Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. My grandfather used to beat his walnut tree with a broom handle to make the sap rise and to get a better crop of nuts [e-mail, August 2023].

2. I used to live in France.  Walnut shells as paint/dye:  take the green skins off the nuts (a messy job), soak them in water for a couple of weeks – two weeks I think – strain and paint on wood [Lambeth Horticultural Society, London, November 2015].

3.  A woman, a dog, and a walnut tree
The more you beat them the better they be
?Gloucestershire saying [Hilltop Garden Club, Eastcombe, Gloucestershire, November 2013].

Segovia 0554. [Somerset, 1940s] Walnut juice – [from] the green casing of walnuts – stained skin brown so we could look ‘foreign’. Unfortunately, it didn’t wear off nor could it be washed off. I remember older girls tried it on their legs instead of stockings – bit blotchy though.
Hazel nuts and walnuts were picked and kept in sand for Christmas.
I heard about walnut trees being whipped to ‘improve the crop’, but I never saw it happening [St Marychurch, Devon, August 2011].

5. My grandfather (b. 1865) always planted a walnut tree in his horses’ field because flies don’t go under a walnut [Eastwood, Essex, September 2004].

6. Leaves of the walnut tree – wet them and place on the head for sunstroke [Chelsea, London, May 2003].

7. A falling walnut tree is the herald of calamity. A great walnut tree on the lawn of my old [Berwickshire] home keeled over one teatime in 1939 [Old Cleeve, Somerset, October 1993].

8. Boiled walnut shells make a very successful dye for wool, popular because it does not require a mordant (to fix the colour) [Corbridge, Northumberland, March 1993].

Images: main,? planted, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, September 2015; on sale in market, Segovia, Castile & Leòn, Spain, March 2016.