This herbaceous perennial plant is similar to cow parsley and an excellent accompaniment to rhubarb. It has a sweet taste that is good for diabetics as it doesn’t actually contain sugar. The leaves are fern-like and feathery and can grow up to 50cm long, with creamy white flowers produced in large clumbs. Commonly found in the North of England and Scotland, be careful when picking sweet cicily, as it can be confused for deadly hemlock. Check it’s cicily by crushing a little in your hand – it should smell strongly of aniseed.
Very hardy and often considered a weed, chickweed is actually a healthy plant to eat and has many medicinal and cleansing properties. It is full of vitamins and minerals and makes a great addition to salads or as a base for pesto. Chickweed grows almost everywhere and can be identified by its small, white, star-like flowers and its unique intertwined manner of growing.
Elderflower is widely used as a base for elderflower cordial, and it’s easily to pick the flowers and make your own, which often tastes much better than the supermarket alternative. Elder is common and is identified by its creamy white little flowers and sweet smell. Make sure that you pick the flowers from a substantial woody-stemmed plant so not to get confused with other white flowered plants that grow in spring.
Linden Tree Flowers and Young Leaves
The flowers of this very common tree, which often lines parks and roads, have been used for centuries as a treatment for anxiety, digestive problems and insomnia. It’s calming properties make it an ideal ingredient for homemade teas to drink before bedtime. The young leaves are ideal mixed into salads and the fruit is best dried and baked into cakes and breads. The tree can be easily identified by the many ‘suckers’ that sit at the base of the trunk.
The seeds of the white mustard plant can be used whole for pickling or toasted to be used in dishes in the same way as shop-bought mustard seeds, as when they are ground they are the main ingredient in typical English mustard. The tall plant can be identified by its bright yellow flowers and stalkless pinnate leaves.
At this time of year the leaves of the sea kale plant can be cooked just like ordinary kale. Sea kale used to be a Victorian favourite that fell out of fashion in the later 1900s but has grown in popularity in the past couple of years. This super healthy plant grows naturally on the edge of shingle beaches and can be identified by its large, divided leaves that are very similar to ordinary kale, and by its small, fragrant white flowers.