Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Alder

0691. From a Bettys-y-Crwyn [Shropshire] W.I. lady, 2015: Use alder catkins boiled up to treat verrucas [Bishops Castle, Shropshire, July 2021].

2.  [Photograph] Alder fruits used in well-dressing, detail of Children’s Well, Stoney Middleton, Derbyshire, 25 July 2015.

2. My late father used plants for certain ailments.
Hall [= aul = alder]: A handful of leaves were boiled in water, left to cool, and the liquid put in a jug.
I well remember a local man telling my father his little girl had sores on her scalp. In those days, pre-war, there were no antibiotics, with the result the medics considered cutting off her hair, which was a rich auburn colour. My father suggested he used this herb, putting the liquid in a saucer, and dabbing the liquid on to the scalp with cotton wool. It cleared the little girl’s scalp within a month and her hair was not cut [Cefn Coed, Mid Glamorgan, August 2011].

2014-01-25 15.04.033. [Pre World War II] Alder wood was used in clog making. As a child in Herefordshire I saw, every few years, for a few weeks at a time, a small lorry passing through to the station with loads of roughly shaped clog soles. The wood was a rich red colour. Gangs of men cut down the trees and cut lengths to shape in a temporary camp [Gullane, East Lothian, February 1997].*

* According to a display about George – ‘Clogger’ – Robinson (1855-1935) in Nantwich, Cheshire, Museum: ‘He used alder wood to make the clogs, purchased while it was standing, and had it felled, sawn up and carted to his premises.  The leather uppers were brought in from Bradford’ [RV, January 2024].

Images: main, Camel Trail between Wadebridge and Bodmin, Cornwall, April 2014; lower inset, Tooting Common, London Borough of Wandsworth, January 2014.