Trees have began to shed their leaves and yet many plants are still in bloom. Here’s one of them, Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) NL: Rode klaver. The flowers are edible, tasty and contain amongst other things, very useful phytoestrogens. Red clover is used by many to increase fertility, in both men and women. It’s still possible to gather flowers for drying, or to pick enough to fill a small jar, then top up with vodka to make a tincture. See Susun Weed for excellent information about this amazing plant.
Today I harvested a few handfuls of Red Clover blossoms to make a small jar of tincture, three large leaves of Ground elder, to chop finely and add to our dinner and sat quietly in a beautiful, tiny grove, within the woodland part of park Frankendael.
The grove is somewhere I’ve walked by many times, have harvested little from and yet it drew me completely within itself today. This place has a wonderful energy about it, filled with sounds of the city and yet, cool, shaded, green, earthy, nurturing and sheltering. Sounds of birds chattering around me, branches crack as squirrels and other small animals climb around. Just the place to launch the apprenticeship course, I think. To sit on the ground here is a beautiful experience. I smell Ivy all around me and feel supportive earth beneath me. It is a magical place.
I feel delighted that I will have an opportunity to take several people there, to share my love of this place and of the plants which choose to live in the city.
Today we did a Herb Sit, rather than a Herb Walk. It’s amazing what you can sometimes find when you simply sit still and take a close look at what’s around you…
Here’s a Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata), with a small Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis agg.) plant and some Field Horsetail (Equisitum arvensis) growing just behind it.
We also found several types of clover and other legumes, within an arms reach of where we sat. I need my better camera to take decent photos of those. Here are the leguminous plants that we found and were able to identify today:
Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
Zigzag clover (Trifolium medium)
White (Dutch) clover (Trifolium repens)
Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium)
Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Please be aware that Bird’s-foot-trefoil is not a clover and is poisonous and should not be eaten. It has some historic medicinal uses. The clovers are edible. The flowers and leaves are tasty in salads and Red clover has many medicinal uses.
Yesterday was our seventh anniversary, here is what we cooked: Scallops, marinated in the juice of half a lime, a sprig of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped and a small nugget of fresh ginger, squeezed. After cooking in the marinade, the scallops and sauce were laid on wilted spinach and Elderflowers were sprinkled on top.
Next came grilled lamb cutlets served with a caprese salad and most importantly, Mugwort vegetables. The taste of a top of almost flowering Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) infused into mixed vegetables, as they cooked in one of my magical cast iron pots. It was served sprinkled with detached individual Red Clover flowers. Mugwort (Cronewort, Artemisia vulgaris, NL: Bijvoet) is extremely tasty and aromatic when cooked in this gentle way. Just a splash of olive oil, finely chopped leeks softened then chopped aubergine and courgette added to the pan. Lid on and simmer gently for ten minutes or so.
Umm, now that’s Urban Herb Love!
It has rained all day and it although I got soaked through, it was a real pleasure to be out photographing and foraging this Full Moon morning when hardly anyone else was about in Park Frankendael. I managed to harvest some gorgeous Elderflowers, Ribwort, Red Clover and Mugwort, without anyone casting me a glance of suspicion or sympathy!
Here are today’s photos:
Firstly, Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), it is abundant on in some parts of the park. Here is a lovely patch with a dozen or so plants.
Next is Foxglove (Digitalis). What a beauty and so useful in times gone by particularly. This is a poisonous plant and I think too rare in Amsterdam to harvest even if you knew what to do with it.
Now for my favourite of the day, Willow. In fact two copiced Willows, one containing a lovely Garlic Mustard plant and the other just looking stunning, with light shining through a gnarled old trunk. Perhaps it’s because Willow is such a water lover, or perhaps it’s the full moon energy, or perhaps neither but all the Willows in the park looked quite strikingly beautiful today.
Here’s the gnarly one:
Next is Elderflower. Most flowers are in full bloom right now but some of the earlier bloomers are already going over and setting seeds within tiny berries. Remember that Elderberries always need to be cooked to be safe and palatable. The flowers are different and can be eaten raw, although most prefer them cooked or infused, for various purposes.
Here is an Elderflower well on the way to making berries.
Lastly, beautiful rain filled Teasel (Dipsacus sp.). This plant is well known to Chinese herbalists but less so to those in the West. It has traditional applications in the treatment of muscle, tendon and join injuries and disease.
Today some photos without much comment or translations…
Firstly the flowers of that Poison Hemlock on the Middenweg. It’s carrot family flowers opening to the sun today.
Today, two new arrivals for 365 Frankendael…
Red clover is starting to bloom in the park. At least today is the first day I have noticed it. Unfortunately the huge clover area next to Restaurant de Kas was cleared for some purpose, this spring so that won’t be available for harvesting but it is present in many other places and is very easy to identify. The blossoms are harvested for most remedies and a red clover infusion is easy to make. The blossoms also dry well.
Koninginnenkruid in Dutch, Hemp Agrimony, in English, (Euphatorium cannabium) is an interesting herb which I have only really noticed here in the Amsterdam canals but it is also prolific elsewhere. It’s a very tall plant, up to about 1.5m at it’s peak in mid summer, bearing quite attractive fluffy looking pale pink flowers and leaves which are a little like those of hemp (hence the English name). It has numerous historic uses, ranging from preventing bread from going moldy, as an infusion to spring cleanse the body and prevent scurvy, to fight off colds and flu and my favourite… to help Dutch people who had jaundice accompanied by swollen feet.
However if you are suffering from such a complaint, think twice before racing off to a local patch of this herb. Hemp agrimony contains a highly volatile oil which has been found to stress the liver and even cause cancer so much caution is advised. Hemp Agrimony is considered toxic these days. The plant does smell quite pleasant when cut so this year I intend to try it in some home decorations. Here’s a patch growing beside still water in Park Frankendael. You can see the dried stems from last summer, towering above the new foliage and suggesting how tall this perennial will grow over the next few weeks.