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Mrs. Schalles Botany, RHS

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1 Mrs. Schalles Botany, RHS
Myth or Medicine Miscellaneous Facts & Fiction about Plants from Folklore &Films Mrs. Schalles Botany, RHS

2 Plants & Gardens have been used in storytelling & for healing for hundreds of years- here is a compilation of interesting stories & facts

3 Beginning In Ancient Egypt & Africa:

4 Queen Hatshepshut The first known plant hunting expedition recorded
in history was by Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt,

5 Queen Hatshepsut (around 1500 BC)
Eygyptians imported resins from plants: Boswellia (Frankincense) & Commiphora (Myrrh), She wanted sustainable supplies ordered living specimens of these desert trees be brought back & planted at the Temple of Karnack. Inscriptions on the temple wall show at least 31 of the transplants survived & were established in temple grounds.

6 Frankincense Trees The word means the true, or frank, incense.
Pleasing aroma when burned. Used for thousands of years for everything form colds & digestive problems to mental health & cancer. Actually has antibiotic & antifungal chemicals – Modern Medical uses. It was traditionally VERY EXPENSIVE.

7 Frankincense Tree Trade
Great economic significance TODAY: In Somalia, Africa (one of the poorest countries in the world) New trials to plant new stands of frankincense trees. Current interest in frankincense essential oil in the West has helped develop a small but strong market for Somali frankincense.

8 Myrrh -from Commiphora trees.
name from Hebrew murr or maror, means bitter. Historical uses include Embalming the dead. Also used for a wide range of conditions medical conditions, with virtually no toxicity. It is still used in modern medicine.

9 Frankincense & Myrrh Many of the therapeutic functions are the same in both tree resins. myrrh is more astringent, antiseptic, disinfectant, bitter, and tonic, while frankincense is more anti-inflammatory, blood vitalizing, and mentally uplifting. The two are often combined.

10 Frankincense & Myrrh Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were the gifts that were given to Jesus by the wise men. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. (NASB) Matt. 2:11

11 Beginning in Arabia

12 The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
History says they were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 BC to please his sick wife, Amytis of Media

13 The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Did the legendary gardens exist? Or was it an embellishment by Greek poets more than any real space on earth?

14 Another interpretation of the hanging gardens- one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.”

15 Evidence for their existence?
Many clay tablets from that period in Babylon exist but have no records of the Hanging Gardens. Maybe Alexander the Great's army, upon entering the city from the desert, were amazed by the lush growth of the date palms, olive trees, and other fruit trees, - and later recounted their time in the city with increasingly fanciful detail?

16 Archaeological excavations
In modern Iraq Uncovered the foundation of the palace. Found the “Vaulted Building” with thick walls and an irrigation well near the southern palace. Greek historians said the gardens were situated by the River Euphrates & some argue that the site is too far from the Euphrates to support the theory. On the river banks, recently discovered massive walls 25 m thick may have been stepped to form terraces... the ones described in Greek references

17 Here is a photo of an excavation site (with reconstruction) in Iraq that may be part of the gardens.(but some say it is too far from the Euphrates river)

18 Garden Story from ancient Asia

19 Is there an Evergreen Garden Shangri-la paradise?
Is there an Garden paradise in the Himalayan region ? 7 such places are described in ancient religious Buddhist books, with waterfalls & gardens “Nghe-Beyul Khimpalung” -a mystical and spectacularly beautiful evergreen place where no one gets old. One is supposedly in the Makalu-Barun region of the Himalayas'- shown in this photo..

20 “Shangri-La” Is also a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. In the book, "Shangri-La" is a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains.

21 This place in China was actually named Shangri-la after the book was published,
This Photo shows a turn of Yangtze River flowing into Shangri-la, in Diqing County, southwest China's Yunan Province.

22 Asian Mountain View

23 An now for a plant story that started in Greek times & continues today:

24 Zeus’ tears One version of the story goes like this:
Zeus was carrying on with a water nymph named Io & his wife- Hera- would not have been pleased to find this out! so Zeus transformed the nymph into a white heifer - for her own safety. When she began to cry because she had to eat nasty grass, he turned her tears into sweet smelling flowers- violets. The Greek word for Violets is Ion! From: Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild  by Brill & Dean

25 Viola species contain:
Zeus’ tears (Violets) (Ion is the Greek word for violet) Viola species contain: Ionone -an aromatic compound also found in carrots, raspberries, & black tea. beta-carotene (pro vitamin A) vitamin C Salicylic acid (compound used in aspirin) Anti- oxidants

26 Medicinal Uses of Violets
have been used medicinally for centuries.  extracts have been studied to treat cancers have expectorant properties (work well in cases of respiratory disorders- bronchitis, colds, coughs)  Tea made of violet leaves is reportedly effective as a laxative has antiseptic properties Can relieve pain.

27 Desert: Violet flavored ice cream chocolate nest carrot filaments
Blackberries Flowers are “johny-jump-ups” (Viola cornuta)

28 Napoleon & Violets Napoleon shared a devotion to violets
with the Empress Josephine. During his exile at Elba, he promised his followers that he would return in the spring with the violets. This set off a loyalist obsession with the flower, immortalizing the violet as the emblem of the Imperial party, and earning him the nickname "Corporal Violette". He is said to have been buried with a lock of Josephine's hair and violets in a locket.

29 And now- something from the Vikings:

30 Fly Agaric Mushrooms & the Vikings
Not a plant- but the Vikings thought mushrooms were plants. Mushrooms- not classified as fungi until Carl Linnaeus used modern taxonomy. Found throughout the Northern Hemisphere Genus & Species: Amanita muscaria Its Poisonous properties have had a fascination for humans over the centuries. .


32 Viking Lore When the Vikings invaded Ireland they are said to have eaten Fly Agaric before battle to make them demonic & behave in a berserk manner. Viking Folklore often refers to Fly Agaric as a gift from the gods to provide men with fearlessness & strength.

33 Medieval times In Europe its use has given rise to the idea
of 'little people' such as fairies & leprechauns. In medieval times the mushroom was used to stupefy flies. It was added to milk and left around the house in dishes. In fact, in those times it was called the Bug Agaric

34 In Walt Disney films: Alice in Wonderland Fantasia
caterpillar sitting on a mushroom (Fly Agaric) smoking a pipe Alice is mushroom height. She nibbles on the mushroom to make herself bigger and smaller Fantasia a fairy ring of Fly Agaric shimmers in color and shapes to the music of Tchailkovsky's Nutcracker Suite.

35 Poisonous Mushrooms Agaric poison is not usually deadly, but its effects are unpredictable and it may cause death in some people. Since they are red with white spots- they are hard to confuse with the really deadly poisonous Amanitas mushrooms -which are white-capped & have hepatotoxic (liver-destroying) amatoxins.

36 Amanita phalloides The “death cap” one of many in the genus Amanita.
Associates with broadleaf trees responsible for the majority of fatal mushroom poisonings worldwide. It is estimated that 30 grams (1 oz), or half a cap, of this mushroom is enough to kill a human

37 Death Cap The color of the cap can be white, pale-, yellowish-, or olive-green, The smell is sickly sweet & the fruiting body (the cap) is large.

38 Back to Greek & also Central American folktales

39 Amaranth – the food of the gods
Plant associated with immortality Nutritious grain; also cultivated as a leaf vegetable in many parts of the world Greek meaning "one that does not wither” Genus: Amaranthus Approximately 60 species

40 Aesop's Fables (6th century BC)
compares the Rose to the Amaranth to illustrate the difference between fleeting & everlasting beauty. A Rose and an Amaranth blossomed side by side in a garden,and the Amaranth said to her neighbour, "How I envy you your beauty and your sweet scent! No wonder you are such a universal favourite." But the Rose replied with a shade of sadness in her voice, "Ah, my dear friend, I bloom but for a time: my petals soon wither and fall, and then I die. But your flowers never fade, even if they are cut; for they are everlasting

41 From John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost (1667):
"Immortal amarant, a flower which once In paradise, fast by the tree of life, Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence To heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows, And flowers aloft, shading the fount of life”

42 Amaranth was grown 5000 years ago in Central America & is still cultivated
used in Aztec ceremonies, images of gods were made of amaranth mixed with honey. The images were eaten. Aztecs called it a “super food”. Today- it is known that this grain is very nutritious. It is also sometimes recommended for people with a low blood count

43 Amaranth Today There is a renewed interest in this easy to grow, nutritious plant- especially in Mexico Every February - there is a colorful celebration near Mexico City called the Fiesta de Amaranto. Today Amaranth treats are called Alegria which means "Happy Food."

44 Amaranth snacks

45 And now for some USA stories:

46 Johnny Appleseed Johnny Appleseed was a legendary American who planted and supplied apple trees to much of the United States of America. Many people think that Johnny Appleseed was a fictional character, but he was a real person.

47 Johnny Appleseed’s real name was John Chapman
He grew trees and supplied apple seeds to the pioneers in the mid-western USA. He owned nurseries in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana, where he grew his beloved apple trees. Although he was a very successful man, Appleseed lived a simple life. It is said that as Johnny traveled, he wore his cooking pot on his head as a hat! born in Leominster, Massachusetts, on September 26, died at the age of 70.

48 Apple Facts The crabapple is the only apple native to North America.
Apples come in all shades of reds, greens, and yellows. Apples are grown in all 50 states. Apples are fat, sodium, and cholesterol free. A medium apple is about 80 calories. Apples are a great source of the fiber pectin. One apple has five grams of fiber. The pilgrims planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

49 More Apple Facts Malus domestica is in the rose family Rosaceae
The pilgrims planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The science of apple growing is called pomology. Apples were the favorite fruit of ancient Greeks and Romans. Apples are a member of the rose family. Malus domestica is in the rose family Rosaceae

50 Still more apple facts:
Most apples can be grown farther north than most other fruits, because they blossom late in spring, minimizing frost damage. It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple. Apples are the second most valuable fruit grown in the United States. Oranges are first.

51 And- even more apple facts!!!!
Apples have five seed pockets or carpels. Each pocket contains seeds. Different varieties of apples will have different number of seeds. World's top apple producers are China, United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy

52 “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.”
This saying comes from an old English adage, “To eat an apple before going to bed, will make the doctor beg his bread.” Don't peel your apple. Two-thirds of the fiber and lots of antioxidants are found in the peel. Antioxidants help to reduce damage to cells, which can trigger some diseases

53 And now for another nutritious food- but one not as popular as apples!!!

54 Popeye and Spinach When Popeye was created - Spinach was mistakenly believed to contain ten times more iron than it does (it was a misprint in a medical journal) that's probably why it became the strong man's source of strength. By the time the truth was known, the character was already famous for eating spinach. He'd inspired children to give spinach a chance, too. Now if we could only get them to eat their broccoli, too!


56 Many remedies & magical potions are discussed.
And what you have been waiting to hear about: Plants in Harry Potter Stories Many remedies & magical potions are discussed. Are any of these real plants? Are any based on real medicinal properties?

57 Harry Potter's Magic Plants
Flowers so deadly a single touch can be fatal, fruit that makes you believe you can fly and leaves that allow you to conquer the highest mountains. It might be hard to believe, but some of the plants of Harry Potter, in real life, are stranger than fiction itself.


59 First- Plants that appear to have been invented entirely by JKR
Abyssinian shrivelfig When peeled, shrivelfigs are used as an ingredient in Shrinking Solution Alihotsy Eating the leaves causes hysteria. Bouncing bulb Repotted during Herbology class one wriggled free from Harry's grasp and banged him in the face Bubotuber looks like a thick, black, giant slug (it even squirms slightly) with a yellow-green pus that reacts oddly with human skin. Undiluted, it will raise horribly painful boils on contact but properly diluted and processed can be used to cure acne. Devil's Snare a mass of soft, springy tendrils and vines that possess some sense of touch & uses its creepers to ensnare anyone who touches it

60 More plants invented by JKR
Fanged Geranium plant will bite humans & owls. Flutterby bush This kind of bush quivers and shakes. "Flutterby" is an old name for "butterfly" Gillyweed this water plant, when eaten, gives a person gills to breathe underwater and gives them webbed hands and feet for swimming. Whomping Willow A species superficially resembling the willow, this large, violent tree attacks anyone who gets too close

61 A real plant, a newly discovered, rare jungle flower, has been named after a Harry Potter spell.
A new species, Macrocarpaea apparata, is named after the term, to "apparate", used in J.K. Rowling's books.  By Lena Struwe, professor Rutgers' Cook College is a fan of the Harry Potter series, Has been exploring Andes region, Ecuador. The flowers on this plant just suddenly appear as it gets dark!

62 Flowers appear quickly after dark

63 And now- Real Plants used by Harry Potter A comparison of their fictional & actual uses: (I didn’t find anything that would really cure a dragon bite, but there are some true medical uses for these plants.)

64 Mandrake: The Myth an essential part of most antidotes
including one for Petrification. returns people who have been “Transfigured” or cursed to their original state.) Seedlings are purplish green with what look like tiny babies growing where roots would be. The cry of the Mandrake is fatal to humans Even as a baby, the Mandrake's howls can knock a person out for a couple of hours. Special care must be taken when growing them.

65 Mandrake in Harry Potter

66 What a mandrake really looks like

67 Mandrakes:

68 Mandrake In Reality - Mandragora sp.:
Was once believed to have almost all the properties that Harry Potter’s have… The plant only sort of looks human-shaped instead of having the “baby” roots In the 17th century they even dressed up the dried human-shaped roots as amulets to ward off evil – something like a European version of a voodoo doll. In 17th century- the belief of the Mandrake’s deadly scream was so common, that they were harvested by tying mad dogs to the stump and (while standing far back) waiting for the dog to yank the root out of the ground.

69 There are many allusions to the Mandrake in ancient writers
From the earliest times people believed that the Mandrake would remove sterility. There is a reference to this belief in the Bible in Genesis 30 where Rachel & Leah both are desirous of mandrakes leaves because they want to have children.

70 In Old Anglo-Saxon writings:
Among the herbals -both Mandrake & periwinkle are endowed with mysterious powers against demoniacal possession. in Herbarium of Apuleius is this prescription: 'For witlessness, that is devil sickness or demoniacal possession, take from the body of this wort mandrake by the weight of 3 pennies, administer to drink in warm water as he may find most convenient - soon he will be healed.'

71 Shakespeare also wrote about the mandrake:
From Antony and Cleopatra I.v "Shrieks like mandrakes' torn out of the earth." From: Romeo and Juliet IV.iii "Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake's groan"

72 Mandragora officinarum - Mandrake
named for its resemblance to the human form. The name Mandragora is derived from two Greek words implying 'hurtful to cattle. ' Arabs call it “Satan's apple.” Image from MEDICINA ANTIQUA: LIBRI QUATTUOR MEDICINAE, 13TH CENTURY. Codex Vindobonensis 93. (Washington University, Becker Library)

73 Mandrake: real uses Roots: fresh or dried
contains highly poisonous alkaloids is cathartic, strongly emetic, hallucinogenic and narcotic. It can induce a state of oblivion Was used as an anesthetic for operations in early surgery. Used in the past for its pain relieving and stupor inducing properties. In large doses, it is said to excite delirium & madness. Member of the deadly nightshade plant family.

74 Wolfsbane - In Harry Potter
Guards against the dementia that would normally follow the transformation from human to werewolf Scott Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs informs us that a folk name for the highly poisonous Wolf's Bane is "Dumbledore's Delight".

75 Wolfsbane-In Reality: Aconitum sp.
Extremely poisonous Was used to bait (poison) wolves in the Middle Ages, mixed with honey and powdered glass. Actually responsible for the deaths of most of Europe’s wolves. For this reason it was thought to protect from werewolves.

76 Real Wolfsbane uses: Before morphine was invented,
Used in traditional medicine as an anesthetic. Before morphine was invented, it was extremely important in western medicine. Still widely used in homeopathy & traditional Chinese medicine. Was used to create the first chemical weapons in 5th century China (mixed with gunpowder bombs, acted like a nerve gas)

77 Aconitum (Monkshood, wolfsbane)
Family: Ranunculaceae Also called monkshood because the shape of the flowers resembles a monk's cowl. Eye-catching blue, purple, white, yellow or pink zygomorphic flowers. Grown in gardens for its attractive spike like inflorescences and showy flowers. All Aconitum plants contain poisonous alkaloids that can, in sufficient quantity, be deadly.

78 Holly In Harry Potter: Qualifies as a "wand tree", in that its wood can be used in the making of wands. Harry's wand is the only wand in the series to date known to be made of holly. According to there are several interesting magical properties to Holly, protection from poison, lightning, and witchcraft. Harry, of course, has had close encounters with poison on several occasions & in Chamber of Secrets

79 Holly : folklore stories
In winter the druids would advise people to take holly into their homes, as they believed it would shelter the elves and fairies who could join humans at this time without causing them injury. An old country saying states that if the smooth-leaved holly is brought into the house first at yuletide the wife will rule the household for the coming year, and if the prickly holly enters first, the husband will rule.

80 Prickly & smooth leaf Holly

81 Holly in Reality Genus: Ilex -there are about 600 species
Some species of South American Holly are used by shamans as a powerful stimulant. This is the famous Mate de Coca tea you can find in trendy health food shops. It stimulates the central nervous system, helping fight fatigue and altitude sickness. It was used by some Incan tribes to “conquer the highest mountains”.

82 Holly In Reality Long believed to protect against lightning and witchcraft, Holly was often planted near the house. It has been proved that the spikes of the holly leaves act like miniature lightning conductors, and so DO protect the tree.

83 Holly is a traditional symbol of resurrection, but in a much more upbeat sense than yew (being associated with Christmas rather than cemeteries helps its image considerably). To the Celts holly symbolized resurrection, and was used during the winter solstice to ‘resurrect the sun’. Hence why we still use it to decorate our homes at Christmas time.

84 Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade)
In Harry Potter The essence of this plant is a standard part of a Hogwart’s students potion making kit. It appears repeatedly throughout the series. In reality: All parts of the plant are analgesic, antidote, antispasmodic, diuretic, hallucinogenic, mydriatic, narcotic and sedative.

85 Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna)

86 Nightshade- History Mixed with Wolfsbane, this was applied in a ‘flying ointment’ used by witches of the middle ages. It’s powerful hallucinogenic properties, very much akin to those of LSD, made them believe they could fly. Romans used it to poison enemy food supplies. Contrarily, it was also developed as an antidote to a (never deployed) nerve gas in World War II.

87 Medical uses: Atropa belladonna (Deadly Nightshade)
Although it is poisonous, deadly nightshade has a long history of medicinal use and has a wide range of applications, in particular it is used in modern medicine to dilate the pupils in eye operations, to relieve intestinal colic and to treat peptic ulcers.

88 Atropine- from Atropa belladonna
is a chemical that dilates the pupils of the eyes In the past Italian renaissance women used to put the drops in their eyes in order to make them look larger and thus 'more beautiful', hence the name Bella Donna (Italian for Beautiful Woman)

89 Belladonna (Deadly night shade) modern medical uses:
The plant can be used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, reducing tremors and rigidity whilst improving speech and mobility. It has also been used as an antidote in cases of mushroom or toadstool poisoning.

90 Yew - In Harry Potter Tom Riddle's wand is the only wand in the series to date known to be made of yew. Yew trees grow in the churchyard at Little Hangleton. Yew trees grow in parts of the Forbidden Forest. In a nice bit of foreshadowing, Harry noticed them in the clearing where Hagrid first taught the fifth years about thestrals.

91 Yew In Reality: Taxus sp.
are symbolic of death and resurrection - the wood is particularly resistant to rotting - and were once a traditional feature of churchyards. The Ancient Celts believed Yew to be a symbol of resurrection (as it remained green even in winter). It was planted on the graves of their dead, and was believed to be sacred. When Christianity came along, churches were built on top of Celtic sites of worship, where many of these celtic yews still live today.

92 3000+ year old Yew tree in Scotland churchyard

93 Pacific Yew- Taxus brevifolia -use in modern medicine
Taxol, a chemical extracted from yew, is vital to treating breast and ovarian cancer, and makes up an important part of chemotherapy. Bringing new meaning to the resurrecting properties of yew.

94 Willow salicylic acid Chemical in the bark identified as
In Harry Potter- A species of tree that qualifies as a "wand tree", in that its wood can be used in the making of wands. In reality: Chemical in the bark identified as salicylic acid has been used since ancient times for pain & fevers Now is buffered & Used in Aspirin, Medical uses include many skin treatments for acne & warts

95 Willow Tree

96 Willow- Pain medicine Aspirin was patented on February 27, 1900.
Native Americans and early settlers used willow bark for toothaches and applied it to the source of other pains In 1899, a German chemist Felix Hoffmann, worked for a German company Bayer, & convinced Bayer to market a new wonder drug. Aspirin was patented on February 27, 1900. In the 20th century, over one trillion aspirin, the first medicine created by techniques of modern chemistry, were consumed globally to regulate blood vessel elasticity, reduce fevers and aches, prevent cardiovascular ailments, affect blood clotting, or ease inflammation.

97 Willow- salicylic Acid – Aspirin
Willow water

98 The Daisy In Harry Potter: In Reality:
Chopped daisy roots are used in Shrinking Solution In Reality: It was once believed that dressing a child in a daisy chain would protect them from being stolen by the fairies. In the Middle Ages the daisy was often used to treat battle wounds; bandages containing crushed daisies were thought to give relief from pain and aid healing. Today- The young leaves, flowerbuds and petals are edible & can be added to salads

99 The end

100 References

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