(Spergula arvensis) A plant of bare and gravelly places, hence the Shetland observation that a profusion of the plant is a sign that more manure needs to be applied to the soil (Vickery. 1995). The bare ground in which it thrives accounts for the names Poverty-weed (Parish), Farmer's Ruin (Leyel. 1948), and Pickpocket (Grigson. 1955), and their variants. In Shetland, the seeds used to be ground into meal, hence the name Meldi, which means meal (Grigson. 1955), and bread has been made from them in times of scarcity in Scandinavia (C P Johnson).
But the plant has been grown as a fodder crop (Murdoch McNeill), both in Britain and on the Continent, and occasionally in South Africa (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk). Prior quotes a name, Franke, given to this plant, from "the property it hath to fatten cattle, franke being a stall in which cattle were shut up to be fattened, or, as Halliwell put it, " a small inclosure in which animals (generally boars) were fattened". Any animal so shut up for fattening was said to be franked, and the same term was used after fattening. Parkinson. 1640 used the same term in the names Franck Spurrey, and Franck Spurwort.
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