“Useful in staunching the intestinal flux”

The unpretentious yet interesting Herb Paris

Last week I was walking in my local woods and was delighted to come across two specimens of Herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia). It’s considered a rare plant in Belgium, and I had never seen one before. I am always thrilled to greet a new wild flower.

Herb Paris belongs to the Melanthiaceae family. It is also called True-lover’s knot, Devil-in-the-bush, and One-berry.

Herb Paris has four distinctive, glossy, oval-shaped leaves. As you can see, they are symmetrical, and set in a cross. The latter feature appealed to medieval herbalists who saw a resemblance to the cross of Christ. So it’s no surprise to find that Herb Paris was used in marriage rituals and to guard against witches.

Herb Paris
Its four symmetrical leaves

From the center rises a single flower bud.

Herb Paris
A single flower bud

When the bud opens, look more closely and you will discover four narrow, greenish thread-like petals, four green sepals, eight golden yellow stamens, and a round purple ovary. The ovary develops into a dark blue berry.

Herb Paris
The exquisite flower

The plant is known for its medicinal properties and has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. The fifteenth-century Hortus Sanitatis describes Herb Paris as “useful in staunching both the flow of blood and intestinal flux.” I thought I would leave the definition of “intestinal flux” to your imagination! However, I am not going to rush to use Herb Paris (even if my intestine was heavily fluxing!) as it is also highly toxic if ingested in large amounts.

Submitted for Debbie’s Six Word Saturday and Cee’s Flower of the Day.

26 comments

  1. beautiful pic of the flower.

    i cannot accept the possibility of antiquity without at least one greek or roman having “pardon my intestinal flux” carved in latin as their gravestone epitaph

    Liked by 1 person

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