Welcome to a blooming lovely Monday.
The plant I have chosen today is considered a wild flower and has an enticing fragrance. This aroma lasts even when the plant is dried and is one of the things that makes it so attractive. The flowers appear all the way through the summer and for many generations have been collected for colour and for other uses.
The common name for this vibrant bloom is Lady’s Bedstraw. In the past this time of year was when hay bedding was easy to replace and this plant was one of those that went into a bedding mix. It is a natural way to ward off insects like fleas and gave the hay bed a pleasant fragrance.
Hay beds were usually encased in stone or wood box, the hay and floral contents would be put inside the container and then a heavy weave cover tied down tight over the top. On top of that goes the bedding of pillows and covers. I have read descriptions that lying on a hay bed is like floating on a cloud. I’ve never had the opportunity to try such bed and would love to hear from anyone who has.
Like many of the flowers our ancestors used Lady’s Bedstraw has medicinal uses. The plant can be used a styptic to stop minor bleeding, can be used as a wound wash and a sedative depending on how it is prepared. Both Gerad and Culpepper describe it as useful to stop internal bleeding too. An ointment to ease the weary traveller can be made from the plant and the tips of the blooms can be brewed to make a refreshing tea.
This plant also has another very useful quality. It can be used as a replacement for rennet, the ingredient needed to turn milk into cheese. One of it’s other names is Cheese Running. It is said this is the plant that gave Gloucester cheese its distinctive colour.
Not only was cheese coloured using Lady’s Bedstraw but cloth too could be dyed a shade of red from it.
Lady’s Bedstraw was once sacred to the Norse Goddess Frigg, who helped women in childbirth, fresh or dried blooms would be added in quantity to a birth bed. The plant has also been considered sacred to Diana, Minerva and Vesta.
In Romania the celebration of Sânziene on the 24th of June young women collect flowers and this plant must be part of the posies they pick. Flower chaplets are worn by the young girls who meet and dance with their beloved on that most magical night.
Legend says that Lady’s Bedstraw was originally a pale and drab little flower and was in the mix of plants in the manger where Mary placed the infant Christ. The flower accepted him and formed part of his pillow. In return for this God changed the pale flowers to the glorious golden yellow we know today.
News: Tomorrow you can see the cover of my new book Serving the Serpent here.
I will also be taking part in the Paranormal Thursday Blog Tour taking place through October to December. Dates to follow.
Through the whole of November you will find my Here be Dragons blog posts every Wednesday and Friday as part of my celebration for the release of Serving the Serpent.
Thanks for reading.
Image Credit “CublesuSJ2012 (91)” by Țetcu Mircea Rareș – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CublesuSJ2012_(91).JPG#/media/File:CublesuSJ2012_(91).JPG
The Blog Tour Badge for Paranormal Blog Tour is from Carmen Stefanescu.