Location: Usually parks and planted bushes around carparks
Months: May to June (Flowers)
Edible Parts: Flowers (and Rosehips in autumn)
I certainly haven’t uploaded anything on this blog for a while and I will have to grab you a good Rosa Canina picture later on I’m afraid!
Rosa Canina is a wild english rose known commonly as Dog Rose. It has pale pink flowers and red oval shaped rosehips later on. The rose petals are edible as soon as they bloom which is around May, pick blooms that fall easily off the plant as these are already pollinated anyway.
You can make rose petals into a variety of different treats such as rose Turkish Delight, Rose Herbal Tea, Crystalise the petals for cakes, rose syrup, rose water and more. They are also commonly used in cosmetics such as rose creams for the skin.
Jack by the hedge, otherwise known as Hedge Garlic or sometimes even just wild garlic – is actually not a garlic at all!
Name: Alliaria Petiolata
Location: Anywhere, usually grass verges, woodlands and tucked alongside hedges
Months: March to September
Edible Parts: Leaves, Flowers, Seeds
Hedge Garlic is a member of the mustard family – hence it’s familiar flavour and smell that reminds us of garlics. There are actually quite a few plants that could be called under the common name ‘wild garlic’ so it’s important to be able to differentiate between them. Hedge garlic is quite distinctive with its beautifully shaped lobed leaves. It’s a more delicate flavour than actual alliums provide so it’s more suitable for delicate touches of garlic/mustard flavouring such as in salads eaten fresh.
This little herb is often overlooked but it’s so much fun I highlight at every chance I get.
Lamium album is actually a member of the mint family (Lamium). We can tell this, because of it’s stem. Yes, have a closer look at it’s stem next time you see it. Feel it between your fingers and you will notice it is flat and square shaped! We can see this if we cut the stem too.
But many of us go by the humble white dead nettle without a second thought, because it looks very similar to common stinging nettles and often grows amoungst them. In fact, many think they are one and the same! Luckily, mixing these two plants up won’t kill you, but it goes to show how much identification work is really needed to stay safe and accurate.
Unlike nettles, dead nettles do not sting you and they have large prominent orchid like flowers you can easily see at a glance.
Unlike Mint, deadnettles don’t taste of anything nice and minty. I often describe the taste as simply “green”. But as a filler for stir fry greens or other mixes they do all right.
It’s these lovely little white flowers that we are after in particular. If you are careful, and pick the flower from as close to the plant as possible, you get a good amount of the nectar inside there. These flowers (I kid you not) taste like mushrooms. First they taste of not much in particular, and then if you picked them carefully enough, you get an after taste develop that is dinstinctly mushroomy. This makes them a brilliant savoury garnish to really amp up your cooking presentation game. My go to dish for these beauties is mushroom risotto. PERFECT.
Location: Anywhere, usually grass verges, pathcracks, fields and park pathways
Months: All year round
Edible Parts: Leaves, Seeds
Plantain is a common wild edible found all over the UK. The three main types in the UK are Major, Media and Lanceolata but coastal regions will also discover maritima and ponds/lakes may be blessed with Aquata. Plantain has trade mark ‘ribs’ (hence the name ribwort) along the underside of the leaf which are the prominent veins of the leaf. they run parrallell along the leaf and do not intersect. When the leaf is pulled apart the stringy material inside the vein is revealed.
Plantain is not only edible (best eaten when young and fresh) but it is also used in herbal medicine as it is packed full of anti histamines. this makes it useful as herbal tea to treat hayfever or infused in oil to treat stings and other skin reactions – in particular nettle stings.
The seeds of plantain are highly nurtitious if you catch them at the right time of year.
How to Make a Plantain Oil Infusion (for topical use)
Collect your plantain leaves (any variety) and roughly chop.
Spread the leaves our on a tray and dry them out, Ideally you would use a dehydrator at 45 degrees or less for this task but if you do not have one then you can sun dry or use your oven on its lowest setting with the door ajar. Be careful not to burn the leaves (they will turn brown is overheated).
Once fully dried, stuff as many leaves as you can into a clean dry sterile jar. Then top up with olive oil (or another base food grade oil) and ensure the leaves are submerged and there are no air gaps.
Leave in a cool dark place for 3-6 months to infuse. Strain before use.
Primrose! The lovely little five petal delicate flower we love to have in our gardens – is totally edible! Both leaves and flowers can be eaten, but Primrose tea is made from the leaves.
You can use the leaves fresh or dry them out and store them for future use.
Fill a tea strainer with leaves, and then let it steep in hot water for a few minutes. The water will turn a pale green colour. This tea tastes liek an everyday geenric herb tea – it doesn’t have any kind of real flavour to it. I added the primrose flowers to the top of my glass to liven it up a bit and improve the flavour and content. This means you get a wonderful nose full of the smell of flowers everytime you take a sip too, which is highly relaxing!
In the early days of medicine, the Primrosewas considered an important remedy in muscular rheumatism, paralysis and gout. The herb has sedative propoerties.
Not to be mistaken for other similar varieties and cross cultivators (evening primrose – also made into teas and tinctures, cowslip, oxlip).
While this is a picture of Yarrow on my allotment, I can assure you this plant grows everywhere and you are as likely to come across it as you are to find docks or dandelions. Often hidden in short grass the plant Yarrow can appear to be horizontal for most of the year only revealing itself by a few well trodden on curls of leaves in parks and pathway grass. However, at this time of year it also starts to grow upwards as it attempts to throw out some flowers and it can get very tall in the right location.
The leaves and flowers of Yarrow are used in salads and yarrow oil is also used in shampoo. Some people chew on yarrow to relieve toothache. In the garden it makes an excellent compost activator. Medicinal uses include easing the symptoms of fever, colds, gastrointestinal issues including IBS symptoms and to induce sweating.
WARNING: Do not consume excessive amounts, may contain thujone, cause drowsiness and increase urination. For some people, it can also cause a skin irritation.
WARNING: Not to be confused with Foxglove and Comfrey.
Foxglove – feel the leaves, are they soft and fur like? If so then you probably found foxglove before it flowered which is poisonous.
Comfrey – Flowers are purple instead of blue. Comfrey is the perrenial version of borage which is annual.
Borage works much like Comfrey in the compost bin as a brilliant plant stimulant for leafy growth. However, it is also considered an edible herb with tasty crisp leaves (if a bit furry). Some report they taste liek cucumber but I am less convinced. The flowers are also edible and as such make a brilliant garnish and addition to salad mixes.
Collected leaves and flowers from the borage plants on my allotment. Many garden shops now sell borage seeds to grow yourself and they excellent plants for attracting bees.
Borage leaves and flowers used to boost the contents and appearance of Elderflower cordial. I found that in this mixture the leaves slowly turn neon pink from the tips inward creating a pleasing and pretty drink garnish.
What at first glance looks like a barren field with a few daisies actually turns out to be a little field full of camomile.
Location: Grassy areas
Months: April, May, June July
Edible Parts: Flowers
They look like tall slender daisies with feathery leaves. The yellow center is bulbous and smells strongly of camomile. Smell some camomile tea if you are unsure of what that smells like! The smell is very distinctive and unmistakable.