Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Ash

2014-10-18 13.10.151. If the oak is out before the ash be for sure we’re in for a splash,
If the ash is out before the oak then we will be in for a soak
[Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, October 2004].

2. I grew up in Desborough, Northamptonshire, in the 1920s … Children made Rowell-Fair walking sticks. These were made from straight unbranched young ash stems. Bark was removed all around the stem for about 2 inches, and this was repeated all down the stem at 2 inch intervals, giving quite an attractive effect [Robertsbridge, East Sussex, June 2003].

0233. Ash faggot, bound with willow – burn at Christmas and drink the health of absent friends [Kingsbridge, Devon, April 1999].

4. Ringworm was more common in my childhood, especially on farms where different animals were kept. A remedy resorted to was to burn ash twigs in a tin box or similar container, and allow the smoke from the smouldering twigs to envelope the affected part – usually arms, neck or face [Larne, Co. Antrim, October 1993].

5. Ash leaves used to be pickled in salt and vinegar and used in salads [Barnstaple, Devon, October 1993].

6. The smoke from a burnt ash twig is a traditional remedy for ringworm [Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Co. Down, December 1991].

7. The sap of a young ash sapling was used to cure earache. A sapling was cut and put into a fire. One end was kept out so that when the stick started to burn the sap came out the end and was caught on a spoon. This could be put on cotton wool and put into the ear.
A forked ash stick was used by diviners to find springs [Daingean, Co. Offaly, January 1985].

Images: main, London Road Cemetery, Mitcham, London Borough of Merton, January 2014; upper inset, Victoria Park, Leicester, October 2014; lower inset, miniature ashen faggot made in 2000, the Squirrel Inn, Laymore, Dorset, where the custom of burning an ashen faggot on 6 January was revived in 1974, January 2015. [February 2016:  The Squirrel is currently closed being renovated for reopening in March, but it was temporarily opened for one night in January for a faggot to be burnt].