Tag Archives: Greater Celandine

365 Frankendael day 313

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It’s great to see the sun on my way to work this week – it had been dark at that time of day for many weeks. As we feel more energetic due to the increased light so too
do our plant neighbours.

This is the herb garden of park Frankendael, seen from Hugo de Vrieslaan, this morning. It doesn’t look much at present but give it a few weeks and it will be green, lush, medicinal and tasty. I don’t pick from that garden – it’s for everyone but I do look out for escapes which have naturalised close by. Skullcap is one such favourite from that patch.

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And here’s a herb which also grows in that planted herb garden but which loves Amsterdam! Greater celandine, toxic but very useful for some skin conditions  (if used appropriately) such as Herpes. I wouldn’t put it anywhere near lips or delicate skin. Benign moles are also sometimes treated with the sap.

365 Frankendael day 238

Today I was in Tolstraat and noticed lots of Greater Celandine. I found it there whilst cycling many months ago. At that time the plants (which are interestingly in almost all the pavement gardens of the street) were in flower. Today not but some are in bud and despite the cold weather the plants look robust and more than able to yield cell growth halting sap. This plant is very useful for use against Herpes virus outbreaks. The orange sap is toxic but if carefully dabbed on herpes sores, warts or skin growths, it can often help to slow cell/virus growth.

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365 Frankendael day 217

There are still Ginkgo fruit/nuts falling ripe from street trees in Amsterdam.

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Here’s some tasty and nourishing Hairy Bitter Cress, harvested from a roof terrace pot today. This wild food plant should be available right into the winter. It makes a welcome, peppery addition to a meal.

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Here is Greater Celandine, its toxic orange milky sap can be a useful remedy for marks on the skin, such as small benign growths.

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365 Frankendael day 185

An early start for me this morning. Cathy Leaung kindly invited me onto her morning radio show – The English Breakfast. So off to the Salto studios I went and had a very enjoyable time, sharing Mugwort Bread, Hawthorn Elixir, Four leaves ointment and Rosehip Honey with Cathy and her co-presenters.

Here’s a link to the interview. You may need to turn the sound up a little, to hear me clearly as I kept turning away from the mic to speak to the co-presenters. The link will remain active for a month or so.

I have given them a voucher to give away in a competition, for a free Herb Walk with me, either the Halloween walk or a private one. Names will be pulled from a hat at the end of today. You need to look at my post from yesterday (21st October 2012) and tell English Breakfast Radio which herb I was talking about in that post, via their Facebook page.

On the way home I found the following herbal lovelies…

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

He is the underside of the Mugwort leaves, beautifully silvery.

Here’s a pretty, poisonous but useful Greater celandine (Celidonium majus).

And lastly a beautiful labiate which I need to properly identify (was in a rush to get home from the interview). I think it is most likely to be Black Horehound (Ballota nigra).
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365 Frankendael day 139

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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False, but edible, look-a-like strawberries of a Potentilla.

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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.

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Japanese knotweed, rhubarb like, super sour edible and terribly invasive plant. Search this site and others for how to cook it.
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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.

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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.
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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.

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Greater celandine. NOT edible! Poisonous orange sap, but that sap is very useful as a topical treatment for warts and some other skin spots.

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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.
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365 Frankendael day 62


Some common “weed” plants have the most subtely beautiful flowers and I think that Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata)  is one such plant.  Many of you already know of the merits of this wonderful first aid herb and I hope that more appreciate how pretty the flowers are.  I think they ar quite incredible creations and couldn’t resist another Ribwort photo today on an outer edge of the park.  There are many Plantago species growing here. Another notable one which has settled in my roof pots is Plantago major. It has broad leaves and it not as highly prized for it’s medicinal qualities but it none the useful.  Douzens of seedlings have taken root in my pots and they are very useful for first aid. Yesterday I was harvesting rooftop Gooseberries and Blackcurrants with my daughter and we chewed on and a leaf or two before gently rubbing the sap onto her berry bush scratches.  It worked a treat and was much quicker to apply and work physically (and mentally) than any remedy I have inside of the house.

If Ribwort and making remedies at home interests, you may like to join me for a small workshop near the next New Moon.


Here is Greater celandine, a wonderful plant with poisonous/potent orange sap, which can often help with unwelcome skin growths, such as warts and corns.  Today I noticed lots of Greater Celandine setting seed and I look forward to collecting some when the time comes.  Below is a lovely picture of the plant drawn and painted by Elodie some time ago. Sometimes paintings tell more about the spirit of a plant than photos ever can.  I need to make more time to sit and draw plants, maybe it’s something you would like to try too?  Drawing a plant requires that you sit with it for a while, that you and it breathe each other in and out and from that you can learn a lot.

Lastly today, a mixed salad in scrub-land beside the park.  I love this untended patch and I’m pleased it gets little maintenance as the wild edibles love it!  Here you may be able to see Chickweed and Ground ivy growing together with some Shepherd’s Purse.  All three, tasty and nutritious.  The main thing that worries me about harvesting from such locations is not really knowing what is in the soil. You can never really know for sure but some scrub-land such as this may be used for tipping unwelcome materials.  I keep that in mind when I choose to harvest or not.

365 Frankendael day 46

I’ve been preparing for the next Urban Herbology walk today so here are several photos and not much chat…


Developing cobweb-spirally Burdock flowers.


The Middenweg Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum) continues to grow despite being reported to the council. Apparently it’s not a risk to the public because it is growing in the green strip… It is now wider than my bike, well over 2m tall and (although less than before I pruned it) still overhangs the pavement. I shall snip off the flower heads before the seeds set. A deadly beauty.


Greater Celendine, with seed pods developing well.


Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum), still growing, still flowering – everywhere in the park!


Skullcap (Sculletaria altissima) in the woods. Flowers development very quickly moving up the stalk, sowing be visible for much longer.


The flowers of wild Sage (Salvia officinalis).


On the edge of the rhododendron planted section, I found this shady patch of tasty Pelargonium, Garlic Mustard and also Stinging Nettle and Cleavers, just out of shot.


Lastly, frothy flowers of Hedge Bedstraw.

365 Fraendael day 27

Today, a lovely walk through the park with Lucile and the little ones. We each went home with a few leaves of Ground Elder and a little Ground Ivy. Plenty of other herbs in season though…

Here’s the foliage from a Wild Carrot! Not one to be dug up, though it would probably taste great. I hope to revisit it later in the year to double check it’s identity when it is in full bloom. Wild carrot has been used in folk medicine for centuries and has recently been researched by Robin Rose Bennett. It is often found to be quite a useful contraceptive. For more information on the research take a look at Robin’s website.

Here is Comfrey, still in full bloom and looking stately throughout the park and city.

Garlic Mustard leaves continue to grace many of my meals. The plants here are nearing the end of their flowering season but the foliage still tastes wonderful and only a leaf or two is needed to add a garlicky kick to regular meals.

Greater Celandine continues to flower. It’s stems remain loaded with bright orange sap which is freely released when a stem is broken. This sap, containing a substance which is acrid and highly irritant but has been used medicinally since at least the middle ages. Historically it was used, in preparations such as lard and milk, to cure piles, cataracts, severe scurvy and some forms of cancer. These days it is still a popular remedy, amongst those who know it, for warts, corns and ringworm. To use for these three ailments, simply break a stem and apply the fresh sap to only affected skin. It will irritate healthy skin. The Latin name of this plant means swallow (the bird) and this is said to be because the plant’s flowering season coincides with the arrival and departure of swallows. So hopefully there should be some time to go before the flowers of Greater Celandine disappear from Amsterdam again.

Cleavers are looking particularly lush and juicy at the moment, about 50 cm long on average. Perfect for harvesting a clean handful and juicing for a cleansing tonic.

Wild Geranium is also looking striking, producing a mass of small purple flowers in the woodland, at present.