Monday, August 20, 2012

Alchemical Waters Off Plant Leaves

I stumbled upon the great Annals of Botany blog, which you can now find in my sidebar. I found that they recently wrote about the origins of the temperate plant Lady's Mantle's scientific name, Alchemilla. Apparently, the dew or rain that gathered on its water-repellent leaves was in high demand because of its purity. Among its fans were said to be alchemists, who used it in their procedures to turn stuff into gold, and women, who apparently used it for beauty purposes.

Photo is by Pat Heslop-Harrison, from the Annals of Botany post.
A photo from an old post on this blog.
I was reminded of gabi leaves, which gather water not so gracefully, due to the shape and size of its leaves. The "plant leaf surface property" that enables it to repel water and keep itself "clean" is mentioned also in an AoB piece cited in the article. I've tried searching for local rituals that utilize this water, but nothing came up, unfortunately.

Water gathers at center, reflects juvenile brontosaurus.
Another famously water-repellent leaf surface is that of the tree star from Land Before Time. 

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