Arum maculatum

In Theatrum Botanicum, John Parkinson’s 1629 herbal, there are two recipes for Arum maculatum. In one, small pieces of the root are mixed with lettuce and endive. In the other, the dried root is powdered and sprinkled over meat. These recipes are recommended for the ‘unbidden unwelcome guest to a man’s table’ because ‘it will so burne and pricke his mouthe that he shall not be able either to eate a bit more or scarce to speak for paine’.

In Dorset in the 1930s, young girls believed that if they touched the Arum maculatum they would become pregnant. This may follow from the reference is John Lyly’s 1601 play ‘Loves Metamorphosis’ which says ‘They have eaten so much of wake robin, that they cannot sleep for love.’

John Robertson 2009

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