Welcome to the June edition of the wildflowers & wild plants foraging guide. The second instalment of this little series I started, which seems to have gone down quite well! (if you missed last months you can read it here )
I decided, as there are so many things growing this time of year with Spring in full swing and headed for summer, that it made sense to do monthly instalments. Then wind down to something more seasonal come Winter. But I’m open to your suggestions too..
So let’s dive straight in…
June wildflowers & wild plants
There are the wildflowers & wild plants and herbs with medicinal uses you can find this month. Although its not possible to include every single plant (or this post’d be more like a book!) these are some of my favourites, and those that can be perhaps most useful. In fact all of the plants included in this month have healing properties of some kind
Medicinal wild plants
Chive has been cultivated to grow in gardens, and is most common in a herb garden as it is lovely to cut fresh to use in salads or mixed in with freshly cooked potatoes, but it can also be found growing wild too. At this time of year you can look out for those beautiful pink pop-pom like flowers on their long stalks.
Chive grows quickly and easily, and wild can be found growing among grasses, just a lot taller, and has long hollow stems.
Both the flowers and the stalks of chive can be eaten, and it is classed as a nutrient dense plant as its nutrition contents (& benefits) outweigh its caloric value! Chives are full of folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, & vitamins A, K, and C.
To my mind this simple and elegant rose is even more beautiful than its garden counterpart. Wild roses have a beautiful sweet smell and delicate pick petals. These bushes can grow wide and tall if left unchecked, and will often be found poking through hedgerows and tree branches.
Wild or dog rose flowers from May to June, and can be found in sunny spots, along field hedgerows, in thickets, and country lanes. The flowers have 5 petals, and can be varying sizes & shades of pink. The dog rose has horned stems with thorns that can be as sharp as a garden rose, so gardening gloves may come in handy here!
The rose blooms grow singly or in small clusters. Make sure to only pick the flower in bloom in these clusters as the rest will bloom in time too, or turn to rose hips come Autumn. Use small garden scissors to clip the flowers just below the head. You should harvest wild rose flowers when their yellow stamens are brightest, before they turn brown.
If the stamen have turned brown do not pick them.
Rose flowers can be used for both healing & eating.
– flower petals can be eaten fresh in salads
– fresh petals can be made into tinctures, dried petals can be used in teas or infused in water to use as a tonic for oily skin and also an eyewash for conjunctivitis
– rose petals are astringent meaning they have ‘drying effects’ and can be used to treat acne, diarrhoea, heavy menstrual bleeding, and sore mouths
– the cooling properties of a petal infusion can also help relieve a fever
(the rosehips have their own host of properties which we will discuss in Autumn).
Elder has long been valued for its medicinal properties. The elder flowers only bloom for a couple of months each year, from the end of May to late July, so you have to be quick to get a good harvest in. The elder shrub can grow up to 6 metres tall, and likes to grow almost anywhere. You can find it in hedgerows, field boundaries, woods and waste ground.
The flowers are tiny and delicate. They grow in flat topped, frothy bunches and and are creamy white in colour. Although their pollen can often make them look yellow.
Now is the best time to pick the flowers, but you only want to take the heads where all the flowers are in bloom. You don’t want any with dead or brown flowers on either. Snip the flower at the base of the bunch.
– Elder flowers make a delicious tonic that can be added to water and drunk or a whole host of other foods such as ice lollies, made into ice cubes, added to cake frosting… try this sugar free elder flower cordial recipe.
– medicinally elder flower can be used to heal problems with the nose and sinuses, relieves colds, sinusitis, and hayfever
– the flowers are emollient and moisturising to the skin & make a lovely addition to a skin toner
– they also induce sweating and can be used for chills and fevers.
Red & White Clover
There are two varieties of clover, both of which have healing properties, and grow in similar places.
Clover flowers in June and July and can be found amongst grassy areas along the sides of paths and roadsides, and loves to grow in pastures & meadows. It may even sneak into your garden occasionally if you’re lucky!
Clover can grow quite tall if left unchecked – up to 40cm tall. It tends to grow in patches and is recognisable by its three-lobed leaves (or occasionally 4 leafed) that often have white blotched markings. The oval flowers of clover consist of lots of small trumpet shaped florets. If you pick clover early in June you may be lucky enough to see a second late flowering in August too!
– The nectar of red clover blossoms is sweet, and has been used in wine making as well as medicinally.
– it also contains plant compounds similar in composition to oestrogen, and is therefore good to use for balancing hormones, and dealing with hormone related issues such as PMS and menopause.
– red clover can also be used for healing skin conditions like acne rosacea, acne vulgaris, eczema, and psoriais. It is good for your skin in general because its full of antioxidants & can add radiance, elasticity and clarity for skin.
– clover is also good for digestion, traditionally it was used as a blood and skin cleanser.
– White clover is also a cleanser. Both mentally and physically. It can be used as an eye wash for irritated eyes.
– it can also be used to fight colds, coughs, and fevers.
– white clover also contains the same plant compounds that give it a similar composition to oestrogen, and you can use it in the same way as red clover for hormone related issues.
– you can cook with both types of clover, due to their sweetness they are often included in baking recipes. They can also be made into teas, and tinctures for healing.
Shepard’s purse, so named for its little heart shaped ‘pods’ that grow up the plants stem. These resemble old-fashioned money purses that shepard’s used to use. This is one of those plants that you can find growing anywhere, as it doesn’t seem to need much soil to thrive – wall crevices, along footpaths, out of the cracks at the side of the road, waste grounds, it does like gardens, meadows, and pastures too though.
This hardy little plant can grow most of the year round, but you are most likely to spot it come spring. It can flower from March to November, but I have only started spotting it in my area of North Yorkshire from the end of May.
It has long leaves that mainly grow around the stem in a rosette, with a round stem that forms many branches at the top of the plant. The tiny ‘dirty-white’, four petalled flowers grow from these branches, and in turn become the little heard shaped seed pods mentioned earlier.
– Shepard’s purse has been used for hundreds of years to stop bleeding due to its astringent properties. Medicinally it can be used to heal bleeding gums, bowels and bladder, and excessive menstrual bleeding.
– it is also useful for treating diarrhoea after food poisoning.
– you can use shepard’s purse to treat sore throats, anaemia, haemorrhoids, nosebleeds, cystitis, and incontinence too.
This aromatic herb has long being used as a would healer. As it’s name suggests golden rod grows very straight! It has pointed, finely toothed leaves, and its flowers are yellow and daisy-like in appearance. Golden rod likes to grow in dry, well drained soils and can often be found along the sides of footpaths and less used roads, heaths, banks and cliffs.
You can find it growing from April to October, and will flower from June to September. You can pick the whole flowering plant to use.
– Golden rod is a go-to plant to use for inflammation and irritation of the urinary system, including flushing out kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
– its strong aroma makes it good for use in treating your hayfever, especially chronic conditions, as well as nasal catarrh and congestion, and acute colds.
Wild mint has a beautiful smell, you will probably be able to smell it before you see it! Brought to Britain by the Romans mint has a long history of being a digestive aid. All mint has a fresh cleansing smell, whether peppermint, spearmint, or watermint, and you will find all have similar properties.
All mints look similar too. They grow from a wide spreading root system and will spread quickly. The stems are square and have elongated leaves that seem to grow in sections, with finely serrated edges. Mint grows from March to October and flowers from June to October.
When they flower the flowers form tight whorls around the stem of the plant with leaves emerging from their bases, and get smaller in size as you go up the plants stem. Mint can be found on grassy banks, waste ground, and near water.
– medicinally mint can be taken internally to treat digestive discomfort, bloating, gas, and relieve nausea. As well as being able to treat colic, diarrhoea, and IBS.
– mint is a good decongestant, topically it can be used to treat catarrh, relieve the symptoms of colds, sinusitus, and can sometimes halt the onset of migraines and headaches. Just by smell alone. It’s smell can also help relieve feelings of sickness.
– you can also use mint to heal fevers with its cooling effects, freeze pain from muscle sprains, strains, and tension, and relieve itchy skin.
Wild poppies and their bright flashes of red are so easy to spot along waysides and in fields growing wild.
You can collect the petals and/or seeds of wild poppies, preferably early morning. The poppy flowers grow from June to late summer and can be used as a mild sedative.
– medicinally wild poppy can be used to soothe irritable coughs, as a pain killer, to help you sleep, calm anxiety, treat colic and dysentery.
– you can take it as a tea or in tincture form.
Comfrey, also known as knitbone, has been used for thousands of years for its wound healing properties, and the rapid healing it brings can be seen very quickly.
It thrives in damp ground and partial shade and can often be found by rivers or on shady hedge banks. Comfrey leaves start to grow in March, and the plant flowers from June to July.
These plants grow from a thick white root, and large oval leaves, with pointed tips, grow in in a clump from its base and only part way up the flower stems. The whole plant is covered with short, rough, bristly hairs. It’s small flowers form in a curled stall at the top, and are bell shaped and creamy yellow in colour. Although it is possible to see pink and blue flowers too.
You can pick the flowering tips of the plant, or harvest the roots in autumn.
– in the past comfrey has been eaten as a spring vegetable, so it is edible.
– leaves and flowers can be taken internally, the root os for external use only.
– the compounds found in comfrey penetrate deep into tissues and can be used medicinally for healing ulcers throughout the digestive tract, topically for wounds of the skin, and to speed the repair of muscle, ligament, and tendon injuries and even help broken bones to knit together.
– you can also use comfrey for treating bruises, burns, psoriasis, arthritis, backache, varicose veins, heartburn, and dry skin conditions.
Chamomile is a wonderful calming plant. It likes to grow in well-drained soil and you can usually find it around field margins, on waste grounds, and I have even spotted it in grassy areas along the side of footpath’s. It starts to grow in April, and will last until October, but it’s easier to spot once it starts to flower. Camomile flowers from June to September.
These plants were names by the Greeks for their apple like scent. There are two types of chamomile German and Roman. Both plants look similar although it is the Roman chamomile that is scented, German chamomile is unscented. Both have leaves that don’t really look like leaves; they are very frond like. German chamomile grows taller and more branching where as Roman chamomile grows lower to the ground. The flowers of both types of chamomile are small and resemble daisies, with white petals and a big yellow centre which is raised in the dome shape above the petals.
It is the chamomile flowers that you pick to use.
– chamomile has a sedative effect and can be used as a relaxant, it will help with stress and nerves, and it is also gentle enough to be used for babies and children.
– it also has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties making it good to use for irritated skin conditions such as eczema, or to help with inflammation of the digestive tract.
– medicinally chamomile can be used both internally or externally and made into tinctures, teas, or infusions for using on the skin & adding to baths.
– it can heal a multitude of conditions including acne, bites and stings, conjunctivitis, cramp, restless leg syndrome, earache, hayfever, chickenpox and shingles,, headache, insomnia, allergies, fever, colic, diarrhoea and flatulence, hangovers, heartburn, indigestion and IBS, nausea, and even painful periods.
It is told that Achilles used this herb on the battlefield to stop blood flow from his wounded soldiers.
It has been an elusive plant for me so far and I haven’t seen it growing much around the English countryside. Which makes it even more special when you do spot it! Yarrow like well-drained soil and will grow in hedgerows, meadows, waste ground, and waysides. It’s feathery delicate leaves grow from the base of the plant, it has a tough angular stem which will branch at the top into a dense cluster of tiny white flowers.
The whole plant is very aromatic, and can grow up to 60cm tall. You want to be picking the whole plant to use.
– yarrow is rich in aromatic and volition oils that have anti-inflammatory properties. It can be made into oil infusions, teas, salves, tinctures, or you can rub the juice of the fresh plant directly onto your skin to treat cuts, bites, and stings.
– it can be used externally for cuts and wounds as well as nosebleeds. But taken internally it works to relax muscles surrounding the blood vessels and can relieve congested bloodflow making it good for period pains, high blood pressure, and fevers.
– medicinally yarrow can be used to treat bites and stings, bruises, burns, cold sores, eczema, mouth ulcers, colds & flus, earache, sore throats, chilblains, verrucas veins, chickenpox and shingles, cystitis, and heavy & painful periods.
That’s all for this month. Don’t forget all of these wildflowers & wild plants are precious, so please only pick what you are going to use and what you need.
Enjoy your foraging. as always, stay safe and take the right tools with you!