Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

About the compiler

Roy Vickery was born in March 1947 in rural west Dorset. From 1965 to 2007 he worked as a botanist at the Natural History Museum, London. He remains a Scientific Associate at the Museum, where he participates in events in its Wildlife Garden and helps curate its lichen collections.  After 10 years as chairman of the Trustees of the South London Botanical Institute in September 2014 he was elected president of the Institute.  He was from 2011-4 a vice-president of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, and is unofficial botanical recorder for Tooting Common in the London borough of Wandsworth (his plant list can be found on the Friends of Tooting Common website, www.friendsoftootingcommon.org.uk).
He has collected plant folklore for many years and has extensively written on plant-lore, Quaker and green issues.
He is currently working on a book provisionally entitled A Folk Flora.

Selected publications

Holy Thorn of Glastonbury, St Peter Port: Toucan Press, 1979, an account of the legends associated with Glastonbury’s holy thorn.

Traditional uses and folklore of Hypericum in the British Isles, Economic Botany 35: 289-95, 1981.

Unlucky Plants, London: Folklore Society, 1985, results of a survey of plants which are believed to cause misfortune if picked or taken indoors.

Traditional herbal remedies in the British Isles: Some recently collected examples, Ethnobotany 6: 1-14, 1994.

A Dictionary of Plant-lore, Oxford, O.U.P., 1995, wide-ranging survey of British and Irish plant folklore, concentrating on material collected in the late 20th century.

Oaks in British and Irish Folklore, International Oaks 15: 59-67, 2004.

Naughty Man’s Plaything – Folklore & Uses of Stinging Nettles in the British Isles, London: the author, 2008, small booklet providing a comprehensive survey of nettle-lore.

Garlands, Conkers & Mother-die: British & Irish Plant-lore, London: Continuum, 2010, essays on aspects of plant folklore, using previously published and recently collected material.

Roy is an experienced lecturer on plant folklore, and is also available to lead walks on the uses and folklore of plants – you provide the weed patch or the hedgerow, he will do the rest. As such events are considered to be important opportunities for collecting new material they are usually given free of charge in the Greater London area, and with only a charge to cover transport elsewhere. See the Events page for details of upcoming activities.

Images:

Upper:  Netley Abbey, Hampshire, October 2017, © Carlos Bruzon.
Lower: examining Koch’s gentian (Gentiana acaulis), native to the Alps, North Downs Way between Box Hill and Merstham, Surrey, where it was planted in the 1960s and has since become naturalised, October 2011, © Andrew Hay.

Updated 15 October 2017.

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