Tag Archives: parietaria officinalis

365 Frankendael day 63

I went hunting for a specific herb in the park today, for my neighbours’ dog. Parietaria officinalis, Pellitory-of-the-wall (NL: Groot glaskruid) or something extremely closely related to it, seems to be a favorite walk-time snack for young Tobias and we are all wondering what it is about this particular plant that he enjoys and needs. To identify the plant, I had to find it growing and take a close look. Here’s a link to some historical information about Pellitory of the wall and it’s uses. It is still revered by some herbalists as a urinary system tonic which is safe for children and adults (unless they suffer from hayfever and allergies). It is also used to treat urinary system complaints, when they arise, such as cystitis. Historically many more trusted it’s ability to treat cystitis, prostratitis, kidney and bladder stones, nephritis, urine retention and dropsy, more effectively than any other herb. It is a diuretic, emollient and sedative. It is commonly used today as an emollient in products such as baby creams and lotions. There are also those who use it as a wound herb, as a window and copper cleanser and to sooth burns and scalds. Here’s an interesting link for more information on these less well documented uses.

The plant is a non-stinging member of the Stinging Nettle family, Urticaceae. Its upper leaf surfaces are smooth and the lower suface veins are tufted with hairs. The flowers are discrete and clustered around the base of the leaves. The diuretic action of the plant is due to it containing very high levels of Potassium nitrate (KNO3).

The plant which grows in the park has a crucial difference, it has green stems rather than the red stems which are indicitive of P. officinalis. Also it is softly hairy all over, whereas P. officinalis is hairy on the stems and lower leaf sides. It seems to be Parietaria pensylvanica, Pennsylvania Pellitory, which is known to be naturalized in Europe. It smells very pleasantly like stinging nettles and tastes similar to nettle but lighter and more fresh almost like a cucumber, when chewed. It is sometimes called Pensylvania Cucumber plant and I am looking forward to developing some nice recipes for this plant. All members of the Parietaria Genus seem to share the same high pollen allergy properties and I have found a few US accounts of it being used as a food and medicine plant to help urinary tract problems, in just the same way as P. officinalis. Here’s an interesting link about using the Genus. Please note that one Parietaria species, with red stems, is known as Asthma weed in Australia. It produces pollen which a great number of people are allergic to.

So, Tobias seems to know what he’s looking for. Parietaria pensylvanica grows very well in several parts of Frankendael, all of which are dry, shady woodland habitats. Now I know more about this genus of plants, I can’t wait to get out my scissors, jam jar and vodka to make a Parietaria pensylvanica tincture. The well documented herb Pellitory of the wall, is also effective as an infusion, juice and decoction. Perhaps my neighbours may like to try adding a drop of Pensylvania cucumber plant tincture to Tobias’ water bowl each day, to see if that helps satisfy his need for the chemicals found inside the plant?


365 Frankendael day 44

Today is drizzly and cool; the same temperature as last Christmas Day. Umm, a far cry from the heat of a week ago.  So today’s photos look as though I took them at dusk but in fact they were taken at about 2pm.

I have had another one of my bird spotter moments. I identified a plant from the park which looked pretty when I found it, but not spectacular. It wasn’t one that I recognised, although I was drawn to it and wanted to know  it. I took a little part of the plant home from my walk yesterday and used my books and the Internet to identify it.  Today I went out and photographed it along with some other June beauties:

Above is the plant I am so excited about – Skullcap.  It has pairs for slender, hooked Labiate flowers, running down adjacent corners of quite long flower stems. The flowers are a lovely deep mauve on the upper lip and contrasting white on the lower lip. This two tone flower is not obvious until you get right up close to it. The plant is clearly a member of the Labiates, not only due to the flowers but also because it has square stems and leaves coming off the stem in opposite pairs.  The leaves taste strongly bitter, they taste amazing actually, of strong Scullcap tincture, the type I use at home quite regularly for pain relief and relaxation. I especially love this herb and have been using it for some years with great success, since beginning study with Susun Weed.  It gives subtle releif to pain, especially pain in the head and it brings on sleep when it is needed.  I am so happy to have stumbled upon this beautiful herb in Park Frankendael as I not seen it (or at least noticed it) growing wild before, I only knew it from books and bottles.  All members of the Scullcap family contain the active ingredient and this is quite volatile thus the plant should be tinctured in situ.

There are many Scullcaps and all have the same active constituents. Most likely, this one is Sculletaria altissima, Tall Skullcap, Glidkruid in Dutch. It is labelled as Tros Glidkruid (Sculletaria columnae) in the herb garden of the park but I am not convinced.  The flowers are very similar but the underlip of this Frankendael plant is definitely white, throughout, it doesn’t blend from white to mauve at all, there is clear definition.

Above is flowering Scrophularia nodosa, Common Figwort, NL: Helmkruid.  A very strangely scented Labiate, which Claud Biemans helped me identify a few weeks ago.  I still need to do some proper research into its internal and external uses but it certainly has many historic applications, such as being used to relieve skin eruptions and swelling for painful joints.  It is prolific in some parts of this park.

Next today, Wild Roses.  It has rained today and the scent of Rose, close to these bushes is extraordinary.  If you haven’t been outside to smell Roses after light rain then try it!  I’ve mentioned Rose many times before.  They are tasty and have many uses.  These are both most likely to be Rosa canina, Dog Rose and how beautiful they are!  But one of them could possibly be Rosa rubiginosa, Sweet Briar, it certainly smells good enough to be that.  I will have a better look at the defining parts another day. For today I simply enjoyed them.

Here is Pellitory Parietaria sp., Glaskruid in Dutch.  Another useful herb to learn more about as it is again prolific in arts of Frankendael.

Lastly today gorgeous Valerian flowers, on the edge of the main woodland pond.
They smell great, they look great and they are very useful if you need to relax.