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.
The list of threatened and endangered species in the Netherlands is extensive. I recently contacted a City Ecologist to find out more about the legality of foraging in this country and he kindly forwarded the list to me. Unfortunately, for non Dutchies like me, the common names are in Duth and the Latin names are not alphabetical. One day I shall try to work my way through the list and translate the common names. Many of the endangered plants will be of little interest to city foragers, but some will be, so before you decide to pick anything please look up the Latin name and check its status. I did find this list in English regarding endangered plants across Europe. I don’t feel it’s very comprehensive and it doesn’t mention The Netherlands, but it may give an indication of what is threatened.
A few plants which instantly stand out to me are Artemisia absinthe (Wormwood), Juniperis communis (Juniper) and Viola canina (Dog violet). Also Pennyroyal, Plantago media (a type of plantain), White Mint, Pulsatilla, Lesser Skullcap, Betonie, a type of Red Clover, Wild Strawberry, a type of Bedstraw and several types of Lady’s Mantle are on the list. Some are foraging favorites, others are wonderful herbs but all must be avoided and protected. Also, some species of fern, cling to existence on the local canal sides and must be protected. I’m not a fern eater myself but know that some international foragers seek them out.
I grow Wormwood in my geveltuin (pavement garden). It provides me with a great harvest every year and perhaps its seeds will spread the plant elsewhere. Growing-on your own rare plants, from seed or nursery plants, is a way to ensure you can use what you like.