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History of the Island of Mull
Chapter XII - Plants in Domestic Use

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 months together.

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 color.”

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 cattle.

Tripfolium repens—white creeping trefoil—excellent fodder for cattle.

Lotus comiculatus—bird’s foot trefoil—excellent fodder for cattle.

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 of it.

Heracleum spliondylium—cow parsnip—swine and rabbits are fond of it.

Fraxinus excelsior—ash tree—horses and sheep fond of the leaves.

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 roots.

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 hay.

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 cattle.

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