Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Ilex berries and snowball cotton

019Visited the Columbia Road Flower Market, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, on Sunday 13 December 2015, to see what’s being sold this Christmas.

As usual there were many Christmas trees of various kinds, mostly ‘dropless Nordmannias’, but also some ‘traditional Scots pine’, and a range of miniature trees.

Of the other traditional plants mistletoe (Viscum album) still seems to be popular, as do cyclamens (Cyclamen spp.).  Numerous wreaths for decorating front doors were on sale, though apparently not moving very fast.  Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) seem to be less popular than they were some years ago.  Holly (Ilex aquifolium), despite producing many berries this year, seems to remain unpopular, and much of that which is available in London as a whole, looks as if it was gathered some time ago and is already dessicated.

013Traditional holly seems to have been largely replaced by Ilex verticillata, a North American deciduous species which produces abundant bright red berries.  This has been gaining popularity during the past 10 or so years, and although stallholders seemed unsure what to call it initially, they now seem to have settled on the name ‘ilex berries’.  Also gaining popularity is ‘pussy willow’ (Salix sp.), long straight twigs with immature flowers, and dried cotton (Gossypium) bolls, sold as ‘cotton snowballs’.

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