Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1.   Dried bogbean for sale in Spellbound – a shop which caters for ‘all your pagan needs’, College Street, Gloucester, September 2017.

2.  Bogbean was always called bogbine in Inis Eoghain, Co. Donegal. The Irish name is ponaire chorraig. My grandfather always made his offspring, including my mother, take this concoction (boiled bogbine) as a spring tonic for cleaning the blood. Although it was not pleasant it seemed to keep all this little family relatively healthy. It was a tradition in my grandfather’s time as he grew up in an area where bogbine abounded [Moville, Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal, February 2014].

3. I remember my mother (born 1916) talking about her mother and the root of the bogbean. This was boiled, I presume with water, and the resultant liquid used to ease congestion with bad colds. This was used by the rural people in the glens of Antrim Orpington, Kent, January 2013].

4. [Swansea Valley area] When I was a 15-year-old farm boy in 1949 I had as one of my many chores to go down to a boggy woodland area to collect leaves of the bogbean plant. Then on return to the farm kitchen the farmer’s wife would proceed to boil, then strain the leaves, later the resulting liquid was taken at bedtime by her aged sister who suffered either with arthritis or rheumatics. It must have worked for the patient, as unlike her brother-in-law (my boss) who suffered similar joint aches and pains, she would show him how supple her fingers were after such treatment – a treatment he scoffed at, preferring to take a remedy known as Ffynnon Salts instead, but he still could only milk the cows with two fingers instead of five!! [Bridgend, Glamorgan, July 2011].

5. Dig up roots of bogbean and boil them, drain the water and drink every day as a cure for blackheads and pimples. Co. Sligo, Ireland, 1970s [Natural History Museum, London, July 2003].

6. Near St Blanes, Bute, there’s a pool named the Pool of Healing, because the bogbean, a self-healing plant, grows there. On the map it is named Loch na lugh [Buckhaven, Fife, June 1997].

7. Bogbean seems to have been the most widely used plant medicinally in these parts. Its taste was foul, but it seems to have worked [Burravoe, Shetland, March 1994].

8. Stewed root of bogbean for indigestion [Larne, Co. Antrim, January 1992].

9. Granda also told me bogbean was always boiled as a medicine for constipation [Omagh, Co. Tyrone, March 1986].

Images:  main, Seven Islands Pond, Mitcham Common, London Borough of Merton, August 2014; lower inset, same locality, April 2020.