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Blue Honeywort flowerHoneywort (Cerinthe major purpurascens) Info
This wonderful plant has a long association with bees. More than 2000 years ago, Virgil described using this plant as an offering to swarming bees in order to entice them into a new hive: "Here sprinkle the odors ordained, crushed balm and lowly tufts of honeywort, and make a tinkling round about and clash the cymbals of the goddess Mother; they will settle on the scented seat and in their way creep into the inmost covert of their nest."  It got its name "cerinthe" because of the waxiness of its leaves and because it was thought bees got wax for their hives from this plant. In his 16th-century herbal, Gerard recommends growing honeywort just for the pleasure of sipping the nectar bee-wise from the tubular flowers and enjoying the pleasantly waxy flavor of the leaves. This plant is very attractive to bees because of the great amount of nectar in the flowers; hummingbirds will also visit it. Although it was popular in the Renaissance--enough to rate a mention in Culpeper--this native of the Mediterranean region was subsequently rarely grown the West until a couple decades ago. Apparently because it is a quick-growing plant--it can go from seed for blooms in 10-12 weeks and have two generations in one season--this is considered a Mercury herb. Because it is so favored by bees, a martial insect, it would be a good herb to use in works where you want to win over a hostile force or attract defensive hosts. This member of the borage family is also known as the blue shrimp plant and the blue wax flower. Top.  

How to grow: Soak the large seeds overnight and sow 3/4" deep outside after the last frost in your area or start indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost, planting in Jiffy-7 pellets. It will germinate in 7-21 days at 70F/21C. Watch out for damping off if you are starting them inside. Transplant to full sun and good soil for taller plants, partial shade for shorter, less floppy plants. It can be grown in pots. A half-hardy perennial that freely reseeds, in all but the warmest parts of North America it should be considered an annual. The leaves on this plant have a nice greyish/white "bloom" that makes them look more waxy. As the plant matures, the bracts (a leaf that acts like a flower petal) around the flower will change from green to purple to bright blue. Blue honeywort does well with heat but needs water. Harvest seeds before the pods hurl them around and plant in spring. This variety of blue honeywort gets 35in/90cm high and wide, taller in full sun. Deadheading will produce more flowers and more branching. It makes a good cut flower. General growing info. Top 



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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Bee Magick
Defensive Magick
Attracting Protectors
Mercury Herb

2004, 2014 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission.