Thanks to the watertolerant group who joined me to herb walk in Sarphatipark today. We found lots of useful herbs and also interesting park workers who told us how the park is maintained by a dynamic group of volunteers and is trying innovative edible approaches to eradicate Japanese knotweed. Above is a park warden, pictured by the enormous Jerusalem artichokes which are being used to keep knotweed at bay. When the invasive plant is removed, the ground can quickly turn into a home for other unwelcome invaders or can see the return of knotweed. Using Jerusalem artichoke, another rapidly growing and spreading plant, can provide tasty tubers and quash the knotweed. So far so good!
I was also reassured to learn that the Ginkgo trees I’m so fond of in parts of Our Zuid are indeed female and yield plentiful Ginkgo nuts. Amsterdam is fortunate to have such edible plant loving folk in its green spaces team.
The plants I remember finding today are listed as tags to this entry. The spreading soft leaved plant which looked quite like Agrimony but wasn’t, was indeed a cinqefoil, called Silverweed previously called (Potentilla anserina) but now reclassified as Argentina anserina . It is shown above and it is edible. If you were on the walk and can remember other plants which I have missed from the tag list then please let me know.
Thanks again to everyone who joined me. It was a real pleasure to walk around with you. If you signed up but were not brave enough for the wet weather, remember there are always trees to shelter under next time 🙂
I’ve given myself a day away from Park Frankendael. I led three Herb walks in Amsterdamse Bos, for staff of Green Peace and wanted to share a photo of a plant from that location instead. Around 60 members of the staff joined me to look at some herbs found there and in central Amsterdam. As ever I learned some interesting uses for plants from those attending, such as rubbing nettles on sore muscles, to increase the local circulation. Also that burned Chicory is still sometimes used to bulk up coffee before trading it internationally and how baking powder makes a good vegetable cleaner. Very interesting people. Thank you all for a lovely day!
So here’s my urban herb photo of the day, a lovely patch of Enchanters Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana) does grow plentifully in Frankendael and I identified it there yesterday but here’s some in de Bos. I hope you don’t mind the venue switch for today…
I found a lovely clump of Gypsy wort, growing on the edge of the canoe lake and am intrigued to know more about it’s uses and name. That plant also grows thoughout the city so I’ll have a hunt for it very soon.
The battery in my camera was flat today so I picked a sprig of this plant to help me identify it at home. I’ve been seeing lots of it in shady areas recently, I find it very pretty but it doesn’t small familiar when picked and it reminds me of poisonous Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis), whenever I see it.
I identified it using three field guides as an edible wound herb called Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana), known a Groot Heksenkruid (large witches herb) in Dutch. It is in the plant family containing Evening Primrose and Rosebay Willowherb, which are also edible and available at present. The Latin name arises from the Ancient Greek witch/enchantress Circe, who is said to have used the herb frequently in her potions. A nice tale. If this side of the plant’s history interests you, perhaps scroll through this link for further details. The common English name is somewhat confusing, this plant is not related to the poison containing Nightshade (Solanaceae) family.
I need to find out more about it but this evening, will be sampling a tiny amount of Enchanter’s Nightshade, well cooked in a pasta based potion, to check I react favourably to the herb. Hopefully all will go well and I’ll be able to point it out on the Green Peace walks tomorrow.