Today a lovely elderflower on the Hugo de Vrieslaan edge of the park. There are Elder shrubs all over the city and now is the time to covet those in the cleanest spots. Each day for the next couple of weeks elder blossoms will burst open, inviting local insects to do their thing and foragers and herbalists to get harvesting! You only need a flower head or two to make a great addition to a meal. As I have mentioned recently, only seven flower heads are required for a hearty quantity of Elderflower Champagne. So if you want to pick elder flower, be nice, thi about how many you really need and spread your harvest between healthy well flowered shrubs. In years gone by, Elderflower lovers would know which local Elders yielded the sweetest flowers. These days I think it’s more a matter of where there are healthy shrubs in the least polluted areas. I’ll certainly be out and about in clean spots, with my paper bag and scissors, over the next few weeks.
It is possible to confuse Elderblossom with other flowers (such as distastful and smelly Ash blossom). Look closely at the photo here (which is deliberately large) and others in good guide books. Notice the way the inner male parts (stamens loaded with pollen) of the tiny flowers protrude between the petals. Notice the colors of the parts of the flowers. Elder blossom is a creamy white, not a stark white. The flower heads are flat, aligning themselves to attract insects the best they can. Learn the shape of the shrub. It is often a messy shape, with areas where quite brittle branches have stapped off. Elder can be enormous, like those against buildings and at other times can hug the ground where they constantly fight their way back from repeated attempts to prune them to death. Be nice to Your local Elders this foraging season. Get to know This herbal medicine chest and in time, it may become a good friend. See the comment about Elder on 365 day 20 for several useful Elder links.
Here’s my favourite Frankendael bus stop clump of mugwort again; still growing, still no flowers, still dreaming.
And finally today, a pretty Green Alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens) plant. Also from the edge of the park. Green Alkanet is a lovely plant with many uses. It is edible and medicinal.