Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Cleavers

2014-07-12 13.24.101.  Known as Jack-in-the-hedge here in rural west Wexford [Donard, Co. Wexford, July 2017].

2.  In New Zealand we call the seeds of cleavers biddy-bids [Holland Park, London, June 2015].

3.  In New Zealand we used to call that [cleavers] pinweed [Tooting Common, London, May 2015].

4.  Goosegrass – known as robin-run-the-hedge in my maternal family from Donegal, northwest Ireland.  Used frequently by my mother (b.1951), grandmother (b.1920) and me! [Holland Park, London, June 2014].  Name also used in Co. Armagh in the 1960s [Sutton, Surrey, August 2014].

5. I spent most of my childhood in Cumbria, nearest city Carlisle … in the 1950s. Goosegrass … was sticky with burs and twined everywhere through the hedgerows, but ripping it up and chucking it at your friend’s retreating back meant, if it stuck, she had a boyfriend/admirer; if it fell away the hopes were dashed! [e-mail, January 2013].

6. Goosegrass/cleavers – fun can be had by playing a kind of tag game with them, you tag somebody with them and by the time they have removed them you have run a fair distance [Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, September 2011].

7. We have a cottage in Derbyshire and the garden has lots of cleavers which I drink as a spring tonic [Putney, London, March 2011].

8. I was born and bred in the house I still live in part of … We used to nibble shoots of goosegrass .. and we still feed to whole plant to our ducks [Muchelney, Somerset, January 2007].

9. [Shropshire, Mardu] Goosegrass: Clumps were made into rough balls and thrown at clothing. The number of stickers left on one’s clothing indicated the number of suitors one could expect. A tea made from the stalks and leaves, gargled will rid obstructions in the throat, even goitres and cancer [Newcastle-on-Clun, Shropshire. November 2004].

10. A Lincolnshire name for goosegrass: Sticky Jim [Tooting Common, London, July 2004].

11. In Ireland – in Dublin, where I come from – we call goosegrass sticky-backs [Holland Park, London, May 2004].

12. In Berkshire we used to call goosegrass fruits sweethearts [Barnehurst, Kent, August 2003].

13. I grew up in west Somerset between 1914 and 1939… local plant names … cly = goosegrass [Breage, Cornwall, October 1993].

14. [Kettering-Wellingborough-Raunds area, Northamptonshire] Galium aparine known … as mothers-in-law. Work out your own reasons [Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, November 1991].

15. Goosegrass (cleavers), Galium aparine. Thrown on a girl’s back. If it stuck without her being aware of it, she had a sweetheart. If she took it off and dropped it, it would form the initial of the sweetheart-to-be (Sussex/Kent, 1920s-30s) [Farnham, Surrey, December 1985].

Images:  main, Dartford, Kent, January 2015; inset, Faversham, Kent, July 2014.