Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. [Balham – Tooting area of south London] if you put a carved lit pumpkin outside your house [at Hallowe’en] people know you are in and are happy to receive trick or treaters, or vice-versa [e-mail, September 2019].

2. A remedy that springs to mind, which comes from my Vietnamese wife, is the use of dried pumpkin seeds to cure any infestation of worms. Quantity of seeds needed and species of worm unknown unfortunately [Natural History Museum, London, August 2005].

3. Observations in London, Hallowe’en 1995:
Pumpkins are widely being sold in London as Hallowe’en approaches, often at least one of the ones on display is made into a jack-o’lantern to encourage people to buy them for this use (Chelsea and Clapham Junction).
Some shops incorporate pumpkin jack-o’lanterns in their window displays (Gloucester Road).
Party shops and similar shops have a wide range of pumpkin novelties for sale – decorated paper plates, small plastic toys, paper trimmings, plastic cocktail sticks, etc. (Kensington and Chelsea).
Sainsburys supermakets have bottles of coca cola with special pumpkin decorated wrappers on sale (Balham).

Images: main, Essex, Ilford, Goodmayes Allotments, Francesco Cillini, September 2010; inset, postcard published in New York, c.1911.