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David Watson Hood, visual artist.
The image for scottish bluebell
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SCottish Bluebell: Campanula rotundifolia L. Harebell (in England). Aul man's bells (old man's: i.e. devil's), Dead Man's Bells, Blaewort, Blaver, Blue blavers, Bluebell, Brog na cubhaig (Cuckoo's hood), Currac Cuthaige, Currac na cubhaig, Gowk's thimbles (Cuckoo's thimbles), Gowk's thummles, Lady's thimble, Fairies' Thimbles, Milk-ort, Thimbles, Witch bells, Witch's thimbles.


Scottish Bluebell: Campanula rotundifolia L.To avoid linguistic confusion I had better state that I am using the name Bluebell for this plant which in England is called the Harebell, rather than for Hyacinthoides non-scripta (synonyms Endymion nonscriptus, Scilla nonscripta) which is known as the Bluebell in England and sometimes called the Wild Hyacinth in Scotland. Some older English sources like Gerard's Herbal confusingly also use the name Harebell for Hyacinthoides non-scripta.

Campanula rotundifolia is associated with the fairies and with witches. The juice was an element in some of the witches 'flying ointments'. The name Harebells may also allude to a folk belief that witches used juices squeezed from this flower to transform themselves into hares. These juices lent the flower another Scottish folk name, "Milk-ort" (milk herb).

In folklore, the flowers assist mortals in seeing fairies or seeing into their reality, but were regarded by some as unlucky because they could also reveal or even attract malign spirits, including the Devil himself, hence "Aul Man's Bells,", Aul or Old Man being used as a way of naming the Devil without invoking him by speaking his name. They are also called Dead Men's or Dead Man's Bells, because hearing the bells ringing is an omen of death. As a garden weed, it was often left un-pulled for fear of offending the 'Aul Man' or the fairies; hence it was in every garden with suitable soil. Contrarily it is also dedicated to St Dominic de Guzman, confessor, founder of the Friar Preachers.

This plant and the Wild Hyacinth both seem to serve as thinning agents on the walls between realities or worlds, attuning us to the multi-valence of existence simply by being present in our environment. A complexity of perception most of us cannot cope with, thus the folk concept of being lost in the bluebell wood and needing led out by another. How they achieve this effect is a mystery, Campanula rotundifolia is not noted as a narcotic, perhaps it is the frequency of that unusual blue that affects the mind, making us feel that if we could just focus our peripheral vision well enough we would see wonders. Or perhaps they do really exist simultaneously in more than one world.

The names tell the same story as for yarrow, elder, and other once revered plants. What is considered as sacred in Pagan times mutates into the fairies' or the witches' with the emerging dominance of the new, text and rulebook based, religions, then, after the rise of a Calvinist fundamentalism, it becomes the Devil's. In more recent times all awe, of any sort, is lost and with a new arrogance we hold it a virtue to destroy what in our ignorance we see as having no utility .

Non-medical uses of scottish bluebell
As a food, leaves can be eaten, raw or cooked but they are hardly substantial enough to be worth it.

Medicinal uses of scottish bluebell
Anti-Fungal.
Definitons of medical actions

The root has been chewed in the treatment of heart and lung problems. An infusion of the roots has been used as eardrops for sore ears. A decoction of the plant has been drunk or used as a wash in the treatment of sore eyes. All these uses have also occurred in Native American contexts. Has also been claimed as anti-depressant.
(The plants constituents Polyacetylenes: [aliphatic tetrahydropyran derivatives] +, iridoids and tannins 0; caffeic acid. Polyacetylenes have been found in many families of higher plants. More recently, linear polyacetylenes have become a major element in the search for bioactive substances from marine sponges. It has been reported that these compounds exhibit potent cytotoxic, antimicrobial, antiviral, RNA-cleaving, sedative, and enzyme-inhibitory activities, as well as brine-shrimp lethality.).

Sources:
Plants For A Future, www.pfaf.org/index.html
The Really WILD Food Guide, www.countrylovers.co.uk/wildfoodjj/index.htm
Flora Celtica, www.floraceltica.com/, Flora Celtica is an international project based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, documenting and promoting the knowledge and sustainable use of native plants in the Celtic countries and regions of Europe.
http://www.northdaysimage.ca/crotundifolia.html

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