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MEANINGS & LEGENDS OF FLOWERS (M)
Ipomoea purpurea L.
Common Names: ~Flying Saucers~ ~Heavenly Blue~
Morning Glory is native to the Tropics and has become naturalized in North America. It is related to the ~sweet potato,~ I. batatas A fast-growing vine, useful for covering a wall or trellis.
The Aztec priests used the seeds, mixed with tobacco and insects, to rub on their bodies before performing sacrifices. They believed that the morning glory would guarantee the victim would pass through death and be reborn. The seeds are hallucinogenic and were also used by the Aztecs in drinks when communicating with spirits from the world of the dead.
Morning glory is also symbol of death and rebirth. The morning glory opens in the morning and dies the same evening.
Family: N.O. Compositae (Asteraceae)
Common Names: ~Felon Herb~ ~Moxa Herb~ ~Saint John's Herb~ ~St. John's Plant~ ~White Mugwort~ ~Western Mugwort.~
The genus name, Artemisia, is named after Artemis, the Roman Goddess of the hunt and the moon, as well as patron to women, especially in matters of menstruation, pregnancy, labor and menopause. In addition a Greek woman named Artemisia,both sister and wife of a Greek/Persian King -- was a botanist who ruled after her brother's death.
According to some, Mugwort derived its name from having been used to flavour drinks. The plant was gathered when flowering and dried, malt liquor was then boiled with it and the liquid was then added to beer. It is still used to flavour table beer brewed by cottagers in some parts.
It has also been suggested that the name, Mugwort, may be derived not from the drinking cup, ~mug,~ but from ~moughte~ (a moth or maggot), because from the days of Discorides, the plant was useful in keeping off the attacks of moths.
In the Middle Ages, the plant was known as ~Cingulum Sancti Johannis,~ as it was believed that John the Baptist wore a girdle made of it in the wilderness. It has been associated with the seer and the Moon. Mugwort was considered one of the nine healing herbs of the Anglo-Saxons. Romans placed it in their sandals to protect their feet. This herb was credited with magical powers and was worn as a talisman to protect a person from evil. A crown made from its sprays was worn on St. John's Eve to gain security from evil possession. Mugwort was believed to preserve the wayfarer from fatigue, sunstroke, wild beasts and evil spirits. In Holland and Germany it is called ~St. John's Plant,~ because of the belief, that if gathered on St. John's Eve it gave protection against diseases and misfortunes.
Seventy years ago, it was used by the working classes in Cornwall as one of the substitutes for tea. Also used as an aromatic culinary herb, being one of the green herbs with which geese are stuffed during roasting.
The leaves are used in the preparation of Moxas, which the Japanese use to cure rheumatism.
Sheep are fond of Mugwort, and its roots. It is said to be good for poultry and turkeys. ~ Artemesia of Pontos,~ was celebrated among the ancients for fattening these animals.
Mushrooms & Toadstools
Family: Amanitaceae (Mushroom family)
Common Mushrooms: Mushrooms with Gills (blade-like slats under the caps)
~Amanitas~ ~Chanterelles~ ~Clitocybes~ ~Cortinarius~ (Web Caps) ~Inky Caps~ ~Lactarius~ (Milky Caps)
~Lepiotas~ ~Russulas~ ~Various Gilled Mushrooms~
Mushrooms without Gills
~Boletes~ ~Morels~ ~Polypores~ ~Puffballs~
Arabic: ~Aish El-Ghorab~ (~Raven's Bread~)
Mushrooms and Toadstools are fungus not plants. Fungi are parasites that reproduce by spores. Some types feed on dead or decaying matter while others need living hosts. A mushroom is the fruit of a fungus. Its purpose is to disperse spores, microscopic single cells that can grow into new fungi.
Associated with the full moon. It is believed that the lunar cycles affect their growth. Japanese believed that mushrooms and toadstools were engendered by thunder. Greeks and Aztecs believed they were engendered by lightning. It was thought that they sprang up overnight and disappeared the next day. Tlaloc, the Aztec mushroom and Toadstool god, was engendered by lightning.
Edible mushrooms were considered the food of the gods in ancient Greece and Mexico. They were called ~Teonanacatl,~ ~Flesh of the Gods,~ in Central America, where the rites of the sacred mushroom were conducted. Mexicans had a mushroom cult. Guatemalan mushroom rites date back to at least 1000 B.C. Africans called mushrooms and toadstools ~the little man of the forest with the big hat.~
When Sisyphus founded Corinth, he peopled it, with men sprung up from mushrooms.
Perseus founded Mycenae in the place where a mushroom sprang up and supplied him with a stream of water when he was thirsty.
Mushrooms were the ritual tinder for Ixion's fire wheel.
Ladon, the hundred-headed serpent who guarded the Garden of the Hesperides, was associated with the ancient
European toadstool mysteries.
Toadstools were associated with fairies. A circle of tall, dark grass within a ring of toadstools, accompanied by a ring of dark earth, was called a Fairy Ring. Other names for this were ~Fairy Circles,~ ~Dancing Fairies~ ~Dancing Elves~ ~Fire-breathing Dragons~ ~Lightning Strike~ ~Lightning Witches.~ Stepping into a fairy ring could bring
good or bad luck, cause or cure illness. A fairy ring in a field beside a house was believed to bring good fortune. Harm
was believed to come to a cow that stepped within the circle or ate its grass. It was also thought that you would become enchanted if you entered a ring during a full moon. Love potions for young girls were made from the dew of fairy rings. For lunar magic hallucinogenic mushrooms and toadstools were used in the religious rites and ceremonies of many cultures, ancient and modern.
Christians believed that mushrooms sprang up where St. Peter spat bread on the ground; toadstools where the devil
spat. They thought toadstools were caused by magical or evil influences and that mushrooms were vile and unholy.
Mushrooms and toadstools are actually one in the same. They have a stem and a cap. They often have a volva, a cup in the ground from which the stem rises. Called ~Death Cups,~ these occur in both poisonous and non-poisonous varieties. The word mushroom is usually applied to those which people believe to be edible. Mushrooms are cultivated indoors in organic compost. No fungus should be eaten unless you are absolutely certain of its identity - there are many poisonous varieties, some of them deadly, which resemble the edible ones.
Eating mushrooms lowers blood cholesterol levels.
The variety Amanita muscariaalso known as ~Fly Agaric~ ~Flycap~ ~Spotted Toadstool~ ~Soma~ ~Asumer~ ~Pong~ and ~Pank~ was introduced into India by Aryan peoples, who gathered it during the full moon and used it to make an intoxicating drink for religious rites, known as the soma of the Rig Veda. Some traditions regard soma as a spiritual food. According to Robert Graves, this was the ambrosia of the gods and the food that centaurs ate. He says that the ingestion of ambrosia was part of the Orphic, Eleusinian and other Mysteries.
Sacred to Dionysus. Amanita was his main intoxicant, supplying muscular strength for his revels. Centaurs (horse-totem tribespeople), satyrs (goat-totem tribespeople) and Maenads, the Wild Women, all associated with Dionysus, ate spotted toadstools which gave them, enormous muscular strength, erotic power, delirious visions, and the gift of prophecy. The strange dreams and visions imparted by amanita were considered gifts of the gods. The crime of King Tantalus, for which the gods condemned him to eternal punishment, was allowing commoners to partake of the ambrosia of the gods.
The infant Apollo was fed by Themis on nectar and ambrosia.
Used for orgiastic and shamanistic rites by Siberian peoples and Native American tribes. The Koryak people of Siberia drank the water in which toadstools had been boiled. Those not invited to partake would drink the urine of those who had, as the drug passes out of the body that way. Amanita was worshiped as a sacred plant by ancient Siberians. In Koryak mythology, ~Fly Agaric~ sprang up wherever the god Existence spat. It gave strength to the warrior Big Raven in his time of need. Some believe that amanita was used by the Norse berserkers to give them power in battle. It was also used in initiation ceremonies.
A medieval fresco in Indres, France depicts a large, branching amanita mushroom as the Tree of Life, flanked by Eve and Adam, with the serpent wrapped around it. It is said that the Book of Revelation was written under its influence.
Believed to serve as perches for gnomes, fairies, elves, etc. It affects the psychic body.
In some places, agaric found on old birch trees were added to the Beltane fire. The ashes of such a fire were a charm against witchcraft and the malignant diseases of cattle and humans. It was believed that they could also change the nature of poison.
The ~Dung Mushroom~ ~Paneolus papilionaceus,~ was also considered to be the nectar of the gods, it was eaten by adepts of the Eleusinian, Samothracian and Cretan Mysteries. Portuguese witches were said to have used them. They contain a chemical that acts on the brain like LSD since it has a hallucinogen with a mescaline-like effect. Native American priestesses invoked Tlaloc at the rites of the ingestion of the ~Psilocybe~ mushrooms. Used to induce visions during religious rituals.
In the Language of Flowers mushrooms mean Suspicion.
Crucifrae - Mustard Family
Common Names: ~Field mustard~ ~Rape Mustard~ ~Cole Seed~
The English word ~mustard~ is derived from two Latin words, ~mustum ardens,~ meaning ~burning must,~ and ~must~ referring to the name for fermenting grape juice. Mustard was popular during the Middle Ages.
Mustard was used in the Indus Valley since ancient times. The Sumerians ate the greens. Aesclepius, the Greek god of medicine, and Ceres, goddess of agriculture and seeds, are said to have introduced mustard to mankind. The Romans pounded the seeds and mixed them with wine.
Mixed with warm water, the powdered seeds react to form an essential oil that releases heat. Mustard plasters have been used as home treatments for congestion for many years. Mustard has also been used to treat sprains and rheumatic joints, headaches, and toothaches. White mustard is mildly pungent, whereas Black mustard Brassica nigra or Sinapis nigrais strongly pungent.
White and yellow mustard seeds are used whole in pickling and chutneys. Black mustard seeds are often
used in Indian dishes and are heated until they pop. The French use brown mustard in their creations. Southerners grow the brown mustard Brassica juncea for its greens, which are popular in Asian stir-fries.
Morus alba L.
Common Names: ~Morus tatarica~ ~Russian Mulberry~ ~Silkworm Mulberry~ ~China Mulberry~ ~White Mulberry~
Chinese Name: ~Sang Shen-Tzu~
Native to China, this tree grows wild in northern Asia Minor, Armenia and the Southern Caucasus region upto Persia and Europe. The name ~Morus,~ has been derived from the Latin word ~mora~ meaning ~delay,~ from the tardy expansion of the buds.
The tree was dedicated by the Ancients to Minerva. According to legend, Pyramus and Thisbe were two lovers whose parents forbade their union. They lived in adjoining houses and conversed secretly through a hole in the wall. They agreed to flee together, and were to meet at ~Ninus' tomb~ by moonlight. Thisbe arrived first. While awaiting her lover, a lioness that had killed an ox approached the tomb. Thisbe fled in fright, dropping her veil. The lioness tore up the veil and soiled it with blood. When Pyramus arrived, he found only the bloody garment. In despair, he killed himself. Thisbe, returning, found his dead body under the mulberry tree. She died of grief and the mulberry has ever since born blood-red fruit.
Mulberry was found in Italy, during the excavations at Pompeii, in the ~House of the Bull,~ a Black Mulberry is represented and Mulberry leaves were found in a mosaic from the ~House of the Faun.~ Schouw, who wrote about the plants of Pompeii in 1854, considered that M. alba was unknown to the Pompeians.
Mulberry was far more esteemed in ancient times than at present. It was included among the large number of useful plants ordered by Charlemagne ~A.D. 812~ to be cultivated on the imperial farm. The cultivation of the Mulberry in Spain can be found in a reference to the preparation of Syrup of Mulberries in the Calendar of Cordova of the year 961.
Many mysterious legends come from China. It was said that the ~Divine Tree Fushang~ known as the embodiment of mulbery, was a mystic tree where the sun bird nested. It was regarded as the access leading from earth to heaven. The mulberry forest was the most sacred place where major sacrificial rites and entertainment activities were held. According to the historical records, when Emperor Cheng Tang in the Shang dynasty established his Reign, it didn't rain for consecutive seven years, and the Emperor himself prayed in the mulberry forest for rain to save the common people. (Jian Ai¡¯(Equal Love) written by Mohist, in the book Shang Shu¡).
England has many famous Mulberry trees. Those of Syon House, Brentford, are of historical interest and reported to be the oldest tree of its kind in England, introduced from Persia in 1548.
In 1608 James I, wanted to further the silk industry by introducing the culture of the silkworm into Britain, issued an edict encouraging the cultivation of Mulberry trees, but the attempt to rear silkworms in England proved unsuccessful, because the Black Mulberry was cultivated by mistake, instead of White Mulberry, which is the species on which the silkworm flourishes.
According to the College accounts, the old Mulberry tree growing in the grounds of Christ Church, Cambridge, still bears excellent fruit. It was planted by Milton.
There is another Mulberry tree still standing near the Vicarage at Stowmarket which, is also said to have been planted by Milton. A Mulberry tree planted in front of the Head-master's house at Eton is unique. It was measured in 1907, and found to be 30 feet high, with girth of 8 feet 3 inches. Another tree is found in the Canons' old walled garden at Canterbury.
Shakespeare's famous Mulberry, of which there are descendants at Kew, is said to have taken from the Mulberry garden of James I, and planted in his garden at New Place, Stratford-on-Avon, in 1609. 'The tree,' Malone writes, 'was celebrated in many a poem, one especially by Dibdin, but about 1752, the then owner of New Place, the Rev. Mr. Gastrell, bought and pulled down the house and cut down Shakespeare's celebrated Mulberry tree, to save himself the trouble of showing it to those whose admiration of the poet led them to visit the ground on which it stood.'
The pieces were made into many snuffboxes and other mementoes of the tree, some of them being inscribed with the punning motto, ~Memento Mori.~ Ten years afterwards, when the freedom of the city was presented to Garrick, the document was enclosed in a casket made from the wood of this tree. A cup was also made from it, and at the Shakespeare Jubilee, Garrick, holding the cup, recited verses, composed by himself, in honour of the Mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare. A slip of it was grown by Garrick in his garden at Hampton Court, and a scion of the original tree is now growing in Shakespeare's garden.
Historically, mulberry was used to start a silkworm industry in America; it failed. The bark has fibers in it which were made into cloaks by the Choctaws. They were also used to make ropes for the ships of the Spanish conquistadors.
Centuries ago in northeastern Burma, the local people noticed that the bark of the mulberry tree naturally peeled from the tree. They discovered that this bark could be made into an all natural paper without destroying the tree. They called this tree ~saa~ and the same word is used in Thai today.
The bark of the mulberry tree is pounded into a mushy pulp. Natural dyes are added to the pulp which is then put into a cloth covered frame. The water is allowed to drip away and the frame is left to dry in the sun. After it has completely dried the paper is then carefully peeled away from the frame.
Common Names: ~Crape Myrtle~ ~Queen's Crape Myrtle~
Originated in China, Japan, and other parts of southeast Asia. It was introduced to the Southern United States over one hundred and fifty years ago. Crape myrtle derives its common name from its crepe-like, crinkled petals, and the resemblance of its leaves to the true myrtle, Myrtus communis. Crape myrtle is an American term. Elsewhere in the world, the common name for crape myrtle is ~lagerstroemia~ It has been cultivated in China for centuries and was a favorite tree of Chinese emperors. It is popular as a street tree in tropical areas.
Myrtle is known as ~the flower of the gods.~ It was sacred to Aphrodite, the mythological Greek goddess of love and in medieval times, was used for bridal garlands.
Its leaves and stems are very fragrant when crushed and made into oil. It is said that if you dream about a myrtle, it means good fortune and long life. If you grow a myrtle bush on either side of your door, it will bring love and peace to the household. The Greeks and Romans often drank Myrtle Tea to keep their love strong. The myrtle is associated with chastity, therefore, it is worn by brides-to-be and also worn by girls attending their first Holy Communion.
Copyright © Pinkie D'Cruz 1998
Friday, January 16, 1998