All About Thyme
  A Weekly Calendar of Times & Seasonings

  Celebrating the Mysteries, Magic, and Myths of Herbs
Susan Wittig Albert  
Special Feature, February 5, 2018  

Valentine's Day: It's Not Just Chocolate and Roses

Of course, our two favorite Valentine herbs are chocolate (oh, yes, it's really an herb) and roses (the rose was the 2012 Herb of the Year). But if you're looking for love, chocolates and roses aren't your only herbal allies. For centuries, plants have gladdened the hearts of lovers, for a whole bouquet of reasons! Read on for a few of the unusual suspects.

  • Periwinkle (also called Vinca minor). It was believed that people who ate periwinkle leaves together would fall in love. Another potion (dating back to the 14th century), was said to be more powerful but definitely less tasty: powdered periwinkle, houseleek, earthworms.

  • Honeysuckle. The scent of honeysuckle was thought to induce erotic dreams; hence, many parents forbade their daughters to bring it into the house. (Grownups, of course, could do as they pleased.)

  • Bay laurel. If you want to dream of your future lover, pin five bay leaves to the four corners and the center of your pillow, before you go to bed tonight. Be sure to repeat the traditional charm (it won't work if you don't): St. Valentine, be kind to me, in dreams let me my true love see.

  • Cornflower. A lover was advised to put a cornflower into his lapel. If the color stayed true-blue, the young lady would be his; if it faded, he'd lost her. (Maybe he could go looking for a young lady with a bunch of dried yarrow in her hand.)

  • Yarrow. A lady hoping to attract a reluctant lover was advised to walk through a patch of yarrow, barefoot at midnight under a full moon. She was to pick some blossoms (with her eyes shut), then take them home and put them under her bed. If the flowers were still fresh, it was a sign that her lover would come around to the idea before long; if the flowers were dry, she should think about looking for another fellow.

  • Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), was used by Menominee Indians as a love charm. The blossom was thrown by a young man at the girl he fancied; if it hit her, she was bound to fall in love with him. If she hesitated, he chewed the plant's root and then breathed on her, which was bound to win her over.

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Who's Susan Albert?

Susan Wittig Albert is the author of two recent memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place. Her fiction, which has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, includes A Wilder Rose (a novel about Rose Wilder Lane's collaboration with Laura Ingalls Wilder in the writing of the Little House books); the China Bayles mysteries; the Darling Dahlias mysteries; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter; and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige. She is founder and past president of the Story Circle Network, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and Honorary President (2012-2014) of the Herb Society of America. More

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Who's China Bayles?

She's the beloved fictional herbalist in Susan Wittig Albert's popular mystery series, set in Pecan Springs TX. For more about her books, visit

For more about herbs and the passing seasons, read China Bayles' Book of Days.

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