Today I have had a closer look at two herbs which I spotted earlier this week. A Member of the Potentilla genus, a Mint and also graceful Angelica.
Firstly the pretty Strawberry look-a-like Potentilla. You may remember that my cat ate the last sample I brought home. Today, I had a closer look at a sample leaf, flower and stem, before he had a chance to devour it. And of course I had a good look at it in the park itself. It appears to be Potentilla anglica. It has yellow petals, so is definitely not the white flowering Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) or edible (but not so tast) Mock Strawberry (Potentilla sterilis). It creeps along the ground by use of runners and the trifoliate leaves have tiny hairs on the undersides of the ribs and veins. The leaves all arise in clusters, at intervals from those runners. Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans) is very similar but doesn’t have trifoliate leaves. Some of the flowers have already set fruit, with seeds on the outside just like strawberry. This is shown in the photo below.
Next up is the mystery Mint, growing in one of Frankendael’s woodland ponds. It is difficult to tell for sure, which member of the Mint genus this is because it is not in flower yet. I will keep an eye on it as the summer arrives but currently suspect that it is Water mint (Mentha aquatica). It is clearly a Labiate, having square stems and opposite leaves without stipules. This Mint is downy, certainly smells of mint and the leaves are between 1.5 and 4cm long with blunt tips and teeth. It is also growing well in water. There are more factors to help decide which Mint this really is but for now, that’s the best my trusty Field Guide and I can do.
Lastly today, majestic Angelica (Angelica archangelica). Lynne Dunston from the Meetup group sent me a gorgeous photo of an Angelica which she spotted on a visit yesterday (I’ll post that separately). It reminded me to come and check on the enormous sister plant in Frankendael today (photo shown here). Seeds are now developing well on its Pom Pom like flowerhead. I was reading a lot about this plant a few days ago and although I won’t be touching it at all, this biennial can be made to act as a perennial by simply cutting it almost to the ground before it sets seed. It then is forced to have another go at seed production next year. It also has a multitude of quite fascinating, historic medicinal and culinary uses. Whole communities in Southern France, at least, relied on this plant for their wealth. I’d love to test out some of the recipes and ideas I read about but this wonderful lone specimen, just has to be enjoyed by as many woodland walkers as possible.