My friend Andrew sent me a packet of seeds he’d picked up at the 2014 Chelsea Flower Show in London. It was a “woodland” mix (for “dappled shade” – just what I’m after to plant in a new bed in fall). I recognized most of the plants in the packet – buttercup, columbine, two sorts of foxglove, pasque flower, betony and prunella (known also as “self-heal” and renowned for its abilities to, among other things, clear up herpes).

The one I’d never heard of is Creeping Crosswort (Phuopsis Crucianella stylosa).

Phuopsis_stylosa__Crosswort_

Apparently, Creeping Crosswort is not often encountered in gardens because it smells like skunk (not to be mistaken for marijuana, which is sometimes called skunkweed and can have a similar fragrance). But it also loves hot dry areas with lousy soil and is useful as a groundcover on slopes. Aside from that, I can find no references to it as a healing herb or any history of its use. This is odd, since the suffix wort (pronounced wert) – from the Old English wyrt or root — seems to be most common in the names used as food or medicine (for example, butterwort and woundwort).

I asked my husband what creeping crosswort might have been used for. My husband is not a botanist, so this is the answer he gave me:

Creeping Crosswort Acrostic

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