Tag Archives: Mullein

365 Frankendael day 72

We had a lovely long walk in the park today so lots of photos, lots of plants and lots of harvesting for tinctures, drying food and more.

The plants shown below are:
Mock strawberry,

Here is Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), a powerful herb which is immediately apparent if you pick and smell a leaf. I harvested some pre-flowing tops today, to make a simple moth repellant for my wardrobe and a tincture in case of use through the year. Tansy is very strong and not to be used casually. It has many modern and historical uses including being a potent insecticide, anti worm medicine and more. It can cause contact dermatitis so it is not one for the cut flower vase. I like this herb a lot but treat it with lots of respect.

Meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria is another herb I gratefully harvested today. It makes a good stomach medicine, as a tea or tincture. It can help with stomach ulcers, general stomach upsets such as gas and can help calm excess stomach acid. It contains salicyclic acid, the derivative of Asprin and should be used with caution by those taking Asprin as it will increase the dose present in the body. It is interesting to note that unlike Asprin, which can cause gastric bleeding, Meadowsweet has a soothing effect on that area of the body. Another example of how taking a chemical out of its natural plant environment changes it’s affect on the body. Meadowsweet is traditionally harvested now, just before the flowers open. Finally I found some that had just bloomed in the Frankendael ponds. I harvested some pre-flowering tops, have tinctured a couple and am drying the rest. By harvesting very gently and not to low down the stem I get stronger tinctures/ tea and also allow the plants to have another go at flowering this season.

Next is Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, a traditional remedy for migraine. I tried it several years ago, hated the taste and didn’t really notice much effect but I simply ate a few leaves between bread. I don’t suffer from migraines these days but if they return ill try a tincture of this pretty little plant and keep trying for a while. The taste of herbs is important in their effectiveness. Taste is the first part of digestion. It primes the internal organs for the food or medicine that is to come. Bear this in mind if you like to take your herbs packed up tastelessly in capsules. Feverfew is currently adorning many pavement cracks, untended planters and road verges in Amsterdam.

Next is the spectacular flower spire of a Mullein plant. I collect individual flowers throughout the flowering season and add them to a small pot of olive oil. It makes a handy ear treatment.

Next are the delightful edible not-strawberries of Potentilla indica, sometimes called Mock Strawberry. I picked a handful with my little girl and we will cook them up with some fallen apples from the public mixed fruit orchard in Park Frankendael. On the recent Greenpeace walk one of the participants told me that her Dutch mother-in-law likes to harvest these almost tasteless fruits and preserve them in vodka. She likes the taste it makes as a drink. Maybe I’ll try adding them to a Rum Pot this year.

Here’s the little orchard.


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 24

On my wander through the woods of Frankendael today, I saw a beautiful woodpecker sat on a park bench! No time to photograph it but maybe this park will turn me into a bird spotter, by the time this project is through!

Another exciting discovery today was made thanks to the Meetup group. Yi wondered if I knew of Butterbur (Pestites sp.) and if it grew here in Amsterdam. She likes to eat it when at home in Japan. I wasn’t aware until then, that Butterbur and it’s immediate relatives, are edible, tasty and are reported to have health benefits.

Butterbur throws up very strange looking flowers on thick stalks during spring, a while before it’s foliage appears. When it’s often massive leaves do appear, they all come from the rootstock rather than a leaf stem. Leaves can be 60 cm or more across and are very easy to spot as they are unmistakably kidney-shaped and come out of the soil not a central plant stem. There are lots of them near the old entrance of Frankendael. I await Recipe advice from Yi’s Mum, before deciding just what to do with the plant but a google search for Fuki, it’s Japanese name will provide you with lots of ideas. If you live in the UK you may be familiar with the vanilla scented relative called Winter heliotrope. I can still remember my delight and disbelief when I first sniffed its flowers in Somerset, many years ago. I had no idea it was edible at the time.

Now onto another huge-leaved perennial, which many will be familiar with: Burdock! Arctium lapa shown above, is a truly enormous plant with a mighty rootstock, prized particularly as a liver tonic. Dandelion and Burdock is a delicious drink, I remember well from my childhood. Dandelion is also a super liver tonic. Now Burdock is not such an Urban Herbology favourite as it’s very difficult to dig up and what a mess of parkland it would make to do that! However is a good herb to know about in case you happen upon a huge patch of them in the countryside or a bottle of tincture in a herbal supplies shop. When Giant Butterbur and Burdock coexist you should notice Burdock has pointed leaves and Butterbur kidney shaped leaves. burdock leaves grow out from an upright central plant stem, the burs eventually grow out of the top of this central stem, on their own stem.

Here above is a sign that there’s a Burdock closeby. Dried burs from last years growth.

Other wild beauties today…
Soapwort bolting up after done extra sunshine and showers. Yes, it is soapy, well the roots at least, and can be used for cleaning. It contains saponins but such a pretty flower is better left in the soil.

Euphorbia close up. Extremely toxic and irritating to skin.

A type of Mullein, in bud. This plant will be well over a meter high very soon. It’s flowers can provide an earache remedy.

Lastly, a member of the Brassica family, I thought possibly Creeping Yellow Cress although it’s leaves are slightly stubbier than that. It tastes uncredibly strong! I then wandered into the labelled herb garden of the park and found a very similar looking plant called Barbarakruid (Barbarea vulgaris, Yellow Rocket Cress). I think that’s the most likely candidate. It tastes like super strength Rocket. Umm!