Perishingly cold in Amsterdam today but most of the local plants don’t flinch at this strange weather! Here’s a small sample of what you could be harvesting or eating from Amsterdam streets and green spaces today:
Today perennial Russian Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum x) plants are standing proud again. I’m very pleased about this as I’d like to try placing a Comfrey leaf beneath my potato plants this year. My spuds are almost ready to be planted out, just in time for the Comfrey fertiliser!
Hollyhock plants (biennials) are looking strong and almost ready for some leaf harvesting. I’ve got lots of plans for this plant this year. An interesting herb to help soothe bronchial congestion and infection.
This lovely plant (in Sarphatipark, next to the railings along Centuurbaan) is Miner’s Lettuce, Winter Purslane (Claytonia perfoliata) and delicious it is too! This is the basal rosette of young leaves. Just wait until the little white flowers come in abundance – they grow out of the centre of the mature leaves. Quite amazing!
A Butterbur species (Petasites sp), in alien-like flower. Edible in small quantities, contains a liver toxin. It will have massive kidney shaped leaves soon, less interesting to the forager and then more likely to be dangerously confused with other very irritating plants. Now is the time to be interested in this plant.
Beautiful (not edible) Bluebells, just coming up beside a Lime tree trunk and an up coming Garlic Mustard perennial plant.
This purple flowering perennial is Red Dead-nettle ( Lamium purpureum). Edible, nutritious and gently medicinal.
Here is Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum). Mouth wateringly delicious, if you like the taste of garlic, and with the benefits of garlic, though probably less effect on vampires as it’s milder in strength. Now’s the time to try it if you haven’t already.
Next, a Mallard duck checking out Park Frankendael’s Japanese spring delicacy – Fuki (Petasites japonica), before checking out my telephone and trying to eat it – or me, not quite sure which. The beautiful yellow flowers look like primroses from a distance. Primroses are also in flower in the park right now but shouldn’t be touched as they don’t multiply very well here.
And last but not least the plant which I found recently and thought was Black Horehound (Ballota nigra). It could also be Common/White Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) I’m measuring this patch each day, waiting patiently for it to be big enough to harvest for a tincture. For the first option, its Latin name, Ballota, comes from its unattractive scent. Its not so bad and helps to identify the plant. It can be used to lift the spirits, act as a mild sedative, ease morning sickness, nausea, gout, bronchial congestion, nervousness, menopausal ailments and many more conditions. I’ve been munching it in the park each day I see it and find it really quite palatable, the smell doesn’t seem so strong or distasteful. Those who named it Ballota must have smelt not so many foul odours! Or perhaps I’ve smelled lots in the chemistry lab so am not so bothered anymore… Or perhaps it is Common Horehound instead? Either way, the two options are edible and I’m really looking forward to trying the tincture and feel that it may become a staple for me during times when I’d usually reach for Motherwort but also feel the effects of cold dampness and chestiness. An infused honey will be the second thing I make from this plant.