Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. My grandfather used to collect stems of broom from the garden to make besom brooms for sweeping leaves and debris. They were very effective [Childwall, Liverpool, April 2013].

2. Memories of my childhood in the 1950s … My mum would never let me bring lilac, gorse, or broom into the house and they were bad luck; I never got the full story [Tamworth, Staffordshire, May 2012].

3. In southern Scotland it is considered unlucky to take broom into the house.
In northern Scotland it was used in making a bridal staff to be kept in a bride’s house overnight before a wedding. It was said to enhance fertility.
There is a legend that ripe broom pods popping open alerted the Blessed Virgin Mary to the presence of Herod’s men and so helped her to save the baby Jesus [Gullane, East Lothian, February 1997].

4. I was born in Reepham, Norfolk, in 1925 … ‘When the bloom has left the broom, then love has left the land.’ It was said that no matter what the month a wild broom somewhere in England would produce a bloom; I have often found blooms on the broom out of its flowering season of May/June/July [Luton, Bedfordshire, January 1997].

5 If you plant broom, you will never see it bloom [Cong, Co. Mayo, January 1992].

6. One of my great-uncles would not allow broom flowers indoors. His family came from Aberdeen, he was brought up in East Anglia, and lived in Bournemouth [Manx Museum, Isle of Man, December 1982].

Images main, beside Derwent Water, Keswick, Cumbria, May 2015; upper inset, Epping Forest, London Borough of Redbridge, April 2021; lower inset, Wrabness Nature Reserve, Essex, July 2018.