Just a quickie today;
Calendula seed heads ripening on treepit plants. These plants will go on flowering into the winter. They grow very easily from seed so why not collect some and spread them around? The flowers and leaves taste aromatic and better, they have a multitude of uses in food and peoples medicine.
Here’s Yarrow, a scarlet flowering variety but just as useful as the white native variety. This evergreen herb is still flowering in town and still surviving the strimmers! One of it’s country names is nose bleed, it has many uses including regulating blood flow.
Firstly today is Yarrow, NL: Duizendblad (Achillea millefolium) growing in a protected and well fertilized spot, next to a lamppost on Hugo de Vrieslaan. I use it mainly as a wound herb, I rub the juices gently on lightly wounded skin as an antisptic and to stem bleeding and as a fast remedy to nosebleeds. There are a great many uses for this herb. It is definitely one that far more people should know about and learn how to use. My daughter loves to nibble on this plant, perhaps because she can easily recognize it and pick the leaves from my roof pots but it shouldn’t really be ingested by under 5 year olds due to the strength of its blood regulating action. This plant grows all over the place, very easily and there are coloured flowered varieties which also have the same medicinal effects. I have a red flowered one on the roof. It makes an interesting addition to salads, just a leaf or two chopped up a little is all that’s needed. Be aware that it will bring on bleeding so not for pregnant women. Having said that it also helps to normalize mentrual cycles in some women. A very useful herb.
Above is the uniquely “fragranced” Field Woundwort (Stachys arvensis). Another wound herb, not as potent as Yarrow and not bitter tasting but very aromatic. Its a member of the Labiates and tastes a little of mint, but its quite different aswell. Good as a tea now and then, also a herb with many historic uses. See day 52 for some more information and links about this prolific urban waterside herb – why it’s called field woundwort, I’m not sure, I always find it beside water.
Above is Rosebay Willowherb (Epilibium angustifolium). Edible and medicinal (some use it for treating puss filled boils) not one I’ve really used, just eaten the odd flower and young shoot. Apparently it’s popular in several countries as a spring vegetable. Patrick Whitefield taught me about it some years ago, on a permaculture course. It often grows profusely on wasteland. I remember a lot of it growing on freshly cleared building plots, near my home as a child. It is a pioneer species, giving it the common name in North America of Fireweed.
Here is beautiful and extremely poisonous native climber called White Bryony (Bryonia alba), which I noticed today in a shady Frankendael hedgerow, growing over some Stinging Nettles. This is a new place for me to spot the plant. It also luxuriates throughout the woodland quarter of the park, where I see it a lot. It grows all around the city and thrives with something to scramble up and over, so it is often found against fences, hedges and shrubs. At the moment, whilst in flower it is even easier to identify.
Above is Yarrow (Achillia millefolium), flowering all over the city at present. A very useful and tasty herb. Known as Nosebleed in some parts, it has the ability to staunch or start bleeding. Not one for pregnancy or infancy. A prized women’s herb.
I thought I’d take this photo today to show how easy it can be to confuse plants. It shows Pensylvannian Pellitory (Parietaria pensylvanica) my neighbours’ dog’s favourite, growing beside a seed-setting White Deadnettle ( Lamium alba). Both are edible and both are, amongst other things, both are diuretics. Do you know which is which?
Lastly today, here is a sure sign that the main Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petoilata) season is coming to an end. Today I spotted lots of very yellow looking plants, putting all their remaining energy into seed production, rather than those delicious leaves. So if you have a penchant for this plant, now is the time to harvest from the small, younger plants . Please remember to leave the plants with plenty of foliage and the seed pods intact. That way, hopefully we can all benefit from a good crop next year.
I’ve been walking in Frankendael with Elodie today, we found heaps of herbs, several new to us. If you’d like to join me for a herb walk there are a few spaces left for the Sunday May 27th Amstel to Frankendael walk. Here are some striking examples from today…
Solomon’s Seal looks rather like an enormous version of Lily of the Valley so I always steer clear of it. I have always thought of Lily of the valley as a poisonous plant so lethal that I shouldn’t even go near it. Upon reading about it last night I learned that it is called the herbalist’s Digitalis. It has a potent specific effect on heart muscles, causing them to open and fill more intensely and to raise blood pressure. It is thus lethal in even small doses and is not a herb of interest to me. However this arching beauty of the woods is very interesting. Solomon’s seal is used to make traditional remedies for many ailments, ranging from speeding muscle and bone healing, to menopausal symptoms, diabetes, acne and other skin afflictions. The native Americans reportedly ate it frequently.
I was thrilled to turn a corner in the wood today and be greeted by this scene:
It is difficult for a photograph to do it justice – especially one of mine! Here is Hawthorn arching over a swathe of Solomon’s seal and Wild garlic, all three in flower at the same time.
Other herbs of note today…
Below, endangered Hoary Plantain (Plantago media). I first saw this herb last year and remember not really knowing what it was, although it was obviously some kind of plantain, but wanting to hide it and protect it from trampling feet! Of course I couldn’t and this plant is well adapted to living in well trodden locations. However, should you find it, especially in a week or two when it’s flower stalk will look like some sort of moth-plant hybrid, then please don’t touch it. I hope that this one has a chance to set seed.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Endangered Greater burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis)