Vervain - Verbena officinalis.
As with any herb that incudes ‘officinalis’ in its botanical name it has a long history of use, this coupled with the fact its generic name ‘Verbena’ is a Roman term for alter plants used for sacrifices points to a very interesting plant.
However it is pre-Roman that its connections with healing and spirituality begin. Vervain is thought to have been used similarly to Sage in the Native American traditions, purifying and cleansing ceremonial and living spaces.
Individuals have also used the plant for their own protection against infection and calamity. Worn as a talisman around one's neck it is said to help with headaches and poisonous bites. It is thought that it can used for both creating spells and as a antidote for spells. In short this plant has played a key role in Shamanic practices in the British Isles. Due to the fact it is not a true native of Ireland there is little evidence of its herbal use in this Country.
As with many plants with a key role in folk traditions, science also points to why this plant has been used extensively. The plant contains ‘verbenaline’ which is a chemical renowned for its ability to reduce fevers and pain. An infusion of this plant can induce sweating and used with yarrow is an effective herb for coughs and colds. More often than not the plant has been used as an external application for inflammations and sores. Internally it also can be taken as a strengthening tonic.
After a motor accident I used the mixture of vervain and yarrow to ease pain and strengthen my recovery.
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Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.