I caught the bus to work this morning and was able to check out my usual Fat Hen (Lamb’s Quarters, Chenopodium album) and Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) collection spot. Here it is, a few days post council mowing. Fortunately there are lots of intact Mugwort plants in adjacent unmowed areas but the Fat Hen is no more. I’ll keep my eyes open for another patch of them as I really enjoy their flavour.
Here is poisonous White Bryony (Bryonia alba), flowering faintly as it grows over a hearty looking Bramble. I didn’t have much time for photos today so thought I’d look up the uses of White Bryony in one of my favorite old herbals – Mrs M. Grieve’s Modern Herbal. The link above is from a useful online version of that book. It was used historically as a purgative for people, cattle and horses. It is a powerful irritant and cathartic, i.e. it makes people throw up very violently and is not a plant to be dabbled with. I love the reference in the book to scoundrels of old, digging up the roots and placing them in moulds to allow them to grow into imitation Mandrake roots. If only their modern day counterparts had that much skill with plants! I really like the look of this plant and if I didn’t have a child or cat in my home I’d probably harvest some and use it in some way, but certainly not internally. All parts of the plant are poisonous.
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.