While researching recipe ingredients, information about various herbs are surfacing.  Research is bringing to light new and different herbs, such as:

Mayapple is unsafe to use; it appears many herbs starting with the letter “M” are (unsafe).  This annual heralds spring with its single, large white flower that turns into green to yellow fruit, the only edible part of this poisonous plant.  It has many intriging names: duck’s foot (for leaf shape), ground lemon, devil’s apple, hog apple, Indian apple, racoon berry, and mayapple, the American mandrake.  In the era of psychedelic rock bands, one may have heard of this plant’s properties—one wonders how it would fair against the consumption of crystalized antifreeze today’s youth pumps into their bodies for the same effect.  Traditionally it has medicinal purpose as an “unsafe laxative by FDA’s studies”.  Used by American Indians in order to commit suicide — probably faster than alcohol’s destroying qualities.

Madder:  This herb was mainly used as a dye and still is for those interested in natural dyes.  You might have come in contact with this if you met a genuine Egyptian mummy.  The root of madder has alizarin in it which makes a rose colored dye, which can be obtained from coal tar –a less desirable food source.  The coal tar alizarin helped change the dye industry to replace plants with chemicals.  Greeks used it to promote urine and menstral blood flow.  Other uses: cure jaundice, inflammation, kidney stones, help childbirth, remove worms, cure dysentery and diarrhea, strengthen bones, help wounds and bruises.  No longer used in medicine but cameback as removal of freckles and blemishes.

Marjoram:  The first acquaintance with the ingredient Marjoram was foreign.  What was it?  When looking for it, the book read, ” The French still put sprigs of it to freshen the air of their homes.”  So we are going to eat air freshener.  That’s a new one, I think.  It turns out it can be a subsitute for oregano in lesser amounts.  So apparently it is a stronger oregano.  It was used in potpouries and sachets (scent makers for those too young to remember what happened before the 80’s).  Also used in “tea form for aches and pains or chest conjestion”.  Other than crafts and scents, this herb is not used much.

Mistletoe also is unsafe.  One of the most intriguing legends of this plant comes from the French name of “herbe de la croix”.  It was once a tree, made into Christ’s cross and afterwards cursed, denied an earthly place it became a parasite.  Kissing one under the mistletoe oringinates from the Scandinavians to show love.  Of note—mistletoe stimulates contractions and used as an abortifacient.  Currently studied for use in treating certain cancers.  Consumption is very dangerous.

Thus:  Wow! Herbs starting with “m” seem to be ones you’d rather look and smell than taste.

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