Tag Archives: Common figwort

365 Frankendael day 352

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Today a small group of us planted out the Elder cuttings which we took from mature Elder shrubs on Hugo de Vrieslaan last year. The idea was to grow more of this useful native herb in a slightly cleaner part of the area.

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We choose to plant our well rooted cuttings along the edge of the Frankendael woodland. They blended in instantly and we have our fingers crossed that they will take well to their new home.

We also took a fresh batch of Elder cuttings and will care for them at our homes until next year. Thanks everyone who came along today!

Also today, I spotted a good amount of Cleavers (Gallium aparine) for the first time this year. It is growing here beside some Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).

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And Common Figwort is starting to bolt forth.

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365 Frankendael day 320

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I think that these are early leaves of Scrophularia nodosa (Common Figwort), the foliage smells like it but I haven’t noticed it this early in the year before. Time and flowers will tell.

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Above, Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) again. This time with a mixture of pink and purple flowers. It really stands out at this time of year.

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Here is pretty wild Dog Violet (Viola riviniana).

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Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Rich in protein (10%!), vitamins and nourishing minerals. This one could be harvested now but I’ll wait for slightly larger plants, to allow leaves to be left on the plant, after I harvest tender tops.

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And this spring beauty is Petasites japonica (Japanese butterbur). I think it’s an absolutely beautiful plant and feel very fortunate to have found this one in full bloom in good light today, and in a place I could actually reach! It grows in park Frankendael in just a few places along side three water, on the steepest banks where I guess most people don’t dare to tred, consequently it survives year on year. In Japan this spring growth causes excitement in markets where it is sold as delicacy. It is used as an astma and migraine medicine but contains alkaloids which are toxic to the liver and are strongly linked with some cancers. So consumption should be limited! I have been waiting for this day for a couple of years, since wondering if those massive kidney shaped leaves of late spring/summer, in pockets along the waterways of Amsterdam which so looked like Fuki (Japanese butterbur) really were the real deal. I’m quite happy this evening. Of course not all of the big summer Fuki-like leaves belong to this plant, some are completely unrelated and inedible to say the least. That’s one reason why identification with flowers and watching a plant for it’s whole lifecycle is so important.

365 Frankendael day 44

Today is drizzly and cool; the same temperature as last Christmas Day. Umm, a far cry from the heat of a week ago.  So today’s photos look as though I took them at dusk but in fact they were taken at about 2pm.

I have had another one of my bird spotter moments. I identified a plant from the park which looked pretty when I found it, but not spectacular. It wasn’t one that I recognised, although I was drawn to it and wanted to know  it. I took a little part of the plant home from my walk yesterday and used my books and the Internet to identify it.  Today I went out and photographed it along with some other June beauties:

Above is the plant I am so excited about – Skullcap.  It has pairs for slender, hooked Labiate flowers, running down adjacent corners of quite long flower stems. The flowers are a lovely deep mauve on the upper lip and contrasting white on the lower lip. This two tone flower is not obvious until you get right up close to it. The plant is clearly a member of the Labiates, not only due to the flowers but also because it has square stems and leaves coming off the stem in opposite pairs.  The leaves taste strongly bitter, they taste amazing actually, of strong Scullcap tincture, the type I use at home quite regularly for pain relief and relaxation. I especially love this herb and have been using it for some years with great success, since beginning study with Susun Weed.  It gives subtle releif to pain, especially pain in the head and it brings on sleep when it is needed.  I am so happy to have stumbled upon this beautiful herb in Park Frankendael as I not seen it (or at least noticed it) growing wild before, I only knew it from books and bottles.  All members of the Scullcap family contain the active ingredient and this is quite volatile thus the plant should be tinctured in situ.

There are many Scullcaps and all have the same active constituents. Most likely, this one is Sculletaria altissima, Tall Skullcap, Glidkruid in Dutch. It is labelled as Tros Glidkruid (Sculletaria columnae) in the herb garden of the park but I am not convinced.  The flowers are very similar but the underlip of this Frankendael plant is definitely white, throughout, it doesn’t blend from white to mauve at all, there is clear definition.


Above is flowering Scrophularia nodosa, Common Figwort, NL: Helmkruid.  A very strangely scented Labiate, which Claud Biemans helped me identify a few weeks ago.  I still need to do some proper research into its internal and external uses but it certainly has many historic applications, such as being used to relieve skin eruptions and swelling for painful joints.  It is prolific in some parts of this park.

Next today, Wild Roses.  It has rained today and the scent of Rose, close to these bushes is extraordinary.  If you haven’t been outside to smell Roses after light rain then try it!  I’ve mentioned Rose many times before.  They are tasty and have many uses.  These are both most likely to be Rosa canina, Dog Rose and how beautiful they are!  But one of them could possibly be Rosa rubiginosa, Sweet Briar, it certainly smells good enough to be that.  I will have a better look at the defining parts another day. For today I simply enjoyed them.

Here is Pellitory Parietaria sp., Glaskruid in Dutch.  Another useful herb to learn more about as it is again prolific in arts of Frankendael.

Lastly today gorgeous Valerian flowers, on the edge of the main woodland pond.
They smell great, they look great and they are very useful if you need to relax.