The battery in my camera was flat today so I picked a sprig of this plant to help me identify it at home. I’ve been seeing lots of it in shady areas recently, I find it very pretty but it doesn’t small familiar when picked and it reminds me of poisonous Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis), whenever I see it.
I identified it using three field guides as an edible wound herb called Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana), known a Groot Heksenkruid (large witches herb) in Dutch. It is in the plant family containing Evening Primrose and Rosebay Willowherb, which are also edible and available at present. The Latin name arises from the Ancient Greek witch/enchantress Circe, who is said to have used the herb frequently in her potions. A nice tale. If this side of the plant’s history interests you, perhaps scroll through this link for further details. The common English name is somewhat confusing, this plant is not related to the poison containing Nightshade (Solanaceae) family.
I need to find out more about it but this evening, will be sampling a tiny amount of Enchanter’s Nightshade, well cooked in a pasta based potion, to check I react favourably to the herb. Hopefully all will go well and I’ll be able to point it out on the Green Peace walks tomorrow.