I was acquainted with shamrocks when a little girl. The sweet sour taste didn’t convince me it was something delicious, especially when it was given to me as a wound remedy.
Whenever I suffered from mouth ulcers, my grandmother (RIP) squeezed shamrock leaves on her palm until soft. She then put the soft mix in my mouth with a drop of honey and ordered me to chew it. It wasn’t something a young girl fancied chewing, regardless of the sharp taste being concealed in honey sweetness.
Years later, while living in Ireland, I came to know the shamrock as a symbol of the country. It is also linked to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who used it as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost). According to the Irish lore, the four leaf clover is considered a good luck symbol due to its rarity.
On a recent forest walk with my mother in Germany, I pointed at a shamrock and began telling of this Celtic symbol. She listened appraisingly. Then she reminded me. The shamrock was used as a wound healer and is good for stopping blood. In her Chagga dialect (language of Kilimanjaro) it is known as ngyambi. I had forgotten!
I couldn’t wait for the next forest visit to show off to the lawyer of my renewed knowledge: the wound healing properties of the shamrock.