Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. Swag made of box twigs, many metres of which are prepared to decorate Toledo, Spain, for its annual Corpus Christi festival; photographed on the evening of 16 June 2022, while the decorations were being dismantled.

2. We use box on Palm Sunday, together with traditional palm-leaf crosses (for those who are keen on them).
It is a tradition I started here. I brought it from the Netherlands. I like the idea that we get real little branches from the area. I also use the blessed branches for blessing the holy water [Vicar of St Cadfan’s, Tywyn, Gwynedd, May 2013].

3. In Roman Catholic churches they always have box on Palm Sunday [Natural History Museum, London, March 2004].

4. [Payhembury, Devon] Don’t bring box into the house, or someone will go out in a box [Bath, Somerset, December 2003].

5. [Well into my sixties now, I was born in Mitcham, Surrey; my grandma] threw up her apron in alarm if box or hawthorn neared the front door [Paston, Cambridgeshire, November 1993].

6. Have you heard about box? It’s meant to be unlucky to bring it indoors: ‘Bring box into the house, take a box out’ [Thorncombe, Dorset, April 1985].

7. Palm Sunday – Dimanche des Rameaux et de la Passion – 8 April 1979, French Catholic Church of Notre Dame de France, Leicester Place, Soho, London: Box twigs blessed as palm. [On Palm Sunday 2015 only the now standard palm crosses were used at the Church]

Images: main,Woldingham, Surrey, January 2015; lower inset, garden, Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de el Escorial, Madrid, Spain, February 2020.