Tag Archives: Skullcap

Willow Apprenticeship Meeting

I met with my Willow Apprenticeship Group this afternoon and as usual had a wonderful and enriching time with them.

I took a few photos whilst we were out and about…

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Skullcap (Sculletaria sp.) in the woods. It is best to harness the powers of this bitter labiate, actually at the plant. So take your tincture materials to the woods, harvest just enough, sparsely from across all of the Skullcap plants, in areas where it is abundant and set up your small tincture there and then. Otherwise the active constituents tend to change or evaporate. Either way, Skullcap loses potency hugely if you harvest, take it home then tincture.

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Above is Plantain (Plantago major). Absolutely the best time to forage this healing and nutritious plant. It is easier to eat them if the ribs have been removed first. The leaves make a wonderfully soothing skin ointment. It combines well with leaves of Elder and Comfrey in such an ointment.

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Above is a Verbascum sp. plant. Probably Mullien but we’ll check on it again when the flowers appear. A very useful plant. One traditional use for Mullein is to gradually fill a small jar with individual flowers and olive oil. Harvest only a tiny amount of what is available, leave lots of flowers for the bees and other pollinators! The oil is used by some to soothe earache. Another widely used application is infusing the whole flowering plant to treat allergies and chronic asthma.

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Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). Not the most productive year for bushy Mugwort plants in Amsterdam. They are far more slender than usual but still taste great and are very potent at the moment.

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Searching for Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) amongst Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) and Jerusalem artichoke (above).

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Elderflower. A superb year and so many uses!

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Hedge woundwort (Stachys sylvatica). We found it full of bees. This has also been planted next to the bee hives of de Hortus Botanicus. Strongly scented, bristly, slightly sticky leaves which seem to ooze potency. This Woundwort had many historical uses and remains very useful today.

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White deadnettle (Lamium album) amongst Ground Elder (Aegopodium podograria). Both are edible, delicious and useful for several conditions. Lamium album being especially useful for helping normalise females flows.

Lots more wonderful plants were spotted today and the time went by so quickly!

And some kitchen inspiration.

Photo credit: gulummse.blogspot.com
Photo credit: gulummse.blogspot.com

365 Frankendael day 132

Redshank (Polygonum persicaria)

Here’s a plant my daughter found today, next to bike racks on the Hugo de Vrieslaan. It’s  an edible herb called Redshank (Polygonum persicaria). Often, it has the splotchy arrow sort of mark on the leaves, sometimes not. The surest way to identify it is by the flower and there are plenty of those around at the moment. Here’s a closer photo which we took today:

Redshank (Polygonum persicaria).

And here’s a short video from YouTube which may help you to identify it.

Next is a hearty Dandelion. There are so many around at the moment, I think they prefer the weather a little cooler and wetter. I was reading yesterday that Susun Weed likes to keep a stock of around 200 cooked greens portions in her freezer, ready for winter. I’m guessing that Dandelion is on her freezer list. I haven’t done that my self, I just eat it when it’s around, but will give it a try. Not 200 portions, I’ve only space for around three but its worth a go. On a side note, I bought a delicious jar of Morvan Pissenlit honey last week, Pissenlit literally means wet the bed and is the common name of Dandelion in France. The name is given due to its potent diuretic properties. The honey is exceptional. I must have another spoonful now!

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

I forget to mention this little beauty yesterday, Skullcap (Sculletaria altissima), in the woods of park Frankendael. It is in flower again! A second wave of flowers often graces strong perennials, when they have been cut back prematurely. Whatever the reason, I’m so pleased to see these pretty pain relieving flowers again.

Skullcap (Sculletaria altissima)

Autumn is on its way, you can smell it in the air. A blue moon tomorrow night so I’ll be looking for hazelnuts and not writing much tomorrow – just photos and names. Happy foraging!

365 Frankendael day 97

I collected some more seeds today, from edible, medicinal and beautiful perennials in Park Frankendael. The only wild Angelica that I know of there set and spread its seed in the water some time ago but this beauti in the maintained herb garden is just ripe. I harvested just a tiny proportion of the seeds on the plant and will use them for the River of Herbs project. Angelica archangelica is such a gorgeous plant to look at and has so many uses for humans and wildlife. I hope some other people will enjoy growing it in the city.

If you would like to collect some seeds from plants growing in the city or anywhere else, do remember to:
1. Leave most of the seed on the plant for birds and small mammals to eat and use.
2. Leave the seed heads and stems on the plants, they often make excellent look out posts for birds in winter, create beautiful frosted and dew covered structures until the spring and some become hollowed out homes for all manner of bug life. If you must chop off the seed making structures, to access the seeds, it probably indicates that the seed is not yet ripe anyway.
3. Take only from plentiful perennial plants, which are generally able to proliferate from their root stock and seed. If you take from annuals or biennials the forget to sew the seed, or they fail, then the plants you harvested from may have lost all chance to reproduce.
4. Only harvest seed when ripe and allow them to dry off extra well at home before packaging in small labelled envelopes or similar for future use.
5. Sew your seed as soon as possible. Think about the plants natural cycle, when the plant sets seed the seed usually finds its way to the soil and when ready will germinate. Try to mimick this if possible.

My attempt at Skullcap (Sculleraria sp.) seed collection was disappointing. I had missed the boat almost completely on two accounts, firstly someone had cut off heaps of flower stems from the large plant shown here and secondly when I examined more skullcap plants they had already set seed. I managed to collect about six seeds. Next year I must look for them earlier.

I then turned my attention to the tall wild flower meadow (shown above). Too early for seed collection here but right on time to see Goldenrod in full glory,

And Tansy (here’s a photo illustrating why Tanacetum vulgare is known as Buttons in some regions),

365 Frankendael day 46

I’ve been preparing for the next Urban Herbology walk today so here are several photos and not much chat…


Developing cobweb-spirally Burdock flowers.


The Middenweg Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum) continues to grow despite being reported to the council. Apparently it’s not a risk to the public because it is growing in the green strip… It is now wider than my bike, well over 2m tall and (although less than before I pruned it) still overhangs the pavement. I shall snip off the flower heads before the seeds set. A deadly beauty.


Greater Celendine, with seed pods developing well.


Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum), still growing, still flowering – everywhere in the park!


Skullcap (Sculletaria altissima) in the woods. Flowers development very quickly moving up the stalk, sowing be visible for much longer.


The flowers of wild Sage (Salvia officinalis).


On the edge of the rhododendron planted section, I found this shady patch of tasty Pelargonium, Garlic Mustard and also Stinging Nettle and Cleavers, just out of shot.


Lastly, frothy flowers of Hedge Bedstraw.