English superstitions blame toads for warts. Chris Stewart discovers that in Spain, the belief is that they cure them
If you have a wart and want to get rid of it, you have three options. Manolo, the hired hand, is an advocate of the toad method. You go down to the marsh and find yourself a toad.
You apprehend the toad and persuade it to bite your wart. This is not easy as toads are timid and not generally given to biting – although were the unfortunate creature aware of what’s about to go down, it might give you a good nip, just to get a little revenge.
When your toad has bitten the wart, you string it up from a handy tree.
According to Manolo, as the toad slowly withers and dies, twirling lonely upon its string, your wart should disappear.
Barbaric, you will say – and I’d agree. There must be an easier way. Fortunately there is.
Option number two is the old tried-and-tested method of taking a piece of prime beef, rubbing it on the wart and, on the night of full moon, burying it in the garden. The problem with this method is that it’s impossible to get good beef in Spain and on the odd occasion when you do find some, the last thing you want to do with it is rub it on your warts.
The best method is to use the milk of the caper spurge or, to be botanical, Euphorbia lathyris. The milk that certain plants exude when you cut them is often an irritant. The milk of the caper spurge is ferocious.
I had a hideous experience with this plant while out for a walk in the wilderness in Spain. For some reason which now escapes me, I felt suddenly constrained to obey an urgent call of nature. This I did and, casting about among the thorny scrub for the wherewithal to effect a hygienic conclusion to my discomfiture, I was relieved to discover a temptingly lush, green caper spurge. I plucked the plant and applied it to my person.
There was no immediate ill effect, but little by little, and more with each pace, I began to be aware of why the rocket hurtles into space – in order to escape the burning sensation in its arse. My wife, who was accompanying me upon this ill-starred expedition, emerged in her true colours and found herself quite overcome with unbefitting hilarity.
But back to the import of the piece. If, every time you pass a caper spurge – or a fig for that matter – you break off a leaf and apply the milk to your wart, say three or four times a day, within a week it will be gone. I’ve tried this and it works. And it’s easier on the toad population.
Chris Stewart is the author of Driving Over Lemons and A Parrot in the Pepper Tree. He lives in a farmhouse in the Alpujarras, Spain
Main Image: Male toad in water (Shutterstock)