Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

White deadnettle

1.  White deadnettle –  I have vivid recollections from my early years at William Alvey Primary School, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, (c.1992-93) not only of plucking the flowers to taste the nectar, but also of chasing the girls around the school field once all the white flowers had been removed.  They naturally assumed that we were chasing them with stinging nettles, seemingly unaware we were happily holding them with our bare hands.  I seem to recall we called them sweet nettles [e-mail, January 2020].

2. [Lancashire, 1970s]  The white flowers of the deadnettle are always in twos.  This is because they are actually pixie shoes that have been left outside their house.  Pick a deadnettle, turn it upside down – they are pointed pixie shoes [Edinburgh, November 2015].

3.  ‘Cinderella’s slippers’ are found in white deadnettle flowers according to Jan [b. late 1930s, brought up in north Norfolk].  If you look inside the white flowers you can find two black slippers [Lichfield, Staffordshire, February 2015].

4.  White deadnettle helps when you get stung by a stinging nettle [Urtica dioica]. Just squeeze the juice out … and apply it on the spot, pain gone in two seconds! [Antwerp, Belgium, June 2013].

5. [Latvia] You can pluck the little white flowers [of white deadnettle] and suck the sweet nectar from the narrow end. Loved to do it as a kid [Natural History Museum, London, June 2013]; also recorded from Antwerp, Belgium, June 2013, Italy, September 2018, and Poland, October 2014.

6. [c. 1940s] There was a nettle which didn’t sting – it had white flowers – which grew between Bray and Cookham [Berkshire], the local man who used to look after the roads and lanes – he would mend them so there were never any puddles in the winter – used to collect it when repairing the hedges, and eat it as a salad [Fulham, London, April 2012].

7. When I was young [c.1995] in Germany I used to suck the bottom of white deadnettle flowers, they tasted like honey [Natural History Museum, London, October 2011].

8. ‘We used to suck them [the flowers of white deadnettle]’
‘When and where was that?’
‘Wiltshire, that’s where I was brought up, about 40 years ago. We sucked clover flowers as well’ [Tooting, London, October 2010].

9. I used to suck the nectar from white deadnettle flowers when I was at school [c. 1975] in Kent [Brompton Cemetery, London, June 2010].

10. As a child I remember sucking the flowers of white deadnettle to extract the nectar [Little Barford, Cambridgeshire, March 1993].

Image: Bishops Tawton, north Devon; March 2014.