Monday, 21 January 2008

Meet the Greater Willow Herb aka "Codlins & Cream"

I have just found a photo I took of the Greater Willow Herb which grows wild in my garden. The country name for this plant is "Codlins and Cream", which is far prettier and easier to say than GWH! When I have worked out the "how" I shall make this my backing for the blog title. Richard Maybe has little to say about it (though there are two pages on its cousin, the Rosebay Willow Herb, which some people may know as "Fireweed"): "This is abundant in all kinds of damp places - riversides, ditches, marshes, woodland clearings, even at the foot of damp walls. The popular name "codlins-and-cream" was probably suggested by the petals, rosy on top (like codlins or cooking apples) with a trace of creamy whiteness beneath." Far from growing in a particularly damp place in my garden, it is beside the large fish pond in full sun, but I daresay this may count as a "damp place"!

The travelling library called this morning, and I was fortunate to find a copy of Brother Cadfael's Herb Garden. I have long been a fan of Ellis Peter's novels, though I have not read one recently. The book states the Willowherb's medicinal uses (according to Culpeper) as follows:

Medicinal: All the species of willowherbs have the same virtues, the 'most powerful' being the yellow willowherb (Epilobium lysimachia). The plants were prescribed for haemorrhages, migraine, dropsy, stomach and urinary disorders, asthma and whooping cough. As an ointment, they were used to treat skin inflammations and infections.

Culinary: Rosebay willowherb shoots were boiled and eaten like asparagus, and the leaves used as a tea substitute.

If you have a space for it, in a damp spot (at the back of a border, as it grows to 2m according to Marjory Blamey), it is worth sourcing it from a wild flower seed specialist.


MammyT said...

Makes me a bit homesick for Alaska. It looks so much like the fireweed, which grows everywhere up there, and blooms in July, painting the landscape with that pinky-purple hue. This kind of looks like a cross between it and what we call Labrador Tea. I wonder if it is a relative too.

Mrs.T said...

How very pretty, Jennie! A pretty plant with a pretty name. It looks a lot like a wildflower we have called the Meadow Cranesbill. The flowers look much the same and the color is almost exactly the same. It makes a lovely background for your blog title.

I forgot to mention that I enjoyed your poem about the old spoon, too -- evidently you added it after I had commented on 'Half a Brick". What a story both poems tell...

MammyT said...

I am back. I can't get any of your links to work. The ones to other blogs. Sorry to have to tell you that. There is a special way to do that on Blogspot, but I can't remember it now that I am on Wordpress.

Bovey Belle said...

Nancy - C&C is very closely related to the Fireweed (which grows in Britain too). Drat! I assumed the links would work, so I will have to go and sort those out, AND the counter, which is apparently only counting ME logging on!

MrsT - glad you enjoyed the other poem. We have Meadow Cranesbill here too - quite a few Cranesbills in fact, although I think our Meadow Cranesbill is a violet -purple rather than this pink.

Mara said...

Its cousin rosebay is one of my favourite wildflowers. Many a train journey has been cheeres by the sight of it growing in swathes of pink along the railway line.

Beautiful picture!