Guelder Rose

(Viburnum opulus) Well established in Britain, but it is not a native, the introduction being from Gueldres, hence the common name, though some say it is a corruption of 'elder rose'. Gerard, though, knew it as Gelders Rose. It has a connection with May Day and Whitsuntide, as its names reveal. It is King's Crown in Gloucestershire, the King of the May being crowned with it (Britten & Holland). Maypole, May Tassels, or May Tossels are all from Devonshire (Macmillan). 'Tossels' takes us further, for Guelder Rose is the May Tosty, or Snow Toss, in Somerset, and they all refer to Tisty-tosty, used across the south-west of England (Tennant; Elworthy. 1888; Friend. 1882). Tisty-tosty is usually a ball of cowslips or primroses for the May garland, but Guelder Rose is evidently used, too. As for Whitsun, for which Guelder Rose is the ecclesiastical symbol), it is known as Whitsun Boss (J D Robertson; Leather), or Whitsun Balls, Whitsun Flower, Whitsun Tassels, and Whitsun Rose (Macmillan). That leaves us with Club Bunches, from Berkshire, and particularly Hagbourne in that county. Guelder Rose flowers were used to decorate the president's chair at the club dinner on Feast Day, the second Tuesday after Whitsun (Berkshire FWI).

Another name given to the tree is Cramp-bark (Youngken); it has been used to treat the complaint for a long time by people living in marshy country (Wilkinson. 1981).

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