Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Withenay's Wednesday Word - a series about words and their meanings. 
Sometimes the word is chosen because I like it, sometimes because it is unusual, sometimes because I have heard or read it in the previous week; often because that is just where the dictionary took me. Together we can expand our vocabulary, inch by inch (or maybe letter by letter). Your challenge is to invent a sentence in the comments box that includes it.

tropical American plant (a noun)
from Latin contra against and herba a herb

Floating through the dictionary I came across contrayerva. My attention was drawn to it as it is a tropical American plant of the mulberry family. With publication of In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree imminent anything that mentions mulberries grabs my attention!

This particular plant was once believed to be an antidote to poisons. I do wonder how they tested this, and exactly what poisons it counteracted.  Unfortunately my copy of Culpeper's Complete Herbal doesn't list it... but then, he did write it in 1633. Having said that, wikipedia tells me that a Dr Nathaniel Hodges listed it as a main ingredient of a successful recipe in his treatise on the Great Plague of London about 30 years later.

Here is a picture that I think Culpeper and Hodges would have appreciated.

Picture credits:
Photo -
Print - Amos Jade @

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