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Plant lore from Amazon
A Dictionary of Plant-lore
Roy Vickery


Lore - Cultivated plants


Gardening is an inexact science and surrounded by centuries of tradition, folklore, myth and superstition. Hidden amongst it is some age old wisdom and also some age old cobblers.

Plant lore: The Holly and the Ivy | Mistletoe | Christmas Trees
Botanic LatinCures and tips | Seasonal | Trees | Vegetables edible plants | Halloween


Anemones used to be called wind flower possibly because they grew in areas of wind anemos is Greek for wind (anemometer - wind speed measuring device).

Anemones were associated with Adonis who was loved by Aphrodite. In an attempt to keep Adonis safe by hiding him in the Underworld, she was worried Adonis might be hurt whilst hunting, but he ignored her. One day, whilst hunting wild boar, Adonis shot a particularly large and nasty boar, who when hit by the arrows of Adonis, turned on him and gored him to death. Aphrodite got to him just as he died and whilst she wept over his lifeless body, Zeus created a flower that arose from the ground where the blood had soaked in. This is the origin of the Anemone.

Buy Dicentra spectabilisBleeding  HeartsDicentra spectabilis

Bleeding hearts look like dripping hearts. If you turn the flower upside down though and slightly pull it apart, it looks just like a lady in the bath (well a bit like a lady in the bath). The botanical name is from the Greek di (two) and kentron (spur) spectabilis, from Latin, means spectacular, which they most certainly are!

There's a fairy story so I'm told about the bleeding heart flower, where each piece is a part of the story, something to do with a prince and princess. I've never heard it myself but asked if anyone else had on the home page of this site in May 2002 in response to an enquiry. The result ...... many emails asking if there was an answer, but no answer, until I received the story below...

I received this on the subject from Pat Manly on the West Coast of Canada:

When I was a little girl (about 45 years ago), another child told me this story.  Since then, I have never met anyone else who knew it.  My bleeding hearts are in bloom at the moment, which inspired me to do a Google search to see if I could track down a more poetic version. No luck so far, but I'll share what I have.
To tell this story successfully, it is important to choose a blossom that is fully ripe (so that the pieces come apart without much struggle), but not yet beginning to fade (so that the stem and pistil remain attached at the end).  It also helps to pinch the petals and other bits away from the stem ever so carefully...
I learned it this way:
These are the rabbits that lived in her garden (the pink petals, separated and stood "ears up")
These are the earrings she wore (an elongated question mark with the stamens attached)
These are the slippers she wore on her feet (little oriental slip-ons perhaps?)
And this (the remaining stem and pistil) is the dagger that stabbed her.
I was hoping to find a poem, as it seems to me it really ought to rhyme, but no luck so far.  I did find a story, which had to to with a young man falling in love with a beautiful princess, who spurned his affections.  In order to win her favour, he brings her gifts:  two pink rabbits, a pair of beautiful earrings, a pair of delicate oriental slippers, all to no avail.  Having failed to win her affection, he takes out his dagger and stabs himself through his heart.  She then realizes (too late!) that she truly loves him, so vows that her heart will eternally bleed in spring, hence the beautiful bleeding heart flower.

Pat then followed with a link to this version she found on the web, so many thanks are due!

Robert Fortune is the one who introduced Dicentra to the western world, but only after the Treaty of Nanking of 1842 gave botanists and plant collectors somewhat better access to China.

Buddleia - Butterfly bush

The botanical name, Buddleia, is from Reverend Adam Buddle, a rector in Essex. In 1708, Buddle wrote a treatise of British plants, giving support to two botanists, John Ray and Joseph de Tournefort. Buddle was an expert on mosses, but this didn't matter to Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish father of botanical nomenclature and Carl named a new shrub just recently from Peru in 1774, Buddleia globosa. Buddleia isn't tough enough to survive through northern New England winters, but is a welcome shrub in other, more southerly zones. The nickname, butterfly bush comes from the fact that it is favoured by butterflies which can often be found in great numbers on the flowers, bees are also greatly attracted to it too.


Despite stories to the contrary, the camellia was not named for the notorious 19th century French courtesan Camille. Although, Camille used to carry a bouquet of camellias, for twenty-five days, the camellias were white, for five days, they were red, this was thought to indicate the five days of the month she was experiencing her menses. (We are not told how Camellias were kept in bloom year round, presumably they weren't.)

Carl Linnaeus named the flower for Georg Josef Kamel, changing the 'K' to a 'C' since there is no 'K' in Latin. Kamel had no contact with Camellias, probably never even saw one, but, he was a missionary who researched plants and animals of the Philippines. Linnaeus originally named the flower, Thea sinensis or Chinese tea, but on second thought, in his second volume of Species Platarum, he changed it to Camellia japonica.

Oriental green tea and the tea grown today in Australia is from the Camellia plant.

Language of flowers - Carnations, Colour messages.

For the most part, carnations express love, fascination, and distinction. Light red carnations represent admiration, while dark red denote deep love and affection. White carnations indicate pure love and good luck. Striped symbolize a regret that a love cannot be shared, purple carnations indicate capriciousness.

Pink carnations have the most symbolic and historical significance. According to Christian legend, carnations first appeared on Earth as Jesus carried the Cross. The Virgin Mary shed tears at Jesus' plight, and carnations sprang up from where her tears fell. Thus the pink carnation became the symbol of a mother's undying love, and in 1907 was chosen by Ann Jarvis as the emblem of Mother's Day.


Bringing a single daffodil into the house is to be avoided as it brings bad luck. A bunch ensures happiness. In Wales finding the first daffodil of Spring is expected to bring more gold than silver to your life and home during the following 12 months.


It is considered lucky to step on the first daisy of the year, and spring has arrived when it is possible to step on seven daisies with one footstep. To be avoided by young children as if the plant was uprooted the child would grow-up stunted in height.

The traditional flower to be used for "he loves me, he loves me not" enquiries. If a young girl grabs a whole bunch of daisies with the eyes shut she can then count how many years she would have to wait before she would marry (one per flower).

Passion Flower

Passion flowers are climbers and vigorous ones at that. Used in protection and love magic. When passion flower is used, it calms and brings peace to the home. You can sprinkle dried or fresh passion flower over the doorsteps of your house to keep harm away. If you carry some of the herb in an amulet bag, you will make friends easier since it will work to increase your personal charisma making you more attractive and more likable. Place Passion flower in a dream pillow and it will help you get a good nights sleep. Use in love spells to attract love. You can also burn it as an incense to promote understanding.

Honeysuckle - Lonicera

A wedding will soon occur if this plant is brought into a house. Placing the flower in a female's bedroom is reputed to encourage erotic dreams (not required for males however).


Love, purification. Used in love sachets and incense. Put 2 handfuls of lavender flowers into a square of cheese cloth and tie with a purple ribbon use this aromatic "washcloth" in place of your usual one. Lavender was thrown into Midsummer fires by witches as a sacrifice to the ancient Gods.

On a more mundane note, also used as an insect repellent.    


In the West Country (England) these are known as 'The Drunkards' due their reputation for turning people into alcoholics when the flowers are picked or even looked at for any length of time.  

The Welsh traditionally believed the flower could be used as a weather omen. If the flowers were not open early in the morning a storm was on the way. Used as a love charm, in wedding garlands and posies, it was also believed that rubbing the flower head on a wasp or bee sting would alleviate any pain.

Often used as companion plants with tomatoes to keep pests away.


Avoid picking these when you're in the middle of a spell of fine weather or the rain will soon return according to tradition.


Roses are known as THE herb of love. Add rose bud petals to bath water to conjure up a lover. Put red rose petals in a red velvet bag and pin this under your clothes to attract love - or you can wear rosehips as beads to bring love to 

you. rose oil and rose incense are both used in love spells (if you're that way inclined). If you wash your hands with rose water before mixing love potions, the potions will be stronger.  

It's not all good news though, if the petals of a rose are consciously scattered on the ground it is thought to be unlucky, and if the petals fall from the plant when it is being held it is said that that person will die (the when is less clear).

Different colour roses have different meanings so you can use them to give someone a message magically.

What the different rose colors mean:

Red - I love you
White -
I love you not
Yellow -
I love another
Moss rose -
I admire you from afar
Pink - My love for you is innocent
Orange - I love you vigorously
Amethyst - I will love you forever
Wild - I love you because you are fair and innocent

Sage - Salvia

Attributed with many healing properties the botanical name comes from the Latin 'salvere' meaning 'to save". Used to relieve sore throats, gums, typhoid fever, measles name it. This plant was believed to have extremely powerful magical qualities and most ailments were treated with it at some time.


Frequently seen as an omen of death despite its springtime prettiness. It symbolizes purity but is said to be unlucky to bring the flower into the house if someone in the household is ill.


A flower mainly of ill. Wearing it around your neck can prevent drunkenness, but be careful as it is also believed to encourage fleas to move into the home.

Violets originally warned of epidemic or death. Blooming in the autumn the small dark green leaves and beautiful purple flowers require shaded moist ground that has been undisturbed for some time to flourish.

Napoleons favourite flower

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