Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Daffodil

1. Near Roewen in the Conwy Valley [Gwynedd] there is a place called Daffodil Mountain where tiny wild daffodils grow … When I was a child [1960s] the locals used to sweep out the tiny church (used as a sheep shelter in winter) and work together to decorate it with wild daffodils and pussy willow [Salix caprea] (when available) for Palm Sunday. Every one of the graves in the churchyard was also decorated with primroses [Primula vulgaris] and daffodils [Childwall, Liverpool, April 2013].

2. I’ve heard that the Romans brought daffs to this country and the legionaries would carry a bulb around with them to eat and kill themselves if necessary, like a cyanide pill [Haywards Heath, West Sussex, February 2013].

3. [Newcastle-on-Clun area, Shropshire] Never good weather until the daffodils have died [Sandiway, Cheshire, October 2004].

4. Fields known as ‘The Channels’ in Eardisley, Herefordshire, were famed for daffs when I was a schoolgirl, pre World War II. They were picked in abundance and sold at Hay-on-Wye market just prior to Palm Sunday. Welsh dealers from the valleys bought them and they were used on graves on what the Welsh then called Flowering Sunday. Welsh families in Whitney-on-Wye, where I lived, made a great effort to wash tombstones, clip grass and generally tidy family graves and dress them with bunches of daffodils [Gullane, East Lothian, February 1997].

5. Prince Charles is paid one daffodil annually as rent for the untenanted lands of Scilly – paid by the local Environmental Trust [St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, September 1992].

6. During the World War, 1914-18, there was a large camp of Australian soliders at Fovant, Wilts. Many died during the flu epidemic of 1918; they were buried in a nearby churchyard. Since that date to the present time local schoolchildren on a certain day each year lay a single daffodil on each grave [Pimperne, Dorset, January 1992; enquiries in 1994 produced no memories of this practice].

7. ‘Unlucky to take daffodils into the house before the goslings are hatched.’ Atholl Wilson, brought up in Port St Mary/Cregneash area, now in [his] 70s, spring 1982 [Manx Museum, Isle of Man, April 1983].

7. I have lived in Berkshire for many years, and learned these names as a child …
Lenten lilies – Narcissus pseudonarcissus [Highclere Street, Berkshire, February 1982].

Images: main, cultivated, Crewkerne, Somerset, February 2014; inset, wild daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, cultivated, Bute Park, Cardiff, March 2017.