Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Large bindweed

1. My mother, a child during World War 2, used to say ‘Nanny goat, nanny goat – pop out of bed!’ whilst squeezing the base of a large white bindweed flowers and making them jump off the stem.  She lived in S.E. London and I remember doing the same thing to them as a child as they still grew in the same railway fence [e-mail, July 2016].

2.  [Parkstone, Dorset, 1960s] Convolvulus flowers: We used to say ‘Granny, granny, pop out of bed’. Dad was a Londoner, not sure if it was him or mum (from Dorset) who taught us what to say when popping out the flower. It was, however, just about impossible to pass a fence covered in flowers without popping them, and impossible not to say the rhyme while doing so! [Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, August 2013].

3. Wildflower nicknames heard in this part of Buckinghamshire …
Granny-pop-out-of-beds – white bindweed; when the calyx is pinched from below, the corolla pops out! [Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, September 2012].

4. [Southeast London, 1950s] Bindweed – not the weedy things we know today, but masses of lovely white trumpets – known as poor-man’s lilies [London, May 2011].

5. We were intrigued recently, visiting our grandchildren in Waterlooville in Hampshire, who were playing with the flowers of bindweed (Calystegia sepium). By squeezing the calyx with their fingers they were making the flower head pop off, and as they did so they were reciting a rhyme ‘Lazy Maisy jump out of bed’. My wife comes from Sussex and, like me, had never heard this before, so we assume it is very local to that part of Hampshire [Horley, Surrey, January 1999].

6. When you squeeze the green bit at the bottom of a convolvulus flower saying ‘Granny pop out of bed’ the white petals pop off. This came from my mother and aunt in London [Hampstead, London, September 1987].

Image: Holland Park, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London; June 2014.