Clan MacLachlan Plant Badges

What Are The Plant Badges Used For?

The plant badge is believed to be a charm or magic plant that is carried beside the Clan standard or fixed on a staff or spear. It was also used as a form of identification. Clans folk can wear a sprig of the plant pinned behind the silver crest on their bonnet or sash-badge brooch.

The Clan MacLachlan plant badges are the Rowan Tree and the Lesser Periwinkle.

Rowan (or European Mountain Ash)


Rowan Tree
Sorbus Aucuparia


The Rowan tree was believed to be a more powerful charm against evil than any horseshoe. No bogle, no imp, no witch would dare come near the Rowan, tree and even the tiniest twig from the Rowan tree would ward off all the legions of hell. For this reason, it was grown near houses and castles. In addition, consumption of products made from the leaf and berries are said to increase one's psychic powers.

The plant was also used as an herbal medicine to treat fevers, diarrhea and sore throats.

Growing Rowan

The Rowan tree, Sorbus Aucuparia, is a close relative to the American Mountain Ash (Sorbus Americana).

The Rowan tree produces showy flat heads of creamy white flowers in the Spring which mature into clusters of red berries 8 to 12 inches across in the Fall. The tree is fairly fast growing and will widen as it ages.

The tree does best in cooler climates but will grow satisfactorily in most areas of the US (places with the coldest minimum temperatures averaging between -40 degrees F and 20 degrees F). It is a medium sized upright deciduous tree with deep roots. The Rowan tree will grow to 30 to 50 feet in height.

Herbal and Medicinal Uses

The bark of the Rowan tree was brewed as a tea as a treatment for diarrhea. It was also soaked in alcohol for a period to create an elixir that was used as a treatment for fevers.

Ripe Rowan berries can be gathered for use in making jam. They were also used to make an elixir, when simmered with tea, to treat sore throats and tonsillitis.



Lesser Periwinkle (or Lesser Myrtle)

Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca Minor)


Lesser Periwinkle, once called the sorcerer's violet, was believed to be a powerful charm against evil spirits. As such, it was often made into a crown for dead children at their burial thereby giving it its other common name - flower of death.

One should never bring fewer than seven blossoms into the house.

Growing Lesser Periwinkle

Lesser Periwinkle, Vinca Minor, is an evergreen creeper of the dogbane family. It makes an excellent ground cover with dark green foliage and purple, blue or white flowers (variety dependent). It blooms in April or May and sometimes again in the fall.

The plant grows to a height of about six inches and will spread to cover an area by sending out long trailing and rooting shoots. While the plant foliage is richer when grown in shade, it produces more flowers when grown in full sun.

It is most commonly used for underplanting trees and shrubs and on shaded slopes. Rooted plantings are nominally placed twelve to eighteen inches apart with complete coverage possible, based on a six inch spacing, within one year.

Herbal and Medicinal Uses

The above ground portions were brewed as a tea as a treatment for diarrhea, heavy menstruation and hemorrhages. In addition, the tea acts as a sedative and was used to treat hysteria, fits and nervous states.

A poultice of the herb was used to treat cramps. The leaves were used in salves to treat hemorrhoid inflammations. Chewing the plant would help relieve toothache.

The flowers were used in a syrup form as a laxative for children.

For More Information

For more information on these and other Scottish plant symbols, we recommend the following sources:

For more on Lesser Periwinkle, visit the Virtual Perspective Project of Ohio State University.

The Natural World from the Dalriadia Celtic Heritage Trust Folklore web pages.

A Druid's Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year, by Ellen Evert Hopman, Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont, USA, 1995, ISBN 0-89281-501-9.

Selecting Landscape Plants: Ground Covers, by Diane Relf and Bonnie Appleton, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Publication 426-609, VPI&SU, Blacksburg, VA, USA, 1996.

Reader's Digest Practical Guide to Home Landscaping, Reader's Digest Association, Pleasantville, NY, USA, 1972, ISBN 0-89577-005-9.

This site is maintained by the Clan MacLachlan Association of North America, Inc. This page was last updated on June 21, 2011.

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