Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


2014-04-19 18.56.511. 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, planted (?), Clapham Common, London Borough of Lambeth, April 2014; lower inset, Wrabness Nature Reserve, Essex, July 2018.