Firstly today, fragrant and edible flowers of the urban prolific Rosa rugosa. It is much used by urban landscapers and I think, underused by urban foragers. To be used as any other rose, ensure they are clean and unsprayed as ever.
Next is Cleavers (Galium aparine), still looking fresh and cleansing in the Volkstuin area of Frankendael.
Here is a mature Ginkgo biloba tree which I hadn’t noticed until today. Recently I learned that in some parts of the world it is illegal to plant female Ginkgos because the smell of their fruit is so obnoxious! Perhaps this one is a male? Either way, the leaves will be ripe for the picking and eating or tea making in a few months. There are a great many Ginkgos in Amsterdam.
Above is a small Ladies mantle (Alchemilla) plant. This is a bitter and very useful herb. I grow several on my roof and sometimes eat the flowers as a garnish. The leaves are good as a bitter tea and can be used to make a good breast toning oil. That is one of their traditional uses.
Lastly today, another coppiced Willow living in apparent intimate harmony with a different plant species. This time the lodger USA flowering Elder (Sambucus nigra). Two great herbs together!
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.
Ransoms and Garlic mustard are gradually fading and being replaced by other tasty plants. Here are a selection of today’s urban herbs in Amsterdam’s Frankendael Park.
Bugle (Ajuga reptans). Used to be known as the Carpenters herb because it is yet another plant with blood staunching abilities. It looks very similar to Sealheal but has small leaves throughout the flowers whereas Selfheal(which I am keen to find) has flowers all at the top of the stalk, without leaves between). It is a member of the mint family and has digestive uses and historic herbalists apparently used it for all manner of ailments.
I can’t find much about this from truly reliable sources but there are many Internet posts mentioning narcotic and hallucinogenic properties for pretty, evergreen Bugleweed. So perhaps you should do some research and make your own mind up on that one but it’s probably not a herb to experiment with in the family stew!
Willow. Here’s a lovely row of fast growing coppiced Salix, growing beside water at the Middenweg edge of the park.
Ground Elder (Aegopodium podograria) is growing bigger and bolder each day. I did notice a few flower heads developing on Groundelder today so now is the time to harvest if you are interested in foraging this plant. The leaves of this invasive, woodland loving perennial look quite similar to Elder and Ash tree foliage. It tastes really good and can be cooked as spinach. I noticed that my old copy of Food For Free only shows the flower of this foragers favorite. It is worth mentioning that foragers should only use such books as a source of inspiration. I use two detailed wild plant guides when identifying and getting know new plants. Foraging books are good for suggesting what to look for and how to use them.