True Wild daffodils are only now found in a restricted number of woods, mainly in the west of the country. It is an indicator of ancient woodland and grassland, often found growing with plants such as Dog’s mercury, wood anemone, Primrose, Cowslip, Lesser celandine, Ivy, and violets. Daffodils contain the alkaloid poison lycorine, so they have not been used for culinary purposes. But they were used as a purgative and to treat palsy. They were also used to treat wounds.
Daffodil bulbs were considered to have narcotic properties. A yellow dye was produced from the flowers.
As Wild daffodils became scarcer, a stronghold developed on the border of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. For a time the Great Western Railway ran ‘Daffodil Special’ trains from London to view them.
The Daffodil is the national flower of Wales. At one time Daffodils were called ‘Lent Lily’. Some considered it unlucky to bring them into houses as they drooped their heads and looked unhappy.
Ground Ivy leaves were used to flavour beer before hops. It is also used to make herb tea. It has been used in cheese making as a substitute for animal rennet.
Ground Ivy leaves were used to make ‘gill-tea’, to treat coughs and bad chests. It was also used to treat inflammations, indigestion and as a diuretic. The plant was given to horses to worm them.
The stems of Ground Ivy were used to make wreathes at funerals. The cullinary and medicinal uses of Ground Ivy were such that the early European settlers of North America took it with them.
Unusually, Ground Ivy leaves stay green all year round. It may have some toxic properties and has been known to poison cattle and horses.
Comfrey leaves were boiled and eaten as a vegetable. However it should not be eaten too often as it can damage the liver. The roasted roots can be combined with those of dandelion and chickory to make a coffee drink.
Comfrey roots were used to produce a sludge that was packed around a broken bone. The sludge set, holding the bone firm while it re-set. Comfrey contains a substance called allantoin, which helps connective tissue to heal. It was also used to draw splinters, cure skin problems, and heal ruptures. It is used to make a cough medicine.
Comfrey has been used as a forage plant, for domestic animals. It is also used as a ‘green manure’ – grown and then dug into the ground to add nutrients. A gum, obtained from the roots, was used to treat wool before it was spun.
The hairs on Comfrey leaves can irritate the skin, which is why gloves are recommended when handling it.
More information about these, and many other flowers and berries, can be found in the Naturetale app.