African Marigold

(Tagetes erecta) Not African at all, as is well-known, but a native of Mexico, brought back to Spain, and then naturalised in North Africa, where the soldiers of the Emperor Charles V, in the 1535 expedition to free Tunis from the Moors, found it growing, and assumed it was native (Fisher). It is claimed that this plant, or indeed any of the species, will reduce eelworm damage if planted among valued plants. The root secretion will kill eelworms at three feet distance (M Baker. 1977). They will, too, kill nematodes in the soil, as well as whitefly, and are really great to grow near potatoes and tomatoes (Boland & Boland), and also carrots and onions (Vickery. 1995), to keep pests away.

Ageratum conyzoides > GOATWEED Agrimonia eupatoria > AGRIMONY AGRIMONY

(Agrimonia eupatoria) A bitter herb, one of those once used to make beer keep (Bottrell). But:

Kirn milk and agrimony

Mak' the lasses fair and bonny (Simpkins).

A Guernsey preservative against spells, and a typically complicated one, to be hung round the neck: take nine bits of green broom, and two sprigs of the same, which you must tie together in the form of a cross; nine morsels of elder, nine leaves of Betony, nine of Agrimony, and a little bay salt, salammoniac, new wax, barley, leaven, camphor and quicksilver. The quicksilver must be enclosed in cobbler's wax. Put the whole into a new linen cloth that has never been used, and sew it well up so that nothing will fall out. Hang this round your neck. It is a sure preservative against the power of witches (MacCulloch). Agrimony was used in Guernsey for divinations too; one charm was to put two fronds of agrimony, each bearing nine leaflets, crosswise under the pillow, securing them by two new pins, also crossed. The future husband would appear in a dream (MacCulloch). But actually dreaming of agrimony foretells sickness in the house (Mackay).

Agrimony tea can be drunk as an ordinary beverage tea, popular once with French peasants (Cullum). It was known as Tea Plant in Somerset (Macmillan), and it is thé des bois in France, too (Clair). But it can be used as a gargle for a dry cough (Conway), or for a whole variety of ailments, lumbago among them (Vickery. 1995). It had a reputation for curing jaundice, and Culpeper assured us that "it openeth and cleanseth the liver", and in fact that was what it was used for in Gaelic folk tradition (Beith). Gerard had already recommended the leaf decoction as "good for them that have naughty livers, and for such as pisse bloud upon the diseases of the kidneys". It is still used by herbalists as a liver tonic (it is sometimes known as


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