Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1.  My friend from north Norfolk [b. late 1930s] remembered … from her childhood ‘When gorse is in flower, kissing’s in season’ [Lichfield, Staffordshire, April 2015].

2.  We used to pick gorse flowers to dye our Easter eggs.  That was in north London [Balham, London, July 2004].

3. For kissing there’s room, when the gorse is in bloom
– that’s Yorkshire [Tooting Common, London, March 1999].

2014-11-27 13.34.314. Kissing is out of season when the gorse is out of bloom. 1930s, Midlands [New Malden, Surrey, January 1998].

5. Gorse was used in Westmorland for sweeping chimneys. Take a convenient sized bush, tie a brick to the stem, climb up to the chimney (all our old cottages have ridge steps) and drop it down. Makes a glorious mess [Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, October 1996].

6. Fuzz moots = root of furze. We used to pull them up and take them home to burn in the kitchen range. My mother preferred them to coal as they burnt with a lovely hot clean flame. This would be around 1935 [Martinstown, Dorset, May 1991].

7. [1950s] At the first school I attended, in Hampshire, children were afraid to touch gorse flowers, because they believed that dragons lived (or were born) in them [Natural History Museum, London, October 1979].

Images: main, South West Coast Path between Port Isaac and Rock, Cornwall, March 2014; inset, Howth, Fingal, November 2014.