Tag Archives: Alliaria petiolata

365 Frankendael day 103

I walked to the local Intratuin garden centre today, to buy a few edible houseplants. Intratuin is on the edge of Park Frankendael. My mission was fruitful; a small banana plant, a Tea plant, Coffee and an Orange. I hope that I’ll be able to provide these plants with the conditions they need to thrive. Will be harvesting just a few young tea leaves in a week or so, if all goes well. I tweeted a photo of the Tea plant (Camellia sinensis) this afternoon, if you’d like a look…


On the way, I found this lovely patch of Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), close to a road so not my usual harvesting location but dry as a bone and bearing thousands of ripe seeds. I stripped about a hundred seeds from the plants in no more than two minutes. It barely made a dent in the number of seeds availableon and as I collected, many were blown away by the wind. I secured my seed harvest within a fold of purse fabric and continued my journey to the garden centre.

Now is a great time to look out for seeds ripening on your favorite plentiful city herbs. I’d love to know if any one else has been quietly collecting a few local seeds. If so, what catches your eye, how are you storing them and what do you plan to do with them?

Hollyhocks are next on my list of sought after seeds. They seem to germinate very easily in the sandy Amsterdam ground, can be used to produce useful home remedies and I think that they are amazingly beautiful.

365 Frankendael day 75

I went for an earlier walk in the park today and was rewarded by finding the freshest and most delicious Lime (Tilia) flowers that I have ever harvested.  Here’s the tree they came from.  I turned them into a tea and shared it with the painters and my little girl.  Lime tea is especially good on a warm summer day like today. It is cooling and refreshing.

Here’s a neighbouring Tilia tree in the park. It must be a different variety as everything about it is a little smaller than most Tilia in the park and the the leaves are a little darker.  The flowers are also placed slightly differently on the twigs. I don’t know so much about the different varieties but I do know that Tilia tastes good and is very beneficial.

Next is a harmonious grassland combination of Plantain, Yarrow and Red clover in bloom.  I set off today hoping to find enough Yarrow to make a tick-deterring tincture. I got rather side tracked by other herbs and in the end, didn’t notice enough to harvest. So instead of tincturing, two flower stalks are brightening up a small vase on my dining table.  It’s good to remember just how many ways there are to benefit from flowers.

Here are two of my favourite things, my little girl and a huge Brassica plant.  As with most naturalised and wild brassicas, all parts are edible and quite strong tasting. Just a carefully picked leaf or two should liven up a meal.  (Thanks Jennie for correcting me on this one, I thought it was Wild Cabbage but that only grows near the coasts on chalky soil). This one may be Rapseed (Brassica napus). My friend Jennie Akse is running a herb walk focused on edible yellow flowering plants, around in Amsterdam at present.  Have a look at the Meetup group for details.

Here is a herb that I find quite wondrous, Dark Mullein (Verbascum nigrum). Useful for many disorders, such as lung weakness and infection and most popular, I think, as an ear infection remedy.

Next up today is another herbal harmony, Veronica‘s towering blue spires mixed with more Mullien, Mugwort and Agrimony.

Here are some striking and Poisonous Lilies, in the formal garden behind Frankendael Huis and Merkelbach.  I add this photo because yesterday I featured the very edible Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva), which can look very similar to the uninitiated.  All parts of Lily are toxic. I have never thought about eating this type of plant but I find the pollen, when trapped in a living room with it for instance, very irritating.

Here is Catnip (Nepta sp). A member of the mint family, it can be used in similar refreshing ways. I like to make a sinus blasting pesto with it sometimes. It has many uses and is quite easy to grow.  Many will already know about cat’s affinity to this herb.  Some love it and find it quite a turn on, others seem to lack receptivity to it and many show more of a loved-up reaction to Valerian.

Another minty wonder is shown below, the often overlooked and trampled Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea). The pretty purple flower spikes are gone from most of the plants now but just look at that rich foliage! Now is a good time to harvest and use it or dry it for the winter. But why bother when this ground covering  plant is around all year long?

Next is a delicious Garlic Mustard plant (Alliaria petiolata), showing different stages of seed pod development. This is a wonderfully tasty herb to add to all sorts of cooking.  It is also great used as a salad leaf or flower.  Looking at these seed pods reminds me of why it’s a pity to harvest the flowers of this super biennial.  Less flowers, less seeds, less plants next year.

Next is a large plant which I’ve been hunting for some time – a first year Burdock (Arctium lappa), ripe for root harvesting.  It seemed that all the Burdock in Amsterdam were second years, in bloom and not very nutritious or medicinal.  Now that the council have mowed some patches of the park, some first year Burdock have been kindly left to develop.  I won’t be digging this plant up but it’s good to see it and be reassured that a first year plant is easy to identify.

Lastly today, a type of Hyssop (Hyssopus sp.).  I used this plant quite a lot last year, it is very aromatic and makes good tea. I’ll have a careful look at this one again soon to identify it fully.

365 Frankendael day 66

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.

Garlic mustard, Jack in the hedge (Alliaria petiolata)


Photo courtesy of Elodie and Herman, in De Baarsjes, Amsterdam. 25th April 2012.

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is easy to find in many cities and is also very easy to eat!

It is often easy to spot them at the base of large tree trunks and along the edges of woodland and hedges. They also thrive within woodland. It flowers at the end of April into May. Whilst flowering, it is very easy to identify, not only by the distinctive smell of garlic when the leaves are bruised but also by the tiny white flowers at the top of the plant. Garlic mustard is a favorite amongst foragers and can grow up to 120 cm in the right location.

This plant is a biennial and can provide year round nutritious greens, for salads or the cooking pot. All parts are edible. Even the roots can be eaten, they should be harvested just before flowering, but of course removing the whole plant will limit the foraging potential the following year as the plant will be unable to spread by seed. Far better is to pick a leaf or two at intervals, throughout the growing season and leaving the plant to flower and set seed unhindered.

Garlic mustard isn’t known as a medicinal herb, more a culinary one. It is a member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae, so I like to think of it as a tasty replacement for sprouts.

I see lots of Garlic mustard growing around Amsterdam. You are very likely to find it along the edges of canals, hedges and overgrown areas, such as railway embankments. Mid to late spring is probably the best time to identify it.

Eating Garlic mustard is straightforward. It can be eaten raw, if very clean or cooked. It has a garlicky spinachy taste so works well with many ingredients. In like to chop up a leaf or two and mix them in with other spring greens, which I steam.