Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Red valerian

1. [Cornwall] my mother-in-law always insisted that Padstow pride was the correct name for valerian [Balham, London, December 2018].

2.  In Barmouth, north Wales, my mother always called red valerian cherry noses [Rugeley, Staffordshire, December 2016].

3. We used to call it [red valerian] cat’s wee. That was in Devon [Whitstable, Kent, February 2011].

4. [Isle of Wight] Ventnor pride – valerian (usually red) … probably because this plant is very prolific in the Ventnor area on the Island [Fair Oak, Hampshire, January 2007].

5. Living in Somerset before the War, I remember Centranthus ruber being called kiss-me-quick [Newtown, Powys, April 1997].

6. On the Isle of Wight, where I live half the week, the common valerian, Centranthus ruber, is known as Ventnor’s pride, as it grows abundantly at Ventnor, a small town built into rather steep cliffs. A girlfriend of mine, however, always calls it sweet betsy, but she has no idea where this comes from [Putney, London, March 1997].

7. Do you know kiss-me-quick? It’s the Dorset name for red valerian; my mother came from Portland and I was brought up in Weymouth during the War [Teddington, Middlesex, February 1997].

8. [Red] valerian – kiss-me-quick, not advisable to take in the house as it smells quite a lot when cut …
Dried valerian stems – used as peashooters with ripe vetch seeds [Portland, Dorset, March & April 1991].

Image:  St George’s churchyard, Beckenham, London Borough of Bromley, August 2014.