Tag Archives: White Bryony

365 Frankendael day 71

Meadowsweet, buds still developing. I’ve been waiting for them to open into almond scented flowers for several weeks now. Still good for harvesting. Delicious as a tea and beneficial for stomach disorders and pain relief.

Here is my favourite tonic herb in flower: Leonurus cardiaca, Motherwort. My park harvested tincture is developing nicely on my kitchen shelf at present. So easy to make and so little of the herb had to be harvested. I used part of this plant for my tincture and there’s no evidence left to see, just a healthy and beautiful plant for everyone to enjoy.

Next is another pain reliever, but far too potent for me: Poppy, Papaveraceae sp. On a recent meetup group Lime harvest, a member told me how her French Grandmother used to swear by a cough syrup which she brewed down from poppy flowers and sugar. Isobel has made this her self and says it’s beautiful, works a treat but has an unfortunate blood pressure altering effect so she had to stop using it. Not so surprising as the poppy family is the source of morphine. I heard of another contemporary Poppy remedy this week on the Green Peace Walks I led. Boiling up the flowers in water, a decoction, as a heroine substitute! This was witnessed by a walker and not made by any of the Greenpeace walkers, I hasten to add. Not really my cup of tea, but certainly a useful last ditch pain reliever if ever there was an urgent need. The dosage of herbal remedies is often quite a fine art. The amount required for a medicine like effect, depending upon time of harvest, freshness of herb etc. That’s why I stick to mainly tonic herbs, they can be taken for a reasonably long period without negative effects building up and they work more by supporting health rather than suppressing illness. I think that Poopy remedies must be particularly subject to this variation and are thus seen as unsafe by almost everyone. A lot of people enjoy the seeds as a bread ingredient. By harvesting seeds from small patches of Poppy such as this one, the chance of Poppy plants next year is greatly reduced.

Next today is Veronica, also called Speedwell. I have never used the plant but it’s a useful and very beautiful one. I’m not exactly sure of the genus of Veronica but its similar to Veronica spicata.

There was more mowing going on in and around the park today and also I noticed that a sprawling poisonous White Bryony had been carefully removed, from the Juniper bush I watch it climb. Perhaps also by the maintenance team? This poisonous plant remains and does look rather lovely: Birthwort.

Here is Teasel, now with fully formed and about to bear a pretty ring of tiny flowers around those distinctive flower heads. This plant shows much promise in the treatment of Lyme’s Disease. I like to drink from the water collecting leaf joints, on dewy mornings.

There were so many other plants around today but not enough time to write about them. I also met Joop, looking for the Spoonbill and a freindly local woman, also taking photos of plants, who has a children’s clothing range inspired by the nature in park Frankendael. What a lovely idea! Sorry, I forgot to ask her name, if she reads this perhaps she’d like to email me or place a comment below.

365 Frankendael day 66

Here is beautiful and extremely poisonous native climber called White Bryony (Bryonia alba), which I noticed today in a shady Frankendael hedgerow, growing over some Stinging Nettles. This is a new place for me to spot the plant. It also luxuriates throughout the woodland quarter of the park, where I see it a lot. It grows all around the city and thrives with something to scramble up and over, so it is often found against fences, hedges and shrubs. At the moment, whilst in flower it is even easier to identify.


Above is Yarrow (Achillia millefolium), flowering all over the city at present. A very useful and tasty herb. Known as Nosebleed in some parts, it has the ability to staunch or start bleeding. Not one for pregnancy or infancy. A prized women’s herb.

I thought I’d take this photo today to show how easy it can be to confuse plants. It shows Pensylvannian Pellitory (Parietaria pensylvanica) my neighbours’ dog’s favourite, growing beside a seed-setting White Deadnettle ( Lamium alba). Both are edible and both are, amongst other things, both are diuretics. Do you know which is which?

Lastly today, here is a sure sign that the main Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petoilata) season is coming to an end. Today I spotted lots of very yellow looking plants, putting all their remaining energy into seed production, rather than those delicious leaves. So if you have a penchant for this plant, now is the time to harvest from the small, younger plants . Please remember to leave the plants with plenty of foliage and the seed pods intact. That way, hopefully we can all benefit from a good crop next year.

365 Frankendael day 52


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).

365 Frankendael day 13

Today two beautiful climbers, one deadly the other delicious.

Here is a photo of Hops (Humulus lupulus) scrambling over an information plate in the woodland section of Frankendael. Several Hops plants are becoming obvious at the moment. They begin the season by growing tall thin stems which arch high above other plants, reaching out for a suitable structure to climb. Then their leaves broaden and identification becomes easier.

Hops has been a popular plant for centuries, since it was discovered that it added a delicious flavor to beer. Medicinally, hops is useful as a relaxant and sleep inducer. It is found in many herbal sleep blends. If you have access to enough, it is very simple to stuff a pillow with dried hops, which is then slept on to bring about restful sleep.


Now to the poisonous climber: White Bryony (Bryonia dioica) has some ancient medicinal and several magical uses but all parts of this plant are highly toxic. Even small ingested quantities can be lethal. It’s a member of the Cucumber family. I’ve been watching the plant in this photo grow for a few weeks, admiring it’s resemblance to squash plants but until today, not knowing it’s true nature. It really blends into its surroundings today but up close it has rather an out of place appearance. As if someone had planted melon seeds in the woodland. However this is a native plant, often found in woodlands and hedgerows.

Bryony has several colloquial names which suggest historical uses and appearance; English Mandrake, Wood Vine & Mad Root being my favourites. It was traditionally used in image, money and protection magic. The roots of this perennial were particularly significant. Here is a clearer photograph of Bryony, taken today in Oosterpark. An enchanting and deadly specimen.