Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1.  Rhubarb leaves are the best thing there are for composting, they make it heat up quickly [Dorking, Surrey, March 2024] but see 4 below.

2. When pulling rhubarb it was considered best to wrap it in its own leaves to keep in fresh [Tregaer, Monmouthshire, October 2013].

0173. I’m an over 70 years old who was born and bred in Inverness-shire. I spent many summers in the company of my grandmother who was very knowledgeable about potions and cures from indigenous plants and flora …
Stewed rhubarb for constipation [Aultvaich, Inverness-shire, April 2012].

4. Rhubarb – many gardeners believe in digging out a root and leaving it on the surface to get frosted before replanting. This was said to improve its vigour.
The (poisonous) leaves were thought to be too acid for composting, but if they were steeped in water the resultant ‘brew’ was a useful organic pesticide against aphids, etc. [Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan, October 2000].

5.  A slice of rhubarb placed at the bottom of the ‘dibbed’ hole will prevent club root in brassicas [Horsted Keynes, West Sussex, February 1991].

Images: main, North Bridge Car Park car boot sale, Halifax, West Yorkshire, September 2016; upper inset, cultivated, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, May 2015;  lower inset, Yorkshire rhubarb felt brooch, £12.50, on sale at The Hepworth Wakefield, West Yorkshire, during the city’s Rhubarb Festival, 18 February 2023.