Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Cushag – national flower of the Isle of Man

Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris, formerly Senecio jacobaea), cushag in Manx, is said to be the national flower of the Isle of Man.  According to Larch Garrad of the Manx Museum, writing in 1994, ‘a sarcastic Victorian Governor-General said it must be, there is so much of it in the fields’.

More recently the Governor-General is said to be Lord Raglan, an unpopular Governor, who served from 1902-18.  According to The Cushag Code, ‘a code of best practice for the management of common ragwort Senecio jacobaea’, published by the Isle of Man Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture in 2013, ragwort:

‘history as the unofficial emblem of the Isle of Man is reputed to have been bestowed by Lord Raglan …  When asked to pick a national flower for the Island, as was the fashion in other places at the time, in jest and perhaps as a slight on his perceived state of the countryside at the time, he suggested that cushag would be a fitting species.  The joke appears to have been lost over the last century, but the myth of cushag as a national flower remains’.

Thanks to Steve Wright, Seneschal of the Tynwald Buildings, for supplying information used in this note.

Image:  Castletown, Isle of Man, September 2023.

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