erythrina herbacea

Day 111: Louisiana Creole Plant Names

I’m currently working on translating a giant document of Louisiana Creole folk remedies, and so I thought I would share some common plants that I’ve come across so far. There will be more to come, I’m sure, as I’m only half way through the document. 

Bachoukta: Sumac, Rhus glabra. ex. Pou jonsiv gonfle fe bouyi la rasin bachoukta. For sore gums boil some sumac roots.

Betrav, betwav: Beet, Beta vulgaris. ex. Pou koklich fe en siro avek de betrav. For whooping cough make a syrup with beetroot.

Bòm, dibonm: 1) Mint, Mentha. ex. Vou pe fe enn tode avek du te, avek de kalite d afèr vou kas deyòr kòm lo bòm. You can make an herbal tea with tea, and with things you get outdoors like mint. 2) Anise, Pimpinella anisum. ex. Fe li boi ain ti tasse di te baume shauvage, metté li ain cataplasse la feuille patate sou so ti vente. Give him a cup of anise tea to drink. Put a poultice of sweet potato leaf on his little stomach.

Chasparèy, sasparèl: Sarsaparilla, Smilax ornata. Also referred to as sarsepareille which is referenced as Callicarpa americana, American Beautyberry. ex. Pou move son ye te bouyi trwa ou kat laliyonn chasparey pi ye te bwa sa. For anemia, they used to boil three or four sarsaparilla vines and drink that.

Chougra, chou gras: Pokeweed, poke berry, Phytolacca americana. Not to be confused with the “chou gras” of French Canadian origin which is “lamb’s quarters” Chenopodium album. ex. En chougra sa sanm lameriz. Sa gen de grap e se mèm koulèr ke lameriz. Pokeberry looks like wild cherries. It has clusters of berries and the same color as wild cherries.

Flè gombo fevi, fleu gumbo févi: Okra flowers, Abelmoschus esculentus. ex. To bouilles trois fleu gumbo févi et to fais li bois ein ti tasse a café tous les heures ou les démi-heures. Boil three okra flowers and you make them drink a coffee cup of that every hour or every half hour.

Frenn pikon: Prickly ash, toothache tree, Zanthoxylon clova. ex. Pou mal o don, fe twa en chik avek frenn pikon e met sa si to don. For a toothache, get a chaw of prickly ash and put it on your tooth.

Kontak: Greenbrier, carbrier, Smilax ap. Pou flou, en nimoni e de doulèr, fe en di te avek larasin kontak e enn avek larasin mamou. For the flu, pneumonia or labor pains, make a tea with greenbrier roots and another with the roots of the mamou, mix them together and drink that.

Kòrna, cornard, cornar: Jimsonweed, Datura stramonium. ex. Pou lopresyon fimen korna di taba, sa geri opresyon. For asthma smoke Jimsonweed like tobacco, that will heal the asthma.

Krokjirak, krodiròf, kouduròf: Clove, clou de girofle, Syzygium aromaticum. ex. M ap bouyi en janbon. Mo mèt krodiròf andan li. I’m boiling a ham. I put cloves in it.

Lamoulen, molène: Mullein, Aaron’s Rod, Verbascum thapsus. ex. Lamoulen, se en zèrb. Sa sanm en plant zepina. Sa fe debranch e sa fe de grenn tou piti. Mullein is an herb. It looks like a spinach plant. It has branches and makes small seeds.

Lèrb-a-vèr, albavè, larbavè: Wormseed, Chenopodium ambroisaides. ex. To lav larbavè byen e to bouy sa dan dile. To pran sa kan en nanfen gen devèr. You wash the wormseep and boil it in some milk. Give that when a child has worms.

Lèrb-malo, lèb-malo, zèrb-malo, lab-a-malo: 1) Swamp Lily, Alisma odorata. ex. Lèstæ se kouri dan l bwa pou li se fouye sa ye pèl lab-a-malo; se tou maye; se maye konm en dwa. Lester went to the woods to dig up what they call swamp lily; it’s jointed like a finger. 2) Lizard’s tail, Saururus cernuus. ex. To trouve li dan le pleri, lèb-a-malo. You find it in the swamp, lizard’s tail.

Mamou: Coral tree, mamou, Erythrina herbacea. ex. Pou fliksyon pwatrin, to pronn lagrenn mamou e fe en di te avek li pou pèrsonn-la bwa. For pneumonia, you take some mamou seeds and make a tea that the sick person will drink.

Mèksiken: Balsam pear, Momordica charantia. ex. Pou de koupir, met en mòrso mèksiken si to koupir, ou met di mèksiken don wiski e vide sa si laple. For cuts, put a piece of balsam pear on your cut, or put some balsam pear in whiskey and pour that on your wound.

Plakmignen, plèkmiyen, plaqueminier: Persimmon tree, Diospyros virginiana. ex. Vous pren des bourgeons plaqueminier et bouilli-yé. Vous mette dé ti pincées borax en dans-là. Vous gargarize la gorge avec ça. Take some persimmon buds and boil them. Mix in two small pinches of borax. Gargle with that.

Rave, raven, ravè: Cockroach, Blattodea. ex. En lòt kichò ye te kònen sèrvi si to te ge en bobo ki te e abouti pou vini myeu, ye te me en rave on sa. Another thing they used if you had a sore that was coming to a head and healing, they would put a cockroach on it.

Refò, raifort: Horseradish, Armoracia rusticana. ex. Pou jonsiv gonfle, pron en rasin refò e to chik sa konm la gonm. For sore gums you take some horseradish root and chew it like gum.

Sasafrwa, sasafra, dibwa gombo: Sassafras, Sassafras albidum. ex. Pou rezipel kon li vini blon ye te pron farin, trwa ti moso sasafra pi wiski e ye te met sa onsonm pou fe kataplonm. For erysipelas, hen it turned white they used to take flour, three pieces of sassafras and whiskey, and they put all of that together to make a poultice.

Siro, sureau: 1) Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis. “fey siro” elderberry leaves, “laflè siro” elderberry flowers. ex. Pou la fyev on frison mase flè siro on jou Fet de Dche pi bouyi sa don dolo pi bwa ti vè trwa fwa pa jou. For fever with chills collect elderberry leaves on Corpus Christi Day and boil them in water and then drink a glass of it three times a day. 2) Blackberry, Rhubus genus.

Sol, sòl: Willow, saule, Salix alba. ex. Pou deronjmon, pronn de kalite lekòrch konm frenn e sòl, avek larasin kontak e en ti kirelye di sel opsonm. For diarrhea, take two kinds of bark like ash or willow, with some greenbrier roots and a teaspoonful of Epsom salt.

Zèrb-koken, zèr-koken, zèr-kotchen, zar-koken: Cocklebur, Xanthium americanum, Xanthium strumarium L. ex. Zèr-koken, kan li chèch li kòl an to lenj, li s tach an to lenj. Cocklebur, when it’s dry it sticks to your clothes.

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Baby plants still being cute. Getting way too much rain I think. They’re going to be tortured!! They can’t have this moistness!! The plan is still to give them to Lizzie’s mom since her yard is soon to even be barren of soil. And I am tripping balls. I’m on anaesthetics so I can sleep and I’ve been asleep all day and whooooa. I haven’t actually slept in days feels good. Not like, actually good, but not WHY IS EVERYTHING SO TERRIBLE.