More flowers out in March that have interesting stories to tell

Wood anemone

06 Wood anemone

Wood anemones are good indicators of ancient woodland and grassland as colonies spread very slowly (supposedly 6 feet in a hundred years, although one wonders who has measured this!).

Wood anemone sap is bitter and poisonous, so the plant was not consumed.  They were  not a major medicinal herb.  However the leaves could be used to make a vinegar for use in a poultice.  Extracts were also used to treat headaches, gout and rheumatism.

The scent of the Wood anemone is sharp and not very pleasant.  This gives rise to an old name for the flower: ‘smell foxes’.

Wild gooseberry

54 Wild gooseberry cropped

The presence of Wild gooseberry can indicate where there used to be human habitation. Gooseberries are mainly used for pies, jams and cooked deserts’ although well ripened berries can be eaten raw.  It is a good source of Vitamin C and can be used to make wine.

Gooseberries have been used as a laxative and purgative, but it had a minor medicinal role.  In the 16th century sufferers from the plague were advised to eat gooseberries.  Fruit pulp can be used to make a face mask to cleanse greasy skin.

Wild gooseberry bushes produce small numbers of small, tart tasting berries.  Starting around the 16th century gardeners started selecting the best specimens and progressively improved the quality and quantity of production to develop present day domestic varieties.Wild gooseberry will occasionally grow on a tree, rather than in the ground.  Such bushes are called epiphytic.

Marsh marigold

05 Marsh marigold cropped

As Marsh marigolds contain poisons there are no records of them being eaten in Britain, but it was used as a spring vegetable in North America.  According to one source the buds were salted and pickled.

Marsh marigold has been used to treat warts, fits and anaemia. Handling Marsh marigolds can cause rashes and dermatitis. A dye was made from Marsh marigold petals that was used to stain paper yellow.  However it was not very permanent.  These plants were used to make May Day garlands.

Marsh marigold is one of the most ancient of our native plants.  It lived here before, and through, the last Ice age.

More information about these, and many other flowers and berries, can be found in the Naturetale app.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *