Bistort gets its name from the Latin description of its twisted roots, twice twisted. Bent in two places, the roots are a strange S shape. As you can imagine, it has also acquired names such as Adderwort, Snakeweed, Dragonwort (my favourite) and Twice Writhen. It looks pretty innocuous in the grass at the side of the road, not at all the sort of plant that you might assume would keep the company of dragons, or even one so extrovert as to writhe about in public.
Things are not at all as they seem though. Powdered Bistort root is just the thing to have around, if you have something that needs exorcism on your hands. I had a chat with Google about exorcising – you never know when that sort of thing can come in handy – and he came up with any number of interesting details. To start with, watching ‘That Movie’ is not much good as a training ground. Other points to bear in mind: Don’t challenge the demons directly and don’t start chatting with them either as they will wheedle their way out of anything. If you’re going in for sprinkling Holy Water then a little powdered Bistort root mixed in it will increase its efficacy. (Or perhaps its Holiness?) Hint: It could be a good idea to sprinkle yourself first, just in case.
Currently, my inner demons do little worse than write this blog, an occasional children story, and a poem now and again, so were’re learning to live with each other.
Bistort, leaf, flower and root is edible, but contains oxalic acid, bad news for people with gout. So, all in all, it’s in no danger from me.