Russian Tarragon

(Artemisia dracunculoides) Native Americans, the Ojibwa in particular used this plant for a "deer medicine". The hunter had to find the plant on his right hand, for if it lay on his left it had no virtue. He buried its stem in the ground with a little tobacco, chewed the root and rubbed the mingled juice and saliva over his eyes. Then he could approach a deer close enough to kill it with a tomahawk (Jenness), or so it was traditionally stated. Winnebago men also used it as a hunting charm, but in addition, they could use it as a love charm. They chewed the root and put it on their clothes. The effect was supposed to be secured (in both cases) by getting to windward of the object of desire and letting the wind waft the odour (Youngken).

But it was a food plant for some of the Indians, too, especially the Hopi, who apparently used to gather the leaves in early spring, to bake between hot stones. They would then eat them as greens after dipping them in salt water (Hough). There were genuine medicinal uses, too. The Mescalero and Lipan, for example, made a liniment by pounding the root and soaking it in cold water, and using that for bruises (Youngken).

Ruta graveolens > RUE RYE-GRASS

(Lolium perenne) There is a series of names bestowed on this grass arising from children's games. One kind, the Love-me, Love-me-not variety is played by pulling off the alternating spikelets, hence Yes-or-no, from Somerset, or Aye-no Bent, from Gloucestershire. A different version of the game accounts for Does-my-mother-want-me, another Somerset name (Grigson. 1959). Another game that girls used to play involved striking the heads together, and at each blow saying Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, and so on. The blow that knocks the head off marks the profession of the future husband (Elworthy. 1888). Hence Tinker-tailor Grass, from a wide area of the west of England (Grigson. 1959), and, from Wiltshire, Soldiers-sailors, tinkers-tailors (Dartnell & Goddard). Presumably the Sussex name What's-your-sweetheart (Grigson. 1959) fits in here.

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