(Parietia judaica) Pellitory is a strange-sounding name, but it comes eventually from latin paries, a wall. Irish schoolboys used to grasp pellitory hard when the need arose, saying:
Peniterry, peniterry, that grows by the wall,
Save me from a whipping, or I'll pull you, roots and all (Wood-Martin).
According to Pliny, when the Acropolis of Athens was being built, a slate fell from the top on to Pericles. Athena made known to Pericles in a dream, that this pellitory would effectively heal his wounds. Since then, the Greeks call it parthenion in remembrance of the goddess Athena Parthenios. Greek country people still use it in compresses for bruises and swellings (Baumann). Gubernatis quoted a Tuscan custom of gathering the plant on Ascension Day, and keeping it hanging in the bedroom until Lady Day (8 September). The plant often blooms after it has been picked. "Cette floraison d'une herbe couipé est, pour le peuple, in miracle, unce bénédiction spéciale de la Madonne; si au lieu de fleurir, le plante se dessèche, c'est in présage de malheur. Une malédiction divine".
The plant had its cosmetic uses, witness a 17th century milk bath, recorded by Gervase Markham, about 1610: "Take rosemary, Featherfew, Orgaine, Pellitory of the Wall, Fennell, Mallowes, Violet leaves and Nettles, boil all these together, and when it is well sodden, put to it two or three gallons of milk, then let the party stand or sit in it an hour or two, the bath reaching up to the stomach, and when they come out, they must go to bed and sweat, and beware of taking cold" (quoted by Wykes-Joyce). The plants that grew on Oswestry church tower were used locally as fomentations for pains in the back (Burne. 1883). Four handfuls of the tops of self-heal and pellitory-of-the-wall, boiled for three hours in three pints of water, and the liquid drunk, is an old Irish treatment for gravel (Logan). A similar treatment was used for stone, and dropsy (Quelch), in fact, this herb has been used for the purpose through the ages. Gerard, Wesley and Hill all had similar recipes for the condition.
It was used in the Balkans for scrofula (the leaves, cooked with salt, vinegar and honey) (Kemp). A poultice made from it was put on wounds and bruises in Guernsey, where a tea made from it was used for diabetes (Vickery. 1995). In Italy, it is used for eye diseases. The bruised leaf is applied to the eyelids, which are rubbed until the blood flows, and an invocation to St Lucia being said meanwhile (Gubernatis). Lupton had already offered a recipe: "the white of an egg, and the juice of pellitory of the wall, well beaten together and skimmed, and then one drop of that liquor put into the eye, doth heal the web in the eye".
Pennantia corymbosa > MAORI FIRE
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