Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale agg.) today. A great herb to encourage intestinal health and far more.
Today feels like spring has ready arrived. It’s been about 14°C, odd considering we’ve had -5°C and heaps of snow just a couple of days ago. How many plants will react to these yo-yo temperatures is anyone’s guess.
How tasty, vitamin and mineral rich Chickweed reacts is more predicable. Here is a little patch of Stellaria media in an otherwise barren looking tree pit. It looks pretty perky to me and quite unperturbed by the weather.
And here’s a miniature Dandelion plant in a crack between a building and pavement.
Slightly sunnier photos today, of a mini Dandelion in the crack between a house and pavement…
And this deep green plant, which looks like Hairy bittercress at first glance but is most likely to be White Mustard (Sinapis alba) or Hedge mustard (Sisymbrium officinale). I think it’s most likely the first mustard but it will be easier to tell of it gets a chance to flower.
200 days and counting of photographing urban edible and medicinal plants, growing in the Park Frankendael area of Amsterdam.
Today a twilight photo of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis). All parts are edible, bitter and useful – if thoroughly clean of course. After all the beautiful and surprising plants I’ve found during this journey, I’m still stopped in my tracks by a hearty Dandelion!
A stroll around my neighbourhood, led me to some very useful plants and a poisonous one, today…
Firstly, Annual Nettle (Urticaria urens). Full of nutrients, rather like it’s better known perennial sister but with less ferocious stings. If you are used to seeing Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) around town you may notice that this annual has more toothed leaf edges.
Next is a handsome, deep rooted Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis agg.)
Then a strong, protective Ivy plant (Hedera helix) in full autumn insect feeding bloom.
Here is a lively patch of vitamin packed Chickweed (Stellaria media) making three most of a protective playground fence.
Here’s a tiny Hollyhock seedling, growing in a pavement crack.
I also liked the look of this decorative (and edible) Pansy (Viola tricolor).
And a lovely nutritious Mallow growing against the building where I live.
Lastly a striking plant which I’m quite sure is a poisonous nightshade. This one seems to be used as a decorative addition to pavement garden. I will try to find it’s name but think it is sometimes called Love Apple, Nicandra spp.
A few more useful street herbs which I found this afternoon in the Watergraafsmeer…
Yarrow, still flowering beautifully in areas where grass mowers can’t reach them.
Here’s a mish-mash of edibles and medicinals growing against an apartment block. Wild Rocket in flower, Dandelion, Yarrow and more. There seem to be hundreds of lush Dandelion plants alongside the Middenweg at the moment. Far to close to the road to be very healthy but useful for relocating perhaps.
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.
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.
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.
I also found plenty of Mugwort (Atermisia vulgaris) today, it’s still in good shape for picking and drying leaves to use through winter.
I’ve been busy preparing for the Elder workshop tomorrow and enjoyed a little walk in the park looking for ingredients for ghee based Elder ointment. Elder leaves are very medicinal but contain a chemical which, when digested by the human body, turns into cyanide so it’s obviously not a good idea to eat it. The ripe berries and flowers don’t contain this chemical although the seeds within the berries do. Here are the herbs in my ointment, plus a couple of other plants which are also looking and tasting great at the moment…
Elder (Sambucus nigra) growing close to the base of an old Cedar. Here’s a lovely Elderberry syrup recipe, from Mountain rose herbs, which uses honey for sweetness but doesn’t heat the honey – good news and unusual!
Today, a quick list of 16 edible or medicinal plants, currently in season in Amsterdam. Here they are, photographed in Park Frankendael this morning:
Silverweed – edible, all parts.
Jerusalem artichoke – invasive, very tasty. Heaps of it at the back of the closest flower meadow to Frankendael huis (behind the house). Cook the roots with winter savoury – it helps eliminate the intestinal gas which these vegetables are infamous for producing.
Dandelion, Stinging nettle and Chickweed. All three are edible, nourishing tonic herbs. Can be eaten safely in fairly copious amounts but just a leaf our two, or a handful of Chickweed, will really boost a meal.
Rosehips, in abundance. They could be made into syrup now but if the birds leave them alone, I’d wait another few weeks. Medicinal due to high vitamin c levels in particular and other immune boosting constituents. Interesting added to stews etc also.
False, but edible, look-a-like strawberries of a Potentilla.
Sweetcorn and Sunflowers, growing alongside the Middenweg. I’ve seen quite a few wild Sweetcorn plants lately. Maybe sometimes been sewing the seed as they walk the streets? Not likely that either of these plants will be left, strimmer free, long enough to flower or seed, but what fun that would be if it happened.
Japanese knotweed, rhubarb like, super sour edible and terribly invasive plant. Search this site and others for how to cook it.
Marshmallow (yes, it’s the original sweet namesake). I simply collected a thousand seeds or so from this plant today. It’s so easy to grow in town and so useful as a soothing medicinal and as a food – think gooey egg substitute.
Not so easy to see – though what a pretty woodland view – Ground elder and Wild geranium.
Garlic mustard, edible – very! – but only pick one leaf per plant at this time of year. They need to build up energy reserves to survive the winter. You’ll hopefully be rewarded with tall healthy leaf and flower rich plants next year.
Wild rocket. Rucola in Dutch. A heap this size would be sold for a small fortune in Albert Heijn. It will taste extra strong and be a bit woody at the moment due to flowering but still useful and very peppery. Maybe collect a seed pod or two and sprinkle them in a price of underused safe land near your home.
Greater celandine. NOT edible! Poisonous orange sap, but that sap is very useful as a topical treatment for warts and some other skin spots.
Lastly the mystery Nut Tree that several people sent me photos of whilst I was on holiday. I still don’t know the name or whether it if edible our not. But I now know it’s sticky and I think it is setting fruit rather than nuts at the moment. Will keep am eye on it as they develop.