Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Blackberries and Michaelmas

The widespread and persistent belief that blackberries (Rubus fruticosus agg.) should not be eaten after a certain date, usually Michaelmas Day, 29 September, because then the devil spits or urinates on them seems strange to us who live in southern England.  Here blackberries are past their prime well before then, and the few remaining berries look untempting.

However, as the photograph here, taken at Long Clawson, Leicestershire, in the English Midlands, on 9 October 2021, shows further north blackberries are still succulent and worth gathering after Michaelmas Day.

Comment from J.B. Smith, April 2022:  ‘I have been looking for German versions of our saying.  Only one has turned up so far, from Schleswig: “Na Micheli smert der Duewel sien Steweln mit Brommelber” = ‘After Michaelmas the Devil greases his boots with blackberries”.’ [ H. Marzell, Geschichte und Volkskunde der deutschen Heilpflanzen, 2002: 100].

Updated 24 April 2022.

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