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.
A lovely walk today, began by spotting this particular Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) plant along the Lime tree avenue. There are many many Garlic Mustards still around But this one has a few really big leaves. The one on focus here was 14cm long! It’s handy to have your field guide with you for recording such herb spotter type things!
I saw this plant from a distance yesterday and mistook it for a Calamint. I have a very stinky sample of it in my field guide, beside me as I type and it is definitely not a pleasant Calamint. It is Field Woundwort (Stachys arvensis) with beetroot coloured flowers atop hairy, strongly “scented” leaves. It is a Labiate of great herbal repute. This particular Stachys has been long used for a huge range of ailments. Have a look at the Wiki link for an overview of them if it interests. I have used it now and then as a tea. I find the taste quite strong but not unpleasant. I think the most interesting uses are to treat pink eye (conjunctivitis) and styes. For these problems, a weak, cooled and very well strained tea is sometimes used as an eye wash.
I think that the above photo is of Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale). I will need to keep checking as it comes into flower. I did manage to forage our Brassica fix of the day though, plenty of Wild Turnip in full flower alongside the Middenweg today.
Here’s an eye catching member of the Plantain, Plantago genus. It looks like Ribwort but the flowers are super shaggy and I’m not used to seeing that in Ribwort. I have a feeling it is a hybrid between two types of Plantago. Claud Biemans told me about them when she walked with me here in Frankendael. Whatever it is I love those flowers, they remind me of a well worn Afghan coat.
Here is Digitalis in flower. Foxgloves have strikingly beautiful flowers but all parts of the plant are highly poisonous. It provides a well known herbal medicine which acts specifically on heart muscles. Not something to be picked or used.
Here’s another poisonous plant, White Bryony (Bryonia dioica) entwined around Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca). I was looking at Motherwort today because it’s flowers are just beginning to become obvious and soon the leaves of the plant will become more familiar to those who know its flower heads. Can you see the flowers developing in whirls close to the leaf bases and the square Labiate stems? This is a good time to harvest and tincture the plant but you should watch it for a full cycle to ensure its the real thing.
Lastly today, Hound’s Tongue (Cynoglossum officinale).