Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Petty spurge

1.  She [my mother, born in north London and lived there all her life] taught me to break milk-weed and put the white sap on warts [West Dulwich, London, September 2014; petty spurge later pointed out as being milk-weed].

2.  When I was a very young boy (about 5 years old) I went to a gypsy camp close to Bodmin. There was a lady there complaining that the elderly lady had failed to ‘charm’ a very disfiguring wart on her face, The gypsy said she had another way provided she was given silver. Wartweed was produced and the ‘milk’ applied to the wart, and she was told to do this daily. The husband refused to pay. The gypsy then cursed him and rubbed his forehead with wartweed.
Later that day we saw the husband in Bodmin and there was a bright red cross on his forehead. I was very interested and tried putting it on the back of my hand. It soon started to sting quite badly [Truro, Cornwall, December 1993; sample of plant sent and identified].

Image: Bloom Grove, West Norwood, London Borough of Lambeth; January 2014.