What lovely people I met today, on my first guided herb walk of this year. We looked at lots of lovely and useful herbs. I’ll post a few photos taken by the others when they reach me.
In the meantime here’s a Frankendael Lime leaf photo which I took yesterday, for those who didn’t get to pick one to keep with their handouts. This is a perfect time to harvest a few healthy, non sticky leaves and enjoy them between slices of bread.
After the walk today, I also spotted Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor NL: Kleine pimpernel), poking it’s flower stalk up in a grassland area of the park. In my photograph there is also a ribwort to the left, with a completely different flower stalk. Salad burnet is a useful but endangered plant in the Netherlands so completely out of bounds to foragers and herbalists alike. I feel very priveledged to have seen it today. I hope to be able to take a better photograph of this plant soon. I mentioned to some people to day, the useful website called Bioimages.Org.uk where you can search for images of plants and animals to help with identification. Here’s a link to their photos of Salad Burnet. It seems like a good resource but of course never forget your field guide!
Also plenty of healing Ribwort, in the same area, with it’s long slender leaves and unusual dull coloured flower at the end of a long stalk.
Here’s a pretty tree pit from the same patch, full of a tiny flowered Cranesbill, Ribwort, Horsetail and a non edible Chrysanthemum, all mixed together by fortunate chance.
Today Ivy and Horsetail. Firstly Ivy (Hedera helix). Here it is scaling three massive trees on the edge of Park Frankendael. Yes, it is a herb but not really one for the pot. Ivy has mystic qualities and associations as well as medicinal properties and many traditional uses. I’ve also posted a lotions recipe for Ivy cellulite oil today which may be of interest. Ivy is available year round but harvesting it in spring or summer us likely to have a lesser effect on the plant.
Horsetail is very vigorous at the moment and perhaps more useful than you thought. Here’s a link to a lotion recipe for Horsetail cuticle cream and an oil nail treatment.
Horsetail is a traditional remedy for weak and brittle nails. The source of it’s reputation is plant silica which it contains in relatively high quantities. The following recipes are adapted from Josephine Fairley’s book..
Make a heat infused oil of Horsetail, which has been left to wilt overnight after harvesting. Then stir in enough beeswax to make a light salve. (You can test the solidity of your salve before it sets, by dabbing a drip or two of your mix onto the back of a cold spoon. Add more base oil if it’s to solid, as more beeswax if it’s too runny)
If you have it available, add 5 drops Benzoin tincture, just before the beeswax, as it may help to further nourish cuticles. You could also add a few drops of a complementary essential oil (such as Lavender) at the beeswax stage but it’s not really necessary.
50g Fresh Horsetail stems, preferably in spring (or 25g dried)
150 ml Olive oil
1 tablespoon grated beeswax
Follow the instructions for making heat infused oils, simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Another way to nourish nails with Horsetail, is to make a heat infused oil and use it as a warm nail soak, once a week our so. The book says you can reheat this oil as often as you like but I urge you to beware of impurities entering your infused oil by repeated use and rewarming. You could achieve a similar effect by coating your nails and cuticles with a sufficient amount of the oil then put a pair of cotton socks or gloves on your hands for 10 – 20 minutes to retain the heat and help the oil to penetrate.