Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Greater stitchwort

1.  Greater stitchwort was called poppers in Herefordshire (1960s and 70s), as the seedheads pop when pressed.  I still can’t resist popping the seedhead now – I’m in my 60s!) [Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, November 2020].

2. [Oxfordshire 1950s] we used to call it daddy’s shirt buttons [Birmingham, May 2016].

3. I grew up in Exmouth [Devon] and as a child I called the greater stitchwort snap jack [Ruislip, Middlesex, October 2011].

4. Whitstable, 1950s-60s, childhood: milk maids – greater stitchwort [Whitstable, Kent, February 2011]; name also recorded from Portsmouth, Hampshire [e-mail, April 2020], and Isle of Man [e-mail, November 2020].

5. Names used in north Hampshire in my childhood [c. 1940s] little-dicky-shirt-fronts – Stellaria holostea [Orpington, Kent, February 2007].

0046. Children’s games … popping the seed capsules of greater stitchwort [Wormshill, Kent, May 2003].

7. C. O’S (39) of … Birdhill, Co. Tipperary demonstrated … childhood indulgences – sqeezing the seedpods of stitchwort (Stellaria holostea) between the fingers to make them ‘pop’ [Clonlara, Co. Clare, June 2002].

8. While out walking with a friend who was born and bred in Essex we saw some greater stitchwort which she promptly called shirt buttons, remembered from childhood [Hexham, Northumberland, May 2002].

9. I was born in the twenties in Farnboro’ village, Kent. As children we played in the meadows, which were covered in wildflowers …
stitchwort which grew in the hedgerows we called shirt buttons [Orpington, Kent, February 1998].

10. From Essex relatives: stitchwort – shirt buttons [Fleetwood, Lancashire, February 1998].

11. [Former North Riding of Yorkshire] Greater stitchwort (Stellaria holostea) was known as Nanny Crackers because the seeds when ripe could be cracked between finger and thumb [Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, April 1994].

12. I have lived in Berkshire for many years and learned these names as a child … stars of Bethlehem – Stellaria holostea [Highclere Street, Berkshire, February 1982].  Name also recorded as used near Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire in the 1950s and 60s [e-mail, March 2020].

Images: main, Camel Trail between Wadebridge and Bodmin, Cornwall, April 2014; inset, cultivated, South London Botanical Institute, London Borough of Lambeth, May 2015.