MAGIC AND MEDICINE
Folklore has sprung up around robin’s pincushions.
The ‘robin’ part of the name may refer to coloration – in Sussex, these galls are sometimes called ‘robin redbreast’s pincushions’. Or it may be the woodland sprite Robin Goodfellow (Puck).
Historically, the galls – also known as briar balls, briar bosses and tousles – were said to have healing properties. A gall hung around the neck was believed to cure whooping cough and toothache, or if kept in your pocket, rheumatism, while a gall under a pillow cured insomnia.