365 Frankendael day 77

Here is Wild Basil (Satureja vulgaris / Calamintha clinopodium). It doesn’t smell nearly as strongly as its cultivated cousins but it tastes good and is a useful culinary herb if you are lucky enough to find a favourable patch. There are reports on the internet of it being used as a heart tonic but I can’t find any real reference to this and know it more as a useful herb to sooth digestive complaints such as gassiness and indigestion, much as close relative mint can be used. It is easy to identify; a hairy labiate so having square stems, small pale purple labiate flowers positioned in rings around the stems above leaf bases. The increasing size of the flowers makes the leaves point increasingly downwards, as the season moves on. The leaf veins are quite distinctive, more pronounced beneath and depressed above than most similar plants. The leaves grow in pairs, opposite each other on the stem. It smells aromatic when the leaves are bruised but not hugely so. Not like cultivated basil which is very strongly aromatic. This plant has been flowering in Amsterdam for a few weeks now and should continue to do so until September. I find the name Wild Basil a little misleading and prefer to think of it as a Calamint (which it is).

Wild marjoram (Origanum vulgaris) is the next Frankendael herb today and another well known culinary name. I last photographed it on day 2 and since then it has thrived and flowered. The flowers grow at the top of the stems rather than those of Basil. Marjoram flowers are more pink than purple and the plant smell stronger than Wild basil. The stems are distinctly woody. As well as being tasty and easy to grow in a pot, Marjoram has many historic uses including releiving the pain of rheumatism, easing colic and headaches. There are modern reports of it having quite potent anti cancer properties. Marjoram is quite a strong herb, as well known culinary herbs go, and is one to avoid during pregnancy. I also know of Greek and Turkish women who went out for a hearty plateful of Marjoram flavored food, when their baby’s delivery date is overdue. I tried it and it didn’t work for me but the food tasted great and it cheered me up no end!

Musk Mallow (Malva moschata). Here’s an interesting link in Dutch, for some information about uses of this beautiful plant and also two similar looking ones, Marsh Mallow and Hollyhock.

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