Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Columbia Road Flower Market, December 2019

Visited the Columbia Road Flower Market, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, on Sunday 15 December 2019, arriving at about 1.45 p.m. on a bright and sunny afternoon.

As usual Christmas trees were on sale, also a wide range of other ‘Christmassy’ plants.  Winterberry, also known as ilex, (Ilex verticillata) was very evident, as was pussy willow (Salix), but cotton (Gossypium) bols, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus) and poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) seemed to be less popular, while red peppers seemed to be unavailable.

There was little mistletoe (Viscum album) on sale, and most of what was available was a rather sorry-looking yellowish colour.  Despite wild holly (Ilex aquifolium) producing an exceptionally large number of berries this year, only one stall was selling berried holly, though several offered holly wreaths, made of either of plain berry-less twigs, or berry-less twigs with few artificial berries wired on.

An innovation seemed to be plain wreaths of various conifers, which presumably the buyers later decorated at home, and small branches of conifers and other evergreens.  Also noticeable was the new sellers’ cry ‘Card or cash today’.

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