The magic trick – Paris quadrifolia

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 germinated seeds

Paris quadrifolia germinated seeds

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).

Paris quadrifolia

Paris quadrifolia

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” :)))

7 replies
  1. sueturner31
    sueturner31 says:

    I have just been given a pot full of small rootlets of this each has a growing tip. They were germinated by a friend and now I have to keep these going. Have you any tips on how to get these through the winter in this pot and when should I dare to put them in the garden. I live in the UK, Midlands with a sheltered garden. Thanks Sue.

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      They need a cold period to break the second dormancy and start growing the first leaf, same like Trillium. I don’t know how cold it gets in Midlands, here we have to keep such pots with ‘half-germinated’ plants either
      in the ground, either in a shed/cold frame.

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      A particular plant for a moist & shady spot; as a bonus, it also starts growing very early in the spring.

  2. ontheedgegardening
    ontheedgegardening says:

    I have always wanted to grow this lovely plant, so beautiful. Whether or not I could nurture them through all the different stages of germination is debatable. You are a very patient woman. :)

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Thanks, but it depends on the plant; my patience is in direct relation with how much I like it ;) I can send you some seeds from the fridge. You can sow them outside in a shady spot, close to a perennial
      that you water once in a while; this way you won’t dig the seeds out by mistake plus they get water occasionally. One spring you’ll see a Paris flowering! Time goes by fast…

Comments are closed.