Tag Archives: wild geranium

365 Frankendael day 139

Today, a quick list of 16 edible or medicinal plants, currently in season in Amsterdam. Here they are, photographed in Park Frankendael this morning:

Silverweed – edible, all parts.

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Jerusalem artichoke – invasive, very tasty. Heaps of it at the back of the closest flower meadow to Frankendael huis (behind the house). Cook the roots with winter savoury – it helps eliminate the intestinal gas which these vegetables are infamous for producing.

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Dandelion, Stinging nettle and Chickweed. All three are edible, nourishing tonic herbs. Can be eaten safely in fairly copious amounts but just a leaf our two, or a handful of Chickweed, will really boost a meal.

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Rosehips, in abundance. They could be made into syrup now but if the birds leave them alone, I’d wait another few weeks. Medicinal due to high vitamin c levels in particular and other immune boosting constituents. Interesting added to stews etc also.

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False, but edible, look-a-like strawberries of a Potentilla.

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Sweetcorn and Sunflowers, growing alongside the Middenweg. I’ve seen quite a few wild Sweetcorn plants lately. Maybe sometimes been sewing the seed as they walk the streets? Not likely that either of these plants will be left, strimmer free, long enough to flower or seed, but what fun that would be if it happened.

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Japanese knotweed, rhubarb like, super sour edible and terribly invasive plant. Search this site and others for how to cook it.
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Marshmallow (yes, it’s the original sweet namesake). I simply collected a thousand seeds or so from this plant today. It’s so easy to grow in town and so useful as a soothing medicinal and as a food – think gooey egg substitute.

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Not so easy to see – though what a pretty woodland view – Ground elder and Wild geranium.

Garlic mustard, edible – very! – but only pick one leaf per plant at this time of year. They need to build up energy reserves to survive the winter. You’ll hopefully be rewarded with tall healthy leaf and flower rich plants next year.
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Wild rocket. Rucola in Dutch. A heap this size would be sold for a small fortune in Albert Heijn. It will taste extra strong and be a bit woody at the moment due to flowering but still useful and very peppery. Maybe collect a seed pod or two and sprinkle them in a price of underused safe land near your home.

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Greater celandine. NOT edible! Poisonous orange sap, but that sap is very useful as a topical treatment for warts and some other skin spots.

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Lastly the mystery Nut Tree that several people sent me photos of whilst I was on holiday. I still don’t know the name or whether it if edible our not. But I now know it’s sticky and I think it is setting fruit rather than nuts at the moment. Will keep am eye on it as they develop.
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365 Fraendael day 27

Today, a lovely walk through the park with Lucile and the little ones. We each went home with a few leaves of Ground Elder and a little Ground Ivy. Plenty of other herbs in season though…

Here’s the foliage from a Wild Carrot! Not one to be dug up, though it would probably taste great. I hope to revisit it later in the year to double check it’s identity when it is in full bloom. Wild carrot has been used in folk medicine for centuries and has recently been researched by Robin Rose Bennett. It is often found to be quite a useful contraceptive. For more information on the research take a look at Robin’s website.

Here is Comfrey, still in full bloom and looking stately throughout the park and city.

Garlic Mustard leaves continue to grace many of my meals. The plants here are nearing the end of their flowering season but the foliage still tastes wonderful and only a leaf or two is needed to add a garlicky kick to regular meals.

Greater Celandine continues to flower. It’s stems remain loaded with bright orange sap which is freely released when a stem is broken. This sap, containing a substance which is acrid and highly irritant but has been used medicinally since at least the middle ages. Historically it was used, in preparations such as lard and milk, to cure piles, cataracts, severe scurvy and some forms of cancer. These days it is still a popular remedy, amongst those who know it, for warts, corns and ringworm. To use for these three ailments, simply break a stem and apply the fresh sap to only affected skin. It will irritate healthy skin. The Latin name of this plant means swallow (the bird) and this is said to be because the plant’s flowering season coincides with the arrival and departure of swallows. So hopefully there should be some time to go before the flowers of Greater Celandine disappear from Amsterdam again.

Cleavers are looking particularly lush and juicy at the moment, about 50 cm long on average. Perfect for harvesting a clean handful and juicing for a cleansing tonic.

Wild Geranium is also looking striking, producing a mass of small purple flowers in the woodland, at present.

365 Frankendael day 20

Day 20 of the project and after going to the park expecting to see just one or two new things I was delighted to find my first Elder blossom of the season, Wild Aspraragus shoots and several other delights. Here are a few…


Above, Japanese knotweed is still fair game for Foragers looking for something a little exotic in Amsterdam. Here’s a link to my
sweet sour JKW yoghurt recipe

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Next is A Geranium species in flower. Very tasty cooked or raw.


Someone got to this Asparagus before me. It makes a stunning tall feathery plant when allowed to flower. I hope that whoever harvests this one leaves some other shoots to flower and fruit unhindered.


Above is Plantago major (NL: Wegbrood, Plantain) in full effect, prior to flowering. It’s not as useful a medicinal than its slender sister Ribwort (Plantago lanceolota) but its useful and quite good eating.

I feel like a bird spotter with this one… Above is my first sighted Elder blossom of 2012 and it gets me very excited. Elderflower fritters, Elderflower champagne, Elderflower tea and a host of other flower and Elderberry recipes are not far away! This huge Elder shrub is on the Middenweg, just up from the top entrance of Frankendael and opposite the Vomar supermarket. If only my arms were long enough! Remember to harvest with respect and leave LOTS for the birds and bees. Also be very aware of Elderflower look-a-likes. Here’s a photo of Ash or Rowan in flower, growing above an Elder shrub which is not in flower. It would be an easy mistake to harvest the flowers believing them to be Elderflower, when here is nothing to compare them with.

365 Frankendael day 8


It’s very cold, damp and windy here today, well relatively speaking, so not the most pleasant day for a walk in the park with a toddler. Of course, I did see some beautiful plants but most photos were rather windswept. I think that this one clearly represents the last days of April. Ramsons in flower, Ground elder swallowing up other plants, Cowslip standing tall, yellow and delicate and at the back, a wild Ribes bush (could be black current, white current, raspberry etc. but its too early to tell). I

One of my favourite city herbs is really coming into flower at the moment. Wild geraniums (Wood geranium, Cranesbill) are often used in urban planting schemes because they bulk up nicely as the spring and summer develop. You can find geraniums in city tree pits where they receive lots of nutrition from passing dogs. If you can locate relatively clean plants, perhaps try them in the summer when they have had a chance to grow and will withstand a little harvesting.

All geraniums and all parts of them are said to be edible, but some varieties are hairier than others! This variety is prevalent in the park, the pretty purple flowers are fragrant and taste good in a salad, the leaves add an interesting dimension to raw food and cooked they blend well with other spring greens. I prefer to thoroughly wash any that I harvest and then to cook them, like spinach. I reserve geraniums growing at home, for salads.

Now is a good time to learn the differences between the many members of the Carrot family, which grow wild in Amsterdam. The most prevalent and obvious at this time of year is Sweet cicely. It is a good faraging food, makes pleasant aniseed flavoured drinks and is sometimes used as a tonic herb. But beware! There are some extremely toxic members of the Carrot family and all look quite similar until you know how to differentiate them. At present Sweet cicely is in flower.