Herb Paris, True lover’s Knot, Devil-in-a-bush
Renown of being hard to germinate because it requires several warm/cold cycles to break dormancy, Paris is often avoided by many people when it comes to growing it from seeds. A couple of days ago, during a check-up of the moist stored seeds, I had a big surprise. Almost all the garden collected seeds (in late summer) were already germinated! These seeds were cleaned and placed in moist vermiculite right away – an advantage of the garden collecting. Seeds that I collected in the wild and couldn’t place right away in moist storage look good but still haven’t decided to germinate.
Unless a magic trick is involved (not unusual at this time of year), cleaning the seeds after the berries are ripen and putting them right away in a bag with slightly moist vermiculite, which is the same as sowing them fresh, works very well for Paris quadrifolia.
Paris quadrifolia is a Trillium relative from moist deciduous forests of Europe and W. Asia, with a symmetric ‘constitution’ (Paris from Latin pars – equal). The four whorled leaves are topped up in early spring by a solitary, interesting flower with thread-like petals and a crown of golden stamens, followed by a deep blue berry (poisonous).
In medieval times this particular symmetry had Paris quadrifolia considered the ‘herb of equality’ and it was used in marriage rituals and as a guard against witches. It was also associated with medicine in medieval English tradition, being mentioned in Gerard’s Herbal as an antidote to toxic substances like arsenic and mercury.
According to other herbalists of the time, the black berries were also used as a remedy for those who had lost their minds through bewitchment, or as an antidote for mental confusion due to supernatural causes :) (today it remains employed only in homeopathy).
In conclusion, for now we are safe from witches and if in the future we are to get confused, we shall use a few Paris berries…(need “ to be administered in unequal numbers” :)))