The fern Botrychium Lunaria, or Moonwort, was held to have a strong effect on metal. Its popular name was 'Unshoe the horse' as it was believed to draw the nails out of the shoes of any horse that trod on it, and a story is told by Culpeper and others to back it up: 'I have heard commanders say, that on the White Down in Devonshire, near Tiverton, there were found thirty horse shoes, pulled off from the feet of the Earl of Essex's horses, being there drawn up in a body, many of them being but newly shod, and no reason known, which caused much admiration ...' (Culpeper's Complete Herbal and English Physician (1653), 163; 1826 edn., 98-9). Moonwort's other, more use-fill, attribute is that if put into a keyhole it will open the lock. Opie and Tatem given references to these beliefs back to 1591.
   ■ Opie and Tatem, 1989: 266; N&Q 11s:7 (1913), 108, 177.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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  • Moonwort — Moon wort (m[=oo]n w[^u]rt ), n. (Bot.) (a) The herb lunary or honesty. See {Honesty}. (b) Any fern of the genus {Botrychium}, esp. {Botrychium Lunaria}; so named from the crescent shaped segments of its frond. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • moonwort — [mo͞on′wʉrt΄] n. 1. any of a genus (Botrychium, family Ophioglossaceae) of ferns bearing a leafy part that is divided into sterile and fertile segments 2. HONESTY (sense 2) …   English World dictionary

  • Moonwort — Taxobox name = Moonwort image width = 240px image caption = Botrychium lunaria regnum = Plantae divisio = Pteridophyta classis = Psilotopsida ordo = Ophioglossales familia = Ophioglossaceae genus = Botrychium genus authority = Sw. subdivision… …   Wikipedia

  • moonwort — Honesty Hon es*ty, n. [OE. honeste, oneste, honor, OF. honest[ e], onest[ e] (cf. F. honn[^e]tet[ e]), L. honestas. See {Honest}, a.] 1. Honor; honorableness; dignity; propriety; suitableness; decency. [Obs.] Chaucer. [1913 Webster] She derives… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • moonwort — Lunaria Lunaria prop. n. A small genus of European herbs of the mustard family, including the herb {honesty} ({Lunaria annua}), which is also called {moonwort} and {lunary}. Syn: genus {Lunaria}. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • moonwort — noun of America and Eurasia and Australia • Syn: ↑common moonwort, ↑Botrychium lunaria • Hypernyms: ↑grape fern …   Useful english dictionary

  • moonwort — /moohn werrt , wawrt /, n. 1. any fern of the genus Botrychium, esp. B. lunaria, a rare fern having fronds with crescent shaped leaflets. 2. honesty (def. 4). [1570 80; MOON + WORT2] * * * …   Universalium

  • moonwort — muːnwÉœrt / wɜːt n. (also known as grape fern) any of various ferns of the genus Botrychium …   English contemporary dictionary

  • moonwort — [ mu:nwə:t] noun a fern with a single small frond of crescent shaped lobes and a separate spore producing spike. [Genus Botrychium.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • moonwort — /ˈmunwɜt/ (say moohnwert) noun 1. any fern of the genus Botrychium, especially B. lunaria, whose fronds have crescent shaped pinnae. 2. → honesty (def. 4). {moon + wort2} …   Australian English dictionary