Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

QUERY: Polywhacks

SYNOR 073Stephanie Penny, of Sowerby, West Yorkshire, recalls playing polywhacks during her childhood at Boulderclough, near Sowerby Bridge, in the 1950s and 60s:
We used to play polywhacks with rosebay willowherb [Chamerion angustifolium], a little like conkers, but we had about 18 inches of the root and took it in turns to whack the other person’s stick, the loser being the one that broke up first. Winning sticks were named by how many other sticks they had defeated, i.e. oner, twoer, three-er, etc.
We used to grasp the growing willowherb and pull up in a straight line from the ground keeping the root intact … then we broke off and discarded the flowering top bit, leaving about 18 inches to play with, approximately 6 – 8 inches was the solid root part, the rest being stem. Obviously we looked for the thickest roots, but did not treat them in any way.

There are no other records of this game in Plant-lore Archive; any further memories or comments would be appreciated, please send them to

Image: Misterton, Somerset; May 2016.

  • Upcoming Events

  • Recent Plants

  • Archives