The uses of plants vary greatly. Some are abandoned and
others added. Some have been previously noted. In the following list
reliance is wholly placed in Lightfoot’s Flora Scotiea, with the knowledge
that the list is not complete, though all are found in Mull.
Food: Car da mine hirsuta—hairy ladies’ smock—young leaves
used in salad.
Primus spinosa—black thorn—the fruit makes a fragrant wine.
Primus avium—cherry tree—fruit agreeable to taste, makes
wine, and by distillation a strong spirit.
Rosa caniua—briar rose—the pulp of the seeds mixed with wine
and sugar makes a fine jelly.
Eryngium maritimum—sea holly—young tender roots eaten the
same as asparagus.
Potentilla an serin a—wild tansey—made into bread, having
been known, during the scarcity of food, to support the inhabitants for
Ligusticum seotieuni—scotch parsley—eaten raw as a solid, and
also boiled as greens.-
Daucus carota—wild c a r r o t—highlanders are fond uf
chewing the roots and esteem them as wholesome and nutritive.
Sambucus nigra—common elder—berries used to make a wine
having something of the flavor of frontiniac, and the young umbrels, before
the flower expands, are used for pickling.
Galium verum—yellow ladies’ bedstraw—a strong decoction used
as a runnet to curdle milk. To this highlanders add the beans of urtica
dioica, or stinging nettle, with a little salt.
Vaccinium myrtillis—whortleberries—highlanders eat the
berries in milk, and sometimes make them into a jelly mixed with whiskey to
give it a relish.
Vaccinium vitis idea—red whortle berry—eaten by high-landers
and regarded as wholesome and cooling.
Erica cineria—fine leaved heath—young tops alone used • brew
a kind of ale, and also makes a very potable liquor by mixing two-thirds of
the tops to one third of malt. '
Staehys palustris—Glower’s all-heal—in times of necessity has
been eaten either boiled or dried, and made into bread.
Lyriea gale—sweet willow—highlanders sometimes use it instead
of hops for brewing beer.
Empet-rum nigrum black berried heath—highlanders frequently
eat the berries, but not desirable.
Domestic Arts: Domestic art is only limited by the state
of civilization. So far as history records there is no
evidence that the Highlanders were ever savages. Hence a wide range may be
indicated in the domestic sciences, and the service of plants utilized.
Iris pseudacorus—yellow water flower de luce—roots used to
dye black; boiled with copper to make ink.
Galium verum—yellow ladies bedstraw—roots used to dye a very
fine red. “Their manner of doing it is this: they first strip the bark off
the roots, in which bark the principle virtue lies. They then boil the roots
thus stripped in water, to extract what little virtue remains in them; and
after taking them out they last of all put the bark into the liquor, and
boil that and the yarn they intend to dye together, adding* alum to fix the
Luncus conglomeratus—cluster flowered rush—used to make wicks
for candles, and the pith to make toy baskets.
Vaceinium myrtillus—whortleberry, dyes a violet color, but
must be fixed with alum.
Polygonum liydropiper—arsmast—dyes yellow.
Erica cinera—fine leaved heath—used for many economical
purposes, among which to cover houses, bound into ropes to hold down the
thatch, tan leather, to make beds by placing roots downwards and tops
upwards, thus making sleep comfortable and refreshing.
Pru nus spinosa—blackthorn—will dye woolen of a red color.
The juice, with vitroil or copperas, will make good ink.
Spiraea, ulmaria—meadow sweet—used in tanning leather.
Rosa canina—briar rose—the bark with copperas dyes black.
Inula lielenium—elecampone—bruised and macerated in wine,
with- balls of ashes and whortleberries, dyes a blue color.
Betula alba—birch tree—highlanders use the bark to tan
leather and makes ropes; the inner bark to write upon; the wood anciently
for arrows, and now for plows, carts and rustic implements, bowls, ladles,
hoops, charcoal, soot for lamp-black and ink. The small branches serve
highlanders for hurdles*, and side fences to their houses.
Quercus robur—common oak—highlanders call the oak, “The king
of all the trees in the forest.” The bark is used tu dye yarn a brown color,
or mixed with copperas, a black color. The sawdust from its timber and the
leaves used for tanning, but inferior to the bark. Juice pressed from the
oak galls, mixed with vitril and gum arabic makes ink.
Co. rp inns betiilus-—horse beech tree—the inner bark dyes
yarn a yellow color.
Pin us sylvestris—scotch fir—Yew trees have served more
purposes. The tallest and straightest for ship-masts; timber for domestic
purposes, flooring, wainscoting, making beds, tables, chests, boxes, tar,
pitch, turpentine; the resinous roots used by highlanders in small splinters
to burn in place of candles.
Salix caprea—common sallow—bark used to tan leather, wood
used to make handles for hatchets, prongs, spades, cut-ting-boards, and
whetting boards for shoemakers.
Eiupelrum nigTimi—blackberry heath—boiled in alum-water will
make dye yarn of a black fuscous color.
Myrica g*ale—sweet willow—used to garnish dishes, and also to
place in between linen and other garments to give a fine odor, and also to
drive away moths.
Pteris aquilina—female fern—a most excellent fertilizer for
potatoes, and never fails to produce a good crop; a good litter for the
stable; when dried makes a brisk fire for baking and brewing; used in
preparing kid and chamois leather; ashes made into balls, used to wash
linen, also sold to glass makers; used to thatch houses.
Animal Food: To what extent the plants are and have been used
as food for animals, I have been unable to determine. However, the following
may be noted.
Nympliaea Intea—yellow water lilly—swine are fond of the
leaves and roots, and the smoke of it drives away crickets and cock-roaches.
Ulex europaeus—furge—excellent fodder for horses, sheep and
Tripfolium repens—white creeping trefoil—excellent fodder
Lotus comiculatus—bird’s foot trefoil—excellent fodder for
Vieia cracca—tufted vetch—said to be good fodder for cattle.
Vicia sepium—bush vetch—good fodder for cattle.
Lattryrus pratensis—yellow vetching—excellent fodder. The
badger is said to feed on it.
Spiraea ulniaria—meadow sweet—goats are very fond of it, but
horses and cattle refuse it.
Potentilla anserina—wild tansey—swine are fond of the roots.
Statice armeria—sea gilly flower—esteemed by highlanders as
the richest and best herbiage for black cattle.
Lythrum salicaria—purple spiked willow herb—cattle are fond
Heracleum spliondylium—cow parsnip—swine and rabbits are fond
Fraxinus excelsior—ash tree—horses and sheep fond of the
Melampyruin pratense—meadow cow wheat—where this plant
abounds the yellowest and best butter is made.
Stacliys palustris—clown’s all heal—swine are fond of the
Populus treeniula-—aspen—horses, sheep and other animals feed
on the leaves.
Pteris aquiliim—female fern—swine fond of roots, when boiled
in their mash.
Alopecurus pratensis—meadow fox tail grass—good grass for
Poa trivialis, ungiistifolin, and pratensis are esteemed
amongst the meadow grasses for hay.
Poa aquatica—water reed grass—cattle fond of it.
Fertuca elatior—a grass that makes most excellent fodder for