Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

QUERY: Stinging Nettle Day

Note received from Mrs Lilian Short,  aged 84, of Teignmouth, Devon, November 1984:

‘Although I was born in Devon, I went to live in Cornwall when I was about 4½ years old.  The village I was reared in is called Common Moor, which is about five miles from Liskeard.  Stinging Nettle Day was celebrated there on May 1st.  On our way to school on that day we would pick a small dock [Rumex sp.] leaf and then pick a leaf from a stinging nettle [Urtica dioica], wrap it in the dock leaf, and eat it.  This was supposed to keep you from harm until the next Stinging Nettle Day.  The school was Trekievesteps, but it has been closed for several years.’

This seems to be the only record of this custom; has anyone any knowledge of it?  Any comments appreciated, please send them to

Image:  stinging nettle, Spitalfields City Farm, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, February 2022.

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