|As daylight hours wane and the calendar moves closer to Halloween, Arboretum staff discover that some of their herbs are disappearing during the dark of the night. These plants are taken by witches--wise women who know how to harness the magic in herbs. Both good and bad witches use these plants to cast their spells and work their craft. Many herbs used by witches grow in the National Herb Garden.|
|One of the witch's favorite plants is monkshood, Aconitum napellus. This autumn blooming perennial, growing in the entrance garden, has dark purple flowers that look like the hood of a monk's cloak. Monkshood is poisonous to humans, but witches are unaffected by it. The poison is so strong that, in olden times, the poison was rubbed on arrow heads and shot into wolves, killing them instantly. This gave the plant its other common name, wolfbane. Witches pick this plant in flower and use its power to make their broomsticks fly.|
In the Native American Garden, witches find a home in the elderberry, Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis. Legend says that elderberries only grow where human blood has been spilled and the spirit of the great witch, Lady Ellhorn, lives in its branches. Cutting an elderberry will bring evil to the person who dare wounds the tree. Fortunately, one can avoid this curse by praying to Lady Ellhorn requesting forgiveness.
|These are just a few of the plants in the National Herb Garden that are a part of the legends and folklore of witches and witchcraft. To find out more, please see the Calendar of Events for A Bewitching Tour of the National Herb Garden on the evenings of October 24 and 25.|
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Last Updated October 17, 2003 3:19 PM
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