Category Archives: Foraging

Beautiful things

I have been very busy the past few weeks, getting the Urban Herbology Foraging and Crafting Courses set up to run independently, for people who want and need these skills for increased self-reliance and community resilience, but who don’t want to do my full Apprenticeship course in one go. Both courses are now recognized and accredited by the Complementary Medicine Association, so I am very pleased. People can follow these alone (one or both) or they can build up to all 5 courses, which make up the Apprenticeship.

So that has taken up a lot of time behind my screen however, I have been outside a lot too. And, what beautiful things I have seen and what lovely people I have met! Here are a few of them:

Street food
Today I led a small group walk in the center of town, looking at interesting herbs which the local council frequently plant besides roads. Above you will see Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.) and Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa). Absolute edible and medicinal crackers! Not that I suggest the Amsterdam population goes out foraging all these from council plantings, but what I do suggest is that people get to know what’s growing near them and how they could be used in small amounts.

Street weeds
We also found some wonderful street weeds. I find that a street will have one predominant weed species, growing in many neglected plant pots, street gardens, between bike racks and in paving cracks. See if you notice the same… Sometimes I find a street lined with Gallant soldiers (Galinsoga parviflora) (apparently loved as guasca by Latin American cooks for potato dishes – thanks Mayda!), sometimes Pellitory-of-the-wall (Parietaria officinalis) an age old remedy for the urinary system), sometimes Herb Robert (look it up – it’s an awesome herb). These are surely a gift from the gutter gods. I urge everyone to get to know their street weeds. You never know when they could help you out of a tight spot.

In the tree pit shown above, we found heaps of Gallant soldiers, two prime Shepherd’s purse plants and a few other special plants.

Fungi
This seems to be the fruiting bodies of Giant polypore (Meripilus giganteus – Thank you Peter!) and what a gorgeous specimen the photo on the left preserves. Found these are at the base of a mature Beech tree, in woodland at the end of a lovely herb walk. The base of the tree is spiraled by clumps of specimen of this fungus, each one at a different stage of decay. This type of fungal fruiting body decays very quickly. Quite a site to behold.

I am not a mushroom expert so I am not going to tell much about these except that I have read, if this is indeed Giant polypore, when super fresh and cooked to perfection, it tastes like cardboard and is mildly poisonous. Umm – I will move on to other wild treats me thinks!

Fine taste
This afternoon, I showed some of the staff from Restaurant Merkelbach around the plants which surround their workplace. This is also where the River of Herbs orchards are to be found and it is lovely to share that space with such super people. Walking with them, this afternoon reminds me of how inspiring it is, to meet people with great taste and such sharp culinary imagination! I look forward to learning what they make with today’s finds.

Inula helenium – Elecampane



CMA Accreditation

I am delighted to tell you that Urban Herbology Education is now a Registered Training School with the CMA (Complementary Medical Association). The Urban Herbology Foraging Course is now Accredited by and Registered with the CMA and the other courses within the Urban Herbology Apprenticeship course are to be evaluated by the CMA very soon. So the UH Herb Crafting, Wheel of the Year, Herb Growing and Healing courses should also be accredited by and registered with the CMA before long.

The Complementary Medical Association is an international non-profit organisation, established in the UK in 1993, which is the most highly respected membership organisation for complementary medical and natural health-care professionals and training schools. I am so pleased to have received their seal of approval for the course which in turn should help graduates of the Urban Herbology Apprenticeship course to gain further recognition for their learning within the course.

High Summer

Lammas or Lughnasadh is the festival of first harvest. Celebrated at arond August 1st in the northern hemisphere. It is a time of flowers, seeds and fruits.

Here are a few images of my recent finds.

Urban Herbology Map

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: urban.herbology.lynn@gmail.com 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.

Stoepkrijt tijd

For English click here

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 …

Overblijvende ossentong (Pentaglottis sempervirens) Green Alkanet

Er gaat niets boven een naamplaatje om mensen te helpen beseffen wat er onder hun neus groeit terwijl ze door de straten lopen.

Smalle weegree (Plantago lanceolata) Ribwort

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.

Grote weegbree (Plantago major) Plantain

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.

Lindenboom (Tilia sp.) Lime tree

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.

Stinkende gouwe (Chelidonium majus) Greater celandine

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 urban.herbology.lynn@gmail.com

Ik zou ook graag je gelabelde planten zien en zal hier graag wat foto’s plaatsen, en op het Urban Herbology Facebook pagina.

Chalk and talk

Voor nederlands klik hier

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!

Anyone in?

Here are a couple that we did today across town…

Green alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens)

Nothing like a name tag to help people realise what’s growing under their noses as they walk around the streets.

Smalle weegree (Plantago lanceolata) Ribwort

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.

Grote weegree (Plantago major) Plantain

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.

Lindenboom (Tilia sp.) Lime tree

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.

Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) Stinkende gouw

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 urban.herbology.lynn@gmail.com

I’d love to see your labelled plants too and will happily post some photos here, and on the Urban Herbology FaceBook page.

Prickly Bear Sauce

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:

Olive oil

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.

Jelly ears – Wood ears

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.

Photo credit: Tony Alvarez

Some were enormous!

Photo credit: Tony Alvarez

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.

Velvety to the touch. Unmistakably gelatinous Jelly ears.

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!

A mature Elder

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.

April stuff

A selection of moments from April:

Meetup walk from Amstel Station to Park Frankendael.

Tempeh making for the apprenticeship module

Relining the little pond with a trailer cover.

Leaf shapes

Magnolia time continues

Speaking about nature based spirituality at University of Amsterdam

Larry the cat and the herbs

Last year’s grape vine leaves come out to play

Cherry blossom gathering at the Orchards

Saurkraut time

Fermenting stinging nettle tops

Urban dandelion and burdock

A walk in the park

Grub

Allium paradoxum

Looks like a baby Giant Hogweed or a hybrid

Mahonia in bloom everywhere

Nettle and friend

Yellow deadnettle all over the place

Purple deadnettles all over town

And it’s almost Elderflower time…