Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


2014-03-21 09.47.511. Pontius Pilate was born in Fortingall [Perthshire] according to legend close to the 5,000 year-old yew tree [Festival of the Great North Wood, April 2021].

2. Names used in north Hampshire in my childhood [c.1940s] …
Snotty gogs – Taxus baccata berries, implying the fleshy outer part which was eaten [Orpington, Kent, February 2007].

3. I always understood that yew trees were necessary for bows and were grown in churchyards where cattle could not reach them (being poisonous) [Mordiford, Herefordshire, July 2001].

4. Yew trees connected with witches covens, especially in 5s [Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, October 2004].

5. Yew tree branches are used in Catholic church ceremonies on Palm Sunday and afterwards distributed to the congregation. It may be worn and afterwards some is placed in the dwelling house and byres to bring good luck.
Yew tree is usually burned to make the ash for Ash Wednesday ceremonies. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent [Daingean, Co. Offaly, January 1985].

Images: main, Lichfield, Staffordshire, September 2014; upper inset, tree, said to be over 1000 years old, St Dubicius churchyard, Porlock, Somerset, March 2014; lower inset, St John the Baptist churchyard, Stokesay, Shropshire, May 2023.