Wormwood ‘on fire’
After returning from my one week vacation I found the Wormwood heavy with myriads of tiny sulfur-yellow flowers. I have never seen a Wormwood grow that big either. The plant has developed a thick, semi-wooden stem and is now 2 m tall! It actually bends under its own weight..

Wormwood ‘on fire’

After returning from my one week vacation I found the Wormwood heavy with myriads of tiny sulfur-yellow flowers. I have never seen a Wormwood grow that big either. The plant has developed a thick, semi-wooden stem and is now 2 m tall! It actually bends under its own weight..

Wormwood Artemisia absinthium

Morning Glory flower, brightening up the dark day - autumn’s around the corner, temperatures are dropping, going below 10°C at night, the fruits are ripening and some plants are already fading…

Morning Glory flower, brightening up the dark day - autumn’s around the corner, temperatures are dropping, going below 10°C at night, the fruits are ripening and some plants are already fading…

Morning Glory Ipomoea Purpurea

European Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans)

Also known as creeping cinquefoil and ‘fingers’

I found this herb growing on a meadow in the park. The leaves typically show five or more ‘fingers’. The plant could easily be mistaken for strawberries. The flowers are yellow with five heart-shaped petals. It is a creeper, often considered a weed, because once it grows somewhere it is almost impossible to erase. On the other hand Potentilla reptans has been used medicinally to ease stomache pain, which is also reflected in the alternative name tormentil, from medieval Latin tormentilla = “small pain” (even though the species more often referred to as tormentil is the Potentilla erecta).

The scientific name potentilla is probably derived from French potence = “strong”, “powerful”, “mighty” or “potent”. Cinquefoil is sometimes used in heraldry as an emblem representing these qualities, as well as honor and loyalty. It is often found in the architecture of medieval churches.

In herbals and herb magic cinquefoil is often also referred to as five-leaf grass and five-finger grass or simply as ‘fingers’, in reference to the shape of the leaves, which are often divided into five leaflets. In German it is also called Fünf-Fingerkraut (literally ‘five-finger-herb’).

Cinquefoil should not be mistaken for Silverweed.

cinquefoil potentilla reptans fingers

Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)

Growing spines…

The way the pods and supporting foliage are lining up reminds of the vertebrae of a human backbone or the spine of a serpent or dragon… it’s utterly evocative of primal forces such as Leviathan or Jörmundgandr or the Hydra. And remember the story about Python slain by Apollo? Its body fell into a crevice in the ground and from the decomposing corpse intoxicating vapors rose up. Above that mythical place the oracle of Delphi was built and the priestess (Pythia), inhaling the fumes, became possessed by Apollo to foretell the future. It all leads again to that oracle…

Photo by Wiebke Rost for teufelskunst.com

black henbane hyoscyamus niger herba apollinaris

White Henbane (Hyoscyamus albus)

A lovely relative of the Black Henbane: White Henbane can be distinguished from the type species by some distinctive features. The flower petals are a brighter sulphur yellow and less veined. The stamina are coming more out of the bell-shaped flower chalices and are a pale yellow instead of black. I love how they jut out of the flower’s dark purple center… it’s somewhat quaint! The foliage is hairy as on Black Henbane, but differently shaped. The first sets of leaves are more round though still crenate, whilst the distal or upper leaves are rather lanceolate and not serrated. Besides this I find the flowers to stand a bit more loosely on the stem than on black Henbane but this may actually change, the taller the plant grows. Now I had success for the first time growing this herb from seed. It may in fact be owed to that super-summer I mentioned earlier. The White Henbane is native to the Mediterraneans and likes hot and dry climates. I actually think to have seen it grow wild by the sea when visiting Malta! Hence I guess last year was simply to rainy and cold for the plantlets. This year I could sow earlier and the temperatures have been relatively warm and stable.

white henbane hyoscyamus albus garden