Charming Centaury (Centaurium Erythraea)

Spotting a patch of tiny beautiful pink blooms while walking I took a closer look. Using my PlantNet app on my mobile phone it was easy to see that they were centaury flowers. I always double check when I get home to ensure that the PlantNet app is correct and this time it certainly was.

These low growing beauties are easy to miss because they grow so near to the ground. In fact they only grow up to 24 cm in height. Centaury is in bloom and ready for harvest in the summer and can be seen from July to September. Look for them in grassy areas, sand dunes, heaths and woodland.

If you don’t have a plant app identify centaury by looking for 5 petals of pink flowers growing in clusters, and a basal rosette of oval leaves. Basal leaves grow on the lowest part of the stem and rosette refers to a tight cluster of these leaves forming a circle.

Interestingly the beautiful pink flowers close during the afternoon because they are a member of the genitan family.

If your new to foraging take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

 

 Centaury Names and Folklore

The name centaury comes from Chiron who was a centaur in Greek mythology. Centaurs are mythical creatures with an upper human body and the lower body of a horse.

Apparently Chiron discovered the healing powers of centaury when using it to cure a fatal wound. This wound was made by an arrow poisoned with the blood of Hydra, and in Greek mythology Hydra was a many-headed serpent . Chiron was famous for his wisdom and knowledge of herbal medicine.

Other names that centaury is also known by include;

  • Christ’s Ladder or Christi Scali because of its resemblance to an old style ladder which tapers at the top. This is because centaury’s leaves decrease in size up the stem.
  • European Centaury because it is native to Europe.
  • Feverwort because it was traditionally used to treat fevers.

Centaury Tea

There are various herbal preparations for centaury but because I only have a few of the flowers, this time I dry them for tea.

To do this I wash the flowers using a strainer and leave them on my draining board until the water evaporates. Next I lay and spread the leaves onto kitchen roll. I also cover them over with further kitchen roll because I do not like them to get dusty. Finally I place them somewhere where they will not be disturbed while they dry.  This should take a week or two.

Once the flowers are dry I make a tea by;

  1. Boiling a cup of bottled water.
  2. Adding 1/2 a teaspoon of dried herb to the cup of boiling water.
  3. Cover the cup with a tea plate and leave it to infuse for 15 minutes.
  4. Strain and serve.

Dosage

Drink 1/2 a cup.

Once dry I store my herbs in brown paper bags or jars with lids. The jars are put in a cupboard away from direct sunlight. These are labelled with herb name, storing date, expiry date, uses, and dosages. Its also helpful to add instructions on how to make the tea. I put an expiry date of one year on my dry herbs.

Uses for Centaury Tea

Centaury tea may support the body in the following ways;

  • As a mild sedative.
  • Strengthen digestive function and in particular a weak stomach.
  • Increase stomach secretions and this quickens the breakdown of food.
  • Increase bile production.
  • Stimulate the appetite.
  • Ease heartburn, indigestion,  nausea and vomiting.
  • Take the tea daily for 2-3 months for tapeworms.
  • As a liver tonic.
  • Use for kidney stones.
  • Take for high blood pressure.

Centaury Tincture

Alternatively a tincture can be made by;

  1. Placing one part centuary herb and two parts vodka into a clean bottle or jar. Use dry or fresh herb but wash them first.
  2. Macerate for 8 days in a dark cupboard. This is the process of softening the herb while soaking it in liquid.
  3. Label with name, alcohol content and ratio, date of preparation, and date when ready to strain.
  4. Strain into a fresh jar using a conical funnel and cheesecloth.
  5. Throw the herb away.
  6. Label the new jar with name, type of alcohol content and ratio, straining date, expiry date, uses and dosages. I put on an expiry date of two years.
Dosage

Take 1 wineglass full for liver and gall bladder problems.

NOTE

Need to take centaury over several weeks.

 

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Finally

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

Furthermore if reading my posts are making you feel like you want to start your own blog then give it a try. I describe myself as a technophobe but here I am having a go and enjoying it too. There is still a long way to go with my blog but there is a lot of help out there on the internet.

I use SiteGround because they have a good start up deal and they are there to help when you need them. Furthermore I like their system and if a technophobe like me can navigate it then I feel anyone can.

Take a look for yourself and have a look at their start up deal using this link;

 

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Honeyed Honeysuckle (Lonicera Periclymenum)

Seeing wild honeysuckle on a recent walk in early summer was a delightful surprise. It smells amazing and the flowers bloom between June and September.

Wild honeysuckle grows in hedgerows, woodland, scrubland and on verges.

Their flowers are edible and their uses include making sorbets, jams, jellies, vinaigrettes or to add a sweet flavour to other dishes. They can also be used in drinks such as cordials or added to fizzy water, champagne and cocktails.

Caution

Do not eat the berries because they are toxic.

 

Herbal Uses for Honeysuckle

Flowers, leaves and bark of the honeysuckle all have herbal uses.

The leaves are astringent which means that they cause contracting of skin cells and other body tissues. Their uses include making a gargle or a mouthwash.

Honeysuckle bark on the other hand is diuretic and its uses include supporting the body with regards to gout, kidney stones and liver problems.

I forage the flowers and buds and infuse them in honey. The flowers antiseptic qualities also make them supportive for asthma.

Infusing Honeysuckle Flowers in Honey

A big thank you once again to Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal’s “Hedgerow Medicine” for their honeysuckle flowers in honey suggestion. In fact their books are always a huge help with ideas for my foraging hauls.

If your new to foraging have a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

To make the honeysuckle flowers in honey I do the following;

  1. Place the honeysuckle flowers and buds into a clean jar. Label with the concoction’s name, date of when it will be ready to strain, and its ingredients.
  2. Pour over runny honey and ensure that the flowers are well covered. Then put on the jar’s lid. I use supermarkets own runny honey because its inexpensive and works well.
  3. Place the jar in my sunny kitchen windowsill. Its left there for two weeks but every couple of days I push the flowers down to ensure that they remain under the honey.
  4. After the two weeks use cheesecloth and a conical funnel to strain the honey into a clean jar. I press the flowers down with the back of a teaspoon because I want to ensure that I squeeze out as much of the precious honey as possible.
  5. Discard the flowers.
  6. Finally label the fresh jar with concoction name, straining date, expiry date, ingredients, uses and dosages. I put on an expiry date which is in one years time.

This honey may support the body with regards to;

  • Bronchitis and coughs
  • Colds and flu
  • Hot flushes
  • Sore throats
  • Tonsilitis
Dosages

1 teaspoon for sore throats or 3 times per day.

Comparing the taste of the standard runny honey and the honeysuckle honey is surprisingly distinctly different. The honeysuckle honey is a lot sweeter and also has a deeper colour.

Take a look at “Hedgerow Medicine” and its useful suggestions for yourself;

Honey is great to use in concoctions because its easily digested and gives quick energy. In fact honey infusions are also great for children and the elderly because they coat digestive passages resulting in slow and gentle absorption.

 

Honeysuckle Bach Remedy

Bach flower remedies are complementary medicine preparations which are made from flowers. These remedies may help to balance the emotions and  allow peace and happiness to return so that a sufferer’s body is free to heal itself.

Honeysuckle is for those who dwell on the past rather than living in the present. Sometimes they yearn to be back in the past because the past was the “good days”, or they are full of regrets.

Using the honeysuckle Back Remedy supports renewing interest in life and encourages learning to live in the present. Its said to allow you to learn from your past experiences and let them go. Being able to do this is very important for mental health. In fact this is one of the things that I talk about in my “Alternative Tips for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Balance” mini series posts. Take a look at part three to find out more;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/alternative-tips-for-mental-health-wellbeing-and-balance-part-three/

 Honeysuckle Magic and Folklore

A few interesting finds about honeysuckle include;

  • Magically honeysuckle is used for clairvoyance and  prosperity rituals.
  • Its folk name is woodbine because of its appearance in woods and its twining ways.
  • In some cultures the honeysuckle vines are a symbol of love because they twine together like lovers.
  • Carrying honeysuckle which is often done to forget a lover.
  • Putting a dab of honeysuckle oil onto the temples to promote memory.
  • Crushing fresh flowers and rubbing them onto your forehead to increase clairvoyance powers.

 

Finally

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

Furthermore if reading my posts are making you feel like you want to start your own blog then give it a try. I describe myself as a technophobe but here I am having a go and enjoying it too. There is still a long way to go with my blog but there is a lot of help out there on the internet.

I use SiteGround because they have a good start up deal and they are there to help when you need them. Furthermore I like their system and if a technophobe like me can navigate it then I feel anyone can.

Take a look for yourself and have a look at their start up deal using this link;

 

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Glorious Globe Artichoke (Cynara Cardunculus Var. Scolymus)

 

Here I am tackling my first ever globe artichoke. Knowing it has herbal uses it was time to give it a go.

They are best eaten from June to November but baby artichokes can be eaten in May.  Baby artichokes are tiny and tender at this stage and have not developed their choke yet, which otherwise needs removing. The choke is a crown of hairy fibres and sits right above the artichoke’s heart.

Some confuse the globe artichoke with the Jerusalem artichoke because of the artichoke name. In fact the globe artichoke is an unopened flower bud of the thistle family. Whereas the Jerusalem artichoke is actually from the same family as the sunflower and you eat their tubers. Looking at the Jerusalem artichoke tubers they remind me of root ginger in appearance.

Not only do globe artichoke’s taste great but eating them may also support the body.

 

How Globe Artichokes Support the Body

Eating globe artichokes may help to support the body with regards to;

  • Arthritic disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Gout
  • Hepatitis
  • Jaundice
  • Liver and gall bladder problems
  • Assisting the digestion of fats because the plant is bitter and stimulates digestive secretions such as bile.
  • Lowering blood cholesterol levels
  • Nurturing convalescence

Preparing an Artichoke

It feels a little daunting when you first look at an artichoke and think “how on earth do I cook this?” Firstly I must warn you to be careful while preparing because those leave tips are very prickly. I can’t believe how many times I uttered “ouch” during my first attempt.

After looking at different ideas I prepare mine like this;

  1. Wash the artichoke to remove any dirt which may be hiding in between the leaves.
  2. Remove the bottom few leaves near the stalk.
  3. Cut off the top third of the artichoke and throw it away. I use a serrated knife because this makes the process much easier.
  4. Using a pair of scissors cut off the top of the remaining leaves because this removes their prickly parts.
  5. Rub the cut edges with a slice of lemon to stop them turning brown.
  6. Cut the stem only leaving a half an inch and remove the outer layer of the remaining stalk with a knife.
  7. Bring two inches of water to a boil in a pan and then add the artichoke with the stem pointing upwards.
  8. Turn the heat down low and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
  9.  Remove the artichoke carefully using kitchen tweezers because its very hot.

 

Eating an Artichoke

Once cooked the outer leaves can be eaten by dipping their fleshy ends into a sauce or dip. Throw away the stringy lower leaves shown on the left side of the above picture. Then all you eat is the tiny whitish part of the leaves from where they connect to its base. This is done by dipping the bottom of the leaf in the dip of your choice then dragging off the white fleshy part with your lower teeth. It is only a tiny morsel but I think a tasty one.

Making a Dairy Free Garlic Sauce

Dips can be simple butter garlic ones and I like to dip them in humus too. My personal favourite is red pepper humus.

I also make a dairy free dip because I’m dairy intolerant. I do this by;

  1. Melting a tablespoon of dairy free spread in a small microwavable bowl for thirty seconds. I like to use Flora Dairy Free or Pure dairy free enriched with olive oil. If using the Flora Dairy Free I also add a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Add a grated clove of garlic.
  3. Add a teaspoonful of chopped fresh chives, but dry will do it you don’t have fresh.
  4. Stir and dip away!

Very tasty!

Getting at the Artichoke Heart

Once all the dipping leaves have gone I remove the remaining leaves which don’t have the whitish fleshy ends. I throw these away and they  look like this;

After removing these leaves I’m left with a very hairy centre and this looks like this;

The hairy part, also known as the choke, is cut away to get to the heart and people say that this is the tastiest part. I understand why artichoke hearts are so expensive to buy now because reaching them does take time and effort.

Reaching the heart I think it has a meaty look and texture. I also dipped the heart into the dips but personally I prefer dipping the leaves. Its just feels much more fun!

The heart can also be used fresh in salads and I sometimes buy artichoke hearts from the supermarket for this very purpose.

My Conclusion

Its surprising how little of the artichoke can actually be eaten and how much is  thrown away. This is because you can only eat the heart and the tender ends of the leaves where they attach themselves to the artichoke.

Despite this I will definitely be eating them again because they taste great and are worth the effort. Its also a fantastic idea for parties where guests pull off their own leaves and dip them into the sauce of their choice.

 

Finally

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

Furthermore if reading my posts are making you feel like you want to start your own blog then give it a try. I describe myself as a technophobe but here I am having a go and enjoying it too. There is still a long way to go with my blog but there is a lot of help out there on the internet.

I use SiteGround because they have a good start up deal and they are there to help when you need them. Furthermore I like their system and if a technophobe like me can navigate it then I feel anyone can.

Take a look for yourself;

 

Web Hosting

 

This post contains affiliate links

 

39718total sites visits.

 

 

Ravishing Red Clover (Trifolium Patense)

Seeing red clover on a patch of grassland looks really pretty because of their beautiful dark pink colouring. While foraging a little from different patches I was feeling excited about how to use it.

Red Clover can also be found in fields, lawns and on roadsides. I’m careful to avoid the roadside clover due to the toxic emissions from passing traffic. Red clover prefers to grow in deep, rich, dry or moist soils.

If your new to foraging take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

Red clover flowers between May and October and the bees love them! It also has agricultural uses which include;

  • Fodder crop for livestock.
  • Crop rotation because of its ability to enrich soils due to it being nitrogen-fixing.

 

Preparing the Red Clover

For foraging purposes I just pick the flower heads. When I get home I put them outside to allow any insects still lurking inside to escape. Next I wash them and place them onto sheets of kitchen roll to dry out for a week or two. I like to cover mine with further kitchen roll to avoid them getting dusty.

After drying I store some of them for tea and use the rest to make a tincture. I store the dry flower heads in a glass jar with a lid and label the jar with the herb’s name, expiry date, uses and instructions on how to prepare the tea. Then I place the jar in a cupboard away from direct sunlight so that the red clover does not lose its potency. The expiry date for the dry flowers is one year from the date of storing.

Making Red Clover Tea

I make a tea with the dried red clover heads as follows;

  1. Boil 650mls of bottled water. I prefer bottled water to avoid the chemicals in tap water.
  2. Put 25g of dried flower heads into a teapot and pour over the boiling water.
  3. Place the lid on the teapot and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
  4. Sieve and drink a cupful.

For just one cup half the ingredients. This tea can also be taken by children for whooping cough and bronchitis.

Dosage

3-4 cups per day.

Red Clover Tincture

How to make red clover tincture;

  1. Using an electronic scale, because it is very accurate, I measure some of the flower heads in ounces.
  2. Place the flower heads into a clean jar with a lid.
  3. Also weigh the vodka in ounces to the amount of five times the weight of the flower heads.
  4. Cover the flower heads with the vodka and screw on the lid.
  5. Label with name, ingredients  and preparation date.
  6. Place in a dark cupboard to macerate (soften in liquid) for 8 days.
  7. After 8 days strain the liquid into a clean jar using a sieve.
  8. Label with name, expiry date, ingredients, dosages and uses.
  9. Store in a dark cupboard until required.
Dosage

5-10 ml or 30-60 drops of tincture daily.

Alcohol tinctures can last a long time but I like to put on an expiry date which is  2 years from when I prepare them.

Uses of Red Clover Tea and Tincture

Both the tea and the tincture may be able to support the body in many ways including the following;

  • Bad coughs including whooping cough and bronchitis.
  • Skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis  and even acne.
  • Scrofula which is a lymphadenopathy of the neck and is usually as a result of an infection in the lymph nodes called lymphadenitis.
  • Some even say that it is widely known to support the reduction of tumours and hard swellings, particularly of the ovaries and breast. This is because they say that it acts like a natural oestrogen. It increases oestrogen levels in the body because it is rich in isoflavones and in particular genistein.
  • Traditional uses include drinking to cleanse the lymphatic vessels.
  • Chronic constipation
  • As an emetic to cause vomiting and forceful emptying of the stomach.
  • Ease menopausal symptoms including hot flushes.

Cautions

  • Due to its oestrogenic properties avoid use during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
  • Red clover may have blood thinning properties and therefore its best not to use in any quantity if you are taking blood-thinning medication.

Magical Clover and Folklore

Folk names for clover include;

  • Honeystalks because bees seek clover out for their nectar.
  • Three-leaved grass perhaps because they are regularly seen growing on lawns. Maybe also because their nitrogen fixing properties help the soil and as a result they can often appear greener than the grass itself.
  • Trefoil because this comes from the latin word trifolium meaning three-leaved plant.

Of course we all know about finding a four leaf clover to bring us luck. This is because its a traditional superstition that we are made aware of as children.

There are also magical uses for clover which include;

  • Protection and this is done by carrying a three leaf clover around with you.
  • Repelling snakes by growing clover in your garden because this keeps snakes away from your home. The magical saying is “snakes will not go where clover grows”.
  • Preventing madness by carrying around a four leafed clover.
  • To avoid military service in the past because men carried around a four leafed clover as a good luck charm to avoid this.

 

Finally

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

Furthermore if reading my posts are making you feel like you want to start your own blog then give it a try. I describe myself as a technophobe but here I am having a go and enjoying it too. There is still also a lot of help out there on the internet.

I use SiteGround because they have a good start up deal and they are there to help when you need them. Furthermore I like their system and if a technophobe like me can navigate it then I feel anyone can.

Take a look for yourself and have a look at their start up deal using this link;

 

Web Hosting

 

This post contains affiliate links

 

39718total sites visits.