By Feebee Foran
As much as I have been mourning the passing of my beloved Elderflowers until next year, I’m inspired by the gorgeous new additions to the green spaces.
It’s amazing what a bit of sunshine can do. Smiling faces, healthy glows…and for me and other nature enthusiasts alike, a burst of beautiful new colours on my daily walk as new wild herbs make their appearance for the first time since last Summer.
As much as I have been mourning the passing of my beloved Elderflowers until next year, I’m inspired by the gorgeous new additions to the green spaces that surround me in Firhouse, on my journeys to the Allotment in Bohernabreena, and on my recent staycation to the Burren in Co Clare.
My eyes are always drawn to colour, but I find real joy looking beyond the sea of green to investigate what is really growing amongst the nettles, hedgerows and tucked in between the Oxeye Daisies that sway proudly along the roadside.
Here are some of the great new wild herbs that you can look out for in your local area. Use it as a checklist on your walk and see how many you can spot.
I always love the arrival of Meadowsweet at this time of the year. Their beautiful creamy coloured fluffy flower heads and reddish stem make them stand out as they sway along roadsides. Their fragrance is almost medicinal – redolent of the ointment, Germolene, a little contrary to their name, which would suggest a sweet, floral aroma.
In fact, the name Meadowsweet originates from the fact that it was traditionally used by brewers making Mead (putting the “mead” in Meadowsweet). Like all wild herbs, Meadowsweet also holds incredible therapeutic properties, notably in regards to the digestive system in times of gastritis, peptic ulcers and stomach upsets. A powerful anti-inflammatory, it is also used to relief joint pain.
Yarrow, known by its official name “Achillea millefolium” brings with it a legend of healing by one of the most famous warriors. Its Latin name gives us a big hint that Achilles had a strong affinity with this wild herb, using it to help heal wounds on the battle field during the Trojan War.
A powerful skin healer, Yarrow leaves can be picked, chewed and then placed directly onto open wounds, cuts and grazes, where you will find that bleeding abates almost immediately and a scab forms quickly. Yarrow is a fantastic pollinator and is loved by bee’s, thanks to its whitish-pink flowers that will start to appear at this time of year, a great addition to any garden.
Two weeks ago, I stepped out my front door, to spot a cluster of freshly grown Self-Heal sitting in the centre of my front garden. Since then, I’ve spotted it in almost all green spaces I have been foraging in. As its name suggests, this tiny herb that sits close to the ground is an all-round healer. Particularly beneficial to those who suffer with cold sores – simply dry the flowers and use as a herbal tea to help fight Herpes Simplex.
However, it has been known to help support those with Crohn’s Disease, Gastroenteritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Headaches and Sore throats. This is one herb that genuinely lives up to its name. Every part of this plant is edible, and its pretty purple flowers give a gorgeous flash of colour to a summer salad.
There is something very ornate and elegant about Honeysuckle, as it delicately drapes itself from briars, lining hedgerows and filling the air with its undeniable scent. However, this pretty herb is so much more than meets the eye. Known for its immune boosting and antiviral benefits, Honeysuckle has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat many ailments and is believed to aid headaches, fevers, arthritis and upper respiratory tract infections.
My favourite way to use Honeysuckle is to infuse it in local honey. Simply pop some fresh, clean Honeysuckle flowers into a jar of honey, covering the flower entirely. Leave it for up to 6 weeks to infuse before enjoying. This is a great way to enjoy both the flavour of the honey and the health benefits of the honeysuckle in one go.
Pineapple Weed (Wild Chamomile)
Looking for a good night’s sleep? Look no further than the tuft of Pineapple Weed growing nearby. You won’t have to look far to find this powerful herb, especially right now as it springs up from crevasses and well-trodden pathways. Once you identify it, you will see it everywhere.
Also known as Wild Chamomile, Pineapple Weed has so many incredible therapeutic benefits with a touch of pineapple flavour. Simply rub the leaves and flowers in your hands to release the exotic aroma and you will quickly want to try use it in recipes for sorbet, cakes and granita’s. This herb can be used as a herbal tea that helps relieve stress and aid a restful sleep, or as a topical treatment that can stop infections.
Feebee Foran is a nature enthusiast, allotmenter, milliner and homebrewer. Owner of Forager.ie, Feebee creates skincare and healing products using all natural, locally foraged herbs and plants.
Follow her nature adventures on Instagram @forager.ie
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