Yesterday we kicked off Flower-ish Week here at Mer de Noms with some shrubbery, and today we’re onto a minty medicinal herb in the form of Betony.
The less-pretty official name for the plant is Stachys Officinalis, with it’s common name being Betony. Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, gave the plant the names betonica and vettonica, the name deriving from the Vettones tribe of people (who lived in modern-day mid-western Spain), whom he believed to use betony as a herbal medicine.
In the Language of Flowers, Betony is associated with surprise.
In folklore, the first reference to Betony occurs in the work of a Roman physician by the name Antonius Musa, who claimed it was effective in use against sorcery; this led betony to be planted in graveyards to prevent ghosts. As well as protection from evil, some of the ailments betony has been used to combat include anxiety, bad dreams and headaches.
The main pitfall with this name is the potentially problematic pronunciation as it’s BET-nee, whereas many may assume it to be three-syllables.
Then there’s the likelihood of people mishearing you and thinking little Betony is actually a Bethany; especially when you consider that Betony has never been used more than 3 times in any year since 1996. Another similar name is Betty, who ranks at #458, which could make a sweet nickname for Betony.
So, when it comes to Betony, if you’re looking for an unused gem, that’s good news and Betony is certainly one to consider. If not, well, there’s always Bethany, which in 2012 ranked at #73 in England&Wales.