Monday, 18 February 2008

One for Merete - Part 1

While my friends Merete, Inger and Ida are living with deep snow and icy temperatures in the middle of the Lapland winter, suffering "snorkallt", here spring is on it's way. So I thought this week I would write about some of the plants I found while in the woods last weekend.

Here is a typical view of a woodland floor at the moment, around where I live.

The most common plant is Dogs Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) and is already flowering, though the tiny greenish flowers may be easily overlooked.

Cleavers or Goose Grass (Galium aparine) is another which is growing now and in fact with our milder winters, is evident all year round.

The plant can be eaten when young, though I prefer to discard the stems and just cook the leaves. Both the stem and leaves are covered in fine hook-like hairs, which soften when briefly boiled. For children the fine hooks of the plant make great source of amusement as when thrown at clothing the plant tends to stick or hook on.

The plant has several medicinal uses including; treating skin conditions such as eczema and ulcers, internally for expulsion of fluids via the kidneys (useful in urinary problems) and to help drain the lymph glands after illness or infection.

Horses are also fed this plant in spring as it encourages the shedding of their winter coat and brings the coat into good condition.

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