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Sunday, July 1, 2012
EUROPEAN MICHAELMAS DAISY: HISTORY OF HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE MICHAELMAS DAISY
The European Michaelmas daisy gets its name because it blooms around the time of St. Michael’s day (Michael the archangel) which is celebrated on the 29th September. It is also called Italian starwort and in Italian is Astro di Vergilio, or Virgil’s Aster. This is no doubt because Virgil mentions it in his Georgics written more than 2,000 years ago. This is a translation of the passage in which the asters are mentioned
“There is a useful flowerGrowing in the meadows, which the country folkCall star-wort, not a blossom hard to find,For its large cluster lifts itself in air Out of one root; its central orb is goldBut it wears petals in a numerous ringOf glossy purplish blue; ’tis often laidIn twisted garlands at some holy shrine.Bitter its taste; the shepherds gather itIn valley-pastures where the winding streamsOf Mella flow. The roots of this, steeped well,In hot, high-flavored wine, thou may’st set downAt the hive door in baskets heaping full.” From this passage we assume that it was placed on some altars to the ancient gods, perhaps because It was a late bloomer, although there are other legends associated with the aster such as the one that when Astraea a goddess fled Earth with the rest of the gods, she looked down at it and wept for the folly of mankind. Another legend says that Virgo scattered stardust on Earth and asters bloomed where it fell. It does indeed have a bitter, acrid taste, but the leaves of the young plant are cooked and are nutritious, containing vitamins A and C they were useful against the onset of scurvy, and they also contain some of the B-complex vitamins, particularly thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3). They are potassium rich and also contain the minerals calcium, iron and phosphorous. These plants are native to