When a plant bears this name, then it is taboo for children to pick it. Breaking that taboo would bring about the death of the child's mother. No less than twelve plants bear the name, though only FOOL'S PARSLEY (Aethusa cynapium) is poisonous. That makes the ban more understandable, but the others are generally unlucky plants in one way or another. The fact that COW PARSLEY is on this list makes it possible that HEMLOCK was the original plant proscribed. CHERVIL is another example, as is SWEET CICELY. Any white-flowered umbellifer is unlucky, simply because there is a superficial resemblance to hemlock. Cow Parsley is unlucky to bring indoors; so are HAWTHORN and YARROW, which are both white flowered. SHEPHERD'S PURSE is another Mother-die plant. There is a children's game played with the seed pod. Children hold it out to their companions, inviting them to "take a hand o' that". It immediately cracks, and the first child shouts "You've broken your mother's heart" (Cf the names Mother's Heart and Pick-your-mother's-heart-out) (Vickery. 1985, J D Robertson). The CAMPIONS are unlucky too- if you pick them, one of your parents will die - father if it is Red Campion, mother if white. The other plants with the name include GERMANDER SPEEDWELL, very unlucky to bring indoors, and ALEXANDERS. One is alerted by a Cumbrian name for HERB ROBERT, Death-come-quickly, to expect a similar superstition to that marked by Mother-die. Sure enough, there is the warning that if picked by children, the result would be the death of one of the parents.
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