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Honor Its Medicinal Values By Naming It Toute Saine

If you train your eyes thoroughly you’ll detect the smaller details and every garden will put allies forward you never realized you had, making you feel less alone and less silly for yammering. After yesterday’s lament on the current chilly wetness, still on the tip of my tongue as the singular most suited subject to whine about but I’ll behave and trust that the message has been heard and reinforcement is sent our way, today’s encounter with the still elegantly flowering Sweet Amber, likely thanks to global warming because it should have finished months ago, offered me the long-awaited support of being acknowledged.

Its name Hypericum derives from the Greek hypo and erica (under or between heath) but one can also argue, and I would, that it forsooth refers to the god Hyperion, father of the sun in mythology, because its flowers are bright yellow and its stamens are like rays. With the father’s still out here, the son can’t be far.

There’s all kind of other fun facts to scout, making me easily forget my reluctance to go outside by helping me overcome my grievances, like the second part of its Latin name, Androsaemum, meaning Man’s Blood, which is the Dutch name for the plant, with a possible allusion to to the juice of the berries, while the French have chosen to honor its medicinal values by naming it Toute Saine, All Healthy, quite contradictory to all parts of the plant, particularly the fruit, being toxic due to the presence of hypericin, causing nausea and diarrhoea, a condition I find to be perfectly illustrated by the English corruption of the French name, tutsan. We all feel tutsan at some point, don’t we?

Through time Tutsan’s main use, aside for its beauty as an ornamental shrub, has been in wound healing. In his 1653 ‘Complete herbal’, Nicholas Culpeper states that Tutsan “stays all the bleedings of wounds, if either the green herb be bruised, or the powder of the dry be applied thereto”. Today’s most striking discovery however, does not relate to any medicinal value, but rather the considerable antiseptic properties of its leaves, traditionally exploited for preserving cheese, my next chore on todays to do list.

Nothing is random, I tell you.

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