Tag Archives: Tansy

365 Frankendael day 174

Today Elodie and I found mushrooms, hazelnuts, flowering Meadowsweet, Tansy and other lovely autumn treats as we walked beside a local canal. We forgot our cameras which was actually quite a pleasure!

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I did take this photo earlier, of a beautiful and still green Elder (Sambucus nigra) growing in park Frankendael. I’ve a mind to harvest some leaves to dry and use in ointments over the winter – if the Elder spirit has a mind to let me – but then again, there will be very few days when it’s impossible to find a few fresh green Elder leaves, even in the coldest months.

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 72

We had a lovely long walk in the park today so lots of photos, lots of plants and lots of harvesting for tinctures, drying food and more.

The plants shown below are:
Tansy,
Meadowsweet,
Feverfew,
Mullein,
Mock strawberry,

Here is Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), a powerful herb which is immediately apparent if you pick and smell a leaf. I harvested some pre-flowing tops today, to make a simple moth repellant for my wardrobe and a tincture in case of use through the year. Tansy is very strong and not to be used casually. It has many modern and historical uses including being a potent insecticide, anti worm medicine and more. It can cause contact dermatitis so it is not one for the cut flower vase. I like this herb a lot but treat it with lots of respect.

Meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria is another herb I gratefully harvested today. It makes a good stomach medicine, as a tea or tincture. It can help with stomach ulcers, general stomach upsets such as gas and can help calm excess stomach acid. It contains salicyclic acid, the derivative of Asprin and should be used with caution by those taking Asprin as it will increase the dose present in the body. It is interesting to note that unlike Asprin, which can cause gastric bleeding, Meadowsweet has a soothing effect on that area of the body. Another example of how taking a chemical out of its natural plant environment changes it’s affect on the body. Meadowsweet is traditionally harvested now, just before the flowers open. Finally I found some that had just bloomed in the Frankendael ponds. I harvested some pre-flowering tops, have tinctured a couple and am drying the rest. By harvesting very gently and not to low down the stem I get stronger tinctures/ tea and also allow the plants to have another go at flowering this season.

Next is Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, a traditional remedy for migraine. I tried it several years ago, hated the taste and didn’t really notice much effect but I simply ate a few leaves between bread. I don’t suffer from migraines these days but if they return ill try a tincture of this pretty little plant and keep trying for a while. The taste of herbs is important in their effectiveness. Taste is the first part of digestion. It primes the internal organs for the food or medicine that is to come. Bear this in mind if you like to take your herbs packed up tastelessly in capsules. Feverfew is currently adorning many pavement cracks, untended planters and road verges in Amsterdam.

Next is the spectacular flower spire of a Mullein plant. I collect individual flowers throughout the flowering season and add them to a small pot of olive oil. It makes a handy ear treatment.

Next are the delightful edible not-strawberries of Potentilla indica, sometimes called Mock Strawberry. I picked a handful with my little girl and we will cook them up with some fallen apples from the public mixed fruit orchard in Park Frankendael. On the recent Greenpeace walk one of the participants told me that her Dutch mother-in-law likes to harvest these almost tasteless fruits and preserve them in vodka. She likes the taste it makes as a drink. Maybe I’ll try adding them to a Rum Pot this year.

Here’s the little orchard.

365 Frankendael day 1

<img class="alignleft My new project to identify and document herbs in Amsterdam’s park Frankendael, every day for a year, began today. It’s quite damp and cold at present but many herbs are looking resplendent in Amsterdam. The parks give a good indication of biodiversity in the city as a whole. Here are a few photos of useful plants which are in full foliage or flower today, in Park Frankendael. They show Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare, a powerful emmenagogue) Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum, a salad and pot herb) and Comfrey (Symphytum uplandica). Hover over the photos for the names, if you are not sure which is which.
Some days I’ll be adding less photos and more information about the plants, other days will be more focused on photos. I’m really looking forward to watching the plants throughout the year, to sharing more ways to use them and find them on the streets and verges of Amsterdam and to improving my photography skills!
Several people have kindly offered to get involved with taking photos from time to time. There will be a little meeting on Sunday May 13th to share ideas.