed of olein, sterin, and volatile acids. If sniffed it causes profuse runny nose, when swallowed it causes sore mouth, swelling of the tongue, gastric heat, burning, severe vomiting and profuse diarrhea. It produces narcotic symptoms, stupor, and convulsions. This leads to vertigo, weakness, tremors, feeble pulse, loss of voice, dilation of pupils, spasms of the ocular muscles, blindness, cold sweating, and mental disturbances. Poisoning is treated by injections of coffee, opiates, and demulcents. In minor doses it is efficient on bowel disorders and/or gushing watery diarrhea with spasmodic or cramp-like actions on the intestines and is why its often used to treat cholera infantum, cholera morbus, and asiatic cholera. Originally used in cerebral affections such as mania, epilepsy, gout, and sometimes as a substitute for colchicum. It was on occasion used as an ointment for skin diseases such as scabies or to kill lice. It was also used as an errhine or sternutatory when diluted with starch for treating amaurosis and chronic affections of the brain. It has a paralyzing effect on the nervous system though scarcely used internally even though its alkaloids are used in the pharmaceudical industry. It contains the amorphous alkaloid Veratralbine (C26H43N05) and the three crystallize alkaloids ervine (C26H37NO3), pseudo-Jervine (C29H43NO7), and Rubijervive (C26H43NO3). Today it is primarily used to kill lice and cure scabies as many of its other applications are too risky. Historically though used to treate toothaches, epistaxis, brochial and respiratory affections, asthma, pneumonia, whooping cough, gastric disorders, cholera, colic, constipation, diarrhea, pregnancy disorders, sciatica, hernia, inflammation of the uterus, influenza, typhoid fever, yellow fever, measles, scarlatina, tapeworm, meningitis, epilepsy, opium poisoning, lock jaw, collapse, fainting, angina pecoris, and apoplexy.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: It is in the family of four classic deadly poisons used throughout history along with deadly nightshade, hemlock, and aconite. Its name “Hellebore” comes from the Greek “Elein” which means “to injure” and “bora” meaning “food”. Its use dates back to 1400 BCE when it was used as a pergative to cleanse the mind of all perverse habits .


Veratrum album, White helleborene
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

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Camellia: Green Tea



Camellia sinensis Tea
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Camellia: Green Tea
Camellia sinensis [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Ericales: Theaceae: Camellia: Camellia sinensis ]

Common Names: Green Tea, White Tea, Oolong, Pu-erh, black tea, tea plant, tea tree, tea shrub

Localities:
It is native to mainland China South and Southeast Asia, but is cultivated across the world in tropical and subtropical regions.

Species:

Description:
The infamous Chinese “Green Tea” plant, it is a flowering evergreen shrub/ small tree/ plant that can grow upwards of 6 feet from a strong taproot. It blossoms into yellow-white 2.5-4 cm diameter and 7-8 petal flowers.

Cultivation:
It is commonly cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates that have at least 127 cm annual rainfall. The plant will grow into a tree naturally. It typically blossoms in the fall. It needs full sun to partial shade and well drained, neutral to slightly acidic soil rich in organic mater.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:
Most commonly used for Chinese Tea, especially White Tea, Green Tea, Oolong, Pu-erh tea, and black tea differing on its oxidation. Its seeds are pressed into tea oil that is used for seasoning and cooking oil. It is a natural caffeine source and is used as a tea to gain energy.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves are used in Chinese medicine to treat asthma (as a brochodilator), angina pectoris, peripheral vascular disease, coronary artery disease, and other illnesses. It is good for treating bad breath. The tea is used to increase alertness (contains caffeine), cancer prevention, lowering cholesterol, and preventing Parkinson’s disease. Over-use has had various side effecs including nauseau, diarrhea, upset stomach, headaches, and dizziness.

Magical Uses:
Traditionally used in ceremonies to increase awareness during long meditations.

Folklore and History: The plant is named after the Latin term “Sinensis” which means “Chinese”. “Camellia” is named after the Rev. George Kamel who was a 1661-1706 Czech-born Jesuit priest who was a popular botanist and missionary to the Phillipines.

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Rhubarb: Rheum rhabarbarum


Rhubarb
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Rhubarb
Article by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions © November 23, 2010 published – all rights reserved.
Original and extensive article at http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1215

Rheum rhabarbarum [ Plantae: Eudicots: Core Eudicots: Polygonaceae: Rheum: R. rhabarbarum ]

Common Names:

Localities:
Grown throughout the world in heated greenhouses, it is a common vegetable all over.

Species:

Description:
Rhubarbs are a popular herbaceous perennial plant that grows up from short thick rhizomes sprouting with large triangular-shaped leaves with long fleshy petioles blossoming into a large compound of leafy greenish-white to rose-red inflorescence small grouped flowers. The crimson rhubarb stalks vary in color from crimson red, speckled light pink, or light green.

Cultivation:
It is commonly grown in hothouses which is ready for harvest mid-late spring though grown year-round in warm climates. It can be forced or encouraged by raising of the local temperature as it is a seasonal plant. It can be planted in containers.

Common Uses:
A rich brown dye close in color to walnut husks is created from its root.

Culinary Uses:
The leaves are toxic. Fresh raw stalks are crisp with a strong tart taste, commonly cooked as an alternative to celery but used in pies and other foods for its tart flavor. It is considered a vegetable. It is often dehydrated and infused with fruit juice such as strawberries to mimic strawberry rhubarb pie. It is used in pies, jams, jellies,fruit wines, sauces, and preserves. It was a quick snack for children in the UK who dipped it in sugar.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves are toxic and poisonous as it has oxalic acid, nephrotoxic, and corrosive acid in its leaves. The roots are used as a strong laxative for over 5,000 years. It has an astringent effect on the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose, is rich in anthraquinones, emodin, rhein, and are cathartic. It is commonly used as a dieting aid.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: Rhubarb is associated with the legend of Shen Nung, the Yan Emperor, in 2700 BCE as a strong medicinal herb and was harvested by Marco Polo in his travels. It was believed to be derived from Rha, the ancient name of the Volga, where the plant was found growing on its banks. Comes from the Greek root “rheo” meaning “to flow” in relation o its purgative properties. During the Ming Dynasty, a Ming general attempted suicide by eating rhubarb medicines.

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Black Cohosh


Black Cohosh
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Black Cohosh
Article by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions © November 23, 2010 published – all rights reserved.
Original and extensive article at http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1215

Cimicifuga racemosa, Actea racemosa [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Ranunculales: Ranunculaceae: Actaea: Cimicifuga racemosa, Actea racemosa ]

Common Names: black cohosh, black bugbane, black snakeroot, macrotys, bugbane, bugwort, rattleroot, rattleweed, or fairy candle

Localities:
North America; extreme south of Ontario south to central Georgia; west to Missouri and Arkansas; Found throughout areas of eastern and central United States.

Species:

Description:
Black Cohosh is part of the buttercup family. It is a tall smooth glabrous herbaceous perennial plant that has large compound leaves sprouting up from an underground rhizome reaching a height of 25-60 centimeters. Its leaves grow upwards of 1 meter long and broad in repeated sets of three leaflets and having a coarsely toothed serrated margin. It blossoms flowers in late spring and early summer on a tall stem roughly 75-250 cm tall forming racemes upwards of 50 cm in length with no petals or sepals, rather tight clusters of 55-110 white 5-10 mm long stamens surrounding a white stigma and hosting a sweet fetid smell attracting flies, gnats, and beetles. It produces a dry follicle fruit 5-10 mm long with a carpel containing several seeds.

Cultivation:
The plant grows in a variety of woodland habitats especially small woodland openings. In a garden, best sown in dependably moist fairly heavy soil.

Common Uses:
The juice of the plant is used as an insect repellent.

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
Extracts have analgesic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties. Roots and rhizomes used primarily for women’s health, it was used by Native Americans and is currently used for menstrual cramps, hot flashes, arthritis, muscle pain, sore throats, coughs, kidney problems, depression, and indigestion. A salve made of Black Cohosh is used to treat snake bites. Today in herbal healing and homeopathy, it is used to treat hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, vaginal dryness, menopause, menstrual cramps, menopausal symptoms, mood disturbances, heart palpitations, and bloating. It is the fresh or dried roots and underground stems (rhizones) that is used for herbal treating. Its active chemical compound is 26-deoxyactein. Science has found that Black Cohosh will improve some menopausal symptoms short term for upwards of six months. It hasn’t been determined as per the safety in used for pregnant or breastfeeding women or children. It is sometimes used by midwives to induce labor. It is not recommended for those with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovaries cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, using cisplatin for chemotherapy, or other conditions without discussing with a physician first. Side effects can include indigestion, headaches, nauseau, perspiration, vomiting, heaviness in the legs, weight gain, and low blood pressure; while excessive use could cause liver damage, seizures, visual disturbances, and slow or irregular heartbeats. Black Cohosh also contains salicylic acid, so is reactant to those allergic to aspirin or salicylates.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: Traditionally Black Cohosh was used by various Native American tribes as a folk remedy for women’s health conditions. It is believed to possess estrogen-like essences and therefore very helpful in treating women concerns, and while it works, science has not yet been able to explain its process of success.


Black Cohosh
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

120313-136

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Castor Oil Plant: Ricinus communis


Castor Oil Plant
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Castor Oil Plant
Ricinus communis [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Malpighiales: Euphorbiaceae: Acalyphoideae: Acalypheae: Ricininae: Ricinus communis ]

Common Names: Castor, Castor Oil, Bofareira, Castor Oil Plant, Castor Bean Plant, Mexico Seed, Oil Plant, Palma Christi, Pei-ma

Localities:
Originally native to Eastern Africa, southeastern Mediterranean Basin, and India, now cultivated throughout hot climates around the world especially Africa and Southern Asia.

Species:

Description:
The Castor Oil plant is an evergreen shrub or tree that grows upwards of 30-40 feet tall naturally, and found smaller in the cultivated varieties. The plant produces large broad deeply lobed purple-bronze to gray-green/dark maroon palm-shaped leaves off long stalks that blossom green petalless female flowers born on clusters above the male flowers that give birth in development to prickly bur-like capsules containing three red seeds.

Cultivation:
Seeds are gathered annually when ripe and soaked in the sun for maturity.

Common Uses:
Throughout Europe and America, it is used as a foliage plant for gardens. It was used by the Egyptians as a lamp oil. Because it has a low freezing point, it is used to lubricate airplane engines, in hydraulic brake fluids, biodegradable laundry detergents, paints, and varnishes. It is now used as a biodiesel. The seeds are used by kids for slingshot balls. The seeds are also used in jewelry for necklaces and bracelets (though highly not recommended due to toxicity).It is used for lubrication, burning, and leather dressing.

Culinary Uses:
Processed, the oil is used to create polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR) as an additive or substitute for cocoa butter in chocolate production.

Medicinal Uses:
The ancient Egyptians used the castor oil as an unguent and to purge their systems three times a month by drinking the oil mixed with beer. Because the oil is so poisonous, the Greeks and Romans used the oil only externally. By the 18th century it was used as a laxative. The castor oil bean contains one of the world’s most deadliest toxins – ricin. Seeds contain glycerides of ricinoleic acid, ricin, ricinine, and lectins. A single bean ingested can kill a child. Two beans can kill an adult. If poisoned, symptoms may be delayed upwards of 36 hours, but can start to appear within 2-4 hours causing a burning sensation in mouth and throat, abdominal pain, purging, and bloody diarrhea. Severe dehydration and a drop in blood pressure and decrease in urine appear within several days, and deeath within 3-5 days if not treated. It is pretty easy however to extract the oil from the bean bypassing the ricin by hulling and crushing the seeds below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, yielding a clear yellowish poison-free oil rich in ricinolein that irritates the intestines. This is where it is invaluable as a laxative or purgative. It prompts a bowel movement within 3-5 hours after ingestion. It is used medicinally to clear the digestive tract of poisoning. It is tolerated by the skin and thereby found in medicinal and cosmetic preparations. In India, the oil is massaged into breasts after childbirth to stimulate milk flow, or as a poultice to relieve swollen and tender joints. The Chinese use crushed seeds to treat facial palsy. The ancients used the oil to improve hair growth and texture, and to brighten the whites of eyes.

Magical Uses:
Castor oil was used in sacrifices to please the Gods.

Folklore and History: Evidence found in 4,000 year old Egyptian tombs contained small glossy mottled 1/2 inch or less long polished castor beans that had religious significance from the beginning of civilization. “Ricinus” is Latin for “tick” because it has markings and a bump at its end of the seed that resembles ticks. “Castor Oil” comes from its use as a replacement for “castoreum” a perfume made from the dried perineal glands of beavers. Also related to the common name of “Palm of Christ” derived by its reputation to heal wounds and cure ailments. Used in India since 2,000 BCE for lamp oil and as a laxative, purgative, and cathartic.


Castor Oil Plant
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

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Deadly Nightshade: Atropa belladonna


Deadly Nightshade
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Deadly Nightshade
Atropa belladonna [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Solanales: Solanaceae: Atropa: Atropa belladonna ]

Common Names: Nightshade, Deadly Nightshade, Atropa, Belladonna, divale, dwale, banewort, devil’s cherries, naughty man’s cherries, black cherry, devil’s herb, great morel, and dwayberry.

Localities:
Native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. Naturalized in North America.

Species:

Description:
Belladonna is common weed that is a branching perennial herbaceous plant that hosts extremely poisonous foliage and berries. It is often found growing as a sub-shrub upwards of 1.5 meters tall and 18 centimeters long ovate leaves producing tyrian purple bell-shaped flowers with green tinges and faintly scented. The fruits are 1 cm diameter sweet tasting berries green ripening to shiny black. It belongs to the Solanaceae family with its family of potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, jimsonweed, tobacco, wolfberry, and chili peppers. It has a thick, fleshy, white root that grows upwards of 6 inches long and is branching.

Cultivation:
Often found in shady, limestone-rich soils. Germination of the seeds is difficult, even though a weed that naturally takes over disturbed soils throughout the world. Germination can take several weeks under alternating temperatures.

Common Uses:
An early cosmetic and poison. Rarely used in gardens but if grown in a garden usually for its large upright habit and show berries. As a cosmetic, drops were created to dilate women’s pupils.

Culinary Uses:
A banana flavored liquid called Donnagel PG was once available in the United States until 1992.

Medicinal Uses:
The Deadly Nightshade has extremely toxic foliage and berries that contain tropane alkaloids including the toxins of scopolamine and hyoscyamine that can cause bizarre delirium and hallucinations. It also anticholinergic properties. The ingestion of 2-5 berries can kill a child and 10-20 berries can kill an adult. The root is the most lethal and ingestion of a single leaf can be fatal to an adult as well. Nightshade is used to produce anticholinergics and is the derivative for the drug atropine. It was used both as a medicine and a poison. It was also used as an anesthetic for surgery. Lotions are made to treat neuralgia, gout, rheumatism and sciatica. As a drug it affects the brain, bladder, and can allay cardiac palpitation as well as a powerful antispasmodic in intestinal colic and spasmodic asthma. It has been used through history to increase pupil size in ladies but believed with prolonged use to cause blindness. Symptoms from ingestion can include dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, tachycardia, loss of balance, staggering, headache, rash, flushing, dry mouth and throat, slurred speech, urinary retention, constipation, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, and convulsions. The only antidote is physostigmine or pilocarpine. It is also toxic for domestic animals that ingestion can cause narcosis and paralysis with the exception of cattle and rabbits that don’t seem to be affected. The chemical scopolamine derived from Belladonna is used to create a hydrobromide salt to treat GI, motion sickness, and to potentiate the analgesic and anxiolytic effects of opioid analgesics. The chemical hyoscyamine is used as a sulphate or hydrobromide to treate GI and Parkinson’s Disease. It has also been used for adjunctive therapy in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (irritable colon, spastic colon, mucous colitis) and acute enterocolitis. The berries in history were used to treat headache, menstrual symptoms, peptic ulcer disease, histamine reaction, inflammation, and motion sickness. It is used as a recreational drug alongside jimsonweed to create vivid hallucinations and delirium but is very dangerous due to risk of unintentional fatal overdose. Atropine can cause memory disruption and lead to severe confusion. Was also used in “Twilight Sleep” remedies to deaden pain and consciousness during childbirth. It is a Narcotic, diuretic, sedative, antispasmodic, and mydriatic.

Magical Uses:
It is believed that witches mixed belladonna, opium poppy, and other plants to create a hallucinogenic flying ointment to help them fly to gatherings with other witches. Often applied with a broomstick dowel to the genitalia, gave lending to the legend that witches fly around on broomsticks. The plant is believed to belong to the devil who trims and tends it at his leisure only distracted from it during the Walpurgis event when he is preparing for the witche’s sabbat. Priests were believed to drink an infusion of it before worshipping and invoking the aid of Bellona, the Goddess of War.

Folklore and History: The Romans used it as a poison (as in Augustus and wife of Claudius using it to kill their contemporaries) and was commonly used to make poison tipped arrows. It was a poison used by Agrippina the Younger and Livia to kill the Emperor Augustus. Macbeth of Scotland used it to kill one of King Duncan’s lieutenants during a truce to poison the troops of the invading Harold Harefoot of England. It was also the primary ingredient for the poison used for Juliet (in Romeo and Juliet tragedy). The name “Atropa” comes from “Atropos” one of the three fates in Greek mythology, after the Greek Goddess “Atropos”, that would determine the course of a man’s life by the weaving of threads that symbolize their birth, events in their lives, and their death with her cutting these threads to mark the latter. The name “bella donna” comes from the Italian for “beautiful woman” probably originating from its use as a facial cosmetic and to increase pupil size.


The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

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Common Box



Common Box
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Common Box
Buxus sempervirens [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Buxales: Buxaceae: Buxus: Buxus sempervirens ]

Common Names: Common Box, European Box, Boxwood.

Localities:
It is native to coastal regions especially in western and southern Europe, Northwest Africa, southwest Asia, from southern England south to northern Morocco and east through the Mediterranean to Turkey.

Species:

Description:
The Common Box is a very dense small-leaved evergreen, growing usually naturally in coastal regions, and loves chalky soil. It hosts dark green to yellow-green oval glossy leathery leaves arranged in opposite pairs upwardcs of 15-30 mm long and 5-13 broad, that is home to a unusual sweet smell that gives blossom to small tufty yellow flowers in late winter. The flowers are hermaphrodite and inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, with no petals or insect pollinated and bears a 3-lobed capsule bearing fruit that contains from 3-6 seeds. It is slow growing and shade tolerant. It grows upward of 1-9 meters tall with upwards of a 20 cm diamtere trunk. The box loves soil derived from chalk, limestone, and is often found as an understory in forests of larger trees.

Cultivation:
Box works best in most normal soils, especially chalky soils, and where it can reach its ultimate height of 30 feet. Its used to being exposed to the wind absorbing that impact. It grows 4-6 inches a year on average, likes dry shade and wet sites.

Common Uses:
Commonly usd for topiary work, landscaping, and gardening especially as hedges. Wood is very hard and heavy which puts excellent applications as a base wood for cabinets, clarinets, engravings, marquetry, woodturning, tool handles, mallet heads, and as a substitute for ivory.

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves were once used as an alternate for quinine and used to reduce fevers. Box contains the alkaloid “buxine” that causes vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, muscular spasms, and paralysis. The leaves are poisonous. Also planted to keep livestock out of gardens. Oils from the leaves can cause skin rashes. Buxine will also cause respiratory paralysis in humans and livestock. Some of it has also been used as a chemotherapeutic agent in cancer therapy. French works claim an extract made from Box is helpful in reducing the amount of HIV virus in an infected person.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: The plant is named after the latin name “Buxus” for “box” because of its use in making small, finely carved boxes called “pyxos” in Greece. “Buxus” is also Latin for “Flute”. “Box” is believed not to be able to be read by sorcerers and witches who usually can tell you the numbers of every branch, twig, and leaf of every plant – but box. Apparently the “Box” is so compact that when a witch tries to count the tiny leaves, she loses her place and has to start again. It is believed to be planted by doorways to prevent witches from entry – as it should captivate the witches attention and have them stop to count the leaves over and over again forgetting about entry into the house. Also planting in a flower bed will distract witches wishing to steal plants as it is an ingredient in flying ointments.


Common Box
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

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European Mandrake



European Mandrake
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


European Mandrake
Mandragora officinarum [ Plantae: Solanaceae: Mandragora officinarum ]

Common Names: Alraunwurzel, Mandrake, Satan’s Apple, mandragora, love apple, Circe’s plant, Dudaim.

Localities:
European Mandrake is native to southern Europe, particularly the Mediterranean, and especially Greece and Italy. Found often in uncultivated fields and stoney wastelands.

Species:

Description:
A stemless plant that hosts a short brown thick massive root grouping spreading downwards of 3-4 feet deep similar looking like parsnip. The short stem is topped by ovate leaves, blossoming with small greenish-yellow or purple bell-shaped flowers off 3-4″ stalks bearing fruit of orange color fleshy berries. Its often confused with the American Mandrake (may apple), which it has no relation to, except similar fleshy yellow-orange fruits. The roots are often forked look like a human body shape with head, arms, and legs.

Cultivation:
Can be grown from seed in deep planters. Seeds usually germinate within 14 days. Does best in deep well drained soil and full or partial sun exposure.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:
In Israel the fruits are used to make alcohol.

Medicinal Uses:
European Mandrake is considered one of the most magical herbs in the apothecary. It is an soporific, anesthetic, emetic, anodyne, Parasympathetic depressant, hallucinogen, hypnotic, and a poison. It is used as a narcotic and a pain reliever. It eases rheumatism. It is used often for sex and fertility magick. European Mandrake is used to treat melancholy, as an emetic, and an anesthetic. It is also very poisonous. The fruits are known to increase sperm count, treat impotence, and as a sex enhancer. Popular anesthetic during the Middles Ages and as a narcotic during the Elizabethan period.

Magical Uses:
In Israel the fruits are made into a aphrodisiac and to boost fertility. Known to heighten female interest in sex. European Mandrake is also used to expel demons. A mandrake root placed in the home will protect it from evil spirits. Money stored near European Mandrake will increase its abundance and increases prosperity. Also used for healing, inducing love, facilitating pregnancy, and restful sleep. It enhances creativity, psychic awareness and abilities. THe root carved into amulets of protection, love attraction, aura purity, and as a emblem of magick. Used to create “Moon Water” by taking a piece of the root under moonlight to be submerged into a chalice of water.

Folklore and History:Because of the anthropomorphic shape of the root, much belief in the root being a humanoid spirit is found in the magical repertoires that if one uprooted it from the ground it would shriek and screams so intense it would cause death unto those who heard it or make them go insane. Many collectors would loosen the soil around the root, attach a cord to the collar of a dog, and have the dog pull the root from the ground otherwise collected in moonlight with a proper prayer and ritual. Believed human hands should not come in contact with he plant. It is used to invoke Circe, Diana, and Saturn. It is related to the element of fire and the planet Mercury.


European Mandrake
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

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Opium Poppy: Papaver somniferum


Opium Poppy
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Opium Poppy
Papaver somniferum [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Ranunculales: Papaveraceae: Papaver: Papaver somniferum ]

Common Names: poppy tears, lachryma papaveris.

Localities:
Grown ornamenatlly throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.

Species:
There are many varieties of Poppy that varie from species to species, most notable through shape of the petals, numbers of flowers, fruits, seeds, colors, and production of opium.

Description:
The Opium Poppy, is a world class illegal drug that is derived from Papaver somniferum.

Cultivation:
To cultivate the Opium Poppy in the UK does not require a license, but does require one if you plant to extract opium for medicinal purposes. It is illegal to extract opium or any of the alkaloids in Italy and in the United States its a Schedule 2 controlled substance even prohibiting opium poppy and poppy straw. It is not enforced for poppies that is grown or sold as ornamentals or for food even though opium tea with high morphine content can be abstracted from poppies found at flower shops.

Common Uses:
It is a real popular plant for ornamental purposes, especially as the “common garden poppy”. Used as gifts or ornamentals in flower shops and gardens. Poppy seed oil is used for the manufacture of paints, varnishes, and soaps.

Culinary Uses:
Poppy seeds are an important food item and is the source for poppyseed oil. The oil is used widely for cooking oil. The seeds are very common to be found on muffins, breads, pies, and bagels. If someone consumes four poppy seed bagels, they could test positive for narcotics. Poppy seed paste (made from oil and seeds) is used in a nut roll called Polish makowiec. Poppy seeds are commonly used in North and South Indian Cuisine and are called “gasagasa”, “khuskhus”, “gasagasalu”, and “posto dana”. They are also commonly used in curries.

Medicinal Uses:
Opium is the source of many opiates in drug culture and pharmaceutical medicine such as morphine, thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine. It is a astringent, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, expectorant, hypnotic, narcotic, and sedative. Opium was used throughout history for treating asthma, stomach sickness, and bad eyesight. Opium is the dried latex that comes from the opium poppy. This substance contains upwards of 12% morphine, an alkaloid used to produce heroine. Opium, morphine, and heroine are used as pain relievers, tranquilizers, and sleep aids. Poppy was also used for toothaches and coughs.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History:

The latin name means “sleep bringing poppy” which describes the sedative properties of the plant. Images of poppies are found on Sumerian artifacts over 4,000 years old. It was known to the Ancient Greeks who manufactured opium from it and found archaeologically at Kalapodi and Kastanas. In the 1830’s, Britain and China had wars over the sale of Opium called “The Opium Wars”. Late 1800’s to early 1900’s narcotic alkaloids morphine and codeine were available in over the counter drugs such as cough syrup and teething medications.


Opium Poppy
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

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Poison Hemlock



Poison Hemlock
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Poison Hemlock
Conium maculatum [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Apiales: Apiaceae: Apioideae: Conium maculatum ]

Common Names:
Hemlock, Poison Hemlock, Devils’ porridge, beaver poison, herb bennet, musquash root, poison parsley, spotted corobane, and spotted hemlock, California fern, deadly hemlock, Nebraska fern, poison parsley, poison stinkweed, snake-weed, spotted hemlock, wode whistle.

Localities:
Native to Europe and the Mediterranean, West Asia, North as well as South Africa. It is naturalized in other parts of Asia, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Species:

Description:
Poison Hemlock is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant that can grow upwards of 2.5 meters tall with a smooth green spotted or red/purple streaked lower smooth stem and finely divided, lacy, triangular leaves (similar to that of parsley) that can grow upwards of 50 centimeters long and 40 centimeters wide. The flowers are clustered in umbels up to 10-15 centimeters across and are small and white. When crushed, the leaves produce a rank, unpleasant odor.

Cultivation:
Commonly found in poorly drained soils near streams, ditches, and ponds as well as roadsides, cultivated fields, and waste areas. It is a highly invasive species in 12 of the United States so pay attention to this before planting or cultivating.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
All parts of the plant is highly poisonous, to humans as well as animals, but once the plant leaves are dried, the poison potency is reduced. Hemlock contains pyridine alkaloids coniine, N-methylconiine, conhydrine, pseudoconhydrine and ?-coniceine. Conine has a chemical structure similar to nicotine and is a neurotoxin that disrupts the central nervouse system in humans and livestock. Ingestion can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, salivation, emesis, diarrhea, muscle tremors, muscular weakness, dim vision, convulsions, coma, and respiratory collapse leading to death. In ages past, Hemlock was used as a sedative and for its antispasmodic traits. It was used to treat arthritis. Overdose can produce paralysis and loss of speech, followed by depression of the respiratory function, and then death. Hemlock causes birth defects in swine, cattle, sheep, and goats.

Magical Uses:
Hemlock is very associated with British Witchcraft.

Folklore and History:
In Ancient Greece, Hemlock was utilized to poison condemned prisoners – the most famous of which was Socrates in 399 BCE. As Plato describes Socrates’ death: “The man … laid his hands on him and after a while examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and asked if he felt it. He said ‘No’; then after that, his thighs; and passing upwards in this way he showed us that he was growing cold and rigid. And then again he touched him and said that when it reached his heart, he would be gone. The chill had now reached the region about the groin, and uncovering his face, which had been covered, he said — and these were his last words — ‘Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Pay it and do not neglect it.’ ‘That,’ said Crito, ‘shall be done; but see if you have anything else to say.’ To this question he made no reply, but after a little while he moved; the attendant uncovered him; his eyes were fixed. And Crito when he saw it, closed his mouth and eyes.” It has shown up in records to have an association with British Witchcraft. There is a long history about children accidentally being poisoned by it when they made whistles from the hollow stems.

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Delphinium



Delphinium
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Larkspur: Delphinium
Delphinium staphisagria [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Ranunculales: Ranunculaceae: Delphinium: Delphinium staphisagria ]

Common Names:
Larkspur, Lark’s Heel, Lark’s Claw, Knight’s Spur.

Localities:
Found throughout the Northern Hemisphere and mountains of tropical Africa.

Species:
There are roughly 300 species.

Description:
Delphinium is a perennial flowering plant belonging to the buttercup family and is also called Larkspur. It has deeply lobed 3-7 tooth palmate shape leaves, has a erect flowering stem ranging from 10 centimeters in one species upwards of 2 meters in another and becomes topped with a raceme of multi-colored flowers ranging from purple, blue, red, white, and yellow. Purple is the most common color. Each flower has 5 petal sepals that grow together to create a hollow pocket with a spur at the end from late spring to late summer. Within he sepals are four true petals. It produces small shiny black seeds.

Cultivation:
Commonly pollinated by buterflies and bumble bees, larkspur can be cultivated by seed(though seeds require a pre-chilling to get germination going) . Larkspur prefers chalky loam soils and commonly grows wild in cornfields. Needs alot of full sunshine. It does crowd out others and steals the nurishments in the soil from other plants. Staking helps alot because it gives it support that it needs.

Common Uses:
Juice of the flowers, mixed with alum, creates a blue ink.

Culinary Uses:
Most species are toxic, but is a food source for a variety of moths.

Medicinal Uses:
All parts of the plant contain alkaloid delphinine and are very poisonous. Eating Larkspur can lead to vomiting and death. Early reports of drinking small amounts of larkspur helped against the sting of scorpions. Other herbals state the seeds can be used to compat parasites, especially lice and their nits. A tincture from Larkspur is used to treat eye diseases, asthma and dropsy.

Magical Uses:
In Transylvania it was believed to keep witches away from stables.

Folklore and History:
The Latin name relates to the Greek workd “delphis” for dolphin which alludes to the shape of the opening flower.

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Columbine



Columbine

The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Columbine: Aquilegia

Aquilegia canadensis [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Eudicots: Ranunculales: Aquilegia: Aquilegia canadensis ]

Common Names:

Localities:
Northern Hemisphere. It is native to the Alps. Common throughout Eastern North America as well as Utah, California, and Alaska.

Species:
There are about 60-70 species of Columbine.

Description:
Columbines are an perennial airy plant with attractive foliage that will come in diverse colors that some describe to look like jester’s caps and some of the plants are bi-colored ranging from reds, yellows, whites, blues, pinks, and purple blossoms. The plant in its infancy is clover-like but grows upwards of 2 feet in height during full bloom which occurs in late spring to early summer. It produces a follicle fruit.

Cultivation:
Columbine is a self-seeding plant so requires little for spreading it. It likes partial shade in meadows, woodlands, and footpaths with well-drained soils. It often is found on rocky ledges in the wild. The plants are drought tolerant. It is propogated by its seed.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:
Native Americans used Colombine leaves as a condiment with other fresh greens which adds sweetness to the dish and is safe in small quantities.

Medicinal Uses:
Columbines produce cardiogenic toxins. While the leaves are safe in small quantities, the seeds and roots are highly poisonous which cause severe gastroenteritis and heart palpiations. Native Americans utilized small amounts of the root to treat ulcers. However due to its toxicity, its highly recommended to avoid use internally. Early doctors powdered dried columbine flowers to make an antitoxin drink. Native Americans used small amounts of crushed seeds to cure headaches and improve a person’s love life.

Magical Uses:
It is symbollic of Venus, the Goddess of Love. Native Americans made a paste from crushed seeds or dried flowers to make a love potion.

Folklore and History:
The name comes from the Latin “Columba” which refers to doves as some believe there is a resemblance in the inverted columbine flower to five doves nested together. “Aquilegia” comes from the Latin word “aquila” for “eagle” because the shape of he flower petals resemble an eagle’s claw.

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Skullcap



Scutellaria luterifolia

The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Scutellaria laterifolia

Scutellaria laterifolia [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Lamiales: Lamiaceae: Scutellaria: Scutellaria laterifolia ]

Common Names:
Blue Skullcap, Hoodwort, Virginian Skullcap, Mad-dog Skullcap

Localities:
Native to North America especially New York to West Virginia, south to South Carolina, Alabama, and Missouri; cultivated in Europe and the rest of the world.

Description:
Skullcap is a hardy perennial belonging to the mint family that grows upright 60-80 centimeters in height. The plant produces vivid blue flowers that grow upwards of 1 centimeter in length that are produced along the length of side branches off the leaf axils. The root is a creeping short rhizone that submits hairy square stems 6-18 inches high, branched often with opposite leaves being heart-shaped at its base 1/2 to 2/5 inches long wih scalloped or toothed edges. The plant produces racemes blue to lavender flowers on its leaf axils of the upper plant that are hooded, tube shaped, and two lipped from May to August.

Species:
There are over 350 species of Skullcap.

Cultivation:
Skullcap loves wetland terrain, especially marshes and meadows best in a sunny area and utilizing ordinary garden soil. Seeds should be sown in early spring after frost danger is gone.

Common Uses:
It is used commonly as a incense and herbal tea.

Culinary Uses:
It is used as a herbal tea.

Medicinal Uses:
Skullcap is most prominantly utilized as a mild sedative and sleep aid. Its leaves, stems, and roots contain baicalin, baicalein, and wogonin. Baicalin is best used for its anti-inflammatory properties and as a topical analgesic. Blue Skullcap also has chrysin glucuronide which aids in body building to inhibit conversions of angrogens to estrogens. Skullcap is a known tonic, sedative, abortifacient, anti-inflammatory, astringent, emmenogogue, febrifuge, and nervine. It has been suitable for treating epilepsy, insomnia, hysteria, anxiety, delerium tremens, withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquilisers. It can be used to promote menstruation, miscarriage, as well as to treat throat infections. Once believed to be a remedy for rabies hence the name “Mad Dog Weed”. The Cherokee and other tribes use it as a strong emmenagogue and for female medicine. It is a nervous sedative and good for combatting nervous fear. It also addresses cardiac irritability, nervous irritation, and the spasms of children especially during dentition. Has been used for headaches, tremors, chorea, muscle twitching, nausea, sour eructations, pain, disress, seminal emissions, impotency, sharp stinging pain in the upper extremities, night terrors, sleeplessness, sudden wakefulness, frightful dreams, and insomnia. Overdose can cause giddiness, stupor, confusion, and twitching. It has been linked to liver damage.

Magical Uses:
It is often used as a ceremonial plant by various Native American tribes to introduce young girls into womanhood. It is also used to produce visions.

Folklore and History:

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Wormwood: Artemisia absinthium


Wormwood

The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Wormwood
Artemisia absinthium [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Asterales: Asteraceae: Artemisia: Artemisia absinthium ]

Common Names:
Wormwood, absinthium, absinthe wormwood, common wormwood, Green Ginger or grand wormwood

Localities:
Temperate Eurasia and Northern Africa; naturalized in much of North America.

Description:
Wormwood is a herbaceous perennial plant with a hard woody rhizome, straight stems that grow upwards of .8-1.2 meters tall, are grooved, branched, and silvery green spirally arranged leaves in color on the top leaf with white below covered in silky silvery-white trichomes bearing minute oil-producing glands. The bipinnate to tripinnate basal leaves with long petioles can achieve up to 25 cm length, and its cauline leaves located on the stem are smaller with 5-10 cm length which are less divided and hosting short petioles and simple sessile uppermost leaves. Wormwood produced spherical bent-down headed tubular pale yellow flowers that cluster and appear leafy and branched panicles from early summer and autumn. The plant creates a small achene fruit that disperses seeds by gravity.

Species:
There are over 400 species of artemisia.

Cultivation:
Wormwood best grows on uncultivated arid ground in rocky slopes, along footpaths, and in fields. It is easiest cultivated in dry soil, but initially should be planted under bright exposure in fertile mid-weight soils rich in nitrogen. It is propogated by growth cuttings in March or October, or via seeds planted in starter beddings. It is often harvested in the spring when it is young for cooking and alcohol additives.

Common Uses:
Often used as an additive in insect sprays for plants. Good for companion planting because of this as its roots secrete inhibiting effects on the growth of other plants, especially weeds, and can repel insect larvae. It is used to repel fleas and moths in houses.

Culinary Uses:
It is the major ingredient in Absinthe alcohol as well as a flavoring for other spirits and wines, including bitters, vermouth, and pelinkovac. In the Middle Ages it was used to spice Mead. It is also a traditional color and flavor agent for green songpyeon (steamed dumpling) eaten during the Korean Thanksgiving festival. In Morrocco it is added to mint tea.

Medicinal Uses:
Wormwood contains thujone, tannic and resinous substances, malic acid, and succinic acid. Medicinally it is used as a stomachic, antispasmodic, cholagogue, tonic, antiseptic, carminative, febrifuge, and anthelmintic. It is known for combatting indigestion, gastric pain, or as an antiseptic. It has been an ingredient in teas to help pregnant women during labor pains. It is also used as a cardiac stimulant to improve blood circulation. Its pure oil is very poisonous. Used to attack intenstinal worms.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History:
Wormwood comes from the Greek “Apsinthion” which may mean “unenjoyable” referring to its bitter nature. The name “Wormwood” comes from Middle English “Wormwode” and nicknamed as such for its beneficial combat for intestinal worms. The Latin “Artemisia” is named after the Greek wife and sister of the Persian King Mausolous. She was an infamous botanist and medical researcher for her time.


Wormwood

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Wolfsbane: Aconitum vulparia

Official article now located at: http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1333


Wolfsbane
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Wolfsbane
Aconitum vulparia [ Plantae: Angiospermae; Eudicots; Ranunculales; Aconiteae; Family: Ranunculaceae: Genus: Aconitum: Aconitum vulparia ]

Common Names:
Wolfsbane, Badger’s Bane, aconite, monkshood, wolfsbane, leopard’s bane, women’s bane, Devil’s helmet or blue rocket.

Localities:
Alps, Europe.

Description:
This herbaceous perennial grows naturally in damp woods, in the Northern hemispheres, especially in the Alps where it is an endangered species. It likes moist retentive well drained soil atop mountain meadows with snow melt. It is a plant that produces dark green leaves that lack stipules, are palmate lobed with 5-7 segments each with 3 lobed coarse sharp teeth, spiral or alternate leaf arrangement, with lower leaves having long petioles, growing tall erect stemmed crowned by racemes of large sulphur-yellow flowers from June to August with numerous stamens. The higher the elevation, the more flowers produced, and longer they last. The flowers are well know for having one of 5 petaloid sepals called the galea in the form of a cylindrical helmet that gives itself the English name monkshood. These are 2-10 petals in forms of nectaries, with two upper large petals, located under the hood of the calyx and supported on long stalks, with a hollow spur at the apex containing nectar, and other petals being small or non-forming with 3-5 carpels partially fused at the base. The plant produces a dry unilocular follicle fruit that has many seeds formed from one carpel and dehiscing by the ventral suture to release the seeds when ready to reproduce.

Species:
There are over 250 species.

Cultivation:
Wolfsbane is easily propagated by divisions of the root or by seeds. The plant can be sown from seeds, although this method is challenging and is recommended to be germinated in a wet paper towel wrapped up in a unsealed plastic baggie for 4 weeks at regular room temperature (but no direct light). After germination, place in freezer for 6 weeks, then sow in sterile planting soil once temperatures get to 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors. Imitate its natural habitat of high elevations, cold, and icy terrain.

Common Uses:
Commonly used as an arrow poison throughout history for hunting and warfare.

Culinary Uses:
The roots are occasionally mistaken for those of horse radish. When touched to the lips will produce the feelings of numbness and tingling.

Medicinal Uses:
Most of the species of Aconitum contain large quantities of the deadly poison alkaloid pseudaconitine. Wolfsbane can cause severe itching and dermatitis if in contact with human skin, and the poison can be absorbed into the body quickly even with the slightest cut on the skin. Strongly recommended to always wear gloves when handling it. The tiniest amount can be fatal. It is traditionally used in Asian medicine to increase pitta (fire, bile) dosha and to enhance penetration in small doses. In Chinese medicine it is used to treat Yang deficiency or general debilitation. It is a known anodyne, diuretic, and diaphoretic. Internally, Wolfsbane is used to slow the pulse, as a sedative for pericarditis and/or heart palpitations, or diluted as a mild diaphoretic, and to reduce feverishness in treatments of colds, pneumonia, quinsy, laryngitis, croup, and asthma. Initial poisoning will cause gastrointestinal including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea followed by burning, tingling, and numbness in the mouth and face, and of burning in the abdomen. It can cause hypertension, sweating, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, headache, and confusion. It is a potent neurotoxin that blocks tetrodotoxin-sensitive sodium channels.

Magical Uses:
A herb associated with Saturn and Mars used in classical witchcraft. Sacred to the Goddess Hecate. The herb is used to reverse shape shifting spells and protects homes from werewolves. Some claim that witches dipped flints into the juice of wolfsbane as poisoned weapons, these flints were called elf-bolts. Used as an incense to honor Hecate and to receive omens/oracles from her. It is an anti-shapeshifting drug, so can help see people’s real forms. Its used for much baneful magic.

Folklore and History:
It is believed that this plant got the name “Wolfsbane” because early Germans used it to poison wolves. In Greek Myth, Medea attempted to poison Theseus with a cup of wine poisoned with wolfsbane.

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Birthwort: Aristolochia clematitis

Official page is now located at: (check this one for revisions and updates)
http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1295


Birthwort

The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Birthwort
Aristolochia clematitis [ Plantae: Aristolochiaceae: Aristolochia clematitis ]

Common Names:
Birthwort, Virginia Snakeroot, Snakeroot, Dutchman’s Pipe, Pipevine, etc.

Localities:
Found throughout the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, and the Caucasus, it is found in many other regions.

Description:
A perennial flowering plant that grows upwards of three feet, possesses an unpleasant smell, and blossoms dirty yellow flowers. Its flowers resemble a birth canal or a pipe, hence lending to the name. The root is spindle-shaped, ranging from 5 cm to 3 dm in length, about 2 cm thick, fleshy, brittle, greyish on the outside, brownish-yellow inside, bitter tasting, and hosting a strong disagreeable odor.

Species:

There are over 350 species, including but not limited to: Aristolochia clematitis (Birthwort); Aristolochia serpentaria (Virginia Snakeroot, Virginia Snakeroot, Snakeweed); Aristolochia reticulata (Snakeroot) ; Aristolochia klugii (Amazonian Snakeroot/Birthwort) ; Aristolochia bracteata (Sudanese Snakeroot/Birthwort) ; Aristolochia rotunda (European Snakeroot/Birthwort); Aristolochia kaempferi and A. fangchi (Chinese Snakeroot/Birthwort) ; Aristolochia indica (Indian Birthwort); Aristolochia mexicana, A. watsonii, A. wrightii (Indian Root, Birthroot, Snakeroot, Dutchman’s Pipe, Spanish: Yerba del Indio, Raiz del India, Inmortal, Comino, Guaco, Yerba del Pasmo, Tlacopatli (Nahuatl) ; Aristolochia grandiflora (Duck Flower, Alcatraz, Spanish: Hierba del Indio, Contribo).

Cultivation:

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
Due to the “Doctrine of signatures” this plant was used a lot in childbirth – a preparation was prepared for women in labor to expel the placenta. However, the aristolochic acid often killed the patient. This plant is so dangerous that not many parts of the plant are ever used anymore. It is highly toxic and lead to the development of tumors if low doses are taken over an extended period of time. Traditionally its fresh juice was used to induce labor. Theophrastus (372-286 BCE) claimed its success with treating disorders of the uterus, reptile bites, and sores to the head. Native Americans used it to treat snake bites, treat stomach aches, toothaches, and fevers. The Aztec used it to treat abscesses, dysentery, and deafness. It is a anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, analgesic, abortifacient, diaphoretic, nervine, tonic, wound healer, and is known to induce menstruation. It stimulates white blood cell activity and is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys. Decoctions were used to heal ulcers as well as asthma and bronchitis. In Sudan was used for scorpion stings. In India it is used as a contraceptive. Aristolochia serpentaria (Virginia Snakeroot) (as well as A. pfeiferi, A. rugosa and A. trilobata) were used alot for treating snakebites, hence the folk name “Snakeroot” even though the Aristolochic acid doesn’t appear to bind and deactivate the Phospholipase A2 of most snake venom. This species though is said to be instrumental in helping bilious, typhoid, typhus fever, small pox, pneumonia, amenorrhoea, and fevers as well as for the bites of mad dogs. The powdered root (1/2 to 1 drachm) has been said to be an aromatic stimulant in rheumatism and gout after childbirth.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History:
Birthwort came from the term “Aristolochia” which means “excellent birth” as its fresh juice once was used to induce labor.

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Henbane




Henbane
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Henbane

Hyoscyamus niger [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Solanales: Solanaceae: Hyoscyamus: Hyoscyamus niger ]

Common Names:
stinking nightshade, black henbane, Common Henbane, Hyoscyamus, Hog’s-bean, Devil’s Eye, Jupiter’s-bean, Symphonica, Cassilata, Cassilago, Deus Caballinus.

Localities:
Originates in Eurasia and very common throughout central and southern Europe, Western Asia, India, and Siberia, but now is found throughout the world.

Description:
An annual plant with a almost unbranched stem that is smaller and less downy than the biennial form, leaves shorter and less hairy with yellow flowers in July or August, and its biennial member in May and June. It can grow to a height of 1-2 feet, flowering, and perfecing seeds. Underground has a thick fleshy room with crowns that arise in spring as atall branched flowering stem. The biennial plant spreads out flat on all sides from the crown and root like a rosette, oblong, and egg-shaped, with acute points, stalked and more or less sharply toothed, a foot in length with greyish-green color and covered with sticky hairs. Leaves will perish with winter. Flowering stems push up from root-crown in spring, reaching 3-4 feet in height, becoming branched and furnished with alternate, oblong, unequally lobed stalkless leaves. Most of the leaves are stem clasping and varying in size, but not often more than 9-10 inches in length.

Species:
There are 11 species. Henbane is a member of Solanaceae family, which is in lineage with Potatoes, Tobacco, Belladonna, and Tomatoes.

Cultivation:
Cultivated varieties produce more medical matter than the wild. Grows on most soils, especially sandy beaches near the sea, chalky slopes, or loamy soil. Seeds can lie dormant for a season or more and sometimes dies in patches. Requires light, moderately rich and well drained soils. Seeds should be sown in early May or when ground warms, thinly, in rows 2-2.5 feet apart, with seedlings thinned out 2′ apart. Leaves should be collected when plant is in full flower. When drying, it loses 80-86 percent of its weight, 100 lbs yielding 14-20 lbs. of dry herb. Seeds should be gathered in August, kiln-dried for medicinal purposes, though sun-dried for certain treatments.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:
Henbane was often added to ‘gruit’ which is traditionally used as a flavoring for beer until it was replaced by hops in the 11-16th centuries.

Medicinal Uses:
The fresh leaves, flowering tops and branches, and seeds are the most commonly used parts of Henbane. The leaves, seeds, and juice was taken internally to create unquiet sleep, mimicking a sleep of drunkenness that continued long and death-like. It is an antispasmodic, hypnotic, and mild diuretic. It was omitted from the London Pharmacopoeia from 1746 and 1788, then restored in 1809, due to experiments by Baron Storch, who prescribed it fo epilepsy and other nervous convulsive diseases. Henbane is toxic to animals even in low doses, often leading to death; but does not affect the Cabbage Moth which eats henbane. Hyoscyamine, scopolamine, and other tropane alkaloids are found in the seeds and foliage. Effects from ingestion of henbane causes hallucinations, dilated pupils, flushed skin, restlessness, and sometimes convulsions, vomiting, hypertension, tachycardia, hyperpyrexia, and ataxia. Use of Henbane in medicine goes back to ancient times, as was recommended by Dioscorides (1st c. C.E.) who used it to procure sleep and allay pain. Culpepper claimed that its leaves will cool hot inflammations in the eyes and that it assuages pains of gout, sciatica, pains in the joints that arise from a hot cause. It can be used as a anodyne, hypnotic, or a seditive. Can be used to treat Twilight Sleep and used for acute mania and delirium tremens. Seeds are used as a domestic remedy for toothache. Smoke from the seeds on a hot plate can be applied to the mouth with a funnel or a poultice as a means of application for toothaches. Smoking leaves and seeds in a pipe can be used to treat neuralgia and rheumatism.

Magical Uses:
Throughout the history of magic, Henbane was combined with mandrake, deadly nightshade, and datura to create magical brews that were psychoactive anaesthetic potions used in flying ointments that created visual hallucinations and the feeling of flying. It was often applied via a broomstick by witches into the genitals giving effect of the lore of a witch flying on a broomstick. Commonly used in magic for its power of throwing its victims into convulsions. Anodyne necklaces made fro mthe root were hung on children’s necks as charms to prevent fits and for easy teething. The plant is believed to have been added as death offerings in burial to connect the deceased with easing the spirit out of the body to ease its passage into the otherworld. It was a common herb to produce prophecy and the priestessed of the Delphi Oracle were believed to inhale smoke from smouldering henbane in order to retrieve oracles and omens. It is also commonly used in necromancy.

Folklore and History:
Culturally it was used throughout continental Europe, Asia, and the Arabic world onwards through England during the Middles Ages. According to Pliny, The Ancient Greeks utilized Henbane as well. The Priestesses of Apollo used the plant to produce oracles. The name of Henbane goes back to 1265 with the belief that “hen” meant “death”. In 1910, Hawley Harvey Crippen, an American homeopath in London, extracted scopolamine from henbane in order to poison his wife. Henbane is believed to have been the “hebenon” that was poured into the ear of Hamlet’s father. The dead in Hades were crowned with Henbane as they wandered aimlessly beside the river Styx. To the Germans, it is believed that Henbane can attract rain and can produce sterility in land and livestock. Often used by witches to raise storms and blight crops.


Henbane
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


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