Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is featured today. I wouldn’t say it is plentiful in the park but I noticed lots of plants, particularly at the base of large tree trunks and along the edges of woodland and hedges. It is just in flower at the moment, so very easy to identify, not only by the distinctive smell of garlic when the leaves are bruised but also by the tiny white flowers at the top of the plant. Garlic mustard is a favorite amongst foragers and can grow up to 120 cm in the right location.
This plant is a biennial and can provide year round nutritious greens, for salads or the cooking pot. All parts are edible. Even the roots can be eaten, they should be harvested just before flowering, but of course removing the whole plant will limit the foraging potential the following year as the plant will be unable to spread by seed.
I see lots of garlic mustard growing around Amsterdam. You are very likely to find it along the edges of canals, hedges and overgrown areas. Now is the best time to identify it.
Other plants, calling out to me today are:
Coltsfoot – starting to open its seed heads which have been turned down towards ground since last week,
Nettle – tops are ripe for harvesting at present, I used plantain to rub away the sings as I forgot my gloves again today!
Mentha x peperita blue balsam – no flowers until later in the year but the spicy, pungent burnt spice aroma of stroked leaves is ummatched.
Celandine – It carpets parts of the woodland area almost year round but it easiest to identify when it burst into flower, to announce the spring. The last few flowers remain now, especially beneath the trees of the Lime avenue. If you don’t know how to recognise this useful woodland herb, learn now as the foliage is so useful at most times of the year.