Feverfew today, in a pavement garden. This plant has long been used to help relieve and prevent headaches and migraine. It has a very bitter taste and a traditional way to take it is between bread as a sandwich.
I harvested three tiny prices of that fungus which I found a couple of days ago. I have checked it’s identity in the woods, at home in books, online with reliable sites and as there is nothing nasty I could confuse it with, I felt happy to cook a little. The photograph above is a little washed out but below you’ll see I’ve placed my test harvest against the photo in one of my mushroom books. What a beautiful colour!
It is Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) and boy does it taste good, simply fried in a little ghee! It does taste quite similar to chicken, it is meaty in texture too. If it sits well in my stomach, I’ll be harvesting some more tomorrow. This isn’t going to turn into a fungus foraging blog, I don’t have enough experience of them and it’s so easy to go disastrously wrong, but if I find more interesting autumn fungi I’ll certainly post them here.
Rosehips (Rosa spp.) continue to ripen.
As do Haws on the Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) shrubs and trees.
I got all excited to see thousands of fallen Sweet chestnuts, at the front if Huis Frankendael but they are to small to do anything much with. Hopefully they have been shed to help the tree focus on building up carb’s in the rest.
It’s still possible to harvest as much as you like of invasive alien Himalayan Balsam. The flowers have a nice taste, quite mild and like lettuce. I heard of someone using the stems as drinking straws recently. That could be interesting too.
I think these are the sought after roots of Cat‘s Tails, dredged up in the current canal clearance operation. They don’t look very appetising in that must soup though.
And lastly, Feverfew having a brilliant second flower flush. So bitter and do linked in traditional medicine to the treatment of migraine.
We had a lovely long walk in the park today so lots of photos, lots of plants and lots of harvesting for tinctures, drying food and more.
The plants shown below are:
Here is Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), a powerful herb which is immediately apparent if you pick and smell a leaf. I harvested some pre-flowing tops today, to make a simple moth repellant for my wardrobe and a tincture in case of use through the year. Tansy is very strong and not to be used casually. It has many modern and historical uses including being a potent insecticide, anti worm medicine and more. It can cause contact dermatitis so it is not one for the cut flower vase. I like this herb a lot but treat it with lots of respect.
Meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria is another herb I gratefully harvested today. It makes a good stomach medicine, as a tea or tincture. It can help with stomach ulcers, general stomach upsets such as gas and can help calm excess stomach acid. It contains salicyclic acid, the derivative of Asprin and should be used with caution by those taking Asprin as it will increase the dose present in the body. It is interesting to note that unlike Asprin, which can cause gastric bleeding, Meadowsweet has a soothing effect on that area of the body. Another example of how taking a chemical out of its natural plant environment changes it’s affect on the body. Meadowsweet is traditionally harvested now, just before the flowers open. Finally I found some that had just bloomed in the Frankendael ponds. I harvested some pre-flowering tops, have tinctured a couple and am drying the rest. By harvesting very gently and not to low down the stem I get stronger tinctures/ tea and also allow the plants to have another go at flowering this season.
Next is Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, a traditional remedy for migraine. I tried it several years ago, hated the taste and didn’t really notice much effect but I simply ate a few leaves between bread. I don’t suffer from migraines these days but if they return ill try a tincture of this pretty little plant and keep trying for a while. The taste of herbs is important in their effectiveness. Taste is the first part of digestion. It primes the internal organs for the food or medicine that is to come. Bear this in mind if you like to take your herbs packed up tastelessly in capsules. Feverfew is currently adorning many pavement cracks, untended planters and road verges in Amsterdam.
Next is the spectacular flower spire of a Mullein plant. I collect individual flowers throughout the flowering season and add them to a small pot of olive oil. It makes a handy ear treatment.
Next are the delightful edible not-strawberries of Potentilla indica, sometimes called Mock Strawberry. I picked a handful with my little girl and we will cook them up with some fallen apples from the public mixed fruit orchard in Park Frankendael. On the recent Greenpeace walk one of the participants told me that her Dutch mother-in-law likes to harvest these almost tasteless fruits and preserve them in vodka. She likes the taste it makes as a drink. Maybe I’ll try adding them to a Rum Pot this year.