Spanish Needles–A Pesky Plant or a Home Remedy?

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, December 9, 1912: Get in the Spanish Needles and had to pick them off of my clothes.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Spanish Needles are so annoying—

I have often gotten Spanish Needles on my clothes, but  when I read this diary entry  I couldn’t picture what the plants looked like . I never seem to notice the pesky plant until after tiny barbs are embedded in my cloths.

I googled Spanish Needle and discovered that it is part of the Astor family. There are several different closely related plants that are called Spanish Needle. Some have yellow flowers. . others have white flowers.

Spanish Needles (Source: Wikipedia)

Spanish Needles (Source: Wikipedia)

Grandma probably was just distracted and bumped against the Spanish Needle plants, but there’s a slim possibility that she was trying to gather Spanish Needle leaves (Are the leaves still on the plants in December?) to make tea and got the needles on her clothes.

For the past week or so, Grandma’s been sick with a bad cold and sore throat—and Spanish Needles are an old-fashioned remedy.

Its leaves are chewed for sore throat or boiled to make a tea that is said to help with upper-respiratory infections.

Our Local Life: What We Need is Here

13 Responses

  1. Another thought. Maybe they had some Spanish Needle plants hanging up to dry that they had gathered earlier in the year. I know that dried herbs and plants were often stored this way for when they were later needed.

  2. I sure hope that tea worked for her!

  3. Never heard of Spanish needles before. I may seen them and thought they were dandelions grown big and rangy. What a fine tribute this site is to your Grandma!

  4. Never heard of them – that was interesting.

  5. I have been covered with these thru the years, but never knew the name. Wonder what that tea would taste like? I look forward to what she wrote about Christmas!

  6. Onsunnyside ~be sure to report back on the tea if you try it :)

  7. eeeck. That’s akin to child abuse LOL…what about a hot rum toddy? That’s suppose to work and would taste a little better.

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