MISTLETOE berries, "of a clammy or viscous moisture", are such "whereof the best Bird-lime is made, far exceeding that which is made of the Holm or HOLLY bark" (Gerard). It was made by drying and pounding the berries soaking them in water for twelve days, and pulverizing them again. Bird-lime was used up to medieval times for taking small birds in the branches of trees, and also for catching hawks, whch were decoyed by a bird tethered between the arches of a stick coated with the stuff (J G D Clark. 1948). "It is reported that the bark of the root of the (WAYFARING TREE) buried a certaine time in the earth, and afterwards boyled and stamped according to Art, maketh a good Bird-lime for Fowlers to catch birds with" (Gerard). In Africa, the latex of the CANDELABRA TREE (Euphorbia ingens), which becomes sticky when partially dry, is used for the purpose (Palgrave), and another African plant that is used is AFRICAN CORN LILY (Ixia viridflora), which has a sticky sap. The generic name, Ixia, comes from a Greek word ixos, meaning bird-lime.
BIRD'S EYE is a name given to a number of plants (see Watts. 2000). Descriptive, of course in most cases, but there was a belief, particularly applying to GERMANDER SPEEDWELL, that if you pick the flowers, birds would come and pick your eyes out, or your mother will suffer that fate (cf MOTHER-DIE).
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