Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vervain (Verbena)

Here is another herb that can join the list of those less well known: 
vervain (verbena officinialis). 
According to Mrs. Margaret Grieve, author of "A Modern Herbal"
which is reproduced at www.botanical.com, the name vervain 
is derived from a Celtic word: ferfaen, meaning to drive away a stone.
In fact Grieve reports that in centuries past, 
a tisane of vervain was often prescribed for bladder stones.

This photo is of a selection called blue vervain (verbena hastata)
which is native to the US:

Vervain also had a reputation as a sacred herb 
primarily because it was used in sacrifices
and for cleaning and consecrating the altar.
But legend has it that vervain was also used to staunch the wounds 
of Jesus during the crucifixion.

Here's a photo of a variety called rose vervain:

Grieve says vervain was used by the Druids for making lustral water (holy water),
and sorcerers and magicians relied on vervain 
as part of ceremonial  incantations.
Some folklore claims vervain will kill a vampire--
or at least scare one off--
when the herb is woven into a chain and worn around the neck.
As an added bonus, vervain can provide protection from witches too.

This verbena may repel creatures of the dark arts,
but it also attracts butterflies and bees.
The next photo is of a butterfly on Argentinian vervain (verbena bonariensis):
Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, Cynthia cardui) on Verbena bonariensis, Argentinian Vervain in Germany, Europe Stock Photo - 12579260

All together, vervain is an herb with a fascinating personality.

No comments: