Found in one of the gardens at The Cloisters are Magic Plants. Dont
believe me? Read the sign!!!! MAGIC PLANTS!!!!
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65 months ago
ala copy and paste from the met blob. interesting stuff. Thanks Deidre!
Deirdre Larkin Says:
July 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm Steve,
The plant you photographed is the common lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris or A. xanthochlora.) It is growing in a bed devoted to plants used in medieval magic and witchcraft. Some of the species were used amuletically to avert evil, like fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and rue (Ruta graveolens.) Others, especially those in the Nightshade family, such as the mandrakes (Mandragora sps.) and the thornapple (Datura metel) were used by witches.
If you are familiar with lady’s mantle as a garden plant, you will know that beads of rainwater or dew remain on the pleated leaves when all the other plants in the garden appear quite dry. Dew was believed to have magical properties in the Middle Ages, and the plant’s dewiness was a sign of its occult power. The name ‘alchemilla,’ i.e. ‘the little alchemical one,’ was given to this plant in the early 16th century by the German herbalist Hieronymus Bock, presumably because alchemists gathered the dew from this plant for use in their work.
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