What Is A Clan Plant Badge?
A Highland clan plant badge is a sprig of a plant, specific to each clan, that is used to identify a member of the clan. It is usually worn in a bonnet behind a crest badge or attached at the shoulder of a lady’s tartan sash. According to popular lore, plant badges were used by Scottish clans as a means of identification in battle.
Every Scottish Highland clan has their own wild plant badge. The plant badge is symbolic of the clan’s homeland, which the clan’s warriors defended with their lives. The wearing of the plant badge was an essential lucky charm, thought to offer the magical protection of the land herself.
What Is The Clan MacFarlane Plant Badge?
Many clans chose plants common to their own ground like heather or pine. Others used herbs, subartic moss or gras. Cranberry is the plant badge of the Clan MacFarlane.
The Crest of the International Clan MacFarlane Society granted by the court of the Lord Lyon on the year 2000, depicts a demi savage brandishing a broadsword in his sinister (right) hand, and a sprig of cranberry in his dexter (left) hand with the motto: “This We’ll Defend”. The sprig of cranberry is a symbol of the Clan MacFarlane’s native homelands and the clan’s heritage.
What Is A Cranberry?
Cranberries are small fruit that grow on evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines. The various variets belong to the subgenus oxycoccus of the genus vaccinium.
Vaccinium oxycoccos is a flowering plant in the heath family and is cultivated in central and northern Europe. Its cousin, vaccinium macrocarpon, is cultivated throughout the northern United States, Canada and Chile. Thus, in Scotland, cranberry refers to the native species vaccinium oxycoccos, while in North America, cranberry refers to vaccinium macrocarpon.
The cranberry is also known as small cranberry, bog cranberry, swamp cranberry, but, particularly in Scotland, it is just known as cranberry. It is widespread and grows quite well in the cool temperatures of the northern hemisphere.
Cranberries are edible and have been used both as a medicine and as a food by various Native American communities. Some Iñupiat cook the cranberry with fish eggs and blubber.
The plant easily colonises bog habitat that has recently burned. It survives fire with its underground rhisomes.
Michael MacFarlane, FSAScot