FIG features in Dutch folk medicine. A craving for figs during pregnancy ensures that the child will be born quickly and easily (Van Andel). QUINCES, too, had some significance in pregnancy. In 17th century England, it was reckoned that "the woman with child that eateth many during the time of her breeding shall bring forth wise children and of good understanding" (Boland. 1977). HORSERADISH features in a very strange piece of folklore. Fenland couples who wanted to know the sex of an unborn child, put a piece of horseradish under each of their pillows. If the husband's piece turned black before the wife's, it would be a boy, and vice versa (Porter. 1958). But pregnant women should avoid potatoes, especially at night, if they want their child to have a small head (Salaman). Such a superstition is understandable once it is accepted that some ritual for getting a good, big crop of potato could have a similar effect on the head of the child in the womb. Beware of eating too many STRAWBERRIES during preganancy, for East Anglian superstition held that the birthmarks known as "strawberry" marks were caused by the mother eating too many of them (Porter. 1974).

Magic lies behind the Malagasy prohibition on pregnant women eating GINGER. The reason lies in the shape of the root, which is sometimes flat with excrescences like deformed fingers and toes. Nor must she keep the root tied into a corner of her costume, where odds and ends are usually kept. If she fails to keep these taboos, the foetus will become deformed, with too many fingers or toes; its legs will not grow straight, the deformation making delivery difficult as well (Ruud). So, too, with GROUND NUTS, which are taboo there to pregnant women. The thinking seems to be that peanuts lying on the ground remind people of souls that lay their eggs on the ground. So they will cause a miscarriage (Ruud).

It is said in China that if pregnant women wear DAY LILIES (Hemerocallis spp) at their girdle, the child will be male (F P Smith).

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