This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
"Chimney-sweeper, all in black, Go to the brook and wash your back; Wash it clean or wash it none, Chimney sweeper, have you done?"
In the North they are called "ewe-knots". When it appears the ewes are likely to have plenty of milk for the lambs, as it indicates that the new grass is growing.
Chambers relates that the children of Galloway play at hide-and-seek with a little black-topped flower which they call Davie-drap, saying:
"Within the bounds of this I hap My black and bonny Davie drap; Wha is he, the cunning yin1, To me my Davie drap will fin'?"
Peeseweep-grass is applied because it grows where lapwings resort (peesweep).
As it is one of the harbingers of spring, and generally making its appearance in mild, genial weather, it has originated in the following prophetic adage:
"When the hair beard appear The shepherd need not fear".
Essential Specific Characters: 308. Luzula campestris, D.C. - Stem short, leaves linear-lanceolate, downy, pilose, flowers in a dense panicle, of 3-4 clusters, anthers longer than the filaments.