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Re: garden trivia

What a great story, Kitty. I always like to include interesting stories whenever I speak about plants -- especially to a non-plant group. I also appreciate interesting stories from others. When I went to Italy last year with my grandson and his Latin class I was able to tell all sorts of tales related to the plants we saw. The teens, and Zach's Latin teacher, all told me how much they enjoyed the stories.
----- Original Message ----- From: <kmrsy@netzero.net>
To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 5:07 PM
Subject: Re: [CHAT] garden trivia

Auralie and Zem,
Those are great stories. I think it's fun sometimes to know a bit of
background about our plants. Puts us on a more "intimate" footing with

When I was writing a self-guided tour for our gardens I looked up Scotch
Thistle, Onopordum acanthium, the national emblem of Scotland.
Apparently these 6ft to 10ft thistles saved the lives of soldiers and
the entire kingdom from a night-time invasion (from whom I don't recall
- but they came in boats) The marauders thought they could sneak up on
Scotland at night under a negligible moon. But without the moonlight
they kept running into thistles and screaming out in pain, thus alerting
the sleeping guards.


-- "Zemuly Sanders" <zsanders@midsouth.rr.com> wrote:
Auralie, thanks for all that good info. I just adore trivia and have some
of my own to add. In 1676 British soldiers in North America were commanded
to go to Jamestown to suppress a rebellion. They were acutely short of food
and, out of ignorance or through a misunderstanding, they they cooked up the
young shoots and leaves of Datura stramonium and ate them as a vegetable.
After a while they showed strange changes in their behavior. They fell into
a type of trance or "comical madness" that made them have all sorts of
foolish notions and act stupidly. One of them tried again and again to make
a feather climb in the air and another threw straw until he was completely
exhausted. A third sat stark naked in a corner and contorted his face like
an ape into a continual grin. Everything they did was totally non-violent;
they were simply good-naturedly idiotic. Since those days, the colloquial
name for Datura stramonium in North America has been "Jamestown weed," which
over time became "Jimson weed."

----- Original Message ----- From: <Aplfgcnys@aol.com>
To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 2:11 PM
Subject: Re: [CHAT] garden trivia

In a message dated 10/20/2005 2:02:04 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
4042N15@nationalhearing.com writes:
New York Aster, Aster novi-belgii

Novi-belgii is Linnaeus' attempt to translate New Amsterdam (now New York)
into Latin; the Belgii were the tribe encountered by Julius Caesar in the
Low Countries.

It's not a No play, but interesting nonetheless. Anyone else with a
to share?

Did you really mean that, Kitty? I am fascinated with such trivia.
Here are just a few:

The wildflower Muilla is an anagram derived by spelling its onion relative
(Allium) backwards.

The name nasturtium comes from the Latin nasus, bnose,b and tortus,
twisted,b because their pungent smell makes the nose wrinkle or twist.
botanical name is from the Greek tropaion, ba trophy,b referring to the
shield-like shape of the leaves. In ancient Greece, the shields and
of defeated
enemies were fixed onto tree trunks. Linnaeus saw the plant twining up a
post and thought the leaves looked like hanging shields and the flowers

Celandine can be a noxious weed, but it is also an interesting and
attractive plant. When it is called by its botanical name and described
impartial eye, do you recognize Chelidonium majus? bChelidonb is the
Greek word
for bswallowb, and the name for this plant is probably derived from the
that it begins to burgeon when the swallows arrive in spring and dies back
when they leave again in autumn. Legend has it that swallows use a sprig
this plant, or its juice, to restore the sight of their young when these
see. Herbalist John Gerard debunked this belief, because, he thought, as
Aristotle a millennium earlier, that the sight of blinded young birds
would be
restored spontaneously. Carrying this plant on onebs person, together
the heart of a mole, was supposed to enable the wearer to vanquish his
enemies, and also to win lawsuits. Also, worn in the shoes, it was a
yellow jaundice.

. Atropa belladonna, commonly called bdeadly nightshadeb is named for
Atropos, a Greek goddess who determined the length of onebs life. It is
plant, and is a member of the Solanaceae family.

Maclura pomifera, or Osage oranges were named after the Osage Indians of
Arkansas and Missouri, and brought East by the Lewis and Clark expedition.
French explorers named the tree bois dbarc, or bbow wood,b which was
corrupted to bBodark,b a name given to some towns in the Midwest, where
the fruits
are sometimes called bBodark apples.b The fruits, which look
brains, are an effective cockroach deterrant. If they had been known in
Europe in the Middle Ages they would surely have been used for ailments of
head, following the bDoctrine of Signatures.b The botanical name,
given in honor of William Maclure, who came from Scotland to America as a
man, made a great fortune, and devoted the rest of his life to improving
world. He believed in the value of education in democracy, and toured
observing and commenting on religion, education, hygiene and sexual
He made the first geological map of the United States.

The herb, thyme, was introduced into Britain by the Romans, and listed by
Aelfric. As an emblem of courage, thyme was added to soups and beer to
shyness. During the middle Ages, ladies presented their bbold and
knights with bfavoursb embroidered with a sprig of thyme. The plantbs
name, Thymus, is derived from either the Greek for courage or to fumigate,
latter referring to its use as incense in temples.

Dahlias are called after Dr. Anders Dahl, a Swedish botanist. Until
they were also called bgeorginas,b after the botanist Johann Georgi of
Petersburg. The name is still used in Eastern Europe.
Peonies were for many centuries grown for medicinal purposes. The
botanical name, Paeonia, comes from Paeon, the physician of the Greek
gods. In
Iliad there is a description of Paeon stanching wounds with herbs. Some
say that Asclepias became jealous of Paeon because he possessed the
root and Zeus changed Paeon into a plant to save him. Pliny the Elder,
died in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, attributed to it the power to
twenty different ills. He said it should only be uprooted at night
woodpecker of Mars, should he see the act, will attack the eyes in its

What we usually think of today when we speak of Marigolds are several
species of Tagetes. Now therebs a real native species, which we can grow
any guilt about bringing in non-natives. All species of Tagetes are
native to
the New World, from Arizona and New Mexico to Argentina. They were taken
to Spain by early explorers, and from there to France, where they were,
some reason called flos Africanus. Linnaeus gave them the name Tagetes, in
honor of Tages, the grandson of Jupiter who taught the Etruscans haruspicy
art of foretelling the future by examining entrails). These are the
or bAfricanb types.

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