Food for Thought

Rose Bay Willow Herb
Rose Bay Willow Herb

The verge, on the road down to the beck, is quite broad on one side. Once again this year, a huge bank of Rose Bay Willow Herb has appear out of nowhere. What, over winter, had become almost bare ground, with a few wisps of grass here and there, is now a bank of plants three or four feet high.

Google knows a great deal about Rose Bay Willow Herb. As with most of the information on the Internet, many of the sources are contradictory – but all of them are very authoritative. I thought I’d pass on a selection of the wisdom of the world so you could pick out the pieces that appeal to you.

One option is that this is a native of North America. It was brought over to Europe as a garden plant, escaped and made itself at home. Next, we have it as a native of the Russian tundra. Here, they have been using the leaves to make tea and fermenting the pith of the stems to make beer for ever. Then, there’s the opinion that it was known here, in the north of England, before its supposed importation – but was considered very rare.

This is an amazing plant – most of it is edible or drinkable, it can be used medicinally to cure a range of ills – from typhoid to nappy rash, and it grows in huge banks of glorious purple in summer and the leaves turn a fiery red in autumn.

And what do we do with this, natures bountiful largess?

4 thoughts on “Food for Thought

  1. What a beautiful and useful plant! If they’re around here, I haven’t seen any. Right now the gladiolas are blooming, along with the hydrangeas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. They seem to have come down from the north – maybe they haven’t reached you yet. They like cleared or burnt off areas. Makes me wonder if they used to sprout as the glaciers melted back. Gladiolas and hydrangeas are not that common round here. We had a big blue pot with a big blue hydrangea when we moved ‘up north’ – but it didn’t take the change kindly, it died back the first winter and just didn’t bother the next spring. Plants can be so fussy, can’t they?


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