Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


0141. North Wales (Merioneth) and Welsh Borders (Montgomeryshire), in the early 1960s.  If you put your finger into a foxglove bell you can make a wish. Best to check for bees first!  The not-quite-open buds of foxglove can be banged with some force vertically into the palm of your hand to make a loud pop.  We used to call these poppers [e-mail, April 2020].

2. As children [in Wolverhampton] we used to call foxgloves bee-flowers because of their shape, bees can get right inside in order to collect lots of pollen.  Where I live now, Halesowen (also in the West Midlands), the children … also refer to foxgloves as bee-flowers [Cradley, West Midlands, October 2014].

3.  [1940s] Little girls especially like to pull the flowers from foxgloves and put them on their fingers, pretending they had long pretty fingernails [Tregaer, Monmouthshire, October 2013].

4. If white flowers occur in garden foxgloves there will be a death in the family [Holbeach, Lincolnshire, January 2004].

5. From my paternal grandparents, Joseph Beach (b. 1856), m. Jane (b. 1860) …
Snomper – or snowper (rhymes with cow) – foxglove. A favourite admonition to a noisy child: ‘Shut thee chops; thee bist like a bumble bee in a snowper.’ A favourite occupation in summer was to trap a bee in in a foxglove flower to hear it buzz angrily!
I have now passed my three score years and ten … Nectar was sucked from foxglove bells [Cinderford, Gloucestershire, November 1993].

6. Foxglove – popdock [St Ervan, Cornwall, February 1992].

7. Foxglove leaves were placed in children’s shoes and worn thus for a year, as a cure for scarlet fever – in Shropshire [Haynes, Bedfordshire, August 1984].

8. Picking foxgloves was unlucky and they were absolutely forbidden inside the house as this gave witches/the devil access to the house. Staffordshire (Tutbury), 1950s [Natural History Museum, London, May 1982].

Images: main, Easedale, Cumbria, May 2014; inset, Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent, June 2015.