Posts Tagged ‘elderflower drinks’

Medicinal plants wild food foraging Walk

May 27, 2014

The morning was wet but fortunately, the rain did not dampen our spirits and it stopped as soon as the group gathered at the station :). Our group comprised of G, an author & old ecologist friend. We’d first (& last met) in Switzerland circa 1991! After 22 yrs+ he’d trekked over to be part of our local foray. At the time, we’d briefly shared our mutual nature interests but hadn’t really had an opportunity to meet before now. He’d also travelled the furthest away, other than M & B, a young Czech couple! Add to this, S, a new local, completed our group.

Walking along the Embankment with our identification books, sheets and info, we found Cleavers (Galium aparine) for detoxing the Lymph and Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)  for its leaves & white flowers. We collected Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) and Elderflowers at the station and then, garlic \ hedge mustard from the community garden. Wild Food foraging rules: leave 2\3 of a plant intact, to continue to grow, so to pick carefully. Stay clear of anything suspicious or poisonous (Hemlock…) and to only collect from the healthiest parts of the plant.  Throughout the year, different species bloom and become more edible, so there is something usually at many times of the year. After a heavy week of rain, the cow parsley had bloomed early and gone to seed in some places and it is not unusual to find a rotation during the Spring\Summer\Autumn months. When one plant finishes it’s main season for leaves and stems, another is still present.

We took off along the route towards Mansfield park, admiring the neighbour’s broad beans & spiky artichoke plants  and then to a small patch of Chickweed (Stellara media) by the roadside which we did not collect from but noted for later. Another neighbour’s garden contained a Strawberry tree (Arbutus) yet unripe and on private land.

Shepherd’s purse and plantain (Plantago major) were in the former hospital site where the residential block is now situated. At the park, we found cherries ripening, Hawthorn (good for the heart; for love and to support cardiovascular concerns). The area is rich in diverse wildlife;  there is a pair of Mistle Thrushes, Goldfinches and long-tailed tits. There is another small patch of Chickweed (topical uses inc. for skin conditions) towards the Brownhill Rd entrance\exit by brambles for blackberries in the late summer \ autumn and more hawthorns. The chickweed makes a light, refreshing salad leaf.  Dandelions (Taxonomia) have a bitter flavour but are used in herbal medicine to support the kidneys as a diruetic. We walked around the perimeter and along a natural pathway found nettles (Urtica dioica) for iron, magnesium which helps female hormone balance and strengthens the immune system, elder flower, alkanet (prickly but with small, pretty deep blue flowers), jack-by-the-hedge (hedge mustard) and a variety from the rocket family. Along the back section by the ornate metal gate, there is a large Burdock and a few Mallows not yet in bloom (their soothing properties make them ideal for digestive and stomach settling purposes). Their pink, slightly floppy flowers, taste deliciously light, sweet and soothing.

Further along at the bottom\back of the perimeter is Yarrow (Achillae millefolium) which is used as a blood clotting agent, to prevent bleeding. It was used during the war (WW1 and earlier) to heal soldier’s wounds and to stem the bleeding. It is a long, green, feathery leaf, with a fronds texture.  Finally, we collected young, green, lime leaves from the trees bordering the edge of the woodland at the back, for canapes.  Then we took all our collection back up to St Swithun’s Church on Hither Green Lane.

Medicinal Plant Menu

Fresh Nettle Tea, Wild pesto, Courgette & Lime leaf Canapes, Mixed leaf salad, followed by Chocolate Orange Cream with Strawberries.

Others in the church came up to view our lunch and expressed great interest in the benefits to these foods.

We made a refreshing Elderflower water from immersing freshly picked elderflowers into a pot of water and the results were delicious.

“I was surprised how quickly a few elder flowers could flavour a glass of water so well and make it look so appealing!” G.Down

Elder flowers cluster from Mansfield Pk

Serves 6 glasses


4-5 clusters of Elderflower blossom

1 pt fresh water

2 slices of fresh ginger, grated or chopped



1. Immerse the flowers on the stems in a container of water eg.a jug for half hr min.

2. Add the ginger pieces.

3. Serve into wine glasses. The flowers may fall into the glass but are harmless & edible.

4. Refill the container with fresh water and replace the stems once again, to produce another batch for later.

5. Stems may be used for up to 2-3 times.

lime leaf & courgette canapesLime Leaf & Courgette Canapes with Wild Pesto Dressing

Wild Food & Medicinal Forage Walk Participant responses:

“I did feel enlivened this morning, and I’d like to think yesterdays diet helped with that! Evidently works for you! I am certainly going to try and work some wild foods into my diet now 🙂 ” G.D.