Tag Archives: Rosebay willowherb

365 Frankendael day 347

More molehill collecting for me today. I’ve been busy repotting some balcony herbs and took the risk of sowing a few seeds. So more soil was needed!

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Some of the molehills in park Frankendael are very sandy, others are full of organic matter. Here’s a sandy one – just right to add drainage to the organic soil I bought from Albert Heijn. The little Plantain (Plantago major or media) in the photo was completely covered by the hill until I scraped the top soil away. Just that one molehill filled an empty 5 litre soil bag. Plantago media is an endangered species in the Netherlands, so if that’s the plant I’m extra happy. Either way, my molehill antics provided free soil for me and a freed herb for the park!

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I’ve found lots of Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) today, both in the park and other parts of town. I’ve been collecting some of the flower heads to make Coltsfoot honey. They smell amazing when just picked and it’s easy to see why they are a great cough remedy. They are easiest to find in grassland close to water. They look like Dandelion from a distance. But close-up they look like strange Asparagus type scaly things, shooting up as spears through the soil and sending flowers to face the sun before producing proper leaves. Very difficult to mix them up with anything else.

So what else today?

Violets (Viola sp):
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Young shoots of Rosebay willowherb:

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More Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) NL:Hartgespan. If in doubt of this plant (but certain it’s a square stemmed Labiate) nibble a tiny bit of leaf. If the extreme bitterness literally knocks your socks off, it’s Motherwort!

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Primrose:

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And some lovely buds and shots from which I made a refreshing immune system boosting tea,

Lime tree buds (Tilia sp). Reach for a too high for dogs twig, maybe on a burr such as this. Snap off a fresh tip bud (after checking its OK with the tree of course) and just pop it in your mouth. After a little chewing your mouth will be full of unmistakable Lime tree goo! It’s great stuff for all manner of ailments and makes me feel very happy to know the tree, every time to do it. I can’t really understand why everyone else in the park doesn’t do this. There is some information I wrote a while ago about Lime, for those wondering what all the fuss is about.

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Bramble (Blackberry bush) – just the soft green shoots.

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Added to my Spring brew (and still really tastes great hours later as I write this and enjoy the second pot) was of course a leaf or two of my new herb friend Common Horehound (Marrubium vulgare).

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Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) remains in pungent foliage.

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And finally today, a real taste of the foraging weeks to come – Ground Elder (Aegopodium podograria). Just a few plants coming through today but it’s up! I absolutely love this herb (though it’s often a real pain to gardeners). It’s common English name is Goutweed because it helps clear the body of uric acid amongst other things. I love it because it makes me feel good and tastes rather like Parsley. It can be eaten, used medicinally internally and applied externally in things such as salves and compresses. Learn more about it at the June Embrace Your Weeds workshop which I’m running with City Plot.

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Now back to my pot of Spring Shoots Tea…

365 Frankendael day 131

Today I looked at small herbs, growing along the Middenweg, which could easily be”weeded” out and replanted in locations where they could be allowed to grow unhindered and provide food…

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Here’s a little Hazel, coppiced by repeated strimmings and strong.

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Lavender. Smells great, tastes interesting but more useful for remedies and use in the home. Consider adding a handful of the flowers or fresh seeds to a small jar of honey, infuse for anything from a few days and use on minor burns.

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Hollyhock, seeds. Now’s the time to collect them and help new plants grow where you’d like them.

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Olive, with little Olives! We lost our roof top Olive last winter, during the drop freeze, but they can do just fine here, if protected in mid winter. No need to wait for the fruit, the leaves are also useful.

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A very well trodden Plantain. These look great in a put and are so useful.They do well in tree pits, are evergreen and can look quite attractive.

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Chickweed, one if my favorites for food and remedies, even in the winter. grown in a put they can make a thick yet delicate edible herbal carpet.

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Dandelion. So useful and so bitterly tasty! Encourage strong roots by digging the soil before transplanting to your chosen location.

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Lastly today, Rosebay willowherb. Such pretty and tasty flowers.

365 Frankendael day 100

For the past 100 days, I’ve been going to Park Frankendael, Amsterdam to photograph and document some of the useful, edible and medicinal herbs growing there. Parks are amongst the best places for urban foragers and this one gives an indication of what can be found all over the city, along streets, canals, against houses, in hedges and amongst offices.

I hope to go on holiday quite soon and want the project to go on without gaps. So if you would like to send me a photo of any herbs you find in Amsterdam, I’ll gladly check their identity and publish the photos with credits here. All of my photos are taken in and around Park Frankendael but during my holidays, photos from anywhere in Amsterdam are fine and I’ll be very grateful of you’re involvement.

Please send your urban herb photos to Lynn.Shore@gmail.com with you’re name, the location of the plant and the date you photographed it. If you know the name of the herb, in English, Dutch or Latin, then that would also be helpful. Send them anytime from now.

So what have we got on Day 100?
Plantain (Plantago major, NL Weegbree) with towering seed spikes, very tasty, nutritious and soothing to the gut when cooked in rice, quinoa or similar. It is easy to harvest too, simply pick a few spikes and use a thumb nail to strip the seeds from the spike. Wash them and cook, that’s it.

Here is Teasel in flower, offering food for insects and candy to the eyes of thousands of Amsterdammers, attending today’s Puurmarkt in the park. Behind the Teasel you may see Goldenrod and Rosebay willowherb.

Here is a small but second year Burdock, having a second attempt at flowering in the park orchard after being mowed down a few weeks ago. No good for harvesting but a great indicator of where to find medicinal first year Burdock plants, now and next year.

Here’s a Gingko biloba tree. Those easily identified fossil like leaves, can be best harvested when they start to tinge with yellow, for drying and using as a circulation boosting tea. The circulation enhancing action gives this herb a reputation as a good one to help improve memory.

I know of dozens of street Gingko trees in Oud Zuid, close to Beethovenstraat particularly. I’m sure there are more areas with lots of them in the city. Someone who recently joined an urban herb walk told me that she is currently harvesting and drying the leaves, to help her during periods of study.

Loads more herbs in the park and city today. The above is just a taster. Please feel free to send me what you find, as and when you like.

365 Frankendael day 76


Firstly today is Yarrow, NL: Duizendblad (Achillea millefolium) growing in a protected and well fertilized spot, next to a lamppost on Hugo de Vrieslaan. I use it mainly as a wound herb, I rub the juices gently on lightly wounded skin as an antisptic and to stem bleeding and as a fast remedy to nosebleeds. There are a great many uses for this herb. It is definitely one that far more people should know about and learn how to use. My daughter loves to nibble on this plant, perhaps because she can easily recognize it and pick the leaves from my roof pots but it shouldn’t really be ingested by under 5 year olds due to the strength of its blood regulating action. This plant grows all over the place, very easily and there are coloured flowered varieties which also have the same medicinal effects. I have a red flowered one on the roof. It makes an interesting addition to salads, just a leaf or two chopped up a little is all that’s needed. Be aware that it will bring on bleeding so not for pregnant women. Having said that it also helps to normalize mentrual cycles in some women. A very useful herb.


Above is the uniquely “fragranced” Field Woundwort (Stachys arvensis). Another wound herb, not as potent as Yarrow and not bitter tasting but very aromatic. Its a member of the Labiates and tastes a little of mint, but its quite different aswell. Good as a tea now and then, also a herb with many historic uses. See day 52 for some more information and links about this prolific urban waterside herb – why it’s called field woundwort, I’m not sure, I always find it beside water.

Above is Rosebay Willowherb (Epilibium angustifolium). Edible and medicinal (some use it for treating puss filled boils) not one I’ve really used, just eaten the odd flower and young shoot. Apparently it’s popular in several countries as a spring vegetable. Patrick Whitefield taught me about it some years ago, on a permaculture course. It often grows profusely on wasteland. I remember a lot of it growing on freshly cleared building plots, near my home as a child. It is a pioneer species, giving it the common name in North America of Fireweed.