Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


0301. There used to be this chemist – well pharmacist – in Aberystywth – he was the top chemist in the town – who had a mandrake plant in his garden. When he died, about 10 years ago, he bequeathed it to the College Botanic Garden in his will. Quite a party of people gathered to remove the plant – my father was one of them – but they hesitated before digging it up, because it was supposed to be unlucky. They joked about getting a starving dog to pull it up, but the College gardener said he didn’t worry, so he dug it up. He did so and he is still alive and happy [Kew, Surrey, July 1984].

Images: main, South London Botanical Institute, London Borough of Lambeth, February 2014; inset, model, Museo de la EspaƱa Magica, Toledo, Spain, August 2015.