This month’s flower is not exclusively connected with gay men but to all men generally. However, given the special properties the flower is said to bestow, and the apocryphal reputation for gay men being obsessed with sex, it only seems natural to mention it.
The flower’s name says it all – lad’s love.
All through history this plant (botanical name Artemisia abrotanum) has been recognised as a great help to men in demonstrating their masculinity. And by that I don’t just mean in the bedroom. Young men in ancient Roman times thought that rubbing fresh leaves of this plant on their faces would help them grow a beard faster, thereby reaching full manhood quicker.
Lad’s love is one of the common English medieval names for this plant, as is another name use since those times – Maid’s ruin! From this its no surprise to learn that it was used by men to help improve their sexual prowess, and what women thought about it! Both the ancient Greeks and Romans put sprigs of it under their beds to help their love-making, though whether it was just the men who placed it there without the women’s knowledge isn’t recorded.
It wasn’t long before medieval men were making or buying love potions made from it, and sprigs of lad’s love were often included in bouquets given by men to the girl of their desire in the hope it would encourage romance. This is rather strange, because according to medieval lore women also used to carry posies of lad’s love with them into church to stop them falling asleep! So perhaps the young men used lad’s love to stop their girlfriends from falling asleep in bed as well! It seems that the plant has always had a more beneficial effect on a man than a woman.
But, then again, the celebrated 17th century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper wrote that lad’s love would help women at a certain time of the month as well.
Bearing this in mind it would have been a natural plant to use by gay men – a plant that increases your virility and appeal. It would have the same effect on the man’s partner – and stop him from falling asleep as well perhaps!
Scientifically speaking, lad’s love isn’t known to have any proven effect on the hormonal activity of either men or women, but it is said that if included in salads and pastries it can help digestion.
If it can be proved that lad’s love can improve a man’s virility we may have found a cheaper alternative to viagra!