Tag Archives: Mugwort

365 Frankendael day 358

We had a lovely walk to Jeugdland in Oost Amsterdam today and founds lots of wonderful herbs along the way and at the playground.

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Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) NL: Bijvoet.
This is the first I have found this year and as it’s a regular part of my diet I am delighted that I’ll be able to eat it fresh (rather than dried our in vinegar) from now until the autumn. This plant is a little too small to harvest from but it won’t be long until the leaves are well established. This one was especially easy to identify because some of lasts years dried stems and give away foliage were still attached to the plant.

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Elder (Sambucus nigra) NL: Vlier. Here it us growing out from beneath a bridge.

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Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfare) in flower.

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And Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) NL: Douzendblad. Thousands of succulent, medicinal and edible (for some, in moderation) leaves, along Valentijnkade. I suspect they are enjoying the warmth of the brick walk beside the old Jewish cemetery. These are the biggest and best looking I’ve seen since last year.

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 163

I met Youko and one of her friends, in the park today and she asked me about herbs which will be available at the end of October.

Here is one which will be around because it’s an evergreen herb. Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacae) is not closely related to tree and wall climbing common Ivy (Hedera helix) but it does like to grow in semi shaded areas. I found this beautiful patch close to the Hugo de Vrieslaan bridge exit of the park (inside). It tastes minty, makes a good digestive tea and I sometimes like it with chocolate or potatoes.

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Burdock (Arctium lappa) may still be looking good then but will be way past it’s best. Today it’s looking OK, if a little nibbled by something.

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Another herb which will still be very useful for the forager’s plate, come the end of October, is Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). It’s in the middle of Ground ivy in this photo. If the leaves are looking less than appetising, chase down and dig up the taproot. Give it a good scrub at home and use it’s medicinal energy reserves to fuel yourself. Dandelion is often used as a cleansing, strengthening liver tonic and is a well loved vegetable in several European countries. It can be used as a coffee substitute, as a roasted (bitter) vegetable in it’s own right or can be usefully grated into other food to as a bitter dimension. Dandelion is thought of as a weed by most so is unlikely to be missed. But if you begin whipping out the roots from clean locations for your pot, please ensure that you spread every dandelion clock you see around town, next summer! An interesting way of cooking the flowers (they may still spring up through the autumn) is mentioned here.

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I also found plenty of Mugwort (Atermisia vulgaris) today, it’s still in good shape for picking and drying leaves to use through winter.

365 Frankendael day 135

We found our first ripe Hawthorn berries of the season today. On the cut-in footpath alongside De Kas side of Park Frankendael. If they come off the shrub, with leaves attached, they are not quite ready. We found lots on the ground, which had fallen, ripe, from the hedge. They do require a little preparation but are worth the effort as a foraged food and as a hedgerow medicine.

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Next is a small Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) perennial.

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Ivy (Hedera helix) plants are looking particularly beautiful at present. They have large and fascinating flowerheads forming. they are not for eating but the leaves are sometimes used in anti cellulite treatments. It’s easy to make an infused oil with the leaves.

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Lastly a beautiful, swaying Weeping Willow tree. Still offering a chance for herbal pain relief. It’s very simple to make a tincture from the tendrils.

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365 day 102 Sarphatipark

Thanks to the watertolerant group who joined me to herb walk in Sarphatipark today. We found lots of useful herbs and also interesting park workers who told us how the park is maintained by a dynamic group of volunteers and is trying innovative edible approaches to eradicate Japanese knotweed. Above is a park warden, pictured by the enormous Jerusalem artichokes which are being used to keep knotweed at bay. When the invasive plant is removed, the ground can quickly turn into a home for other unwelcome invaders or can see the return of knotweed. Using Jerusalem artichoke, another rapidly growing and spreading plant, can provide tasty tubers and quash the knotweed. So far so good!

I was also reassured to learn that the Ginkgo trees I’m so fond of in parts of Our Zuid are indeed female and yield plentiful Ginkgo nuts. Amsterdam is fortunate to have such edible plant loving folk in its green spaces team.


The plants I remember finding today are listed as tags to this entry. The spreading soft leaved plant which looked quite like Agrimony but wasn’t, was indeed a cinqefoil, called Silverweed previously called (Potentilla anserina) but now reclassified as Argentina anserina . It is shown above and it is edible. If you were on the walk and can remember other plants which I have missed from the tag list then please let me know.

Thanks again to everyone who joined me. It was a real pleasure to walk around with you. If you signed up but were not brave enough for the wet weather, remember there are always trees to shelter under next time ūüôā

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 73

I caught the bus to work this morning and was able to check out my usual Fat Hen (Lamb’s Quarters, Chenopodium album) and Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) collection spot. Here it is, a few days post council mowing. Fortunately there are lots of intact Mugwort plants in adjacent unmowed areas but the Fat Hen is no more. I’ll keep my eyes open for another patch of them as I really enjoy their flavour.

Here is poisonous White Bryony (Bryonia alba), flowering faintly as it grows over a hearty looking Bramble. I didn’t have much time for photos today so thought I’d look up the uses of White Bryony in one of my favorite old herbals – Mrs M. Grieve’s Modern Herbal. The link above is from a useful online version of that book. It was used historically as a purgative for people, cattle and horses. It is a powerful irritant and cathartic, i.e. it makes people throw up very violently and is not a plant to be dabbled with. I love the reference in the book to scoundrels of old, digging up the roots and placing them in moulds to allow them to grow into imitation Mandrake roots. If only their modern day counterparts had that much skill with plants! I really like the look of this plant and if I didn’t have a child or cat in my home I’d probably harvest some and use it in some way, but certainly not internally. All parts of the plant are poisonous.

365 Frankendael day 61


Today is the Summer Solstice, Midsummer’s Day and I am having a lovely time! Myself, Livvy, Isobel, Esther, Isobel and the two babies, harvested leaves and flowers from some of the Lime trees (Tilia sp.) Which form the main avenue in Frankendael Park. It was so pleasant to share the Midsummer harvest with other like minded people. We cleaned the honeydew from the leaves, in a bowl of fresh water, made tea in flasks of boiled water and sandwiches from the harvest and some Lime honey.

I’ll be doing this again on Sunday in a different location, but I think there is nothing quite like the burgeoning green energy of Midsummer’s Day. The plants seem to be about to pop with the amount of goodness within them and some of them have certainly sprung suddenly into flower today.

I found lots of Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) just in flower, today and harvested some for a tincture. Likewise, Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is in perfect form for tincturing. These and Lime are the three summer herbs which I love the most so I spent time with them today.

I was also pleased to see that some of the Mullein plants in the park have quietly started to flower and patches of Feverfew close to Frankendael park are also standing out. The Plantain (Plantago major) leaves are currently enormous and I will be tincturing some of them and their flowers in the days to come along with Lime tree leaves and flowers.

If you tend to see Midsummer as the end of the lightness and you morn its passing, perhaps try and see it in a different way. More as a time to thank the Sun and light for all the transformation it has provided and welcome in the gradually approaching darkness. The darkness can teach us much about ourselves, it gives a chance to reflect inwardly on what has happened in the preceding time and encourages us to appreciate the light, when it returns.

365 Frankendael day 60


Very early this morning I was out tasting dew that had collected in this Teasel’s “water cup”, the part of the leaf that joins the stem.¬† There had been a heavy morning mist over most of Amsterdam but by the time I got to the park it had been burned through by the midsummer Sun.¬† This Teasel (Dipsacus sp.) had quite a lot of water stored in it’s “cups” or “traps” this morning.¬† There are different ideas about why the plants are adapted in this way. Some think that the cup shaped leaf joints serve the purpose of trapping insects, perhaps to prevent them climbing the plant, perhaps which the Teasel then somehow digests and absorbs.¬† The trap/cup which I chose was high up, fresh and insect free. The water within it tasted delicious and set me up for the rest of my cycle.¬† Teasel is increasingly valued as a useful herb to help counter the effects of Lyme’s disease.


Next is the beautiful, if unextravegant, flower head of  a small Mugwort plant (Artemisia vulgaris).  This plant really is my Midsummer favourite.  So many uses, so common, so inconspicuous to most, so tasty and so much interesting associated folklore.  This plant grows as a welcome weed, beside a park planted tree.  Just notice the moon-like silvery grey undersides of the leaves.  A beautiful contrast to the dark green upper sides.


Lastly today is Brassica oleracea, Wild Cabbage.¬† Yes, it tastes of cabbage!¬† No need to harvest the whole plant though, this one is good as a cut and come again plant – cutt a leaf off now and again throughout it’s season.¬† Very tasty and convenient!

365 Frankendael day 59

Today was the first Urban Herbology Herb-by-Herb workshop, introducing Mugwort to a small group and helping them to experiment with making tinctures, infused oils and other herbal preparations. So my photo for today is simply of the remains of our Mugwort (and Wormwood) harvest!

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) which is dark green on the top leaf sides and silver grey beneath, is very closely related to Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) (silver-grey all over). Mugwort is a very common scrubland herb and Wormwood is currently quite rare, here in the Netherlands at least. The Wormwood we harvested today comes from my front pavement garden and the Mugwort comes from behind my local bus stop, alongside Frankendael Park.

Both are edible but both who should not be consumed in quantity. At this time of year, the active chemicals within the plant are at their most potent so only small amounts are advisable for consumption but both do give a wonderful and unique savory flavour to cooking. Mugwort is considered a powerful dream herb but as the workshop discussed today, this is most likely due to the fact that it is a slight irritant. It is thought to simply keep the Mugwort “consumer” in a slightly lighter sleep state than normal and so they are more likely to remember their more vivid dreams. Whatever the reason, I really like both of these herbs and use them for various applications throughout the year. I’ll post the Mugwort Tea bread recipe, as requested, seperately in a moment.

Thank you again to the lovely people who joined me for the Mugwort workshop today!