Brooklime

(Veronica beccabunga) The specific name, beccabunga, is O Norse bekh, a brook, plus bung, which is the name of a plant. Brooklime seems to be the exact Anglo-Saxon equivalent of the Norse (which is still retained as a common name in Shetland as Bekkabung (Grigson. 1955) ). It is edible as a spring salad plant, and it is used as such all over northern Europe. It often grows with watercress, and the two were gathered and eaten together (Barton & Castle). "Spring Juice" was fresh brooklime and scurvy-grass, cut and beaten in a mortar, and left to steep for twelve hours. Then it was strained, and the juice of Seville oranges to an equal amount was added. A wineglassful taken fasting each morning for a week was a spring tonic (Quelch).

It is said to be excellent for skin diseases. In the Balkans they make a poultice by boiling it with onions and wheat chaff in sour milk (Kemp). Gypsies use the leaves for a poultice for piles, boils, etc., (Vesey-Fitzgerald), a use Wesley knew: "the Piles (to cure): a Poultis of boil'd Brook-lime", and the poultice was prescribed for whitlows and burns as well (Barton & Castle). In Irish folk medicine, the decoction, either alone, or mixed with watercress, used to be taken for gravel, and urinary diseases generally (Egan). Boiled and sweetened, it was used around Belfast as an expectorant (Barbour). In Wicklow, too, the water in which it had been boiled was taken to be an excellent cold cure. One should stay in bed, however, as "it opens all the pores" (O Cleirigh).

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