Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


0221. My father’s family have lived in the same part of Warwickshire, the villages of Tysoe and Brailles since at least the late fifteenth century …  We were a bit frightened of the common butterbur colony near us, because we were told it was poisonous.  Didn’t stop us making dens in it, it seemed so vast!  I went back there a few years ago and it seemed so small! [London, EC1, November 2018].

2. [Mardu, Shropshire] Butterbur leaves used as umbrellas, quite effectively and used like a fan to twirl around the head to keep biting flies off in the hayfield, especially horseflies; [placed] inside shoes for sore feet [Newcastle-on-Clun, Shropshire, 4November 2004].

3. I remember as a child having a … cream made from butterbur and applied to spots and sores [Cotherstone, Co. Durham, April 1994].

4. A number of victims of the plague were buried in Veryan churchyard, on their graves nothing but plaguewort – butterbur – will grow [St Ervan, Cornwall, February 1992].

Images: main, Wiki Commons; upper inset, River Derwent between Baslow and Calver, Derbyshire, July 2015; lower inset, beside River Wandle, Richmond Green, Beddington, London Borough of Sutton, March 2021.