Thursday, June 08, 2006

Moneywort and St Medard


Moneywort

Today in the French Republican Calendar (Prairial 20) honors a tool, the Pitchfork. So I went looking for plants associated with the day and found (at Wilson’s Almanac
(http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/book/jun8.html) that June 8 is the feast day of St. Medard, a rain saint, whose plant is the moneywort. Not clear why, but it might have something to do with water, as moneywort loves to grow in moist ground and along streams.

The French say that if it rains on St Medard’s day it will rain for 40 days after, while the English say rain on June 8 foretells a wet harvest. It definitely looks like rain here in Seattle, so I guess we can expect our usual rainy June.

It was a custom in France, to honor on his feast day, the most virtuous young girl in the village. She was escorted to the church by 12 boys and 12 girls where she was crowned with roses and given a gift of money, a continuation of a yearly stipend or scholarship he instituted while Bishop of Vermandois.

Mrs. M. Grieve explains that moneywort gets its name because the leaves are set two by two on the stem, the leaves are almost circular and they lay flat on the ground, like coins. The flowers are big and golden, like money as well, and they blossom in June and July.

Wikipedia has a short article and some nice photographs of money wort, which is also called Creeping Jenny, Herb Twopence and Twopenny Grass, at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moneywort

And there are even more detailed photographs at Dave’s Garden: Here’s one:
http://davesgarden.com/pf/showimage/68012/

One of the great benefits of writing about a plant a day for this blog is that I’m now a plant detective. Yesterday, on my way to work, I tracked down another linden in my neighborhood and saw that the flowers are just hard green buds, even smaller than peas, at the moment.

Now I’m on the trail of moneywort. When Chester and I went for our walk this morning, I think I found some in a neighbor’s front yard, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to wait to see if it flowers.

The 17th century herbalist Culpeper says that it is ruled by Venus and is good for stopping bleeding, either internally or externally, and for healing wounds. He recommends using the juice of the herb, or making a decoction in wine or water.

Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, Wordsworth 1995
Grieve, Mrs. M, The Modern Herbal
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/moneyw42.html

Illustration of St Medard from:
http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintm23.htm

Illustration of St Medard crowning the Rosiere:
http://catholique-beauvais.cef.fr/histoire/temoins/Saint_Medard/St_Medard.htm

1 comment:

Synn said...

I really find this blog so informative, useful and really makes me feel good. I love gardening, and this gives me some great ideas. Are you going to have a sort of mail kind of list that sends us a automatic update to this blog?