Tag Archives: Glechoma hederacaea

365 Frankendael day 149

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…

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

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!

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis agg.)  making a stand for itself in a field of Plantain (Plantago major)

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacaea)

365 Frankendael day 75

I went for an earlier walk in the park today and was rewarded by finding the freshest and most delicious Lime (Tilia) flowers that I have ever harvested.  Here’s the tree they came from.  I turned them into a tea and shared it with the painters and my little girl.  Lime tea is especially good on a warm summer day like today. It is cooling and refreshing.

Here’s a neighbouring Tilia tree in the park. It must be a different variety as everything about it is a little smaller than most Tilia in the park and the the leaves are a little darker.  The flowers are also placed slightly differently on the twigs. I don’t know so much about the different varieties but I do know that Tilia tastes good and is very beneficial.

Next is a harmonious grassland combination of Plantain, Yarrow and Red clover in bloom.  I set off today hoping to find enough Yarrow to make a tick-deterring tincture. I got rather side tracked by other herbs and in the end, didn’t notice enough to harvest. So instead of tincturing, two flower stalks are brightening up a small vase on my dining table.  It’s good to remember just how many ways there are to benefit from flowers.

Here are two of my favourite things, my little girl and a huge Brassica plant.  As with most naturalised and wild brassicas, all parts are edible and quite strong tasting. Just a carefully picked leaf or two should liven up a meal.  (Thanks Jennie for correcting me on this one, I thought it was Wild Cabbage but that only grows near the coasts on chalky soil). This one may be Rapseed (Brassica napus). My friend Jennie Akse is running a herb walk focused on edible yellow flowering plants, around in Amsterdam at present.  Have a look at the Meetup group for details.

Here is a herb that I find quite wondrous, Dark Mullein (Verbascum nigrum). Useful for many disorders, such as lung weakness and infection and most popular, I think, as an ear infection remedy.

Next up today is another herbal harmony, Veronica‘s towering blue spires mixed with more Mullien, Mugwort and Agrimony.

Here are some striking and Poisonous Lilies, in the formal garden behind Frankendael Huis and Merkelbach.  I add this photo because yesterday I featured the very edible Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva), which can look very similar to the uninitiated.  All parts of Lily are toxic. I have never thought about eating this type of plant but I find the pollen, when trapped in a living room with it for instance, very irritating.

Here is Catnip (Nepta sp). A member of the mint family, it can be used in similar refreshing ways. I like to make a sinus blasting pesto with it sometimes. It has many uses and is quite easy to grow.  Many will already know about cat’s affinity to this herb.  Some love it and find it quite a turn on, others seem to lack receptivity to it and many show more of a loved-up reaction to Valerian.

Another minty wonder is shown below, the often overlooked and trampled Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea). The pretty purple flower spikes are gone from most of the plants now but just look at that rich foliage! Now is a good time to harvest and use it or dry it for the winter. But why bother when this ground covering  plant is around all year long?

Next is a delicious Garlic Mustard plant (Alliaria petiolata), showing different stages of seed pod development. This is a wonderfully tasty herb to add to all sorts of cooking.  It is also great used as a salad leaf or flower.  Looking at these seed pods reminds me of why it’s a pity to harvest the flowers of this super biennial.  Less flowers, less seeds, less plants next year.

Next is a large plant which I’ve been hunting for some time – a first year Burdock (Arctium lappa), ripe for root harvesting.  It seemed that all the Burdock in Amsterdam were second years, in bloom and not very nutritious or medicinal.  Now that the council have mowed some patches of the park, some first year Burdock have been kindly left to develop.  I won’t be digging this plant up but it’s good to see it and be reassured that a first year plant is easy to identify.

Lastly today, a type of Hyssop (Hyssopus sp.).  I used this plant quite a lot last year, it is very aromatic and makes good tea. I’ll have a careful look at this one again soon to identify it fully.

365 Frankendael day 2


This photo shows the narrow form of Plantain, known as Ribwort, with Ground ivy flower stems growing up through it.

Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata), is a very useful first aid herb. It is part of the plant family to which Psyllium belongs and shares it’s usefulness as a soother of mucous membranes. Amongst other things, it can be used as a simple insert in shoes, to ease tired aching feet and can be rubbed on grazes and insect stings as it releives pain. It was previously recommended as a plant to be added to the seedmix for pastureland, it is a favorite of sheep. Ribwort contains lots of mucilage, easily released by chewing. For more simple uses see Susun Weed link.

Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) also known as groundsel or cat’s paw, was an age old remedy for stomach ailments, was used to clarify beer in the absence of hops, is useful for soothing chapped hands, tastes pungent and minty and is great raw or cooked. It is a favorite of birds and can apparently entice a rabbit to eat when is unwell and refuses all other food. Mrs Grieve’s Modern Herbal (from 1931) advises harvesting Groundsel along with Chickweed in the spring and summer, to dry and then feed to rabbits along with their straw in the winter.

The plant is a very successful annual, now renowned as a garden weed. Ground ivy, with its scalloped kidney shaped leaves, creeps across the ground, setting root at regular intervals and throwing up relatively tall flower stems (10 -20cm high) at this time of year. Today, purple ground ivy flowers looked stunning throughout the park. There are striking patches at the entrance closest to the garden centre and dotted throughout the less trampled grassland, notably next to the woodland area beside Frankendael Huis. This plant is definitely a must-try for foragers, provided you can find clean plants.

Lastly today, a photo of Marjoram (Origanum vulgare) which thrives in just a couple of spots in the park. I am always delighted when I see it in flower but at this time of year the plants are growing rapidly and the leaves are loaded with the aromatic oils, so prized by cooks.