Sunday, 20 April 2014

3 Fascinating Floral Facts for Easter

Katie Cameron
Wild About Plants Officer

1. Did you know that the yellow dye extracted from gorse flowers was once used to colour and decorate Easter eggs? Eggstra-ordinary! In Russia, peasants used the nettle to colour eggs yellow on Maundy Thursday. In fact Easter eggs in the Ukraine are decorated with batik designs using nettle dye to this day.

2. Our beautiful native Pasqueflower blooms around Easter: hence the name "Pasque" (meaning "like Paschal", of Easter). Legend has that it grows on the graves of Viking warriors, springing from their blood! It is sadly now declining from its former sites and has been recorded in only 19 sites in England.

3. At one time the English clergy played handball at Easter with male members of their congregation and at the end of the match the winners received tansy cakes (made from a mixture of eggs and the young leaves). Hence the rhyme:

On Easter Sunday be the pudding seen,
To which the tansy lends her sober green.

The leaves were also one of the flavouring ingredients in a rich, custardy Lenten and Easter pudding known as ‘Tansy’ which according to one contemporary writer was ‘a nauseous dish’.

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