Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Broad bean

OXFBA 0821. [Newcastle-on-Clun area, Shropshire] broad beans should be planted on the shortest day [Sandiway, Cheshire, October 2004].

2. The furry inside of broad bean pods, when rubbed on warts, can cure them [Wormshill, Kent, May 2003].

3. I can remember just one country cure that my grandmother used – she had a large family (10 children) and five were boys. As they grew up, from time to time they had barber’s rash – a condition which one never hears about nowadays – maybe with electric shavers, etc., it doesn’t occur!
However, my grandmother found a cure which was soothing and cooling, etc. – it was the inside layer of a broad bean pod – which as you know is soft and cool. Just rub over the face and the rash disappeared quickly! Whenever I have broad beans and prepare them and throw away the pods, I think of grandmother – would they help other types of rash or skin irritations? [Bramley, Surrey, August 2002].

4. A cure I found useful in my own family on several occasions is for warts – the ones that appear on hands. Rub the furry inside of a broad bean case on the wart two or three nights running, and they simply shrivel and disappear [Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, 2002].

5. I remember when working on a farm near Thetford beans were sown on the field beside our row of cottages. It was a common chant to me as they grew and flowered giving off their delicious scent that ‘It wouldn’t be long before the missus was calving’. It had no effect on me I must say. The chant came from the young owners who were Suffolk bred people [West Stow, Suffolk, January 1991].

Images: main, Balham market, London Borough of Wandsworth, July 2014; upper inset, cultivated as a field crop, Aston, Oxfordshire, May 2016; lower inset, world champion heaviest broad bean pod, at the CANNA UK National Giant Vegetables Championship, part of the Malvern Autumn Show, at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire, 24-26 September 2021.