Hatfield's Herbal: The Curious Stories of Britain's Wild Plants

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9780140515770: Hatfield's Herbal: The Curious Stories of Britain's Wild Plants

From ivy wreathed buildings to the dandelions growing through the cracks between paving stones, we are surrounded by a wealth of native plants. In the past they were a hugely valued resource: magical, mystical and medical. Puppies were once fed daisy flowers in milk to keep them small while children wore daisy chains to protect against fairy kidnapping. Poachers scattered mullein seed on the surface of the water to drug fish. Chewing bramble leaves alleviates toothache. Until the nineteenth century the bodies of paupers and suicides were left on trestles in churchyards between death and burial, scattered with feverfew to delay their decay. In the flu epidemic of 1918 many Irish people carried wild garlic in their pockets to avoid infection.

Packed with stories and memorable information, this book is the highly personal, very readable result of a lifetime spent researching folk cures and the science behind them. Outlining the history and uses of over 150 British plants, Hatfield’s Herbal offers a fascinating history of what life was once like, a beautifully illustrated, evocative guide to our native plants and a passionate argument why we should better appreciate the riches we already have.

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Review:

`Hatfield, a contemporary botanist and plant historian, covers remedies from agrimony to yew and the history of their use'
-- Sunday Times Books of the Year

From the Back Cover:

Lily of the valley was used in World War One to treat the after-effects of poison gas.

In late nineteenth-century Scotland a charm was still in use for ensuring a husband's faithfulness. Difficult to prepare and tricky to apply, it consisted of sprinkling on the man's chest a mixture prepared from butterbur, foxglove, royal fern and an old man's bones.

For weather-forecasting, any seaweed will do. Hang a strip of it up in the porch for predicting bad weather; if it remains dry and brittle this indicates good weather but when it becomes moist rain is expected

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