Latin Names Required
I love how so many of these witches books and sites will list herbs that can be used for this or that, and when it comes to giving them a name, they just use their folk names.
This is kinda dangerous. Let me tell you why. Yesterday on a witchy FB wall someone posted the healing properties of a plant called Keys of Heaven. Well – the only Keys of Heaven I’ve ever seen are red, and the flowers on the picture she posted were yellow. Obviously, she was talking about Cowslip, also called Keys of Heaven. There are some huge differences between Primula Veris (Cowslip, aka Keys of Heaven) and Centranthus ruber coccineus (aka Keys of Heaven). And while I don’t know if the latter is edible – what if it wasn’t? What if it was poisonous in fact? Now hummingbirds like it, so that might be a clue that the flowers are possibly edible, but still.
I think it’s only responsible to include a Latin name when you’re writing about plants that you’re using in teas so that beginning gardening witches will plant the right plants to begin with just in case their “common name” may not be nearly as unique as you think it might be. Especially when you’re suggesting it can be taken internally in any way.
So it’s just as important to know the Latin name of a plant if you’re going to plant it in your garden as it is to know your plants through visual identification if you’re picking them from your garden or in the wild. Especially if you’re using wild plants in teas. One really huge example of this is Hemlock. Hemlock can look an awful lot like chervil, wild parsnip and wild carrots to the untrained eye. Obviously it’s very poisonous if ingested and it will kill you. But it is a pretty plant. It grows wild where I live. So just like Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) which is a wild carrot is different from wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) — Hemlock (Conium maculatum) is a very different plant, too. Same with Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium). Despite the fact that all four look very similar.