Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Ivy-leaved toadflax

1. The name my mother used for Cymbalaria muralis – she always called it ruin and I grew up knowing it was such.  I think her mother used the name too.  My mother was brought up in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and it was there that she taught me the name –  that would have been in the late 1960s or early 1970s, I didn’t know it as anything else until much later.  Of course in French it is called Ruine de Rome, but we have no French ancestry [e-mail, January 2020].

2. I and my forebears have lived in West Sussex for many generations. I have always taken a great interest in wild flowers, as did my mother before me; a few of the old names linger in my memory:
ivy-leaved toadflax = roving sailor [Birdham, West Sussex, June 1993].

0053. He [boy aged c.11] explained that ivy-leaved toadflax was called wall rabbits, and picked a bloom, turned it upside down, and squeezed it to demonstrate how the flower resembled a rabbit’s head [Abbotsbury, Dorset, May 1983].

4. Wildflower names used in Wiltshire …
Mother-of-thousands – ivy-leaved toadflax [Rowde, Wiltshire, February 1982].

Images: main, Ambleside, Cumbria, May 2014; inset, Castle grounds, Norwich, Norfolk, April 2016.