Thursday 19 April 2012

Edible plants: Mallow

Tree Mallow

Many people today are becoming increasingly interested in foraging and finding out what edible plants are out there that we can safely gather. There are many books and videos on the subject available and anyone that knows much about the subject would I am sure agree that it is vitally important to be able to identify the plants you can eat and to avoid those you cannot. There are wild flowers out there that can make you very sick and some that can actually kill you. So this is why identification of an edible species is so important.  Fortunately there are many common plants that are very easy to find and that are difficult to mistake for poisonous ones. The Mallows come into the common and safe to eat category.

Marshmallows are very popular sweets but what you probably don't know is that they are named after a wild flower, the roots of which were once used to make a confection. Actually many plants in the Mallow family (Malvaceae) are edible and many have properties that make them useful in herbal medicine too.

The leaves of the Common Mallow can be cooked like spinach greens and the flowers are edible, as are the roots that ban be boiled and eaten. Most plants in the Mallow family can be eaten and some have been used in recipes in different parts of the world. The leaves cook well in soups and stews and because they contain vitamins and minerals are a nutritious ingredient to add.

You can find out more about plants to forage for here: Edible plants for foragers

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Edible plants: Fennel

Fennel in bloom

Fennel with its aniseed aroma and feathery foliage has got to be one of my favourite herbs. It grows wild in Tenerife in many places too and I can't pass by a clump of the plant without being able to resist eating some of its fresh leaves or the very tasty seeds. I simply cannot end up crushing some of it up in my hand and inhaling the wonderful perfume. I love Fennel!

Fennel is one of many common wild flowers that is edible and nutritious. It is a herb that foragers would look out for. Of course, when gathering wild plants to eat or use in herbal medicine it is vitally important to be able to identify those that are safe to consume. There are some plants out there that can make us very sick and some that can be lethal. Some relatives on the Fennel in the Apiaceae or Parsley family come into this dangerous category. Fools Parsley and Hemlock are tow of the deadly ones.  Fortunately Fennel is very easy to identify. It has a distinctive aroma that poisonous plants that look a bit like it do not have. That is one way of checking if you have found a true Fennel: crush some of the leaves or flowers and see if there is a pleasant perfume that reminds you of Anise.

Fennel grows on waste ground, in grassy places and by the sea. It is often found in large clumps and its fine feathery foliage and tall flowering stems are what to look out for.

You can read more here: Edible plants: Fennel

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Friday 13 April 2012

Frogs need saving too

I have loved frogs ever since I was a little boy so the news that they are disappearing is very sad to hear. Fortunately a charity has been set up in America called Save The Frogs, and as its name suggests, it is all about frog and amphibian conservation.
As many as a third of the frog species in the world are endangered and some types have already become extinct. The frogs are dying out due to a combination of lack of habitat, water pollution, a deadly chytrid fungus disease, predation by invasive species, over-collection by humans and Climate Change. Pesticides and herbicides like Atrazine and Roundup are taking a heavy toll. Many frogs get run over by heavy traffic on roads that the animals have to cross to get to and from their spawning sites.
It is really sad to know that these amazing animals are dying out in many places, often due to human behaviour that is destroying the habitat of these amphibians. Conservationists are working on saving the frogs but a worldwide effort is really needed.
All children love to see tadpoles and to watch the amazing transformation into tiny froglets. Frog spawn and tadpoles used to be such a normal thing to see in ponds in parks, gardens and the countryside but sadly this is no longer the case in many places. Something must be done to give the little creatures their chance at survival.

Find out more here about what you can do to help: Frogs need saving too

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.