Milkwort

(Polygala vulgaris) In Wales, it was once thought that milkwort in a pasture would increase the milk yield of the cattle grazing on it (Gibbings. 1941). Another belief from Wales was that it cures slight dog- or snake-bites (Trevelyan), and it enjoyed the same reputation in Leicestershire (Billson), probably taking the cue from the roots (cf SENEGA SNAKEROOT). The roots secrete a milky fluid, hence the name Milkwort, that was, and probably still is, used for rubbing on warts.

Gerard knew the names Cross-flower, Procession-flower, Gang-flower, and Rogation-flower for this plant, for they were the "floures the maidens which use in the countries to walke the Procession", and they made of them "garlands and nosegaies". All these names, then, refer to the use of the flower in the Rogation-tide processions, probably a continental tradition, Grigson thought. "Gang" is OE gangen, to go - the 'going' being about the parish, beating the bounds, etc.

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