The snow has almost thawed and the sun is out. Willow tendrils have tiny buds and there is lots of slightly dishevelled green life around.
Here us a tiny yet tough lemon balm, in park Frankendael today.
And the Mallow I photographed mid summer is still doing well in the shelter of this rock.
Today I was on a first aid course so not much time in daylight for photos but I saw this beautiful first aid herb on the way to the course – Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata).
This evergreen herb will draw poison from wound, will soothe and heal the body within and without.
This is Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) growing in Frankendael and all over the city. A very useful herb.
Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) growing in a school yard paving crack.
Chickweed (Stellaria media).
Some common “weed” plants have the most subtely beautiful flowers and I think that Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) is one such plant. Many of you already know of the merits of this wonderful first aid herb and I hope that more appreciate how pretty the flowers are. I think they ar quite incredible creations and couldn’t resist another Ribwort photo today on an outer edge of the park. There are many Plantago species growing here. Another notable one which has settled in my roof pots is Plantago major. It has broad leaves and it not as highly prized for it’s medicinal qualities but it none the useful. Douzens of seedlings have taken root in my pots and they are very useful for first aid. Yesterday I was harvesting rooftop Gooseberries and Blackcurrants with my daughter and we chewed on and a leaf or two before gently rubbing the sap onto her berry bush scratches. It worked a treat and was much quicker to apply and work physically (and mentally) than any remedy I have inside of the house.
If Ribwort and making remedies at home interests, you may like to join me for a small workshop near the next New Moon.
Here is Greater celandine, a wonderful plant with poisonous/potent orange sap, which can often help with unwelcome skin growths, such as warts and corns. Today I noticed lots of Greater Celandine setting seed and I look forward to collecting some when the time comes. Below is a lovely picture of the plant drawn and painted by Elodie some time ago. Sometimes paintings tell more about the spirit of a plant than photos ever can. I need to make more time to sit and draw plants, maybe it’s something you would like to try too? Drawing a plant requires that you sit with it for a while, that you and it breathe each other in and out and from that you can learn a lot.
Lastly today, a mixed salad in scrub-land beside the park. I love this untended patch and I’m pleased it gets little maintenance as the wild edibles love it! Here you may be able to see Chickweed and Ground ivy growing together with some Shepherd’s Purse. All three, tasty and nutritious. The main thing that worries me about harvesting from such locations is not really knowing what is in the soil. You can never really know for sure but some scrub-land such as this may be used for tipping unwelcome materials. I keep that in mind when I choose to harvest or not.
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.
Above is a feather leaf of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
The tip of a young Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) plant featuring a Lady Bird.
Above, a not so clear photo of Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor).
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.
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.
Once a month a chance to learn in detail about a different common urban herb from either Jennie (who I run the meetup group with) or me, Lynn.
Part two is about Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata). An amazingly simple looking plant, found right under your feet, with a multitude of uses. It’s a great herb to cut your teeth on, regarding how to make an infusion, poultice, infused oil and ointment. I will take this session in Park Frankendael near the New Moon in July 2012. 12.00 – 13.30.
In this short and sweet field workshop, you will make all of those things and learn about the properties, habitat, folk and medicinal history and up to date uses of the plant. You will take home a bag full of little herbal preparations and knowledge of how to do it time and time again with everyday materials.
We will try to run each monthly Herb by Herb workshop near the New Moon and the days of the week will vary. You are welcome to attend all, some or none of the series! Most materials will be provided. You’ll need to bring along a small pair of scissors, perhaps a flask of hot water and 2 small and clean glass jars (such as 90ml pesto jars).
Cost of the workshop is €10.
Please contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through the meetup group if you are interested in joining this workshop.
What lovely people I met today, on my first guided herb walk of this year. We looked at lots of lovely and useful herbs. I’ll post a few photos taken by the others when they reach me.
In the meantime here’s a Frankendael Lime leaf photo which I took yesterday, for those who didn’t get to pick one to keep with their handouts. This is a perfect time to harvest a few healthy, non sticky leaves and enjoy them between slices of bread.
After the walk today, I also spotted Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor NL: Kleine pimpernel), poking it’s flower stalk up in a grassland area of the park. In my photograph there is also a ribwort to the left, with a completely different flower stalk. Salad burnet is a useful but endangered plant in the Netherlands so completely out of bounds to foragers and herbalists alike. I feel very priveledged to have seen it today. I hope to be able to take a better photograph of this plant soon. I mentioned to some people to day, the useful website called Bioimages.Org.uk where you can search for images of plants and animals to help with identification. Here’s a link to their photos of Salad Burnet. It seems like a good resource but of course never forget your field guide!
Also plenty of healing Ribwort, in the same area, with it’s long slender leaves and unusual dull coloured flower at the end of a long stalk.
Here’s a pretty tree pit from the same patch, full of a tiny flowered Cranesbill, Ribwort, Horsetail and a non edible Chrysanthemum, all mixed together by fortunate chance.
Today, daisy, magnolia, pine cones and ribwort during an after work wander between the two Frankendael tram stops.
Daisy (Bellis perenis)has quite a number of historic uses. You can eat this herb as a salad or a pot herb but in places like Frankendael it’s highly likely that your harvest will have been quite heavily soiled or trampled. Have a look at the Uses section on the linked Wiki entry about this plant for details of how the Romans used its astringent qualities to assist soldiers.
Tasty Magnolia is still in flower here in Amsterdam. This photo is of a flower on a young tree within the park, so these particular flowers won’t be on my plate. There are plenty of other mature trees overhanging gardens and in public spots which you may be able to locate using boskoi. Before now I have collected leaves straight after a strong wind or shower. That’s a nice way to avoid upsetting anyone who thinks you are just spoiling the beautiful display by plucking blooms.
Above are a few Pinecones, found by my daughter, which I had completely forgotten could yield great food, in fact one of the least polluted and most nutritious- Pinenuts! And they are another harvest to acquire from fallen plant material rather than plucking. The tree these fell from is shown next…
I’m not sure of the species but I have already had a peak inside the cone and there are some tasty looking nuts within.
Lastly, trusty Plantago lanceolata, Ribwort. I harvested from several really juicy looking plants today, ready to make a foot oil tomorrow morning. The link above goes to day 2 of the 365 project where I gave further info and links about the plant.
This photo shows the narrow form of Plantain, known as Ribwort, with Ground ivy flower stems growing up through it.
Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata), is a very useful first aid herb. It is part of the plant family to which Psyllium belongs and shares it’s usefulness as a soother of mucous membranes. Amongst other things, it can be used as a simple insert in shoes, to ease tired aching feet and can be rubbed on grazes and insect stings as it releives pain. It was previously recommended as a plant to be added to the seedmix for pastureland, it is a favorite of sheep. Ribwort contains lots of mucilage, easily released by chewing. For more simple uses see Susun Weed link.
Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) also known as groundsel or cat’s paw, was an age old remedy for stomach ailments, was used to clarify beer in the absence of hops, is useful for soothing chapped hands, tastes pungent and minty and is great raw or cooked. It is a favorite of birds and can apparently entice a rabbit to eat when is unwell and refuses all other food. Mrs Grieve’s Modern Herbal (from 1931) advises harvesting Groundsel along with Chickweed in the spring and summer, to dry and then feed to rabbits along with their straw in the winter.
The plant is a very successful annual, now renowned as a garden weed. Ground ivy, with its scalloped kidney shaped leaves, creeps across the ground, setting root at regular intervals and throwing up relatively tall flower stems (10 -20cm high) at this time of year. Today, purple ground ivy flowers looked stunning throughout the park. There are striking patches at the entrance closest to the garden centre and dotted throughout the less trampled grassland, notably next to the woodland area beside Frankendael Huis. This plant is definitely a must-try for foragers, provided you can find clean plants.
Lastly today, a photo of Marjoram (Origanum vulgare) which thrives in just a couple of spots in the park. I am always delighted when I see it in flower but at this time of year the plants are growing rapidly and the leaves are loaded with the aromatic oils, so prized by cooks.