Globe Cucumber

(Cucumis prophetarium) The prophet of the specific name, given by Linnaeus, is Elisha, for it was once thought that this was the plant of Elisha's miracle, of II Kings; 4 (Moldenke & Moldenke). This is the sacred healing cucumber of the East African Dinka people. Almost every Dinka homestead is likely to have one or two of them displayed. They are intensely bitter, and when ripe turn a greenish-blue colour, suggesting to the Dinka a stormy sky, and hence divinity. Sometimes, if no beast is available for sacrifice, one of these sacred cucumbers may be split, and thrown aside. It is a temporary substitute for an animal victim, and an earnest to provide one when possible (Lienhardt).

Glyceria fluitans > FLOTE GRASS GOAT WILLOW

(Salix capraea) This is the tree that gives "palm" for Palm Sunday, as some of the names given to the tree confirm - Palm itself, and Palm-tree, or Palm Willow (Grigson. 1955; Leather), English Palm (Poole), and, from Dorset, Palmer (Grigson. 1955). Perhaps any catkin-bearing tree could be the palm, for hazel was used, too (Simpson). But the catkins of Goat Willow have always been the English embodiment of 'palm'. In medieval times, a wooden figure representing

Christ riding on an ass was sometimes drawn along in the procession, and the people scattered their branches in front of the figure as it passed (Ditchfield. 1891). Willow sprays used to be put on each seat of Moreton Church, in Dorset, on Palm Sunday (M Baker. 1980). Flora Thompson tells how sprays of sallow catkins were worn in buttonholes for church-going in her day, and how they were brought indoors to decorate the house. They should not be brought indoors before Palm Sunday, for that would be most unlucky. At Whitby, palm crosses were made, and studded with the blossoms at the ends, and then hung from the ceiling (Gutch). Similarly, in County Durham, where the branches were tied together so as to form a St Andrew's cross, with a tuft of catkins at each point, and bound with pink or blue ribbons tied to them (Brockie) - perhaps the ribbons were to hold the cross together. These Durham crosses were kept for the whole of the coming year (M Baker. 1980).

In Subcarpathian Rus' the priest blesses Pussy Willow branches in the church. In some villages they are given to the animals to eat, or they are saved, and if a storm threatens they are thown into the fire. There is a set formula to be said while this is being done, in translation "May the storm vanish in the sky like the smoke from these branches". Another meaning of the rite was recorded elsewhere in the region: "When it thunders, these branches are burnt; they are put in the oven, so that smoke will be produced and the devil not be able to hide in the chimney" (Bogatyrev).

It is reckoned a lucky tree in Ireland. It is a good thing to take a sallow rod with you on a journey (Grigson. 1955), and they reckoned that the butter would be bound to come if a peeled rod were put round the churn, just as they believed that driving cows with a "sally" rod would ensure a good supply of milk (O'Farrell). When these willows get big, the heart-wood turns red, and if kept dry, it is said to last as long as the oak, hence the proverb:

Be the oak ne'er so stout

The sollar red will wear it out (Northall).

And there is another: Sally tree will buy a horse, before an oak will buy a saddle (Leather).

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