Herbal Lore

Herbs Listed by Folk Names

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By Morningbird

Ongoing research will improve this list as time goes by. For now, this is somewhat of a contentious list. Every plant has multiple names.

They are called by different things in different languages and in different communities. Sometimes the names refer to the traditional medicinal use of the herb, sometimes from the herb’s appearance or folklore associated with it and sometimes it’s hard to determine where the name comes from at all.

Some say that the use of folk names prove that ancient pharmacopoeia was primarily plant-based and that anything suggesting parts of animals or even humans is actually a code for a plant. However, this makes little sense.

While it is true that many folk names for plants sound like animal parts, there is no reason to suppose that animal parts were not sometimes simply animal parts. We know that even today, practitioners in “primitive” tribes often make use of animal (and sometimes human) parts, and we know that Eastern medicine occasionally makes use of animal parts,  why would we think ancients wouldn’t. We know they used animal entrails for divination, blood for scrying, why not animal parts for medicine?

This list is based on the one that floats around the community and it is considered accurate and common knowledge. Some things I’ve heard, some I’ve read, some I know – all are currently under scrutiny. Some things did not bear up to my review and have already been changed or deleted, but not everything has been reviewed as of yet. If I have a reference from a primary source, I will reference that source using asterisks (*).

Additional folk names for any herbs we have in our database are also listed on the herb’s detail page. If you are looking for a name you’ve come across, you might find it by using the site’s search feature. If you know of names that aren’t listed, please use the comment feature to add them.

A list of 50+ herbs sorted by the folk name

  • Aaron’s Rod – Goldenrod or mullein stalk
  • Absinthe – Wormwood
  • Adder’s Fork – Adder’s Tongue Fern or Bistort
  • Adder’s Tongue – Dog’s Tooth Violet (or Adder’s Tongue Fern
  • Ague root – Unicorn root
  • Alison – Sweet Alyssum
  • Angel Food, Archangel – Angelica
  • Angel’s Trumpet – Datura
  • Ass’s Ear – colt’s foot or comfrey
  • Ass’s Foot, Bull’s Foot – colt’s foot
  • Auld Man’s Bells, Old man’s bells – wood hyacinth, Hyacinthoides hispanica
  • Bad Man’s/Devil’s Oatmeal/Porridge – hemlock
  • Bad Man’s/Devil’s Plaything – Yarrow
  • Bastard – false Dittany
  • Bat flower – tacca
  • Bat’s Wing – Holly leaf
  • Bat’s Wool – moss (which moss?)
  • Bear’s Foot – Lady’s Mantle
  • Bear’s Grape Bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
  • Bear Paw – ramsons Allium ursinum or the root of male fern Dryopteris Felix-mas
  • Bear weed – Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum
  • Beard of a Monk – Chicory
  • Beggar’s Lice – Hound’s tongue
  • Beggar’s Buttons – Burdock
  • Bird’s Eye – Speedwell Veronica officinalis
  • Bird’s Foot – Fenugreek Trigonella foenum-graecum (Also bird’s foot violet and bird’s foot trefoil)
  • Bird’s Nest – carrot, Indian pipe
  • Bishop’s Wort, Bishop’s Elder – Wood betony Stachys betonica
  • Bitter Grass – Ague Root Aletris Farinosa
  • Black Sampson – Echinacea
  • Blazing Star – liatris
  • Blind Eyes – Poppy
  • Blood from a head – Lupine *
  • Blood from a shoulder – Bear’s breech *
  • Blood of a Goose – Sap from a mulberry * Morus nigra
  • Blood of an Eye – Tamarisk gall * (probably the tannin extracted from)
  • Blood of Ares – purslane *
  • Blood of Hephaestus – wormwood *
  • Blood of Hestia – Chamomile *
  • Blood – sap of the elder or bloodwort
  • Bloody butcher – Valerian
  • Bloody Fingers – Foxglove
  • Blue Bottle – Bachelor’s buttons
  • Boy’s Love, Lad’s Love: Southernwood
  • Brain Thief – Mandrake
  • Bone of an Ibis – buckthorn * I am not sure if this is Rhamnus cathartica or sea buckthorn Hippophae spp If I can find a recipe containing this, I will know for sure by comparing its purpose to their very different qualities
  • Bread and Cheese – Hawthorn
  • Bride of the Meadow – meadowsweet
  • Bull’s Blood – beet or horehound
  • Burning bush – false dittany, also a modern name for species of Euonymus
  • Cow’s Horn – Fenugreek Trigonella foenum-graecum
  • Bride of the Sun – calendula
  • Brown Dragon – wake robin
  • Buttons – tansy
  • Calf’s snout – Snapdragon
  • Candlemas Maiden – snowdrop
  • Candlewick – mullein, the flower stalk
  • Capon’s Tail – valerian
  • Carpenter’s Herb – bugleweed Lycopus europaeus
  • Carpenter’s Square – knotted figwort
  • Carpenter’s weed – Yarrow
  • Cat – catnip
  • Cat’s foot – white balsam, black cohosh, ground ivy
  • Cat’s herb – valerian
  • Chameleon star – bromeliad
  • Cheeses – marsh mallow
  • Chocolate flower – wild geranium (I don’t buy it)
  • Christ’s eye – wild clary Salvia verbenaca
  • Christ’s ladder – centaury
  • Christ’s spear – adder’s tongue fern Ophioglossum vulgatum
  • Church steeple – Agrimony
  • Clear eye – clary sage
  • Cleavers – bedstraw
  • Click – goosegrass
  • Clot – great mullien
  • Cocklebur – Agrimony
  • Cock’s comb – amaranth
  • Colt’s Tail – fleabane
  • Crane’s bill – wild geranium
  • Crow’s foot – wild geranium, or wood anemone bulbous buttercup (verified)
  • Crowdy kit – figwort
  • Cuckoo’s bread – common plantago
  • Cucumber tree – magnolia
  • Cuddy’s lungs – great mullein
  • Crown for a king – wormwood
  • Dagger flower – blue flag
  • Daphne – bay laurel
  • Dead man’s bells foxglove
  • Death angel – fly agaric Amanita Muscaria
  • Death cap – fly agaric Amanita Muscaria
  • Death flower – Yarrow
  • Death’s Herb – Belladonna
  • Delight of the Eye – rowan
  • Devil Plant – basil
  • Devil’s Apple – Mayapple or Mandrake
  • Devil’s beard – houseleek
  • Devil’s bit – false unicorn root
  • Devil’s cherries Belladonna berries
  • Devil’s plaything – yarrow
  • Devil’s dung – asafoetida
  • Devil’s ear – wakerobin
  • Devil’s eye – henbane or periwinkle
  • Devil’s flower – bachelor’s buttons
  • Devil’s fuge – mistletoe
  • Devil’s guts – dodder
  • Devil’s herb – belladonna
  • Devil’s milk – celandine
  • Devil’s nettle – yarrow
  • Devil’s Shoestring: Various varieties of vibernum, esp Black Haw, cramp bark, hobblebush
  • Dew of the Sea – Rosemary
  • Dog Berry – wild rose hips
  • Dog’s mouth – snap dragon
  • Dog’s tongue – hound’s tongue
  • Dove’s foot – wild geranium
  • Dragon – tarragon
  • Dragon Flower – blue flag (really, wild iris? not an arum or a Antirrhinum?)
  • Dragon wort – bistort
  • Dragon’s blood – calamus
  • Eagle – ramsons Allium ursinum
  • Earth apple – potato
  • Earth smoke- fumitory
  • Elf’s wort – Elecampane
  • Enchanter’s plant – vervain
  • Englishman’s fruit/ White man’s foot – common plantain
  • Everlasting friendship – goosegrass
  • Eye root – goldenseal
  • Fairy smoke – Indian pipe
  • Fairy fingers – foxglove
  • Fat from a Head – spurge *
  • Felon herb – Mugwort
  • Five fingers – cinquefoil
  • Fox’s Clote – burdock
  • Frog’s foot – bulbous buttercup
  • From the belly – Earth-apple. * potato?? Did the writers know about potatoes? When was pgm written?
  • From the foot – houseleek *
  • From the loins – chamomile *
  • Goat’s foot – morning glory
  • Goat’s Horn – Fenugreek Trigonella foenum-graecum
  • God’s hair – hart’s tongue fern
  • Golden’s star – avens
  • Gosling’s wing – goosegrass
  • Graveyard dust – mullein (and sometimes it’s just graveyard dust)
  • Hag’s taper – mullien stalk
  • Hagthorn – hawthorn
  • Hair of Venus – Maidenhair fern
  • Hairs of a Hamadryas Baboon: Dill Seed *
  • Hare’s beard – mullein
  • Hawk’s Heart, Old Woman – Wormwood Artemisia absinthium crown or seed head *
  • Hind’s tongue – hart’s tongue fern
  • Holy herb – yerba santa
  • Holy rope – hemp agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum
  • Horse tongue – hart’s tongue fern
  • Hundred eyes – periwinkle
  • Innocence – bluets
  • Jacob’s Staff – Great Mullein
  • Joy of the Mountain – Marjoram
  • Jupiter’s Staff – Great Mullein
  • King’s Crown: Black Haw vibernum
  • Knight’s Milfoil – Yarrow
  • Kronos’ Blood – sap of Cedar *
  • Lady’s glove – foxglove
  • Lamb’s ears – betony but more likely lamb’s ear Stachys byzantina
  • Lion’s Hair – The extra little roots that stick out of the turnip bulb or the base leaves Brassica rapa *
  • Lion’s tooth – dandelion
  • Little dragon – tarragon
  • Love in idleness – pansy
  • Love Lies Bleeding – amaranth (Not so ancient, a modern ornamental variant)
  • Love Leaves – burdock
  • Love man – goosegrass
  • Love Parsley – lovage
  • Love root – orris root
  • Maiden’s Ruin – Southernwood
  • Man’s Bile – Turnip Juice *
  • Man’s Health – Ginseng
  • Master of the Woods – Woodruff
  • May Lily – Lily of the Valley
  • May Rose – Black Haw viburnum
  • May – Black Haw viburnum
  • Maypops – Passion Flower
  • Mistress of the Night – Tuberose
  • Mutton Chops – Goosegrass
  • Nose Bleed – Yarrow
  • Old Man’s Flannel – Great Mullein
  • Old Man’s Pepper – Yarrow
  • Old-Maid’s-Nightcap – Wild Geranium
  • Password – primrose
  • Peter’s Staff – Great Mullein
  • Poor Man’s Treacle – Garlic
  • Priest’s Crown – Dandelion leaves
  • Queen of the Meadow Root – Gravelroot
  • Queen of the Meadow – Meadowsweet
  • Queen of the Night – Vanilla Cactus
  • Rats and Mice – Hound’s tongue
  • Ram’s horn – valerian
  • Ring a Bells – bluebell
  • Robin run in the grass – goosegrass
  • Scaldhead – blackberry
  • Seed of Horus – horehound
  • See bright – Clary sage
  • Semen of Ammon – Houseleek *
  • Semen of Ares – Clover *
  • Semen of Helios – White Hellebore *
  • Semen of Hephaistos – Fleabane *
  • Semen of Herakles – arugula *
  • Semen of Hermes – Dill *
  • Seven Year’s Love Yarrow
  • Shameface – Wild Geranium
  • Shepherd’s Heart – Shepherd’s Purse
  • Silver Bells – Black Haw viburnum
  • Snake Root – black cohosh
  • Soapwort – Comfrey or Daisy or maybe Soapwort
  • Sorcerer’s Violet – Periwinkle
  • Sparrow’s Tongue – Knotweed
  • St. John’s Herb – Hemp Agrimony
  • St. John’s Plant – Mugwort
  • Star Flower – Borage
  • Star of the Earth – Avens
  • Starweed – Chickweed
  • Sweethearts – Goosegrass
  • Swine’s Snout – Dandelion leaves
  • Tail of a Pig – Leopard’s bane *
  • Tanner’s bark – toadflax
  • Tartar root – ginseng
  • Tears of a Hamadryas Baboon – Dill Juice *
  • Thousand weed – yarrow
  • Thunder plant – houseleek
  • Titan’s Blood – Wild Lettuce Lactuca virosa *
  • Torches – mullein flower stalk
  • Unicorn’s horn – unicorn root or false unicorn root
  • Urine – dandelion or maybe urine
  • Wax dolls – fumitory
  • Weasel – rue
  • Weasel snout – yellow archangel
  • Winter wood – wild cinnamon Canella alba
  • White – ox eye daisy
  • Witch’s Asprin – white willow bark (this is ancient?)
  • Witch’s brier – wild brier rose hips
  • Wolf claw – club moss
  • Wolf’s foot – bugleweed
  • Wolf’s milk – euphorbia
  • Woodpecker – herbLpeony
  • Worm fern- male fern Dryopteris Felix-mas
  • Yerba Santa Maria – epazote
  • Plant Parts/Body Parts
  • Blood – Sap or juice
  • Eye – The disc of a composite flower, or a seed
  • Foot – Leaf
  • Guts – Roots, stalks, tangly bits
  • Hair – Very stringy roots (sometimes silk or tangly stems)
  • Head – Flower head or seed head
  • Tail – Stem
  • Tongue – Petal, sometimes stigma
  • Toes – leaf or bud
  • Paw – sometimes bud, usually leaf
  • Privates – Seed pod
  • Worm – stringy roots
  • Wool – Moss

Minerals

  • A Snake’s Ball of Thread – soapstone *
  • Blood of a Snake – hematite *
  • Crocodile Dung – Soil from Ethiopia *
  • A Physician’s bone – sandstone *

Animal Parts

  • A Snake’s Head – A leech *
  • Blood of a Hyrax – A rock badger, * small weasel-like/rodent-like (but actually neither) creature native to Africa and the Middle East
  • Blood of a Hamadryas Baboon – Blood of a spotted gecko *
  • Bull’s semen – the egg of a blister beetle *
  • Lion Semen – Human semen *
  • Kronos’ Spice – Pig Milk *
  • * From Ecloga ex Papyris Magicis: Liber I, V, xxvi

More Sources for verification –

  • Galen – De succedaneis, Claudii Galeni Opera Omnia, v 19
  • Paulus Aegineta, Corpus Medicorum Graecorum IX/2 vII
  • Dioscorides De Materia Medica
Written by Morningbird & Witchipedia Team

I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years. As a founder and lead writer on Witchipedia, I’ve been publishing articles since 2006.

It is our mission to provide the most accurate Pagan, occult and magical information.

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