Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

REVIEW: Fern Seed & Fairy Rings

Posted on by royvickery |

In his latest work, Fern Seed & Fairy Rings: Plants and Plantlore from Cornwall and Devon, the prolific Cornish writer Rupert White tackles 500 years of Cornish and neighbouring Devon plant-lore.  This attractive and well-produced book consists of an 11 page introduction followed by alphabetically arranged entries on plants ranging from agave (first grown in Cornwall early in the eighteenth century) to yarrow, a number of useful appendices, and a bibliography which lists works from Richard Carew’s 1602 Survey of Cornwall to books published as recently as 2019.  A source which predates 1602 is the Leiden Leechbook, written in Cornwall in c.900, published by A. Falileyev and M. Owen as The Leiden Leechbook: a study of the earliest Neo-Brittonic Medical Compilation in 2005.

In places White’s botany is somewhat inaccurate, but we are assured that corrections will be made when the work is reprinted.  However, taken as a whole the book is reliable.

White has produced a worthwhile and useful volume and we hope that others will follow his lead and produce similar volumes for other counties.

Edited 11 November 2022.

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