Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Deadnettle whistles remembered

Posted on by royvickery |

ARFLC 075Early in the 1990s P-LA received a note about boys in south Cambridgeshire making whistles from the stems of white deadnettle (Lamium album) 40 or more years earlier. ¬†Since then whenever it’s been possible to do so this was mentioned in the course of talks on plant-lore, in the hope that someone might be able to provide further information.

No one was able to do so until six days ago when a man attending a walk in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, London, recalled that as a boy in Kent, from 1947 to the 1950s he made whistles from the dried stems:

‘Cut to a suitable length with razor/sharp knife [make a] slot near end [to make] whistle.’

Other people on the walk recalled the much more widespread practice of sucking the base of deadnettle flowers to extract the nectar.

Image:  Arundel, West Sussex; May 2016.

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