Hag berries and other witchy names

Roy Vickery’s ‘Folk Flora’ is full of anecdotes relating to the wild plants growing in the verges and hedgerows of Britain.

There's much wisdom to be gleaned from the etymology of old plants, names often contain clues (or warnings) to their herbal, medicinal and culinary uses. Some are based on superstition, such as mother's dead or devil's may as it was known in our family - my 'Brummie' nan, for example, wouldn't have it in the house as she considered it unlucky and even now these old wives' tales linger on in contemporary culture, evidenced in contemporary phycology and are associated with magical thinking.

I've been wondering how I can encourage clearer perception/discernment between old wisdoms and cultural myths often cloaked as traditions within my work - the slates with medieval lettering describe local wild plants and are part of my current research.

Wart grass (Cumbria) Celandine - Hag berry ((Cumbria) Bird Cherry - Mother's dead (Lancashire) Cow Parsley

Clatter docks (Lancashire) Coltsfoot - Heart's eases (Lancashire) Comfrey - Bumme kites ( Cumbria, Yorkshire) Blackberry - Cuckoldy burn busses (Lancashire) Burdock


May 2021: The old slate tiles have new uses. The barn roof is nearly leak free and will soon be my new studio for workshops, art working, tea making and much view staring.


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