One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A dwarf Eurasian elder with a strong, unpleasant smell and berries yielding a blue dye.
Sambucus ebulus, family Caprifoliaceae
- ‘The dwarf elder or Danewort (supposed to have been introduced into Britain by the Danes), S. Ebulus, a common European species, reaches a height of about 6 ft.’
- ‘What will remain uppermost in the mind are surely the banks of dwarf elder Sambucus ebulus, also known as danewort, with their hordes of nectaring Hairstreaks.’
- ‘The name danewort originates from a belief that it is found only on sites where battles took place between the English and the Danes, as the plant grew from the blood of Danish soldiers.’
- ‘Following their re-emergence in early spring, the mature peacock butterflies feed on flowering sallows, dandelions, wild marjoram, danewort and clover fields.’
- ‘Its old names, Danewort and Walewort (wal-slaughter) are supposed to be traceable to an old belief that it sprang from the blood of slain Danes - it grows near Slaughterford in Wilts, that being the site of a great Danish battle.’
Early 16th century: so named from the folklore that the plant sprang up where Danish blood was spilt in battle.
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