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Picture of Kalleh
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I just read an article today about witch hazel. I had always thought the name came from "witch," but apparently it comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word, "wych" for "bend." I also learned from this article that some people believe that witch hazel sticks can detect subterranean water. Has anyone else heard of that?

I remember witch hazel from when I was a child, but I haven't heard about it in years. Have you?
 
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We planted one over the grave of one of our deceased dogs.

Also, long ago there was a cartoon strip called "Witch Hazel:" https://www.amazon.com/Little-...loween/dp/B004GGP518

As for the water divining rod, I've heard of it, but not since childhood.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I also learned from this article that some people believe that witch hazel sticks can detect subterranean water. Has anyone else heard of that?


I'm surprised you haven't come across this particular bit of pseudo-science gibberish. Traditionally people have believed that a Y-shaped "dowsing rod" will lead them to all kinds of things - underground water, gold, oil depending on the magical power of the twig somehow "knowing what you are looking for". It has, of course, as much scientific validity as believing the moon is made of cheese. That doesn't stop people who believe this nonsense though. There are modern versions with metal rods or even "magic boxes" that can detect explosives or drugs. All of it is, naturally, utter BS and totally useless which has not stopped conmen persuading police and military to try them out and, in some cases actually buy them for use in the field.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Oh, I have heard of divining rods before, and of course I know it is rubbish. I just hadn't realize some think a plant can be used as one.

This is another article about witch hazel. It also talks about skunk cabbage. Ugh! It emits a foul odor like that of a skunk. The picture looks a bit like a COVID virus. I have not heard of that before, even though it describes it as being seen in Deerfield, which is where we used to live.
 
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Enjoyed the articles, Kalleh. That word root makes sense of the name! We have a '20's-era neighborhood nearby called Wychwood.

I have pix tucked away of the shrub. If I ever get ambitious, I'll have a couple planted in the back yard for color and scent. Never knew it was used for dowsing. That shrub wouldn't produce one of those study Y-shaped branches as shown in old pioneer movies.

I fell out of the habit of keeping the distilled extract in the fridge as my mother always did. The tannins are good for swelling [just like a teabag on a sty]; we used it for soothing bruises.
 
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RE: skunk cabbage, well, whaddya know. Grew up calling something else by that moniker (a big PIA weed with leathery green leaves) that didn't smell like skunks anyway. Horticultural error. The real thing is weird-looking in the close-up of its spadix. But I found pix of how the leaves look in swaths, & it looks familiar. We probably had tons of it in the back woods near the stream.
 
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I would love to see it - and smell it. I am going to look for it the next time we go to Ryerson in Deerfield, which is where the article says it can be found.

Speaking of skunks, there are have been a lot around lately. My friend had 4 who lived under her shed, which is apparently common. We also had one under our porch. The are stinky little critters.
 
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