Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Water figwort

1. As a child 70 years ago, living in Bucknell, a small Oxfordshire village, I well remember my father getting on his bike, going down the lane to a stream, in search of ‘water bitney’ [betony] leaf to tie round my festered finger, which looked very angry and sore. It seemed to do the trick, as the finger got better, as did all troubles of this kind. I may not have anything but a local name, but the plant had small little red flowers, was fairly tall, and always grew in or around water [Hethe, Oxfordshire, February 1998].

2. I was recently told that old people in Ipplepen, near Newton Abbot, Devon, use water betony or water figwort for curing ulcers and cuts externally. Several people still living had it applied by their parents and said it was very effective [Little Waltham, Essex, January 1978].

Image: beside River Hiz, south of Arlesey, Bedfordshire; September 2015.