When it comes to wise women’s herbs, I really have to include vervain, Verbena officinalis. This plant was praised in ancient times for its medicinal and magical properties. Vervain has been seen as a sacred herb and used during important rituals and ceremonies since ancient times. And that is striking for a herb which many people tend to overlook when they walk past it. She doesn’t really stand out with her small flowers and inconspicuous stem and leaf.
From a medical point of view, the focus of vervain’s effects is on digestion and mental well-being, but it also works on the respiratory system, kidneys and the female reproductive system. And that’s just mentioning a selection of uses. All in all, it’s a pleasant ally to have around.
Magically, the possibilities are endless. Vervain is one of the 9 magical herbs as recognised by the Germanic people and for that reason should not be missing in the herb garden of a practitioner of the Art. To name a few interesting possibilities, besides the expected applications in love and protection, you can use vervain to seal the peace and achieve eternal youth. Be sure to read the rest of the monograph to learn more.
Vervain stands on a white fusiform root from which a square, thin, tough stem emerges. The stem is wide-branched and not very leafy. The leaves are mainly located at the bottom of the plant and the higher we get the fewer we find. The leaves are opposite, 2 to 8 centimetres, sessile or closely stalked, grey-green in colour. The shape of the leaves is not unambiguous, but, depending on the location, it is crenate, pinnatifid or in trifoliolate. The top leaves may even have an entire margin. At the top we find a spike shaped inflorescence of small flowers with 5 petals, pink in case a young plant to pale lilac in an older plants. The calyx is tubular. The fruit is a schizocarp with 4 nuts.
Vervain is virtually odourless, unlike other family members such as lemon verbena.
Vervain was found in almost every monastery garden because it was rumoured that it had been used to mend the wounds of Jesus.
It is said that pigeons love this plant. That’s why in some areas of the low countries it is called pigeon’s grass.
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