Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Irish spurge

1.  Irish spurge (Euphorbia hyberna) was used for an illegal purpose in west County Cork:  poaching.  A sack-full of chopped spurge thrown into a small river or stream would quickly kill the fish.  An elderly woman in Kilnamartyra told me that her brother was caught by the local bailiff with a salmon obtained by this method.  He hit the bailiff with the salmon, made his escape and emigrated to America [Rahan, Co. Cork, May 2016].

2.  In County Clare in Ireland Irish spurge (Euphorbia hyberna)is called bonnacheen (phonetic, the ‘ch’ as in ‘loch’). How it should be spelt I have no idea … The plant is collected by salmon poachers, put into sacks and then trodden on upstream from a good pool (on the River Fergus, for example, a tributary of the Shannon). The caustic juice thus released inflames the salmons’ gills … [so that] they come gasping to the surface and are thus easily taken by net or spear. My father told me this, I have never seen it in use. Our family home, now a convent school, is at Kildysart, Co. Clare, on the Shannon [South Rauceby, Lincolnshire, March 1997].

Image: Wiki Commons.