You could be forgiven for not noticing vervain (verbana officianlis). It’s not a showy look-at-me plant but its candelabra-like stems and circles of tiny pinky/mauve flowers give it a delicate, beguiling appeal. For such a small, almost modest herb, however, it has a wealth of herb lore and myths surrounding it. Romans used it to decorate the altars of temples to Venus, goddess of love. Persian Magi thought it gave the gift of prophecy while Greek priests sewed it into clothes to protect on journeys. One of its names is ‘herb of the cross’ and it was thought to have staunched Christ’s wounds on the cross at Calvary. To Druids, it was one of the most important of their nine sacred herbs, used in protection healing and charms. And if you’re a fan of Twilight series it keeps away the vampires! Many people still plant vervain to bring protection to the home and get rid of negative vibes. It is thought to “bring help whenever you need it”, a lovely thought. Its leaves are used in eye baths and you can also make a poultice to treat wounds and speed up healing. Young leaves can be dried or used fresh in teas which help to relax nerves, promote rest and get rid of headaches and is also used by women to relieve symptoms of painful periods. It should not be taken if pregnant.