Wild Weed Wisdom

Nurture Your 'Inner Wild' with Foraged Edible and Medicinal Plants


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A Simple Way to Taste the Wisdom of A Place

Eat Me and Learn My Secrets...

Eat Me and Learn My Secrets…

Anika holds some Linden leaves in the photo above – it was soon made into soup and pesto, but just nibbling a leaf as you walk on your way is fine… and beautiful.

I was thinking the other day, how little we eat of the food we grow around us. I mean, the food that grows wild, the real food that belongs to this place. Food that has the vibrations and DNA peculiar to this small spot, where ever it may be on this Earth, that we call home.

I think if we are to heal ourselves, or simply to feel at ease in the cities and towns that we call home, we would do well to eat food that we “belong to,” rather than imported food, even if is it branded as organic, raw or a “super-food.” Even ‘local’ food that is grown 50km away is not so local as the wild food at your feet.  You can harvest this wild food yourself, easily. A wonderful idea is for travelers to eat the wild food they find growing in a new place – what better way to get ‘grounded’ again?

Clean, abundant food is simple to find, providing you know what to look for (learn from someone you trust, and use a guide book). A nibble of a Linden-tree leaf, or a fresh, clean dandelion leaf or stem, a taste of a violet… can infuse you with an unknown amount of living wisdom and soul-nourishment. Just invite it into our bodies with a sense of awareness and gratitude. How easy is that?

In the photo,  Anika holds some gorgeously green Linden leaves – they were quickly made into both a  soup and a pesto, but just nibbling a leaf as you walk on your way is fine, and beautiful.


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Wild Weed Wisdom – Scrapbooked!

Wild Weed Wisdom - Scrapbooked!

69090_10200102779986400_1007381699_n It’s quite an honour to be included in the herbal scrapbook of Leoniek Bontje, who apprentices with me. Leoniek is not only a dedicated student of wild medicinal plants, but she’s also an excellent artist.

You don’t need any special skills, however, to make your own herbal scrapbook, and I would urge you to start on one. It is a real way to learn, I mean really learn, about the plants.

Sketching the plants will help your brain organize all the small details that are so important for identification. It will train your eye.

Leave your Smartphone at home for your next walk. Bring instead, your guide book, scrapbook, a roll of tape and a pencil. Tape small samples into your book. Pay attention to the details. Is the leaf hairy on the underside? Is it leathery or like a thin, transparent skin? Is the stem hollow, milky, ridged or prickly? Ask these questions, and many more, then answer them in your notes. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you learn, and how incredibly satisfying it is to have your very own scrapbook.

Happy hunting!

Japanese Quince Blossom

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Japanese Quince Blossom

Right now is the time to spot your local Japanese Quince! Besides being utterly gorgeous, this little bush bears small, edible yellow fruit that are scented like rose and peach combined. The fruit are even more sour than the regular (Turkish) Quince, but with enough sugar, they make a divine (and pretty) jelly or jam. I’ll post that recipe in Autumn, when the fruit are ripe.
Often Japanese Quince mischievously self-seeds in beds of other shrubbery, so can be found in unexpected places – and though it likes some sun, it can tolerate full shade. If you can find some now, mark it in your mind, and come back to visit to watch how the bees love it, and how the little fruit-balls grow snug against the branch. Like the rose, these branches are thorny (see photo) so do take care.

The Mysterious Cedar – or Cypress?

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The Mysterious Cedar - or Cypress?

Here’s a tricky fellow. We saw some folks out in their garden today, in their volkstuinhuis (garden lot/house) while we were looking around. They were busy tidying up and pruning some bushes. I was caught by the cedar-scent, and came over to investigate. The photo shows what we found. But I can’t seem to identify it – I thought it was a cedar, but looking it up, I can only think it must be some kind of cypress. If you have any ideas, please help me out. The photo shows both the front and back sides of the flat branches. It is too early for any cones, though had I been thinking, I’d have asked the owners to describe them. Anyway, I kept a bag of it to use – perhaps in tea, perhaps a smudge stick, maybe to flavour our rice tonight… we’ll see. It has a delicious, pungent scent that reminds me of the anti-bacterial properties held in cedars, pines, and cypresses.


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Such Sweet Sorrel – Rumex acetosella

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Today we were out seeing what was coming up and I was a bit surprised to see so much lovely, sweet sorrel. The leaves, seeds and roots are all edible – probably you’ve nibbled on it yourself as a child? The taste is deliciously lemon-tangy, and gets the saliva flowing – it is supposed to be very good for digestion. And, for quenching thirsty hikers and foragers along the trail side. I love to top cooked potatoes with a few fresh leaves… simple and perfect. (The simpler, the better, for me anyway)

Right now is an ideal time to pick it, as it is so very tender and juicy. Let me know if you have any growing near you or need help identifying – send me a photo if you aren’t sure. AND, never eat wild leaves if you are not absolutely certain of what they are – bring your pocket guidebook with you to help you out.

Happy foraging!


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Arugula Gone Wild!

I don’t know if you’re as crazy about arugula (rocket) as I am, but I know that it is one fine and tasty salad green. I have been sighting this garden-escapee all over Amsterdam for the past few years, and you can look for it as well – there is a good chance it is growing in a sunny, sandy location near you!
Simply be sure it is in an unpolluted place – and then only take a few leaves at a time. If you keep picking, it will keep providing… growing thickly until late summer, when the flowers and then seeds come out. The first thing you’ll probably notice when you sample it, is that the wild arugula has a far superior flavour than store-bought – and a spicier bite!
If you find some, but not in a clean place, no problem – gather up the seed pods and release them into a preferred location – it must be well-drained soil and sunny – and then enjoy them next year.

Arugula Gone Wild!Arugula leavesWild Arugula Bunch

 


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Follow That Weed!

I’ve been out taking heaps of photos the past few weeks, aiming to capture the first signs of Spring, and I decided to follow them through all four seasons as well. So, this year I’ll be following as many plants as I can manage, so we can practice identifying them in all stages of development. It can be really helpful – and immensely rewarding – when you discover you can identify plants even before they flower, or from the dried stalk.

Speedwell (Veronica officinalis)

This tiny little flower is actually a power-house of healing and has many healing properties, but especially is known for it’s ability to help with digestion, and to remove plaque and mucus from the blood vessels and intestines. Good for cholesteral.
There is so much more to say, so I will definitely be coming back with more information… suffice to say, keep your eyes open for this beauty and get down on your knees for a better look! This is a really small flower!!!

As I go, I’ll  be adding more information about special properties of the plant, recipes, habitat and so on. Sometimes I might just post a photograph. At the moment, teaching small groups or one-to-one is my preferred way of sharing… If you can make it to a weed walk, workshop, or event, that’s the best way – get down on your knees to really look at the plant; smell it, smell the soil in which it grows, feel the leaves and stem, perhaps draw it, meditate by it, and, if safe to do so, taste it. This is how one becomes friends with our plant allies.Image

Remember, if you do plan to forage for food, herbal medicine, or any other wild plant product, please follow the rules of safety, respect, responsibility and ethical harvesting and use of these plants. See here for some guidelines.