Musings, ramblings and a little bit of plant lore

Can you remember as a child, someone holding a buttercup flower under your chin to see if you liked butter or blowing dandelion seed heads to tell the time or maybe to attract the person that you were attracted to?

It’s amazing what pops into my head when I’m traveling long distances on the train!

On a recent journey to Leeds from North Wales, whilst staring out of the window I started to think about my childhood and growing up in the countryside and about the plant lore my grandparents used to talk about.

The history of plants, their uses and plant lore has always fascinated me since I was a child. So much so that it has led me to interests in agroforestry, forest gardens and even a thesis on the import and conservation of medicinal plants in the UK.  On talking about this over dinner with family we began to reminisce further about plant lore and sayings and so this blog was hastily put together to record some of these stories and sayings.

One story I remember from my grandmother was about eating young Hawthorn leaves and how they were supposed to taste like bread and butter with cheese, or as she used to say “a little bit of bread and no cheese” having eaten young Hawthorn leaves, they definitely don’t taste like bread and cheese!

Another story related to my gran being chased out of her house because she had brought in the flowers from Lady’s Smock / Cuckoo flower. The reason being was that it’s a fairy flower and bad things would happen if they stayed in the house!

Going back to my own school days I fondly remember throwing clumps of cleavers not the backs of fellow pupils (or teachers!) or finding them on my own clothing. The story goes that each clump that stuck to someone was the number of boyfriends / girlfriends they had or if non stuck to you then it just got worse……

If anyone watches the Harry potter films, there is a sequence where the young mandrakes have to be potted up and start to scream – white bryony is also said to scream when removed from the ground and is sometimes called false mandrake by mistake.

To end on, a little bit more plant lore and we would be interested to hear of any sayings / plant lore / memories you have  some please comment below.

  • If you pick a speedwell flower, your mums’ eyes will fall out’
  • ‘Daisies keep fairies from your garden’ – hence the wearing of daisy chains to protect people
  • ‘Taking a foxglove onto a boat was considered bad luck’
  • ‘A droopy daffodil is a foreteller of death!’

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