Picnic Thistle

(Cirsium acaulon) The too familiar and ubiquitous stemless thistle is a weather forecaster; in the Alps they say that when the flower is open, there is good weather to come, and the opposite when it is closed (Gubernatis). It does have some medicinal use, for herbalists prescribe the root infusion to treat dropsy, bronchitis and also prostate problems (Schauenberg & Paris).

Picris echioides > BRISTLY OX-TONGUE PIGEON PEA

(Cajanus indicus) Probably a native of Africa, but it grows in tropical and sub-tropical countries, particularly in India, Central Africa, and the East and West Indies. In all the areas it now grows, it is an important part of the diet, eaten either as the green, or often maroon, pods or as ripe seeds, used as a pulse (Brouk).

"Here is how to make a zombi out of a dying man. Take a white pot, fill it with twenty-one seeds of pois congo [i.e., Pigeon Pea] and a length of string knotted twenty-one times, and slip it under his pillow. After his death, leave the pot in a small dark room. The string will turn into a spider, and the spider is the zombi. You must treat it carefully. Feeding it with just enough food and water, but no salt ..." (Haiti) (F Huxley). On the other hand, there is this belief from Jamaica: "To "keep the ghost down", plant pigeon peas on the grave - as the roots grow downward, so the ghost will be prevented from going upward. In the west of the island they boil the peas, for, as the peas cannot shoot out of the ground, so the ghost must remain in the ground" (Beckwith. 1929).

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