Bladder Campion

(Silene vulgaris) The "bladder" is the inflated calyx, which snaps when suddenly compressed, and so could be used as a sort of love-charm, according to Coles. The degree of success depended on the loudness of the pop. There was a strange name for the plant in Dorset - White Flowers of Hell (Macmillan). Apparently, there was a superstition that the leaves and "bladders" were poisonous. Actually, children often eat the young leaves, which are supposed to taste like green peas (Jordan). They have even been used as a substitute for asparagus.

Gerard indulged a fantasy about this plant - he said that this plant, which he called Behen,was a protection against the "stinging of Scorpions and such like venomous beasts. Insomuch that whoso doth hold the same in his hand can receive no damage or hurt by any venomous beast". On a more rational level, he prescribed the root decoction to help strangury and "paines about the neck and hucklebone". Far more practical is the gypsy use of the plant - the leaves were applied externally as a poultice to cure erysipelas (Vesey-Fitzgerald).

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