Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Clan badges: Scots pine, 1

Although it’s claimed that the wearing of different plants as symbols of different Scottish clans is of ancient origin, it appears that the practice dates mainly from 1822, when a number of somewhat spurious traditions were revived, or invented, in celebration of King George IV’s visit to Edinburgh [1].

The card here, posted in Honiton, Devon, in August 1907, depicts the tartan on the Clan Macgregor and their clan badge, the Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris. It is one in a ‘Scottish Clans’ series produced by Raphael Tuck & Sons; on the back there is the information:

The Macgregor.  The ancient territory of this clan was the vicinity of Loch Tay.  They claim descent from Alpin, King of Scotland about 787.  An untamable and warlike tribe. During the seventeenth century they were proscribed, their name suppressed, and their lands forfeited.  The Macgregors were called the Children of the Mist.  Their war cry was “Ard-coille” (Woody Height) and their badge “Pine Tree”.  The famous Rob Roy needs only be mentioned.’

The card’s sender commented: ‘Isn’t this Scotch Plaid P.C. funny.  I got [it] in Exeter the other day.’

1. R. Vickery, Vickery’s Folk Flora, 2019, p.143.

Updated 4 June 2024.

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