Friday, 30 March 2012

Dog's life

There's still no sign of anything happening with my 'followed' tree. The topmost buds of nearby ash trees are swollen and ready to burst, but my hedge ash is unchanged - unmoved by what looks, smells and sounds like spring to me.
But there's a lot going on around it. Hawthorn is coming into leaf and, around the ash's roots, the dog's mercury now has flowers. They're rather modest flowers and, so I read, have an unpleasant smell - not that I can detect it.
Dog's mercury is really a woodland floor plant, but a strip of it grows along the base of our garden hedge. Once the ash is in leaf it's an area that is nearly as shaded as the woodland floor would be.
I don't usually give it much attention, but as my tree was doing nothing I thought I'd read up on dog's mercury and now know that it is dog's mercury because it was said to be fit only for dog's.
Which is probably a good thing as it is one of Britain's more dangerous plants. Fit for dogs, dangerous to humans. The 17th Century herbalist Nicholas Culpepper said of it: 'There is not a more fatal plant, native of our country, than this.' Not one to pick up on any foraging expedition then.  

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