I visited the park very early this morning and was pleased to find a surprise clump of my favourite herb for grounded-ness and muscle pains – Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca). It is shown in this photo growing in a location quite far away from the ones I already know. So, I have high hopes that there is quite a good population of this useful plant in the park and also the city. I’d really like to know if any followers f this project know of Motherwort growing near them in other locations. I know that Jennie Akse knows of plenty in Beatrix Park, I’m not sure in which part they are but they certainly like it there too. Note that the pink flowers, next to the Motherwort leaves, are from another plant (see below). Motherwort is sometimes mistaken for a member of the Geranium family due to it’s leaves, however it is easy to spot the square labiate family stems. Failing that, if you mistakenly taste even a fraction of a Motherwort leaf, the extreme bitterness will soon teach you it’s not an aromatic Geranium! Motherwort is generally used as a tincture.
Here is a beautiful plant, from a very common and varied city tolerant herb family – called the Cranesbills or Scented Geraniums or Pelargoniums. I think that this one is most likely Geranium pyrenaicum, Hedge Crane’s-bill and as I’ve mention plenty times before, all member of the Geraniums are edible, tasty and useful. I read the other day of an old Rose Geranium infused alcoholic punch recipe, from Arabia. It is in Patricia Telesco’s Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook – a nice resource book containing many traditional and interesting herbal recipes. This plant is not Rose Geranium but itis related and extremely fragrant. I am quite tempted to have a go at it, maybe when the summer really arrives.
Another herb which is in season for harvest at present, is Lavender. I don’t see much of it in this park but it grows prolifically in the city and can be used very easily for many applications. Christian Huygensplein, near my home is planted out with it. Thank you Amsterdam Oost! Unfortunately, each day I have had time to visit any Lavender with my scissors, the weather has been damp so harvesting those pretty flower stems has been out of the question. No point in harvesting when the flowers are likely to mould, before they can dry out thoroughly. If you are lucky enough to find a huge patch of Lavender, the flower stems can be carefully but quickly thinned out, just above the foliage, perhaps taking every 20 stems, without much visible impact on the plant. I’m sure that my neighbours would not appreciate anyone chopping clumps of the flowers from the shopping area but I’m sure a few carefully flower stems wouldn’t be missed.
Lastly and shown above, is a striking herb which I have no experience of using at all but know it has historic uses. It is called Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris) and I know it only as a garden plant from Somerset. Here’s a link to a page from a wonderful recent-historic book, offering a glimpse into historic uses of herbs.