Secrets of Nature (Summer 2019)
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Science

Secrets of Nature (Summer 2019)

Łukasz Łuczaj
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time 6 minutes

The hot-blooded antidepressant

The Polish word for St. John’s wort, dziurawiec, gets its name from the holes on its leaves, which are visible when held up to the light [dziura meaning ‘hole’ – trans. note]. Many of its common names in Polish also refer to blood – blood of Jesus, blood of Mary and hare’s blood. This is because the petals of the herb – and also the leaves in spotted St. John’s wort – are covered with reddish stains, as if splashed with blood. In addition, when immersed in oil or alcohol they release a red dye.

St. John’s wort has been ascribed with great power, especially in the Polish Carpathians, where it was believed that placing the herb by a child’s cradle would scare away bad female demons called mamuna or dziwożona, which sneaked up to the cradles to swap pretty children for their ugly ones.

St.

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A Plant With Too Many Uses
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The Joys of Growing Hemp
Katarzyna Tyszkiewicz-Borawska

My friends and I were told that hemp plants are returning to Poland’s soil. Naturally, we too wanted to grow them. We had no idea how many problems they would bring us, but also how much joy.

The three of us set up a limited company – me, my husband Aleksander, and our friend Przemek. We were like the three friends from Reymont’s The Promised Land, only we didn’t build a factory, but a hemp plantation. We got our seeds from the Poznań Institute of Natural Fibres and Medicinal Plants. We would provide them with new seeds for re-cultivation and, in return, the rest of our crop – flower heads (or inflorescences) and hemp straw – would be ours to do with as we wished. Straight away we decided that we’d produce oils and Hempcrete. We were energized and optimistic.

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