Wednesday 18 July 2018

Sit and Drink Pennyroyal Tea

Been doing a spot of "Herballing"  today, in the manner of a Greek or Arabic physician of days gone by, or rather an overheated man with no idea what he's talking about.

We have a couple of plants well known for their medical qualities growing at work at the moment. There's plenty of feverfew around, a plant still used for treating migraine and headaches. But more dramatically, there's a lot of pennyroyal around at the moment too, with its distinctive circles of blue blowers impaled on a stem looking like the smoke rings roadrunner leaves when he shoots off.

It is growing in thickish patches on dry scrubland and mud at the moment, and the powerful peppermint smell its leaves give off when crushed is unmistakable when you walk amongst it. Red tailed bumbles love it.

It is a plant with a dark history. It's ability to induce abortions was known about  in Classical times - Aristophanes jokes about it in one of his plays. Cleopatra knew what it was for. Women have died taking it.

And Kurt Cobain of Nirvana famously sang about it.


All text and  images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 18.07.18


  1. Strange that so many seemingly innocent flowers can have such deadly consequences. it reminds me that one of the gardeners at the Cambridge Botanics told me that they have a flower there which is so deady that you wouldn't survive a mere ten minutes sitting beneath it - a water lily!

  2. Fascinating stuff.

  3. Dare not try any Si - not sure I could identify it. Could be drinking anything.

  4. Love your photographs. So easy to poison someone, not sure why they bother with chemical ones.

  5. THank you all, it's good to find something of such history growing on waste ground