(Rheum rhaponticum) To dream of handling fresh rhubarb is a sign of being taken into favour with those with whom you were not on good terms (Raphael). There is a very odd belief from Kentucky that if a woman wears a bag of rhubarb round her neck, her children will not have club-feet (Thomas & Thomas). Bury a stick of rhubarb here and there in the bed when planting cabbages, against club-root (Boland & Boland). In Oxfordshire, they say that the first rhubarb of the year should be eaten on Easter Sunday (Oxfordshire and District Folklore Society, Annual Record; 1955).
Fenland midwives used to give a "pain-killing cake" to women in labour. It was made from wholemeal flour, hemp-seed crushed with a rolling pin, crushed rhubarb root, and grated dandelion root. These were mixed to a batter with egg-yolk, milk and gin, turned into a tin, and baked in a hot oven. At the woman's first groan, a slice of the cake would be handed to her (Porter. 1969). Rhubarb roots boiled in a little water is an Irish (County Cavan) diarrhoea remedy (Maloney), and a root preparation is used to strengthen nails. Distilled water of rhubarb was recommended to remove scabs, to relieve earache, and as a gargle for sore throats. The seeds are supposed to ease stomach pains (Addison. 1985). You can cure a headache by applying a rhubarb leaf to the forehead (V G Hatfield. 1994), but one suspects that any large leaf would do (a cabbage leaf is certainly used so). It merely provides a cooling application. Rhubarb juice on a wart will cure it (Stout).
Rhus glabra > SMOOTH SUMACH
Rhus radicans > POISON IVY
Rhus trilobata > THREE-LEAF SUMACH
Ribes nigrum > BLACKCURRANT
Ribes uva-crispa > GOOSEBERRY
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