Wallflower

(Erysimum cheiri) The dream books mentioned wallflowers - dreaming of them is said to foretell a lover's faithfulness; to an invalid such a dream is a sign that he will soon recover (Gordon. 1985). One piece of modern folklore concerns its use as a companion plant - they say that planting wallflowers near an apple tree encourages the latter's fruiting (Baker. 1980).

There are some medicinal uses: traditionally, they were used as a purgative, and for liver disorders (Schauenberg & Paris). In Somerset, they used to say you should eat plenty of wallflower buds in salads and jams, for apoplexy (Tongue. 1965), and that harks straight back to Parkinson, who recommended ". a conserve made of the flowers . for the Apoplexie and Palsie". They were popular for fevers, too - see Gerard: "The leaves stamped with a little bay salt, and bound about the wrists of the hands, take away the shaking fits of the ague". Later, Wesley's prescription was substantially the same, except that he wanted the medicine to be applied "to the Suture of the Head". Irish practitioners used the flowers steeped in oil as an anodyne, and in infusion (one ounce to one pint of water) for nervous troubles (Moloney).

Gilliflower was a name applied to a number of plants, perhaps modified for convenient identification, as in Clove Gilliflower for carnations, Stock Gilliflower for stocks, and Wall Gilliflower for wallflower, etc. Bloody Warrior is another old name from the west country. But "warrior" is not warrior at all, but "wallyer"; in fact Bloody Wallyer exists in its own right (Halliwell). A popular legend is said to account for the 'wall' names. It is the story of a Scottish girl who had given her heart to the heir of a hostile clan. She arranged to climb out of a high window and escape with him, but:

Up she got upon a wall,

Attempted down to slide withal.

But the silken twist untied;

She fell, and bruised and there she died.

Love in pity to the dead,

And her loving luckless speed,

Turn'd her to this plant we call,

The scented flower upon the wall.

It is even claimed that the building is identifiable, and Neidpath Castle, near Peebles, is suggested. Perhaps this legend accounts for the symbolism connected with the wallflower - it is a symbol, they say, of fidelity in misfortune (Friend. 1883).

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