In the Garden: Arugula and Ash

Arugula (also known as Rocket)

In former days doctors and poets attributed marvelous virtues to Arugula. It is regarded principally as antiscorbutic.  It is rich in vitamin C and potassium.

In the language of flowers, the Arugula represents deceit, since it gives out a lovely perfume in the evening, but in the daytime has none. Hence its name of Hesperis, or Vesper-Flower, given it by the Ancients.

It is used as a leaf vegetable, which looks like a longer leaved and open lettuce. Before the 1990s it was usually collected in the wild and was not cultivated on a large scale or researched scientifically. In addition to the leaves, the flowers (often used in salads as an edible garnish), young seed pods and mature seeds are all edible. It has a rich, peppery taste, and has an exceptionally strong flavor for a leafy green. It is generally used in salads but also cooked as a vegetable with pasta sauces or meats in northern Italy.

It typically grows on dry, disturbed ground. The leaves are used as a food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species. For eating purposes, the plant should be gathered before flowering, but for medicinal use, when in flower.

It has been grown in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, and is considered an aphrodisiac.

Ash Tree

The wood is hard (a hardwood), tough, very strong but elastic, extensively used for making bows, tool handles, quality wooden baseball bats, and other uses demanding high strength and resilience.

It is also often used as material for electric guitar bodies and, less commonly, for acoustic guitar bodies, known for its bright, cutting tone and sustaining quality. They are also used for making drum shells. Ash is not used extensively outdoors due to the heartwood having a low durability to ground contact, meaning it will typically perish within five years. Woodworkers generally like the timber for its great finishing qualities. It also has good machining qualities, and is quite easy to use with nails, screws and glue.

As a timber tree, the Ash is exceedingly valuable, not only on account of the quickness of its growth, but for the toughness and elasticity of its wood, in which quality it surpasses every European tree. The wood is heavy strong, stiff and hard and takes a high polish; it shrinks only moderately in seasoning and bends well when seasoned. It is the toughest and most elastic of our timbers (for which purpose it was used in olden days for spears) and can be used for more purposes than the wood of other trees.

Ash also makes excellent firewood. The two most economically important species for wood production are White Ash in eastern North America, and European Ash in Europe. The Green Ash is widely planted as a street tree in the United States. The inner bark of the Blue Ash has been used as a source for a blue dye.

The ash exudes a sugary substance that, it has been suggested, was fermented to create the Norse “Mead of Inspiration. In Sussex, England, the ash tree was known as the Widow Maker because the large boughs would often drop without warning. Therefore, keep trees away from houses and other important structures.

Ash bark is astringent and has been employed for tanning nets.

The bark is collected from the trunk and the root, the latter being preferred. Ash bark occurs in commerce in quills which are grey or greenish-grey externally, with numerous small grey or brownish-white warts, the inner surface yellowish or yellowish brown and nearly smooth; fracture smooth, fibrous in the inner layer, odor is light; taste bitter and astringent.

Ash bark has been employed as a bitter tonic and astringent, and is said to be valuable as an antiperiodic. On account of its astringency, it has been used, in decoction, extensively in the treatment of intermittent fever and ague, as a substitute for Peruvian bark. The decoction is odorless, though its taste is fairly bitter. It has been considered useful to remove obstructions of the liver and spleen, and in rheumatism of an arthritic nature.

A ley from the ashes of the bark was used formerly to cure scabby and leprous heads.

The leaves have diuretic, diaphoretic and purgative properties, and are employed in modern herbal medicine for their laxative action, especially in the treatment of gouty and rheumatic complaints, proving a useful substitute for Senna, having a less griping effect. The infusion of the leaves, 1 OZ. to the pint, may be given in frequent doses during the twenty-four hours.

The distilled water of the leaves, taken every morning, was considered good for dropsy and obesity. A decoction of the leaves in white wine had the reputation of dissolving stone and curing jaundice. The leaves should be gathered in June, well dried, powdered and kept in wellcorked bottles. The leaves have been gathered to mix with tea and in some parts of the country are used to feed cattle, when grass is scarce in autumn, but when cows eat the leaves or shoots, the butter becomes rank.

The fruits of the different species of Ash are regarded as somewhat more active than the bark and leaves. Ash seeds were held in high reputation by the ancient physicians, being employed as a remedy for flatulence. They were also in more recent times preserved with salt and vinegar and sent to table as a pickle.

In Mexico, the bark and leaves of F. nigra (Marsh), the Black Swamp, Water Hoop or Basket Ash, are similarly employed to those of the Common Ash. In Mexico, also, the bark and leaves of F. lanceolata (Borch.), the Green or Blue Ash, are employed as a bitter tonic and the root as a diuretic. In the United States, the bark of the American White Ash (F. Americana, Linn.) (F. acuminata, Lam.) finds similar employment. It has numerous small circular depressions externally and a slightly laminate structure.

The Ash had the reputation of magically curing warts: each wart must be pricked with a new pin that has been thrust into the tree, the pins are withdrawn and left in the tree, and the following charm is repeated:

‘Ashen tree, ashen tree,

Pray buy these warts of me.’

And there was another superstition that if a live shrew mouse were buried in a hole bored in an Ash trunk and then plugged up a sprig of this Shrew Ash would cure the paralysis supposed to have been caused by a shrew creeping over the sick person’s limbs.

Hasler has Ash associated with the Sun, Mars, and Jupiter.

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This entry was posted in In the Garden, self-reliance and tagged , by zmalfoy. Bookmark the permalink.

About zmalfoy

Z. Malfoy is a practicing Catholic-with-an-"interesting"-past. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Music Education (Spec. Voice) from Loyola University New Orleans, and has since taken a few business courses to expand her knowledge base. In her free time, she studies belly-dance, alchemy, theology, and various skills related to self-sufficiency. She also enjoys reading science fiction, refreshing her French, and watching anime. She recently started with learning Krav Maga and Russian.

Moderation has been eased. For now. Don't be dunderheads.

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