Betony is a woodland perennial and a member of the mint family with its characteristic square stem and bilabiate flowers. The flowers are lavender in color and appear in whorls from June through August. The leaves and stems are hairy and fragrant. The plant appears along woodland edges and can reach up to two feet in height. Betony is a European native that has naturalized over much of the United States and is considered a weed in many areas.
Betony betonica officinalis is also known as; St Brid’s Comb, Stachys betonica, woundwort, common hedge nettle, lousewort, purple betony, bishop wort, bishop’s elder, spiked betony
History and Folklore
The name betony is said to derive from a Celtic word bewton which means “good for the head”.
The Egyptians regarded betony as a magical herb. A Spanish saying, “He has as many values as betony,” shows the regard that people had for the plant. The Romans listed 47 different medicinal uses for betony and believed that even wild beasts used betony as medicine, and would seek it out when wounded.
A common traditional use for betony was a guard against evil spirits and mischief. During the Middle Ages, it was planted in churchyards and worn in amulets for protection.
Makes a chartreuse dye with an alum mordant.
Betony can be added to any protective mixtures, grown around the home to protect it or carried on the person (especially under one’s hat) to protect from negativity, misfortune, and hexes. Scattered near doors prevents unwanted energies (and people) from entering. It has been planted in graveyards to prevent evil spirits from escaping.
Betony can be stuffed into a pillow or placed underneath to prevent nightmares and night terrors.