Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1.  My dad, who is Polish, swore by bilberries in syrup for stomach upsets  [London, SE1, February 2016].

2.  As a child in the 1950s I spent a lot of time in the South Wales valleys.  In the summer whole families swarmed the hillsides picking whinberries which made the most delicious tarts and jams [Raynes Park, London, August 2015].

2014-03-21 10.24.013.  Locally produced whortle berry (bilberry) jam, available in the Exmoor area of Somerset and Devon, here at Myrtle Cottage, Porlock, Somerset, March 2014.

4.  Wimberry – my nan used to gather these, to eat or cook, from the mountains … around Caerphilly in south Wales [London Bridge, London, March 2012].

5. Bilberry grows in profusion on our moors; no longer gathered, but I remember my mother [1940s and 1950s] making pies and syrups whenever it was in season, as it was very good to keep colds away [Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, June 1997].

0806. In Lancashire when I was young in the 1940s the gypsies used to sell bilberries … door to door. However, the bilberries have died out now; this was not just the pollution but the fact that the gypsies would ‘comb’ the little plants for berries so that they died [Addiscombe, Surrey, July 1996].

7. Bilberrries: a bog or mountain plant, nice blue-black berries, very sweet to eat, they could be threaded on to a long stalk of grass to carry home [Lenamore, Co. Longford, April 1991].

8. My late parents came from Poland after the Second World War and my mother occasionally used certain plants as herbal remedies, etc. … Fruits of the bilberry, Vaccinium myrtillus, were preserved in sugar in glass jars and a few teaspoons of the concentrated juice diluted with water and warmed was a most effective cure for diarrhoea [Bromley, Kent, April 1991].

Image:  lower inset, on sale from from stall, presumably for use in flower arrangements, Südstern, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany, April 2015.