Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. A Catholic who has not received communion in seven years is said to transform into a Rougarous, the cajun werewolf.  To stop the Rougarous entering your house you throw 21 grains of rice just past the threshold of the front and back door.  Rougarous cannot count beyond the number 20 so they become fixated on this and don’t enter your house.  My guess is because of the number of fingers and toes they have, so if there is a Rougarous with 21 digits, we would be in bad luck. They supposedly become so frustrated at this they will leave you alone [New Orleans, Louisiana, March 2023].

2. My mother grew up in Guyana (born there in 1953, left the country 1966) told me that they believed there was an evil witch in the jungle who would chase children after dusk. To avoid capture my mum and other children used to run home then throw a handful of rice behind them which would cause the witch to stop, pick the rice up and count it [East Ham, London, May 2003].

3. For an upset stomach: plain boiled rice and lemon [Citrus limon] juice, all stirred together. Remedy from Rome, Italy [Natural History Museum, London, May 2003].

Images:  main, boiled long-grain rice, Tooting, London Borough of Wandsworth, May 2015; inset, cultivated, Real Jardín Botánico, Madrid, Spain, August 2021.