On my wander through the woods of Frankendael today, I saw a beautiful woodpecker sat on a park bench! No time to photograph it but maybe this park will turn me into a bird spotter, by the time this project is through!
Another exciting discovery today was made thanks to the Meetup group. Yi wondered if I knew of Butterbur (Pestites sp.) and if it grew here in Amsterdam. She likes to eat it when at home in Japan. I wasn’t aware until then, that Butterbur and it’s immediate relatives, are edible, tasty and are reported to have health benefits.
Butterbur throws up very strange looking flowers on thick stalks during spring, a while before it’s foliage appears. When it’s often massive leaves do appear, they all come from the rootstock rather than a leaf stem. Leaves can be 60 cm or more across and are very easy to spot as they are unmistakably kidney-shaped and come out of the soil not a central plant stem. There are lots of them near the old entrance of Frankendael. I await Recipe advice from Yi’s Mum, before deciding just what to do with the plant but a google search for Fuki, it’s Japanese name will provide you with lots of ideas. If you live in the UK you may be familiar with the vanilla scented relative called Winter heliotrope. I can still remember my delight and disbelief when I first sniffed its flowers in Somerset, many years ago. I had no idea it was edible at the time.
Now onto another huge-leaved perennial, which many will be familiar with: Burdock! Arctium lapa shown above, is a truly enormous plant with a mighty rootstock, prized particularly as a liver tonic. Dandelion and Burdock is a delicious drink, I remember well from my childhood. Dandelion is also a super liver tonic. Now Burdock is not such an Urban Herbology favourite as it’s very difficult to dig up and what a mess of parkland it would make to do that! However is a good herb to know about in case you happen upon a huge patch of them in the countryside or a bottle of tincture in a herbal supplies shop. When Giant Butterbur and Burdock coexist you should notice Burdock has pointed leaves and Butterbur kidney shaped leaves. burdock leaves grow out from an upright central plant stem, the burs eventually grow out of the top of this central stem, on their own stem.
Here above is a sign that there’s a Burdock closeby. Dried burs from last years growth.
Other wild beauties today…
Soapwort bolting up after done extra sunshine and showers. Yes, it is soapy, well the roots at least, and can be used for cleaning. It contains saponins but such a pretty flower is better left in the soil.
Euphorbia close up. Extremely toxic and irritating to skin.
A type of Mullein, in bud. This plant will be well over a meter high very soon. It’s flowers can provide an earache remedy.
Lastly, a member of the Brassica family, I thought possibly Creeping Yellow Cress although it’s leaves are slightly stubbier than that. It tastes uncredibly strong! I then wandered into the labelled herb garden of the park and found a very similar looking plant called Barbarakruid (Barbarea vulgaris, Yellow Rocket Cress). I think that’s the most likely candidate. It tastes like super strength Rocket. Umm!