Wild Angelica

(Angelica sylvestris) A traditional food on the Faeroes for St John's Day, when the stem is chopped in small pieces, and served with sugar and cream (Williamson). Gypsies used to smoke the stem as a tobacco substitute, as they did also with the stems of hogweed. Of course, wild angelica inherited some of the beliefs invested in its more august relative, Archangel (Angelica archangelica). So we find it to have been a remedy against poison or the plague, by chewing the root, apparently (F P Wilson), (. it has always been famous against pestilential and contagious disease" (Hill. 1754). Wood-Martin recorded its use in Ireland as a cure for hydrophobia, and so on. Even some of Archangel's names attached themselves to this plant, Holy Ghost, for example, the medieval radix Spiriti Sancti, or Holy Plant. Ghost Kex is a descendant of that concept (Grigson. 1955). Kex in one form or another is the name given to any hollow-stemmed umbellifer, and usually refers to the dried stems. Trumpet Keck is another of these names (Britten & Holland), so called because children used to make "trumpets" of the hollow stems, which have other uses, too, for in Scotland they are Ait-skeiters, or Bear-skeiters (Grigson. 1955). Children shoot oats through the stems, like peas through a pea-shooter. The Somerset name Water Squirt (Mabey. 1972) seems to point to yet another use.

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