Ethnobotanists have found that information about uses of plants is frequently passed through generations. In the Euro-American culture, sets of oral traditions have been repeated and subsequently transcribed, and are now categorized as "folk tales", "fairy tales", "nursery tales", or "Märchen". These tales were originally told for adults. As stories for children, they are recognized by psychologists as contributing to developmental understanding, and by other researchers as being useful societal teaching tools. A survey was made of fairy tales available in English to assess the extent of botanical knowledge that could be taught by the tales to contemporary Americans. The predominant botanical information transmitted is eco-geographical. Fairy tales teach that Europe is a land of woods and forests and some heathlands. They cite particular trees such as oak, ash, rowan, and walnut. Certain specific foods and ornamentals are mentioned, including oat, apple, orange, parsley, rose, and lily. There are isolated references to medicinal cures and some information about plants used for fibers and construction. Plants that are said to attract or to protect from fairies are sometimes listed. However, the botanical lore is secondary to the stories and is used only to further the verisimilitude of the tale. Fewer than half of the stories mention plants. European fairy tales, while giving a vegetational picture of their homelands, rarely transmit much information concerning instructions or detailed uses of botanical materials.

Key words: European fairy tales, fairy tale plants, folk tale plants