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tansy button Tansy
Tanacetum vulgare
Common Name: ~Buttons~

The name derives from the Greek word for ~immortal~ because the flowers last for a long time.

Some say that the possibilities of conception are enhanced if eaten by women, but others think that eating it causes a miscarriage. Sussex people believed that placing leaves in the shoe would prevent ague. Traditionally the juice of the leaves was extracted to flavour puddings and cakes for Easter. During Lent the young leaves were eaten to sweeten body odours caused by the limited food intake. It has a hot, bitter though not unpleasant taste. Horses and goats do not eat it, but sheep and cows do. Most of the recipes for this plant refer back to Elizabethan times but it is now mainly used for decorative purposes.

flower button Tarragon
Artemesia Dracunculus
Family: Compositae
Common Names: ~Green Dragon~ ~Dragon Wort~

Native to Europe, southern Russia and western Asia, Tarragon is called the ~King of Herbs~ by the French because it is the main flavoring in many dishes of classic French cuisine. An exotic herb with an anise-like flavor, it's species name, ~dracunculus~, comes from the Latin for ~dragon~ referring to the shape of its root. It's generic name, ~artemisia~, comes from the Greek goddess ~Artemis,~ goddess of the moon. It's common name, Tarragon is derived from the French word ~estragon~ meaning ~little dragon~ because of its roots curl around like a dragon's tail. Tarragon, is also thought to be a corruption of the Arabic word ~tarkhum~ meaning ~little dragon.~

According to legend, Tarragon is believed to have sprung up, where the dragon passed on its banishment from the Garden of Eden.

During the late 1500's, the Tudor family introduced Tarragon into the royal gardens, from its origins in Siberia. The colonists brought tarragon to America. Thomas Jefferson was said to have been a distributor of tarragon in America.

Historically its root was used to cure toothaches. It was also used to cure the bites of dogs and poisonous snakes. Tarragon is used to flavor vinegars, butter, fish, pork, beef, poultry, vegetables and rice. It is also used in perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics. French tarragon is superior to Russian tarragon. Dried tarragon has less flavor than fresh as drying removes the essential oil.

button Thyme
Thymus vulgaris
Family: Labiatae
Common Names: ~Running Thyme~ ~Shepherd's Thyme~ ~Common Thyme~ ~Mother of Thyme~ ~Garden Thyme~ ~Orange Balsam Thyme~ ~English Thyme~

Native to central and northern Europe. Thymus comes from the Greek word ~thymon~meaning ~courage.~ According to legend, it was collected from the fields outside of Bethlehem to make a soft bed for Mary during the birth of Jesus.

The use of thyme dates back to 3000 BC, when it was used as an antiseptic by the Sumerians. The early Egyptians also used thyme as one of the ingredients in their mummification process. In medieval times, Thyme was used in drinks because it's intoxicating effect was regarded as a symbol of courage and bravery. Greek soldiers put thyme in the bath or were massaged with oil of thyme as a charm for bravery. To the ancient Greeks, thyme came to denote elegance, and the phrase ~to smell of thyme~ became an expression of stylish praise. Thyme was burned as incense to purify temples. It was also used as an aphrodisiac. Wearing a sprig of thyme in a woman's hair was reported to make her irresistible.

Roman soldiers also associated thyme with courage and vigor, bathing in waters scented with thyme. Romans prescribed it for relieving depression. The Scottish highlanders of old drank tea of wild thyme for the same purpose, as well as for warding off nightmares. During the Middle Ages, European ladies embroidered a sprig of thyme on tunics for their knights, as a token of courage. It was also used in posies to ward off disease and to help mask odors. Placing a sprig of thyme under the pillow was said to keep away nightmares. Thyme was worn to ward off evil and negativity. In the 16th century it was believed to cure sciatica and headaches. Also once used as a disinfectant.

Folk magic is associated with thyme. Fairies were thought to live in a bed of thyme. At midsummer, the King of the Faeries is said to dance with his followers on beds of thyme. English wild thyme has the highest concentration of volatile oils and this accounts for its use as one of the main ingredients in many recipes dating from around 1600, which allowed one to see faeries. In literature, Shakespeare's Oberon, king of the fairies, speaks of knowing "...where the wild thyme grows."

Today thyme is a popular culinary seasoning as well as used in dried flower arrangements, bouquets, and potpourri. Historically, it was used as a snakebite antidote, an aphrodesiac and a booster of courage. A soup of beer and thyme was used to overcome shyness. It is known for its skin soothing and gentle cleansing properties. Burning thyme repelled insects.

The Order of Oddfellows still throw thyme into a grave, hence its continued association with death. Thyme is considered an herb of purification and protection. It symbolizes Activity, Courage, Strength, Happiness, Energy and Affection

tulips button Tulip
Tulipa hybrida
Family: Liliaceae
Common Names: ~Tulipa~

A thousand years ago,Tulips grew wild in Persia. Found in central Asia in 1554. Native to Turkey, Iran, Syria, and parts of Asia. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire were the first culture to cultivate and hybridize the tulip. Persian poets sang its praises, and their artists drew and painted it so often, that the tulip was considered to be the symbol of the Ottoman Empire. Holland has been the main breeder and supplier of new cultivars for hundreds of years. Tulips became a status symbol for the rich, as only the wealthy in Holland could afford them. They were called ~Pot of Gold~ because of their high cost.

In 1610, French ladies wore corsages of tulips, and fabrics were decorated with tulip designs. Most of the bulbs were grown in Flanders by monks. The bulbs became a currency, and their value was quoted like stocks and shares. About ten million bulbs were represented in the market. It is believed the word bourse [stock exchange] derives from that period, because those who speculated in the tulip market held their meetings at the house of the noble family Van Bourse. In 1637, speculation became illegal, many people, in Holland, were ruined as prices fell. In the seventeenth century, a small bed of tulips was valued at 15,000 to 20,000 francs. Tulip mania flourished between 1634-1637 and people abandoned jobs and businesses to become tulip growers. The frenzy spread from France, to Europe. Tulips continued to be prized in Turkey and an eighteenth century manuscript notes that the Sheik Mohammed Lalizare, official tulip grower of Ahmed(1703-1730) counted 1,323 varieties. Annual tulip festivals were held. In the1600s, tulip became the national emblem of Holland. It is the national flower of modern Turkey.

One of the largest members of the lily family, the tulip has more than 100 species of flowers. There are many varieties and sub-varieties of tulips. An interesting fact is that tulip stems continue to grow after they are cut and will bend toward a source of light. The name tulip originates from the Turkish word, ~tulbend~ meaning turban, because it resembled the colourful Turkish tulband (turban). The word was later corrupted to ~tulipan~ and much later, abbreviated to tulip.

According to legend, a Persian youth named Farhad, fell in love with a maiden named Shirin. One day, word reached him that she had been killed. Gripped by unbearable grief, he mounted his favorite horse and galloped over a cliff to his death. From each drop of blood that trickled onto the ground, from his wounds a scarlet tulip sprang, a symbol of his perfect love. Due to this, the red tulip became a symbol of passionate love in ancient Persia.

Shortly after World War II, the Dutch shipped hundreds of thousands of tulip bulbs to Ottawa, Canada, to show their gratitude to Canadian soldiers for freeing Holland from the German occupation, and for welcoming Queen Maria to reside in Ottawa while the war raged on.

The Ambassador of the Roman Empire sent tulip seeds and bulbs to Clusius in Vienna who did not know what to do with them so he planted them and when they matured, he gave a hundred bulbs to his grocer who fried and ate them with oil and vinegar. In Japan a flour is made from them. In times of famine the Dutch ate tulip bulbs when no other food was available.

Red tulips are used on Valentine's Day. It is said that in the 16th century the Sultan of Persia displayed his affection with tulips, by presenting a crimson tulip to his beloved as a symbol of the burning flame of his love. The first red tulips were tinged black at the base of each petal which is said to show that the sultan's heart was charred to black coal. Due to this overt suggestion of sexual attraction, the Victorians hardly used tulips as an expression of love. Tulip is the ~Flower of Spring~ and symbolises ~ Imagination~ ~Dreaminess~ ~Perfect Lover~ ~A declaration of love~
Variegated tulips are for ~Beautiful eyes~
Red tulips indicate an ~Irresistible love~
Yellow tulips denote a ~Hopeless love~ with no chance of reconciliation.
Flowers have a vase life of 7 - 10 days.

thornapple1.jpg button Thorn Apple
Datura metel
Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade)
Common Names: ~Angels' Trumpet~ ~Floripondio Tree~ ~Jimson Weed~ ~Toloache~ ~Tolguacha~ ~Datura~

This plant has hallucinogenic effects. The name derives from the prickly fruits. It's common name Jimson weed, was derived from colonial times. Robert Beverly recounted an incident in l676 in the Jamestown Colony when a group of English soldiers believed the leaves of the datura to be suitable pot greens. They boiled up a potent stew and consumed the lot. In Beverly's words the soldiers turned to "natural fools" and "in this frantic condition they were confined, less they should in their folly destroy themselves; though it was observed that all their Actions were full of Innocence and good Nature." The effects lasted for eleven days before the soldiers returned to their senses, hence the weed of Jamestown obtained its Anglo name.

To many Native American tribes, this wild plant was the substance of dream time in the coming of age ceremony known as Toloache. It was used only by young men in an extended rite which could last many days, when the spiritual truths of the clan were shared in an atmosphere of mystical visions. A period of fasting preceded the drinking of datura tea to increase its psychoactive qualities. Other species, native to South America have been used in religious rites by people in the Amazon rain forests and in precolumbian Mexico and California.

Datura in large doses causes hallucinations, stupor and sometimes death. The juice from the fruits was applied to the mothers' nipples to kill unwanted infants.

Datura - ~Stepping Stone To The Infinite~
*See Angel's Trumpet

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Friday, January 16, 1998

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