Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. [For Hallowe’en] we collected Typha (which we called bulrushes then), soaked the heads overnight (upside down in a suitable container of course) in paraffin oil and used them as torches. Our parents didn’t like us doing this, as they thought it was dangerous. That was in Ireland, about 4 miles from Newry, Armagh [Bristol, November 2010].

2.  [Birmingham] I was always told never to bring bulrushes into the house as they bring death in the family [Weymouth, Dorset, December 2008].

3. I’ve … been informed that bulrushes and peacocks’ feathers are supposed to be bad luck if taken inside the house [Leek, Staffordshire, August 1983].

Images: main, ?planted, Trent Country Park, London Borough of Enfield, August 2015; inset, Coe Fen, Cambridge, March 2019.