Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Hogweed

0201. All my traceable ancestors from Dorset all carried out rural occupations, I grew up in Lytchett Minster, and we always used alrot to describe this plant [hogweed] that we used [c. 1960] to pick for rabbit food [e-mail, December 2018]

2.  Mothers-die.  We used to cut the shoots to make peashooters.  Mum would never put it in the house. When we were kids and had a row with mum we would pick some and hide it in the house, then wake up screaming that we’d killed mum [Northwich, Cheshire, June 2018; images of plant sent and identified].

3. I grew up in South Manchester in an area that was a new-build estate.  I was born in 1955.  As kids we called hogweed mother-die (if you brought it into the house your mother would die!) [e-mail, January 2018].

4.  In the Midlands Heracleum is mother-die [Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, August 2003].

5. My mother back in Ireland used to use wild plants for all sorts of things. I remember this plant [hogweed] she used to gather and give to cows for rheumatism – they go down with it in winter. … She used to boil it up in water and give it to them; it kept the rheumatism at bay [Wandsworth Common, London, March 1998].

Images: main, Stonegate, East Sussex;  inset, Baslow, Derbyshire, both July 2015.