Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

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Plant-lore Archive: May 2020

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

The coronavirus pandemic again severely restricted activities, but two talks were delivered via Zoom and by using social media 46 items of information were received from 41 contributors, bringing the totals to 8274 items from 2606 contributors.

Work continued on the revision of the website’s Local Names page, and the writing of a possible book based on this page.  One minor publication was produced:

The healingest tree, Herbs 45(1): 21.

Cemetery plants:  Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), Friends of Brompton Cemetery Newsletter 66: 8.

Daily plant blogs were contributed to the Friends of Tooting Common and the South London Botanical Institute Facebook pages.

Image:  elder, Sambucus nigra, Tooting Common, London Borough of Wandsworth, May 2020; discussed in the healingest tree article in Herbs, the magazine of the Herb Society.

Egg tree in Upper Tooting

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Spindle (Euonymus europaeus) decorated with artificial eggs in garden of the vicarage of Holy Trinity Anglican church, Upper Tooting, London Borough of Wandsworth, 25 May 2020.

According to a church warden the vicar did this ‘for Easter’ (12 April).

Pentecost cross

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Wooden cross, now called a ‘Pentecost cross’, outside St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church, in Trinity Road, Tooting, London Borough of Wandsworth, photographed on 24 May 2020.  Before Palm Sunday people were invited to place palm crosses on this.  At Easter it was decorated with evergreens and, mostly artificial flowers.  Now, in preparation for Pentecost, on Sunday 31 May, people are invited to take a coloured ribbon and tie it to the cross.

REPORT: Exploring the byways

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Roy Vickery delivered a talk Exploring the Byways in search of Plant Folklore by Zoom, for the South London Botanical Institute on the evening of 13 May.  This was his first attempt to deliver a talk by this means, and only the second to be held by the Institute.  43 people logged in to hear Roy talk about how he became interested in plants and folklore, how he collected plant-lore, and what he considered to be important about his work.  He also shared some of the stories he had collected concerning snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and elder (Sambucus nigra).  All the audience stayed on-line to the end, and seem to have enjoyed the talk.

A similar talk will be given on Wednesday 20 May, starting at 8.00 p.m. –  see the Events page on this website.

Plant-lore Archive: April 2020

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

As with all else, activities were severely restricted during the month due to coronavirus.  However, by using the internet a good amount of new information, mainly relating to plant names, flowed in, with 39 items of information being received from 33 contributors.  Thank you everyone!  The Archive now contains 8228 items of information from 2570 contributors.

Although it was impossible to hold lectures or walks, a daily plant-of-the-day post was placed on Facebook pages of the Friends of Tooting Common and the South London Botanical Instiute.  It is hoped that one or two virtual talks can be delivered in May.

Image:  sweet flag, Acorus calamus, one of the plants discussed on Friends of Tooting Common Facebook.

Apologies

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Many apologies to whoever sent a recent message about lilac being considered unlucky indoors.  It was accidentally deleted and I’ve been unable to retrieve it, but thank you!

Easter cross

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

 

Wooden cross decorated with evergreens and mostly artificial flowers, outside St Mary Magdalene Anglican church, Trinity Road, London Borough of Wandsworth, London,  22 April 2020, 10 days after Easter.

 

 

 

 

Flowers for Pope John Paul II

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

 

Flowers placed at the base of a statue of St John Paul, outside the Polish Catholic Church of Christ the King, Balham, London Borough of Wandsworth, 13 April 2020.  The first non-Italian pope since the sixteenth century, John Paul was born Karol Józef Wojtyla in Poland in 1920, elected pope in 1978, died in 2005, and was canonised in 2014.

 

 

Baba Marta, 2020

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

 

 

 

 

Red-and-white decorations attached to ornamental cherry (Prunus cv.) tree, Balham High Road, London Borough of Wandsworth, photographed 13 April 2020.

These pictures were posted on the London Fortean Society Facebook page, attracting the following comments:

1.  They have been seen in London … for at least a couple of decades!!!

2. I used to do it in the  early 1990s – my ex was Bulgarian and we used to get sent loads of the red and white martinitza thingies.  Special cards too.

3.  We (Bulgarians) call these red threads martenitza, they are for health and fertility.  We exchange them as gifts on 1 March.  After wearing it, the person must tie it around a tree branch.

4.  The legend is that the sun came down to earth in the form of a young woman, she was kidnapped by a dragon to bring in an age of winter, the dragon was defeated by a hero, as the hero died his blood fell upon the white snow as the sun was freed and restored sunshine to the world.

Comment by Anabel Graetz, on Traditional Calendar Customs & Ceremonies Facebook page, April 2020:

I was told that when you saw a stork you tied it to a tree to welcome spring, that was in Bulgaria in 1987.

For further information see ‘QUERY: Strings tied on tree’, posted 19 February 2019.

Updated 19 April 2020.

Good Friday grass

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

 

Friday grass, officially known as Luzula campestris in Latin, and field wood-rush in English, flowering today, Good Friday, on Tooting Common, London Borough of Wandsworth.  It appears that it was given this name due to its time of flowering, rather than being otherwise associated with the Crucifixion.

 

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