Tag Archives: Valerian officinale

365 Frankendael day 44

Today is drizzly and cool; the same temperature as last Christmas Day. Umm, a far cry from the heat of a week ago.  So today’s photos look as though I took them at dusk but in fact they were taken at about 2pm.

I have had another one of my bird spotter moments. I identified a plant from the park which looked pretty when I found it, but not spectacular. It wasn’t one that I recognised, although I was drawn to it and wanted to know  it. I took a little part of the plant home from my walk yesterday and used my books and the Internet to identify it.  Today I went out and photographed it along with some other June beauties:

Above is the plant I am so excited about – Skullcap.  It has pairs for slender, hooked Labiate flowers, running down adjacent corners of quite long flower stems. The flowers are a lovely deep mauve on the upper lip and contrasting white on the lower lip. This two tone flower is not obvious until you get right up close to it. The plant is clearly a member of the Labiates, not only due to the flowers but also because it has square stems and leaves coming off the stem in opposite pairs.  The leaves taste strongly bitter, they taste amazing actually, of strong Scullcap tincture, the type I use at home quite regularly for pain relief and relaxation. I especially love this herb and have been using it for some years with great success, since beginning study with Susun Weed.  It gives subtle releif to pain, especially pain in the head and it brings on sleep when it is needed.  I am so happy to have stumbled upon this beautiful herb in Park Frankendael as I not seen it (or at least noticed it) growing wild before, I only knew it from books and bottles.  All members of the Scullcap family contain the active ingredient and this is quite volatile thus the plant should be tinctured in situ.

There are many Scullcaps and all have the same active constituents. Most likely, this one is Sculletaria altissima, Tall Skullcap, Glidkruid in Dutch. It is labelled as Tros Glidkruid (Sculletaria columnae) in the herb garden of the park but I am not convinced.  The flowers are very similar but the underlip of this Frankendael plant is definitely white, throughout, it doesn’t blend from white to mauve at all, there is clear definition.

Above is flowering Scrophularia nodosa, Common Figwort, NL: Helmkruid.  A very strangely scented Labiate, which Claud Biemans helped me identify a few weeks ago.  I still need to do some proper research into its internal and external uses but it certainly has many historic applications, such as being used to relieve skin eruptions and swelling for painful joints.  It is prolific in some parts of this park.

Next today, Wild Roses.  It has rained today and the scent of Rose, close to these bushes is extraordinary.  If you haven’t been outside to smell Roses after light rain then try it!  I’ve mentioned Rose many times before.  They are tasty and have many uses.  These are both most likely to be Rosa canina, Dog Rose and how beautiful they are!  But one of them could possibly be Rosa rubiginosa, Sweet Briar, it certainly smells good enough to be that.  I will have a better look at the defining parts another day. For today I simply enjoyed them.

Here is Pellitory Parietaria sp., Glaskruid in Dutch.  Another useful herb to learn more about as it is again prolific in arts of Frankendael.

Lastly today gorgeous Valerian flowers, on the edge of the main woodland pond.
They smell great, they look great and they are very useful if you need to relax.


365 Frankendael day 41

Today a lovely scene, if you like tended gardens, of the old partitioned garden at the back of Frankendael Huis. I really appreciate how the gardeners allow the plants to spill out here and there and especially so with the stunning Valerian officinalis which is shown here. Valerian medicine is traditionally focused on the roots but the flowers are also useful and have more subtle effects than the other parts of the plant. I have a big Valerian plant on my roof and this weekend, harvested every third flower cluster, for drying. Doing so leaves the beautiful appearance and special scent almost intact, for everyone else to enjoy.

Here is a photo Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), NL: Brandnetel, in bloom. Now is not at all the time to harvest this wonderful tonic herb but I took the photo to illustrate the difference between the plant and other look a likes, such as Lamium alba, White Dead Nettle, shown yesterday.

Here is a photo of a plant that I want to learn more about, creeping along the ground rather like a Strawberry with similar leaves and runners. Growing amongst it, with purple flowers, is familiar Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacaea) which is edible, useful and tastes minty. I have been watching the Strawberry look a like, in several shady parts of the park, for several weeks. Today it is coming into flower, yellow flowers, so I now remember that the plant a little better. It is a member of the Cinquefoil (Potentilla) family, I’ll have a closer look tomorrow to find out which. I brought a sample home but my cat ate it in seconds – maybe that should tell me something!? Strawberries are members of the Fragaria family.

Not one to eat until next Spring, here is an update of how Ramsons (Wild garlic, NL: Daslook) look at the moment. Not very tasty but the seed heads are developing well.

Next, and again for future reference, the closest Sweet Chestnut tree to my home. Totally unrelated to Horse Chestnut, far more tasty but possibly less interesting for herbalists.

Lastly today, an enormous Dandelion(Taraxacum officinale), two 50 cm long leaves of which, are destined for my plate this evening…