Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. I grew up in  … Magadan, Russia …  I remember a daisy prophecy activity where a person pulls petals off a daisy, alternating ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with every petal with the answer given by the last petal left … Mainly utilised for seeking answers for trueness of a relationship.  Pretty harmless in comparison with Russian roulette [Sutton, Surrey,  September 2014].

2.  Common daisy (Bellis perennis): this plant is widespread in New Zealand, especially in lawns. It was commonly used through my school years in N.Z. (1960s-80s) to determine whether a boy loved you by pulling off single petals chanting ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ until you run out of petals. It is also still commonly used to make daisy chains, even among today’s teenagers, as see on a recent University undergraduate camp [University of Otago, New Zealand, October 2013].

3. Sometimes daisies have a drop of red in their centre and we said it was a drop of Jesus’s blood when he was dying on the cross [Patton, Cumbria, January 2013].

4. In the month of May used by children as a ‘necklace’ or ‘chain’ [Milltown, Co. Kerry, August 2009].

5. I was speaking to a lady from the Whitley Bay area who mentioned that daisies were worn on Empire Day, 24 May, when she was at school – probably during or after WW2 judging from her estimated age [Hexham, Northumberland, March 2001].

6. [c. 1952] as young girls at school we used to pick the petals from a daisy to see if the boy we liked was likely to be interested: He loves me, he loves me not … [Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, April 1997].

7. I’m a 77-year-old widow, who was brought up in an area with surrounding fields … In the past when we celebrated Empire Day at school [we] were expected to wear some daisies pinned to our chest or buttonhole. My sister and I would rise early to collect our dew-fresh ‘buttonhole daisies’, feeling proud as we walked to school waving a Union Jack!
We were told at school that the centre of the daisy represented Britain and the surrounding petals were the Empire!
We got [a] half-day holiday that day! [North Shields, North Tyneside, September 1996].

8. Daisy chains were made by children to hang round their necks. The end of each stalk was split a little way with the finger nail to make an opening big enough to poke the next daisy’s head through and so on until the chain was long enough to go round one’s neck [Worcester, October 1991].

9. Another recollection [of schooldays in the early 1920s] was of Empire Days, May 24 – lessons were excused and all sang patriotic songs – with the Town Mayor and Mayoress and governors come, all the girls wore daisy chains [Bridport, Dorset, February 1985].

Images: main, Poundbury, Dorchester, Dorset, April 2014; inset, daisy chain, Holland Park, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, April 2017, © Nino Brodin.