from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In European folk-lore, a plant to which various magical virtues were attributed, among them that of drawing down the lightning and dividing the storm: identified by Grimm with the caperspurge, Euphorbia Lathyris.
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Here the rod derives its marvellous properties from the enclosed springwort, but in many cases a leaf or flower is itself competent to open the hillside.
The springwort, whose marvellous powers we have noticed in the case of the Ilsenstein shepherd, is obtained, according to Pliny, by stopping up the hole in a tree where a woodpecker keeps its young.
Here, then, we have a large and motley group of objects -- the forked rod of ash or hazel, the springwort and the luck-flower, leaves, worms, stones, rings, and dead men's hands -- which are for the most part competent to open the way into cavernous rocks, and which all agree in pointing out hidden wealth.
The bird flies away, and presently returns with the springwort, which it applies to the plug, causing it to shoot out with a loud explosion.
So, thinking she meant that he had not taken enough, he filled his hat also; but what she meant was his staff with the springwort, which he had laid against the wall as soon as he stepped in.
In German legend, "a shepherd, who was driving his flock over the Ilsenstein, having stopped to rest, leaning on his staff, the mountain suddenly opened, for there was a springwort in his staff without his knowing it, and the princess [Ilse] stood before him.
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