My school runs a lovely Forest School programme using some of the local space in Beatrixpark. Here are some of the beautiful plants, growing there at the moment…
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) Groot Robertskruid. Edible and useful.
Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) Japanse duizendknoop. Edible, rather like rhubarb, when cooked. Likely to give children a sore tummy as it is very sour. It can be quite useful as a medicine. This invasive plant is a major pest as it quickly takes over space and light from native slower growing species.
Lots of this woodland plant visible at present, it is one of my favourites. It is called Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana) Groot Heksenkruid.
Despite the nightshade name, this plant is edible and is quite tasty when cooked (wilted like spinach). It is not a member of the Solanacae family (the poisonous Nightshades) is linked to the ancient Greek sorceress Circe. She apparently used this plant in many of her potions. It apparently has the ability to draw back to you whatever you send out, especially love.
Young leaves of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) Look-zonder-look. Edible, delicious, very versatile as a culinary herb and useful too. Note the kidney shaped first leaves arising from the soil. Then as the biennial plant matures, it develops more elongated heart shaped leaves. In time there will be a cluster of tiny Brassicaceae (cabbage family) flowers atop the tall stem. If you fancy trying some just pluck one leaf per plant and leave those precious flowers and seeds to develop. This is a huge pest in some areas but here it is a delicious treat to find! I eat it raw or cooked.
Common Daisy (Bellis perennis) Madeliefje. This plant is edible, the flowers are a fun addition to soup or salad and the leaves, when chewed up to make a spit poultice, make a useful and quick to find wound herb. It is quite astringent to helps to stop bleeding. The Roman soldiers apparently travelled into battle with it, ready to help injured centurians.
Here is pretty Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) Hondsdraf. What a tasty little mint family plant this is! I love to add a pinch of it to a pot of tea and add it to lots of my cooking. It is aromatic, a digestive and an evergreen member of the mint family. A welcome find for winter and summer foragers alike! Edible raw and cooked.
Another edible plant from the woods: Ground Elder (Aegopodium podograia) Zevenblad. This is another versatile herb for the pot. I really enjoy cooking meals with a few leaves of Ground elder chopped in for the last ten minutes. It has medicinal virtues too.
Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) Vlierbloem. Green parts poisonous (but medicinally very useful), flowers – lekker!
Now for the less tasty plants which I found on Friday:
This one looks decidely like highly poisonous Datura to me (or a close relative in the Solanacea family). It may not be but this is a plant to watch at a distance. I know that the cultivated herb garden of Beatrix park does deliberately grow some of this plant so it could well be a seeded escape. I found this growing inside of the entrance path of the park.
And this large and striking looking plant is probably edible Common Hogweed (Hereacleaum sphondylium) but it is easily confused with poisonous Giant Hogweed (eracleum mantegazzianum).