Tag Archives: Burdock

365 Frankendael day 163

I met Youko and one of her friends, in the park today and she asked me about herbs which will be available at the end of October.

Here is one which will be around because it’s an evergreen herb. Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacae) is not closely related to tree and wall climbing common Ivy (Hedera helix) but it does like to grow in semi shaded areas. I found this beautiful patch close to the Hugo de Vrieslaan bridge exit of the park (inside). It tastes minty, makes a good digestive tea and I sometimes like it with chocolate or potatoes.

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Burdock (Arctium lappa) may still be looking good then but will be way past it’s best. Today it’s looking OK, if a little nibbled by something.

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Another herb which will still be very useful for the forager’s plate, come the end of October, is Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). It’s in the middle of Ground ivy in this photo. If the leaves are looking less than appetising, chase down and dig up the taproot. Give it a good scrub at home and use it’s medicinal energy reserves to fuel yourself. Dandelion is often used as a cleansing, strengthening liver tonic and is a well loved vegetable in several European countries. It can be used as a coffee substitute, as a roasted (bitter) vegetable in it’s own right or can be usefully grated into other food to as a bitter dimension. Dandelion is thought of as a weed by most so is unlikely to be missed. But if you begin whipping out the roots from clean locations for your pot, please ensure that you spread every dandelion clock you see around town, next summer! An interesting way of cooking the flowers (they may still spring up through the autumn) is mentioned here.

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I also found plenty of Mugwort (Atermisia vulgaris) today, it’s still in good shape for picking and drying leaves to use through winter.

365 Frankendael day 114

Beautiful weather today and a lovely stroll through the park.

Day Lilies (Hemerocallis fulva), beautiful, edible flowers, not to be confused with standard Lilies which are highly toxic. Please scroll through the photos on day 75 to see what they look like.

Garlic mustard (Aliaria petiolata) growing out of some dirt on a woodland bridge.

Garlic mustard seedlings, coming up for a second edible crop of the year. This is a biennial plant so although there is not enough time for these seedlings to mature and set seed before the frosts, they should survive and flower next year. Probably best to forage only from the second year plants (which are now almost over, foraging wise).

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is setting seed and what spiky seed heads they are proving to be! If you need to harvest some, it’s probably best to have gloves on and shake the seeds straight into a paper bag. I gave up trying today and threw the few I collected into nearby soil.

It’s still going strong in some areas: Ground Elder (Aegopodium podograria).

First year Burdock (Artica lappa). This is what is needed if harvesting the medicinal and nutritious Burdock roots, is your mission.

Blackberries.

Fat hen growing In the shelter of a Beech hedge.

365 Frankendael day 78

We filled our pockets with small, sour, fallen apples in the park today. We met an interesting lady with her dog, who told us about eating Walnut leaves, Hazelnut foragers and Honingclaver (literally Honey clover, Sweet Clover, Melilotus spp.). It’s fine to eat Sweet clover in small amounts but as you’ll read in the link above, it can interact with some blood thinning drugs and no one should eat too much of this plant.

Today’s photos:
Firstly, Ground elder (Aegopodium podograria) springing up in the rain soaked, just mowed outer verges of the park.  A welcome sight, I love eating this plant and much of it looks quite stale in the other areas of the park.

Next up, Burdock flowers. As mentioned before, the second year plants flower and are not useful really. But use this sight in the urban wild to help you find first year plants perhaps.

Next a beautiful Rose, growing next to Frankendael Huis. So beautiful ans so many ways to eat them.

Here’s fragrant, digestive system soother Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria). Please see the day 72 posting for further details and links.

Here’s a plant growing in the pond behind Frankendael huis which I spotted on the recent Greenpeace walks in Amsterdamse Bos. It is known as Gypsywort in Britaian and Bugelweed in the US (Lycopus europaeus). I still need to learn it’s uses but am pleased to have found it in Frankendael today.

Here is a very large, sprawling and Poisonous White Bryony (Bryonia alba), making itself at home over a big old Yew tree (Taxus baccata), also Poisonous and steeped in folklore, mainy to do with the dead.

Do you remeber that ploughed up strip of parkland, next to Restaurant de Kas?  Well this is how some of it looks today.  It seems to have been sewed with a wildflower mixture and it has begun to look quite 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 46

I’ve been preparing for the next Urban Herbology walk today so here are several photos and not much chat…


Developing cobweb-spirally Burdock flowers.


The Middenweg Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum) continues to grow despite being reported to the council. Apparently it’s not a risk to the public because it is growing in the green strip… It is now wider than my bike, well over 2m tall and (although less than before I pruned it) still overhangs the pavement. I shall snip off the flower heads before the seeds set. A deadly beauty.


Greater Celendine, with seed pods developing well.


Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum), still growing, still flowering – everywhere in the park!


Skullcap (Sculletaria altissima) in the woods. Flowers development very quickly moving up the stalk, sowing be visible for much longer.


The flowers of wild Sage (Salvia officinalis).


On the edge of the rhododendron planted section, I found this shady patch of tasty Pelargonium, Garlic Mustard and also Stinging Nettle and Cleavers, just out of shot.


Lastly, frothy flowers of Hedge Bedstraw.

365 Frankendael day 40

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Today, many Burdock plants (Arctium lappa) are easily identified because their flower heads, or burs (which give the plant it’s common English name) are developing at the top of the plants. I’ve not really noticed them at this stage, before this year. They look very stately at the moment because the stems are growing fast so the large leaves are clearly separated. Burdock is a biennial plant, flowing during its second year. The roots are the part of interest to herbalists and those are only useful when harvested from first year Burdock plants. So although harvesting of Burdock roots should occur in the autumn, now is a great time to identify Burdock which is not flowering, is in its first year and may be of interest. Here’s a link to a Susun Weed article about Dandelion and Burdock.

Elder (Sambucus nigra)

Here is a little Elder (Sambucus nigra) shrub, growing at the base of a tall park side tree, on the Middenweg. Not a great location for harvesting the flowers. At this height you may also better understand why Ground Elder (shown yesterday in flower) is so named. Fortunately, although both are edible (at least in part), the flowers look quite different, one is a shrub and the other is clearly not.

White Dead Nettle (Lamium album)


Next, a lovely White Dead Nettle (Lamium album). This member of the mint family, which looks very like Stinging Nettle but is totoally unrelated, is still in flower and yielding a tiny sip of sweet nectar, if you pluck a flower and suck its base. This can also be done with Honeysuckle. However the Honeysuckle species is seen as poisonous and White Dead Nettle is edible. The whole plant may be enjoyed and benefitted from. This plant is good cooked like spinach.Here’s a nice recipe from a lovely blog about wild food called Eat Weeds.

Cleavers (Gallium aparine)

Lastly today, Cleavers (Galium aparine) with flower buds clearly developing. It may still be used a tonic herb when freshly juiced or made into a tincture.

365 Frankendael day 30

In just a 1 meter square patch of land, on the outer edge of park Frankendael, I found all these useful herbs today…

Medicinal Comfrey (Symphytum uplandica):

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) and Ground Elder (Aegopodium podograria) growing amongst each other:

Also, Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Poisonous member of the Carrot family, Hemlock (Conium maculatum):

Notice how similar it looks to Chervil. It has a smooth stem and leaves. It smells a little unpleasant and has notable purple staining on the stem. This is not a plant to be handled or foraged at all! This plant was used in ancient Geek executions, including that of Socrates. The Latin name means to whirl, pertaining to one of the symptoms of hemlock poisoning, vertigo. This plant is deadly poisonous and I show it here as so many foragers are keen to find plants such as wild carrot. It is very easy to confuse members of the family, especially those with finely divided leaves such a hemlock, carrot and sweet cicely
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Lastly another beauty which is not helpful to foragers. A Labrador delivering a little fertilizer to that interesting 1m square patch of park edge!

365 Frankendael day 24

On my wander through the woods of Frankendael today, I saw a beautiful woodpecker sat on a park bench! No time to photograph it but maybe this park will turn me into a bird spotter, by the time this project is through!

Another exciting discovery today was made thanks to the Meetup group. Yi wondered if I knew of Butterbur (Pestites sp.) and if it grew here in Amsterdam. She likes to eat it when at home in Japan. I wasn’t aware until then, that Butterbur and it’s immediate relatives, are edible, tasty and are reported to have health benefits.

Butterbur throws up very strange looking flowers on thick stalks during spring, a while before it’s foliage appears. When it’s often massive leaves do appear, they all come from the rootstock rather than a leaf stem. Leaves can be 60 cm or more across and are very easy to spot as they are unmistakably kidney-shaped and come out of the soil not a central plant stem. There are lots of them near the old entrance of Frankendael. I await Recipe advice from Yi’s Mum, before deciding just what to do with the plant but a google search for Fuki, it’s Japanese name will provide you with lots of ideas. If you live in the UK you may be familiar with the vanilla scented relative called Winter heliotrope. I can still remember my delight and disbelief when I first sniffed its flowers in Somerset, many years ago. I had no idea it was edible at the time.

Now onto another huge-leaved perennial, which many will be familiar with: Burdock! Arctium lapa shown above, is a truly enormous plant with a mighty rootstock, prized particularly as a liver tonic. Dandelion and Burdock is a delicious drink, I remember well from my childhood. Dandelion is also a super liver tonic. Now Burdock is not such an Urban Herbology favourite as it’s very difficult to dig up and what a mess of parkland it would make to do that! However is a good herb to know about in case you happen upon a huge patch of them in the countryside or a bottle of tincture in a herbal supplies shop. When Giant Butterbur and Burdock coexist you should notice Burdock has pointed leaves and Butterbur kidney shaped leaves. burdock leaves grow out from an upright central plant stem, the burs eventually grow out of the top of this central stem, on their own stem.

Here above is a sign that there’s a Burdock closeby. Dried burs from last years growth.

Other wild beauties today…
Soapwort bolting up after done extra sunshine and showers. Yes, it is soapy, well the roots at least, and can be used for cleaning. It contains saponins but such a pretty flower is better left in the soil.

Euphorbia close up. Extremely toxic and irritating to skin.

A type of Mullein, in bud. This plant will be well over a meter high very soon. It’s flowers can provide an earache remedy.


Lastly, a member of the Brassica family, I thought possibly Creeping Yellow Cress although it’s leaves are slightly stubbier than that. It tastes uncredibly strong! I then wandered into the labelled herb garden of the park and found a very similar looking plant called Barbarakruid (Barbarea vulgaris, Yellow Rocket Cress). I think that’s the most likely candidate. It tastes like super strength Rocket. Umm!