Whether you’ve been foraging for ages or thinking about dipping your toe in to it sometime soon, now is a great time to start. Here in Scotland, it feels like Spring has definitely passed and our foraging thoughts turn to Summer flowers and maybe even some early seeds. When plants are in flower is one of the most straightforward times to identify them, so a great option for an amateur forager.

As always with foraging, take only what you will use, from an area you feel comfortable about the health and quality of the plants. A handy question to ask yourself is, “Would I have a picnic here?” – if you wouldn’t then it’s maybe not a great choice as a foraging site. In Scotland, we’re lucky enough to have the right to gather fruits, fungi & foliage from all common land. Outside of Scotland, check for any local variations.

Starting with the flowers of the Asteraceae family, including Daisy (Bellis perennis) and Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) which are out and shining bright in early Summer. Daisy infused oil is the base of our Sair Nae Mair cream and is a wonderful remedy for cuts, scrapes and especially bruises. Daisy is an excellent substitute for the commonly used Arnica (Arnica montana), which doesn’t grow wild here and is at risk of over-harvesting in its home habitats. Dandelion flowers make a pretty decoration for sweet cakes and biscuits and can be used to make a jam with chia or flax seeds.

LtoR: Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.); Dog Rose flower (Rosa canina); Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

The astringent Rosaceae family flowers often from late May through the Summer – Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and Rose (Rosa spp.) all make great herbal teas. Here in Central Scotland, it’s been an early year for everything and the Hawthorn is already past flowering in most places. Hawthorn is generally taken to protect the heart physically and emotionally, Meadowsweet as a pain reliever and antacid and Rose as a wonderful gently uplifting addition to a tea mix.

In June, we’ve already started to see Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra) – popularly used to make alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and a wonderful respiratory remedy. Though, pick with caution, if all of the Elderflowers are harvested, there won’t be any Elderberries in the Autumn.

LtoR: Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) seed head; Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra flos); Comfrey (Symphytum spp.)

Throughout the season, Plantain (Plantago spp.), Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) and Comfrey (Symphytum spp.) leaves and flowers can be used. Plantain leaves have a vulnerary / wound healing action and also has edible seeds which make a tasty wayside nibble. Sweet Cicely seeds taste strongly of aniseed and can be used to make a Liquorice-like syrup. As a member of the Carrot family, caution should be taken to correctly identify it, with its distinctive white splotches on the leaves. With Comfrey we use the leaves cautiously internally, but it is invaluable as an external remedy for wound healing.

A comparison of the nutrient contents in wild plants with cultivated vegetables shows a staggering difference in the value of eating ‘weeds’ – many very common weeds outperform our vegetables in key nutrients like protein, vitamin A & C and iron. Today we often buy many vegetables at any time of the year as they are flown great distances and imported to Britain. The down side to this is that the food isn’t fresh (even if it looks it!), and a lot of energy is used to bring it to the UK contributing to climate change. Now, many people are trying to eat ‘seasonally again’ and foraging is a great way to do this – foraging helps you learn more about the plants that surround us, how people have used them for generations and how to take a more holistic approach to our health.

Oh – and it gets you outside and it’s free!

Spring Tincture Blend Sale is now on! Use code SPRING20 for 20% off our 5 herbal tinctures until stocks last. Free postage on orders over £50
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