Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

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Plant-lore walks and talks, 2021

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

With, we hope, the end of the lockdown in sight, Roy Vickery is available again to lead walks or give talks, from late in March.

As usual these events are provided free of charge in the London area,  and usually only travel expenses are required for events elsewhere; it is hoped that Roy will be rewarded by people sharing their knowledge of the folklore and uses of plants.

Walks can be held on any open land and  be adapted according to participants’ mobility.  Talks are similar to walks:  the first involves taking samples of plants indoors to audiences, the second involves taking people to the plants.


Image:  Roy Vickery examining ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba, during a tree walk in Streatham Cemetery, Tooting, London Borough of Wandsworth, August 2020; © Lea Tatham.

Plant-lore Archive – February 2021

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Once again activities were severely restricted due to Covid regulations, but 10 new items of new information were received, bringing the total to 8516 items from 2781 contributors.

On 28 February it was reported that 3971 hardback copies and 266 e-books of Vickery’s Folk Flora had been sold.  The search has started for a publisher for a book provisionally entitled Aac to Zour Dock – Local English Plant-names in Britain and Ireland.

Two publications were produced:

Foreword, Cicely Mary Barker, The Complete Flower Fairies, London: The Folio Society.

Review of Tom Curtis & Paul Whelan, The Wild Food Plants of Ireland:  The Complete Guide to their Recognition, Foraging, Cooking, History and ConservationBSBI News 146: 81.

Image: Marc Bolan memorial, Queens Ride, Barnes, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, 24 February 2021.

21 February – Celandine Day

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

According to the charity Plantlife’s website, ‘In fact the 21st February is known as Celandine Day as this is when peak flowering has been observed to begin’.

Has anyone ever come across mention of this day elsewhere?  If you have, please let us know –

Image:  celandine, Ficaria verna, Tooting Common, London Borough of Lambeth, February 2021.

Valentine’s Day flowers

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Valentine’s Day flowers, mostly red roses, on sale in Sainsbury’s, Balham, London Borough of Wandsworth, 14 February 2021.

Red roses for Valentine’s Day

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |




Red roses for sale at Igloo Flowers, Clapham Junction, London Borough of Wandsworth, 13 February 2021.











QUERY: Plant aromas in folklore

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Recently we have been asked if there is much folklore associated with the effect which the scents of plants have on human health and wellbeing.  On searching through the Archive it seems that there is surprisingly little.

If anyone has any knowledge of such folklore, or any comments, please send them to

Image:  honeysuckle, Lonicera pericylmenum, Lambert’s Castle, Dorset, August 2019.

Memorial bench on Tooting Common

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |


Recently installed bench in memory of Adam Jack Long (16 August 1999 – 2 October 2020), on Tooting Common, London Borough of Wandsworth.

Photographed 7 February 2021.



No red roses

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

According to the Metro of 4 February 2021, the on-line florist Bloom & Wild will not be offering red roses in Valentine’s Day bouquets.  Apparently 70% of women would prefer something else: ‘Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be about ticking a box,’ the firm said. ‘It’s about saying ‘I know you.’

Image:  advertisement for Bloom & Wild, The Times Magazine, 6 February 2021.


Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

A bust of the twelfth-century Indian philosopher, social reformer and statesman was unveiled by Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, in November 2015, on the Albert Embankment, London Borough of Lambeth.

A conspicuous feature of the bust is the garland of Elaeocarpus ganitrus seeds – rudraksha around his neck.  Elaeocarpus ganitrus is a widespread tree throughout much of Asia.  Rudraksha, particularly associated with Lord Shiva, usually worn in garlands consisting on 109 seeds, provide protection and are used as prayer-beads.

Photographed January 2021.

Naturally occurring ‘Holy thorns’

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

The Holy, or Glastonbury, thorn, Crataegus monogyna cv. ‘Biflora’, is said to produce flowers at Christmas time each year, as has been discussed elsewhere on this website.  In fact it produces flowers throughout most of the winter.  Apart from the trees  in Glastonbury a number of what are said to be holy thorns can be found elsewhere.  When these are found in gardens it can be assumed that they are ‘descendents’ of Glastonbury trees, i.e. they consist of a piece of holy thorn grafted on to a rootstock of ordinary, native hawthorn.  But sometimes what are described as holy thorns are found outside gardens – for example the thorn at Shenley Church End, Milton Keynes –  are these trees in fact descendents of Glastonbury trees?  The photograph shown here was taken at the southern edge of Streatham Woods on Tooting Common, London Borough of Lambeth (though cared for by Wandsworth borough council), on 2 February 2021, having been first noticed about two weeks earlier.  With its small white flowers and red fruits (haws) it appears identical to the holy thorn, but it is extremely improbable that it was ever planted as such.  It is, presumably, a naturally occurring sport, as, possibly, is the Shenley Church End tree.

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