Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. St John the Baptist church, Frome, Somerset, being decorated with branches of beech on Saturday 4 June, for Pentecost, Sunday 5 June 2022.  Traditionally birch, Betula pendula, was used for this purpose.

2. When I was a child in Hampshire, we were told not to eat too many beech nuts as they would give us a headache [Quaggy Waterways Action Group, London, May 2020].

3. I ate beech nuts as a young girl, I recall it being around my local area, so in Valentines Park in Ilford, South Park in Seven Kings, and Epping Forest [all in Essex] … I think this would have been (roughly) between 1984 and 1994 [Tooting, London, November 2014].

4. I remember my brothers teaching me to select and open beech mast, you could tell the ones worth the effort as they were firm and the empty ones flexed. I would have been 5-7 years old (pre 1952), and remember finding the mast rather drying to one’s mouth and with not a lot of flavour. However, as most things were still rationed, anything edible was a welcome addition to our diet [Elgin, Morayshire, June 2013].

0395. [Somerset, 1940s] Beechnuts – easy to thread using a needle and cotton. We made numerous necklaces until our families were sick of them. We then gave them to the pig [St Marychurch, Devon, August 2011].

6. When I was a child in Cornwall [?1940s] I used to eat young hawthorn leaves, which we called bread-and-butter, and young beech leaves [Natural History Museum, London, June 2011].

Images: main, planted, Tisbury, Wiltshire, May 2015; middle inset, Ripponden, West Yorkshire, September 2016; lower inset, cultivated, Misterton, Somerset, May 2015.