Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Welcome to Plant-lore Archive

0252 Nettle RV (2)Plant-lore Archive has grown from the Folklore Society’s ‘Survey of Unlucky Flowers’ which was conducted in the early 1980s. It now holds over 6,860 items of information from approximately 1,740 contributors, and a large number of press-cuttings, off-prints, photographs and other material. The Archive covers all aspects of the folklore and traditional uses of plants, and although previously published material is of interest, the emphasis is on contemporary (i.e. current and remembered) beliefs and practices.

Therefore information is sought concerning:

  • Traditional beliefs concerning plants (for example, the belief that certain flowers cause bad luck if taken indoors)
  • Local names of plants
  • Plants and plant materials used in traditional customs and religious festivals
  • Herbal remedies
  • Sayings, riddles, tales and legends concerning plants
  • Traditional times for sowing and harvesting crops, and practices associated with the cultivation of plants
  • Plants used for foretelling the future
  • Children’s games and pastimes which use plants
  • Wild plants gathered for food
  • Other traditional uses of plants

Information from all parts of the British Isles, ethnic groups settled in the British Isles, and comparative material from overseas is welcome, no matter how widespread and well-known it might be. A copy of all the material received will eventually be placed in the care of the library of The Natural History Museum. Please send any information and other correspondence using this website, or to: Roy Vickery, 9 Terrapin Court, Terrapin Road, London, SW17 8QW.

Image: compiler, Roy Vickery, discussing stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) while leading a plant-lore walk, Beddington Farmlands, London Borough of Sutton, 30 August 2014, © Maeve Tomlinson.

Updated 1 October 2014.