Privet

(Ligustrum vulgare) Privet flowers belong to the large group that bring misfortune if brought indoors (Vickery. 1995), and another superstition once current was that diphtheria could be caught from privet leaves (Vickery. 1985), probably invented as a warning to children not to touch, or eat the poisonous berries. These berries give a bluish-green dye with alum, and the leaves will give a yellow colour (Coates) with alum, or with chrome a light brown, and a dark brown with copperas (Jenkins), green with copper sulphate, and dark green with iron (S M Robertson). An early 17th century auburn hair-dye had as its principal constituents radish and hedge-privet (Wykes-Joyce).

To cure sore lips one is advised to chew privet leaves and let the juice flow over the sore lip (Vickery. 1995). A cure for mumps is to boil privet berries till the juice is out of them, and tip the juice into a small bottle with cream from the top of the milk. When it has been cool for at least three hours, take a teaspon-ful of the juice and one berry, once daily and after food (Vickery. 1995). A French charm for thrush in infants was to put a piece of privet in flower over the chimney piece. When this dries up, the child's thrush will also have dried (Loux).

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