Flowers and folklore

I’ve just been doing “flowers” as the topic for NaPoWriMo, and it has reminded me about the tattered remnants of folklore we knew as children.

We called cow parsley “Mother-die” and wouldn’t pick it at any price. Hawthorn blossoms brought death into the house and if you picked too many dandelions you’d wet the bed. We didn’t even believe these things, we knew them, casually, as accepted facts, like the fact that we breathed air and burned coal.

Hawthorn has always been a bit mystical. The fairy tree. And fairies were malevolent and dangerous, so I can understand you wouldn’t want to invite them in to your house. And dandelions are diuretic. But mother-die? Where did that come from?

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