Danes

There are a few plants that tradition associates with the Danes, or rather the bodies of Danes killed in battle. PASQUE FLOWER is one, and so is DWARF ELDER. Tradition has it that the latter grows only where blood has been shed. A Welsh name for the plant translates "plant of the blood of man", and there are also relevant English names like Bloodwort and Deathwort. It is associated in England with the Danes - wherever their blood was shed in battle, this plant afterwards sprang up (Dyer). Camden wrote in 1586: "And in those parts of this country which are opposite to Cambridgeshire, lyes Bartlow, famous for four great barrows. And the Wallwort or Dwarf-elder that grows hereabouts in great plenty, and bears red berries, they call by no other name but Dane's-blood, denoting the multitude of Danes that were slain". The opinion of some in Somerset was that the dwarf elder got its noxious properties from growing on the graves of the Danes (Lawrence) (the berries are toxic). The fact that the stems turn red in September presumably gave rise to these traditions (Grigson). Another plant with exactly the same tradition, even to its growing prolifically on the Bartlow barrows, is CLUSTERED BELLFLOWER, again, known as Danes' Blood in Cambridgeshire. FIELD ERYNGO (Eryngium campestre) is known as Daneweed in Northamptonshire (A E Baker), for just the same reason. SNAKE'S HEAD LILY is yet another plant said to have grown from a drop of Dane's blood, and that must be the origin of the name Bloody Warrior given in Berkshire to this flower. The dark red juice that exudes from the bruised capsules of TUTSAN was believed in Hampshire to be the sign that the berries originated by germination in the blood of slaughtered Danes (Gomme. 1908). Anyway, this juice was taken as a representation of human blood, and by the doctrine of signatures the plant was apllied to all bleeding wounds (Dyer. 1889).

Daphne laureola > SPURGE LAUREL

Daphne mezereum > LADY LAUREL

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