3rd July 2020

Featured / Food / Natasha Lloyd

Forage of the Month: Rosebay willowherb [Chamaenerion angustifolium]

6 3 mins 0

JJuly's forage of the month is rosebay willowherb. When in bloom the flowers are a vibrant pink. Our resident forager and Medical Herbalist, Natasha Lloyd, explains its historical uses, it's health benefits and includes 3 rosebay willowherb recipes for you to enjoy.

Rosebay willowherb thrives on newly turned soil and is often found in large patches. One of its other common names is fireweed, which is partly due to its stalk and leaves turning a reddish colour after flowering but is also attributed to the fact it is one of the first plants to return to an area after an area is burned.

It’s an overlooked but delicious plant and has many edible parts. The leaves are used as a nutritious tea in many parts of Russia. The leaves are used when the flowers are young as they get more bitter after the plant fully flowers. Strip off the leaves from the stem and roll the leaves between your fingers to crush them slightly. Allow them to ferment for about three days and then dry them out and then use as the herb tea. The plant contains vitamin C, beta carotenes, flavonoids and protein. It also thought to help with balancing gut flora due to its slight bitterness.

The younger pre-flowering stems can be eaten and taste a bit like asparagus. You strip the stems of their outer coating and cook the inner part as you would asparagus. I like it pan-fried cooked in olive oil and a liberal sprinkling of salt.

The flowers can be eaten and in Canada, they are made into a divine and delicious floral jelly. They can also be added to salads and cocktails as a floral garnish.

The root has the most medicinal benefits of this plant and has been used to help with an enlarged prostate.

Do not use plants medicinally without discussing it with your GP or Medical herbalist first. Do not eat or nibble on a plant unless you are 110% certain of its identification.

You cannot dig up a plant for its roots without landowners’ permission, it’s fine if it’s in your own garden or land.

Do not take more than a third of patch of a plant so that others in your community can enjoy it and the wildlife that feeds on that plant can continue to do so.

 

A recipe for Rosebay Willowherb Flower Jelly

A recipe for Rosebay Willowherb Vinegar

A recipe for Rosebay Willowherb and Red Clover Honey

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Natasha Lloyd is a Medical Herbalist and Forager, based in the heart of Cairngorm National Park in Scotland. Natasha has been teaching foraging and herbalism for over 15 years through guided walks, talks and workshops.

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