The Everyday Lore Project

9 August 2020 – Purple Toadflax

9 August 2020 – Purple Toadflax

Given the weather, I was * this * close to celebrating the 41st anniversary of Britain’s first nudist beach getting the go ahead today. Let’s just say it was a blessing for all concerned that the temptation passed. 

Instead I observed a bit of plantlore. It’s said that adding toadflax to a saucer of cream creates a potent fly death trap. Not that the house has a particularly huge fly problem, there are far too many spiders for that, but I’ve noticed little ones settling in the earth around the beans and mangolds, plus with all the windows open, odd bluebottles tend to blunder in.  

One of the lovely things about this project is that I’m starting to recognise wild flowers, and when I read about the above, I knew exactly where I could find a ready stash of purple toadflax. In fact, I was so convinced, that I went straight out and picked some hoary stock instead. The toadflax was the next purple plant along. 

At home, I discovered this little fella:

The Everyday Lore Project - Purple Toadflax

A Toadflax Brocade caterpillar. I put him back outside on some ragwort. 

Despite the gingerbread debacle, I still had some cream left and sorted the toadflax into two saucers and left one by the beans and one by the mangolds. 

Ten hours later, not a sausage. In fact, I caught one of those little flies flaunting itself just above the saucer before it pinged off quite happily back to the mangolds. I’m quite relieved about this though. I have enough guilt over the moth traps. Plus, full confession, it was soya cream, and nothing has ever actually been attracted to soya cream, toadflax or not.

Veg Vig
It’s been 89 days since I sowed my kidney beans, and last night most of the leaves fell off which is supposedly a sign that they’re close to harvest time. Although not all of the plants are on the same page, as I found another tiny bean unfurling. The mangelwurzels are getting bushy, the vampires of vegetable origin continue to be coy. And I’ve been eating the garlic leaves. Why have I not done this before? They’re delicious.

Right, I’m now off to dispose of the soya cream that’s been sitting in 30ºC+ heat all day. Yes, I often question my decision process too.


Baker, M. (2019) Discovering The Folklore of Plants, Oxford, Shire Publications

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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