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Useful wild plants

Gazo

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#1
Had a quick look and could not see this posted before.
But I think it would be useful for us to post useful wild plants in the one thread.

Plantago Major, Great Plantain, Greater Pantain or Broadleaf Plantain

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Scientific studies have shown that the practice of applying or eating plantain is not just herbal folklore. Health experts have found the plant to have an effect on wound healing, cellular growth, reducing pain and discomfort and helping with weight loss and diet plans. There is evidence that plantain can help reduce hay fever and could be a natural cure for cold symptoms. A poultice made of plantain leaves can be applied to treat cuts and wounds and skin inflammations.

Luckily, alongside plantain’s many positive biological effects, it also tastes nice. The leaves are full of calcium, flavonoids and vitamins and it provides a bitter undertone in a salad. Before cooking, wash the leaves and then roll several up into a cigar shape before cutting into strips. To infuse oil or vinegar simply half fill a jar with the cut plantain leaves and the liquid. Stick in a warm room for 3 weeks, shaking the jar every couple of days. Oils and vinegars can then be used in cooking or as cosmetic or medicinal treatments.

A popular recipe is to fry sliced onions in olive oil until soft and then add a mixture of chopped plantain and kale. Cook until tender and season with a drizzle of vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper. This makes an excellent side dish for chicken or fish. To battle cold or flu symptoms, steep 2 tablespoons of chopped plantain leaves in 2 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes. Add honey to the tea before drinking if a sweeter taste is preferred.

Although greater plantain grows wild, it is best to only pick home-grown plantain, so as to avoid outside toxins. It is one of the easiest crops in the world to grow. Greater plantain is unfussy about climate and is not tender to frost. Plants can grow up to 45cm, it flowers from May to September, with the seeds ripening from July to October. The plant is self-fertile, having both male and female organs and is pollinated by the wind. Greater plantain prefers moist soil but doesn’t mind if it is light or heavy, acid or alkaline. Its only concession is that it likes a bit of sun. Plantain copes well in high altitudes and near the sea. Plantain’s hardy nature means that it is often used for soil rehabilitation, while its roots break up compacted surfaces, they also keep the soil together and prevent erosion.
 

Gazo

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#3
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

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Compared with an equal weight of lettuce, dandelion has three times the vitamin C, four times the protein, carbohydrate, fat, calcium, iron and vitamin B, five times the phosphorous - and an astounding 12 times the vitamin A. After that shopping list, it's almost surprising to hear it's good to eat as well.

All parts of dandelion are edible, but the leaves can be a little bitter. It’s high in vitamins A, B, C & D and minerals, especially potassium and makes a good detoxifier.

Its leaves and roots are available the year round although, like all greens, the young leaves gathered in the spring make the best eating.
As dandelions are bitter, eating them triggers signals to the digestive system which in turn aids digestion. It causes the gall bladder to contract and release bile, stimulating the liver to produce more. It’s also good for constipation and fluid retention. Be aware that dandelion is a diuretic (it’s likely to make you wee a lot!).

You can spur its leaf production, by cutting off the flower heads before they unfurl, in winter, cover the plant to protect it from frost.

Dandelion is one of the few welcome exceptions to the golden rule that... wild plants which exclude a milky sap when cut, are best left alone.

In a gourmet salad, it can be mixed with raisins, pineapple, chopped nuts and other salad variations with a dressing of honey, lemon juice and cider vinegar.
 
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