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Friday, 1 July 2022

Chicory - chicorium intybus

 Really quite a rare find in ulster these days, this beautiful sky blue plant often comes up along disturbed ground or road side verges. Although usually growing to about 5 ft tall this particular plant was closer to 10ft!! 

The whole plant is edible even though it's incredibly bitter, however this makes it useful as a tea for digestive problems and to quell stomach issues.

Speaking of drinks, one of the most common uses of the plant is as a coffee substitute made from the roasted and ground root, it tastes appalling !!

The beautiful flower was said in lore to have been originally white, but a knight going off to the crusades reached up to the sky and took a piece of it and upon touching the flower it turned blue, he gave it to his true love saying whenever she saw the flower or the sky she was to remember him. He never came home and his love died from a broken heart, and the plant which was once sweet to the taste turned bitter thereafter.

Monday, 23 May 2022

Crimson Clover - trifolium incarnatum

 This incredibly vivid member of the clover family was seen growing near a road beside the hills on Belfast. What a distinctive and pretty flower it is, along with the regular members of the clover family we find here it also is edible, shoots, leaves and flowers and the seeds can be ground into flour. It's almost too pretty to eat.

It is said that this plant got its striking colour when the Roman soldier who pierced  Christ's side withdrew his spear and a drop of the saviours blood fell upon a white clover flower staining it blood red.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Oncorhynchus mykiss (blue) the Blue Trout

 I've caught many rainbows in my time but last weekend I caught a rare genetic mutation of a rainbow trout, a Blue trout. Its said that for every 3 million trout eggs that hatch only 30 of them will be blues. The photos don't do it justice but it had the most vivid Blue back I have even seen and it's sides where the silveriest silver I've ever seen ! There was virtually no pink on it at all.


As I said the pics don't show it very well but the top is the blue the bottom one is a regular rainbow

Again it's hard to make out the colouration but if you zoom in around the eyes and head the blue is very noticible. This fish fought better than any rainbow I've caught before and was an aerial ballerina, incredibly impressed with its colouration and fighting capabilities, I hope I am lucky enough to catch another !

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Hoary plantain

 Of the six types of plantain found in the UK this is the last of the land grown varieties, hoary plantain.

Easily recognised due to its downy leaves its usually found on limestone and chalky areas.

Its edible and has been used as a food source in Britain since early roman times 

It's also a medicinal in the same way the other plantains are but rarely used due to its relative scarcity in ulster. 

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Stagshorn plantain , plantago coronopus

 A lot of people are familiar with the 'regular' plantains we often find, that is ribwort plantain and broadleaf plantain, but a lot of people aren't so familiar with the other species of plantain that can be found in the UK, and this is one of them. Stagshorn or bucks-horn plantain, so called because its leaves look a little like deer antlers, tends to be a coastal plant though it can grow inland when roads or path ways are regularly salted.

Though not as medicinal as the aforementioned plantains, this one is slightly more palatable. Books say it tastes like parsley which I dont find at all,  I find it slightly bitter and salty though not as bitter as ribwort, it has a succulent texture and isn't the worst wild edible I've tried and I suppose would be fine mixed with other salad plants rather than just on its own. It has been used as a salad leaf and there are now commercially grown varieties used for salads. I haven't tried any of these commercial varieties but there must be some demand for them if they are now farmed for food. 

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

The search for samphire

 Although not the time of year to forage for this tasty coastal delicacy we needed to find an area that supports an abundant amount. However the areas in which this salty sea vegetable grows are salt marsh and mud flat and are quite rare around the northern Irish coast. However after some research and a day of travelling we did find what we were after. Dead and dried plants were easily identifiable from last years crop and the young shoots were showing ready to be harvested later in the year. Its quite difficult to identify simply from its dried remains but not if you know what to look for !