Wildflower Wednesdays: Louseworts Aren’t Lousy

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The name louseworts share really isn’t deserved.

They aren’t ‘lousy’, by any means, or at least not in appearance and in the modern sense of the word; indeed, Flowers of India (which has become my Bible for these biweekly posts) describes this individual – the rattle lousewort – as “beautiful”.

So why lousewort? It’s an old wives’ tale, as it appears: apparently, should you ingest these flowers – though I don’t know why you would – lice will appear in your stock. Hence, lousewort.

Lousewort, therefore, here is applied in the sense of the creature rather than the adjective. A saving grace, perhaps, for such a lovely, delicate flower.

But it’s immediately doomed again: louseworts belong, unfortunately, to the broomrape family. And as it happens they’re parasitic anyways, so perhaps the name is deserved.

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