I have started a map to help my students and others to find herb gardens, foraging spots, community gardening projects and other interesting herbal places. I live in Amsterdam Oost so to start with, most of the map points are clustered there but I hope that it will steadily grow as more people add interesting medicinal and edible herbs to the map. I also want to map more places where Urban Herbologists can learn about plants and nature in general. Hopefully we can build it up for other cities and parts of the world. Let’s see where it goes.
If you would like to add points to the map, which show finds outside of private gardens, either send details and a photo to: firstname.lastname@example.org or ask me to have editing rights, so that you can post your own favourites. I want each point to have the Scientific plant name, local name and English.
Please remember that this is for educational purposes and that no responsibility is taken for incorrect points on the map. The aim is purely for people interested in Urban Herbology to find more interesting plants and places close to where they live.
At present the map layers are:
General (useful herbs, edibles, medicinals in open ground) Trees (with edible / medicinal uses in open space) Private Collections (museum gardens, botanical gardens etc) Community Gardens (where you could get involved with some local schemes)
I hope you find it interesting and useful. Let me know any feedback.
De laatste tijd hebben een paar vrienden en familie me een zetje gegeven over deze botanische stoepkrijt die momenteel in Europa gaande is.
Ann van City Plot gaf me gisteravond een zetje, wat de laatste strohalm heeft bewezen – het is duidelijk tijd dat we beginnen met meedoen! Wil iemand meedoen met ons?
Hier zijn een paar dingen die we vandaag in de stad hebben gekrijt …
Er gaat niets boven een naamplaatje om mensen te helpen beseffen wat er onder hun neus groeit terwijl ze door de straten lopen.
Veel van ons kennen de waarde van de planten die de meeste mensen onkruid noemen. We zijn gepassioneerd door mensen die beseffen wat er kan worden gedaan met planten die om hen heen groeien en zorgen voor de planten die van nature groeien in vergeten ruimtes.
Meestal willen we niet van trottoirs oogsten of foerageren, maar die stedelijke kruiden en groenten kunnen een bron zijn van gratis zaad, stekjes, startplanten en leerplanten.
Hier is een Grote stinkende gouwe die ik vorige week uit een stoeptegelscheur trok en nu op mijn dak groeit voor een huismiddeltje en een leerplant. Het gele sap binnenin heeft verschillende toepassingen.
Als je niet zeker bent van de naam van de plant, stuur me dan een duidelijke foto via Whatsapp of e-mail van en ik stuur je de plantnaam. 06 275 969 30 email@example.com
Lately, a few friends and family have nudged me about this botanical street chalking that’s going on in Europe right now.
Ann from City Plot gave me a nudge last night which has proved the final straw – it’s clearly time that we start to join in the fun!
Here are a couple that we did today across town…
Nothing like a name tag to help people realise what’s growing under their noses as they walk around the streets.
Many of us know the value of the plants which most people call weeds. We are passionate about people realising what can be done with plants growing around them and looking after the plants which naturally grow in forgotten spaces.
Mostly, we won’t want to harvest or forage from pavements but those urban herbs and veggies can be a source of free seed, cuttings, starter plants and teaching plants.
Here’s a Greater celandine which I pulled from a pavement crack last week and now grows on my roof for a home remedy and teaching plant. The yellow sap inside has several uses.
It you’re not sure of the name of the plant, feel free to send me a clear photo by What’s app or email and I’ll send you the plant name. 06 275 969 30 firstname.lastname@example.org
I went for a walk and forage in the Orchards of Park Frankendael this morning and made some recordings for you. Next time, I will hold my phone the other way so that it records a wider frame but for now, I hope that you can at least enjoy some of the blossoms and bees!
So there we have it, about 30 minutes of my ramblings in the orchards. We saw quite a few plants today but there are hundreds more to find. Let me know what you would like to see next time!
It’s stinging nettle top plucking time here in Amsterdam. Most people realise that they are edible and that they sting. I”m often asked how to eat these prickly iron and protien-rich freinds. There are many ways!
Some people like to roll them up and eat then raw. I prefer them cooked or added raw to smoothies. Nettle soup is popular and I like that but I’m fonder of incorporating nettles into creamy, garlicky sauces. I’m making one this evening so I thought I’d share how.
I’m calling this little sauce recipe The Prickly Bear because it contains stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) which are clearly prickly and wild garlic, scientifically known as Allium ursinum, Bear onion. You may know it better as Ramsons, Daslook or Wild garlic.
To make enough sauce for 4 – 6 people, I used:
3 banana shallots
20 stinging nettle tops (top 4 full leaves and stems)
Handful of wild garlic leaves
5 chestnut mushrooms
3 table spoons sour cream
1/2 good quality stock cube
Salt and pepper
Gently saute a few chopped shallots (or a medium onion) in butter, ghee or olive oil.
Add washed and chopped stinging nettle tops, before the shallots are thoroughly cooked.
Cover with a lid and allow it all to steam for a few minutes. Stinging nettles benefit from being nice and soft when you eat them so don’t rush this step.
Now add the chopped Ramsons. Give it all a good stir.
Add sour cream, salt, pepper or a little of a good quality stock cube.
and then add a hearty pile of sliced mushrooms (preferably chestnut mushrooms).
Replace the lid and simmer gently for 5 minutes or so, until the mushrooms are cooked and tender.
Serve with whatever you like. I stirred it through some gnocchi this evening and sliced some Comte cheese over the top.
This is the start of my main edible and medicinal herb walk season and it’s beautiful here in Amsterdam.
The plants are looking wonderful. Bumble bees are buzzing and caterpillars are already nibbling the nettles.
There’s no need for me to purchase as many vegetables as usual because I’m adding fresh Stinging nettle and Ramsons to my diet each day.
I’ve decided to try to bring some of the wild city edibles to the virtual doorsteps of those of you who are hungry to learn.
One day next week, I’ll go for a solo herb walk, somewhere very quiet, during my daily fresh air break. I’ll pretend that you’re with me – in a good way 😉 I’ll record it and share it so that you can see what’s around.
I’ll perhaps look like a mad plant lady as I walk around talking to plants but what’s new? I’d like you to see the plants and learn from them. We need to know what grows around us and how to use them safely and ethically.
Some which we find may be growing right outside of your window, right now. Some may be invading your balcony pots. Let’s see what turns up.
If you would like to see the orchards and hear some bird song, hop over to the River of Herbs blog as I’ve posted a few green video clips and photos there this week.
If you’d like to join my free virtual walk, let me know, preferably in the comments box below and I’ll inform you when it’s online.
Spring is in the air, I can smell it and feel it and taste it! Well, early spring is here at least which means that my apprenticeship is reopened to newcomers, I’ve ordered too many heirloom seeds for the coming season and I’m planning growing projects in each spare moment. I can’t help it, when I feel Imbolc (the first spring festival) approaching, my energy levels pick right up and I need to get busy. Maybe you are the same?
I’m so looking forward to the Urban Herbology walk that’s coming up on Saturday, in Past Frankendael. It starts at 11.45 at the main old entrance of the park and is almost fully booked so have a look at the meetup group if you would like to join or if you fancy joining me on another walk.
I sent a message to people who have signed up, through meetup yesterday. If you have signed up but didn’t receive the message, please let me know (email@example.com).
If you would like to stay informed whenever new walk and workshop dates are set, please sign up to the meetup group as I don’t keep a mailing list and don’t like to spam anyone.
Heaps of edible and medicinal plants are showing themselves at the moment and many are growing so well that we can harvest them from certain places. I’ll show you lots of tasty and useful plants on Saturday.
I’m back at work in school now so not too much time to write posts but I just have to share these images with you. I took an ex-student into the woods for a walk and chat last week and we found these amazing Jelly ear or Wood ear fungi on a mossy old Elder tree. The scientific name for these ear shaped beauties is Auricularia auricula-judae.
Some were enormous!
Jelly ears are one of just a few fungi that I get excited about when out foraging because they are so straightforward to identify and I love to pick, cook and eat them!
I harvested a couple whilst out on that walk and went back for more with my daughter, a few days later. We found them on the mossy Elder but also on older dead trees which now have no bark so I couldn’t identify those tree species (but they are certainly not Elder).
I harvested a small paper bag full, dried most in my oven on a very low heat and cooked up the rest in a curry.
I’ll rehydrate these in a cup of water for 15 minutes or so, when I’m ready to slice and cook them.
Jelly ears don’t have a strong flavour and they smell of the mossy woods which they come from. They have this particular crackle-crunch when cooked and munched and I really like them. They are not crunchy or crackly when fresh however. When on the tree, they are totally gelatinous, unmistakably ear shaped, have a velvety upper texture, a another under texture and are pure jelly in the middle. They can be pulled carefully off the wood rather like a bit of turkish delight. I like everything about them!
Jelly ears are mostly associated with rotting parts of Elder trees (Sambucus nigra) but are also known to grow on other tree species.
I’d love to know your thoughts about these ears of the woods. Have you tried them? Do you like them? How do you like to cook them? Let me know your thoughts.
One thing that I really miss when I am at school all week, is a long, relaxed, morning walk. I really need to start weaving more walks into my work week schedule. In any case, I certainly can’t complain as I am now on school holiday for a couple of weeks so started with a leisurely walk today. Taking in the air, sights and plants as I wander for 5km or more through Amsterdam east, is a great way to start the day.
This morning, my walk took in a long stretch of the Weespertrekvaart. On one side, a cycle path, sport fields, allotments and Amsteldorp (with plenty of Christmas lights at the moment). On the other, a mix of new villas, tower blocks, boats, businesses and the old Bijlmerbajes prison buildings. In between, a wide stretch of canal which a few ducks, gulls and a morning rowing team were enjoying. Between the canal and the cycle path is a footpath and parts of it are edged with reeds and wild herbs.
At this time of year there is a lot of green to be found in Amsterdam but due to midwinter’s reduced light and temperatures, most plants are not in flower or in good shape for foraging. At this time of year, it’s best to look but not touch, unless you find a big area of something quite special which is clearly loving the reduced competition for light, which midwinter also brings.
This Malva patch caught my eye. Not only is the plant quite prolific in places along the footpath, but here and there it can be found in flower. Plants are much easier to identify when in flower so this is great for foragers. Even if you don’t fancy foraging during midwinter, it is a great time to build your knowledge – of plant ID and where the plants like to grow.
Yesterday in school, one of the classes ran an assembly about different foods eaten to celebrate Christmas around the world. One mention really caught my attention – Malva Cake in South Africa! Malva – in a cake – what a great idea!
I tend to eat malva leaves, of all sorts, in salads or I cook them gently and eat in savoury dishes. They can be chopped up into a tasty falafel mix, fried, stuffed, cooked like spinach and then sprinkled with feta type cheese. The options are endless (so long as you are sure to wash dust off as they can be quite hairy). Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is in the malva family, so is the Lime tree (Tilia spp) and they have ever so unctuous leaves. The malva in this photo looks like Common mallow (Malva sylvestris) to me. In my experience, it has less unctuous leaves than lime and marshmallow but they are mild tasting, very palatable and quite abundant in the greener parts of Amsterdam. More importantly, Common mallow is neither endangered here in The Netherlands (the Marshmallow plant is) nor is it out of reach (as Lime tree leaves certainly are in winter). So I became more and more pleased with this find on the footpath edge. One of my favourite Amsterdam plants is Hollyhock. That is also in the Malvaceae family and the leaves look quite similar to Common mallow. And while I think of it, some other Malvaceae members are cacao, cotton, durian and okra. This family of plants has high economic importance around the world.
Malva cake sounds great to me and also brings to mind the big packets of dried Malva leaves sold by my local Turkish supermarket (Yakhlaf on Javastraat). I googled recipes for malva cake and was a little disappointed that most contained no malva at all and looked distinctly similar to sticky toffee pudding. I found one reference to a Dutch cake with malva in the name but no actual malva in the recipe. So I am now on the hunt for a recipe which contains enough malva leaf to make a delicious unctuous cake – and preferably without carb-rich flour (as I am trying to avoid carbs). If you know of a recipe, I would love to hear! In the meantime, I will start experimenting with almond flour and malva leaves.
Do you have any uses for Malva leaves which you would like to share? If so please let me know in the post comments or through my contact page. Malva leaves seem to be very widely used in other parts of the world and right now, they are looking good in both Turkish supermarkets and winter footpath edges here in Amsterdam.
Forage lightly and happily, my friends!
Next Urban Herbology walk in Amsterdam – Tomorrow! 21st December. Check out my meetup group or What’s app me on 0627596930 if you would like to join the Winter Solstice walk.