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Bladdernut (Staphylea pinnata L.) in Polish folklore


Journal: Rocznik Polskiego Towarzystwa Dendrologicznego
ISSN 2080-4164

Volume: 57;
Start page: 23;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: ethnobotany | apotropaic plants | rosary | blessed plants | cows

Staphylea pinnata occurs in Europe, mainly in central and SE areas, and in Asia Minor. In Poland it has a few dozen localities in the Carpathians, plus scattered localities in other regions of southern Poland. The aim of the article was to summarise records on its traditional use in Poland. In some places of its occurrence Staphylea used to be a revered shrub, with many uses. Its hard seeds were used for making beads in rosaries. Its very hard wood was used to make butter-making dashers and small crosses. Due to the magic, apotropaic properties the plant was believed to have, not only were crosses made of it, but the plant’s branches were blessed in churches (with other important plants) on Palm Sunday, on the eighth day after Corpus Christi, and on August the 15th. The branches were also attached to cows’ horns, for magic purposes. Most of the presented traditonal uses are practically extinct now, but are still remembered by the most elderly people. Only the making of bladdernut seed rosaries is still practiced by some monks, nuns and hobbyists. In Lubzina near Ropczyce a special church service is organised on the 15th of August, in which the plant is blessed. Branches with bladdernut fruits are also blessed (by single individuals) on that day in some churches in the region south of Jasło. The variety of traditional uses of bladdernut in magic rituals strongly supports the hypotheses that the plant was grown from times immemorial and many of its localities are of anthropogenic origin.
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