Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1.  [Salisbury, Wiltshire, 1970s]  we called lungwort William-and-Mary [e-mail, May 2021].

2. I always heard lungwort being called ladies-and-gentlemen, due to the flower colour, from my Geordie stepfather, who had it growing in his garden; he was a non-botanist [e-mail, February 2021].

3. In Avebury in Wiltshire in the very early 1960s I was told lungwort was called Mary-and-Joseph because of its pink and blue flowers – and the white splashes on the leaves were Mary’s tears [e-mail, May 2020].

4. As a child in the 1970s I was told to pluck the flowers of lungwort and suck the white tip to taste the nectar.  My mum was born 1930 in Croydon, she told me this [Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, April 2015].

5.  Lungwort = Jerusalem cowslips [Newport, Isle of Wight, September 2011].

6. In the Peak District lungwort was often called soldiers-and-sailors because blue and pink flowers occurred on the same flower stem. Here is S. Lincs lungwort tends to be mainly pink-flowered and is either known by some totally unique family name given by the grower, or referred to as ‘that funny thing with the spotted leaf’ [Holbeach, Lincolnshire, January 2004].

2014-07-15 17.23.007. Local names for plants …. soldiers-and-sailors – Pulmonaria [Wormshill, Kent, May 2003].

8. Random recollections of plant-lore I have encountered over my life-time – mainly in south Wales. I am now almost 79-years-old …
Pulmonaria – otherwise lungwort, soldiers-and-sailors, etc. I have also heard this called Mother Mary’s milk. The white splashes on the leaves were supposed to have got there when the BVM was feeding the infant Jesus and there was a small ‘accident’.
The name soldiers-and-sailors refers to the red and blue flowers [Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan, October 2000].

9. Years ago I was given (and still have) some Pulmonaria officinalis by relatives living in Kington, Herefordshire, near the Welsh border. They called it Spotted Mary [Rhymney, Gwent, March 1991].

10. I have lived in Berkshire for many years, and learned these names as a child … Joseph-and-Mary – Pulmonaria officinalis [Highclere Street, Berkshire, February 1982].

11. Wildflower names used in Wiltshire …. Mary-and-Joseph – lungwort [Rowde, Wiltshire, February 1982].

Images:  main, cultivated, St Mary’s churchyard, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, May 2017; inset, cultivated, The Rookery, Streatham Common, London Borough of Lambeth, July 2014.