Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


2014-03-01 13.13.321. In the early 1960s watercress that grew in a local holy well Ffynnon Sulien [Denbighshire] was considered to cure rheumatism.  I think somebody used to pick it and sell it door-to-door [e-mail, April 2020].

2. Only in adulthood did I learn of the liver-fluke which hid itself within the hollow stems of the watercress if sheep grazed near by. [As children in the 1950s] we must have eaten loads of it without knowing [St Osyth, Essex, January 2013].

3. I grew up on the Somerset levels and in April used to pick wild water-cress in running streams [Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, January 2013].

4. A Hertfordshire water-cress grower used to live next door to me, he used to say ‘There’s a baby in every bunch of Hertfordshire water-cress’ [St Albans, Hertfordshire, February 2004].

5. Handed down by word of mouth for over 100 years …
Poultices … for a hurt sustained doing manual work such as an over tired arm, apply a bunch of watercress to skin and lay a slice of bread softened with hot water on afflicted part. Bandage and leave overnight. Hurt will disappear [Knockmult, Co. Londonderry, April 2002].

2014-05-11 15.25.116. ‘Simple’ people down here were said ‘never ate his watercress’, and thus it was thought the plant, which is common enough even today in the wild, was one which gave intelligence, rather like fish [Barnstaple, Devon, May 1991].

7. Watercress should not be gathered when there is no R in the month [Thorncombe, Dorset, 1960s].

Images: main, Howth Peninsula, Fingal, November 2014; upper inset, Creystyl Watercress Beds, Chess Valley, Hertfordshire, March 2014; lower inset, wild watercress, Ladywell Fields, London Borough of Lewisham, May 2014.