Category Archives: Spring

The Spring category is applied to all foraging, gardening, wildlife etc. posts. This includes all that relate to the spring period each year, so as to help to find information by season.

Lime or Linden Tree Flowers – Tilia x europea

As something I’ve been aware of for some time, and looking out for Linden tree (Lime) flowers in the local area; I was pleased to find a big, old Linden tree not far from where I live. And it was positively overloaded with flowers.

Just for clarification, with these trees the name “Lime tree” and “Linden tree” are interchangeable. They are not the tree which bears the lime fruit. Also, I’ve titled this Tilia x europia (common Lime) because that’s the tree I found. It’s equally applicable to Tilia platyphyllos (Large-leaved Lime) and Tilia cordata (Small-leaved, Lime).

The flowers are usually within reaching distance anyway (unless the lower branches have been trimmed), but as an added bonus, this tree was on a slope too, so a lot of branches were at waist height, for easy picking.

Tilia x europea – Common Lime (Linden)

Identification

  • Common Lime is a deciduous, broadleaf tree, native to the UK and quite common.
  • The bark is pale grey/brown and has irregular ridges.
  • It is quite common to find multiple shoots growing out from the base of the tree.
  • Twigs are hairy and brown, but can turn reddish when in the sun.
  • Leaf buds are red with two scales; one small and one large. The buds look a little like a boxing glove.
  • The leaves are dark green and heart shaped, usually six to ten centimetres. The base of the leaf is asymmetrical and the underside has tufts of small white hairs at vein axils.
  • The flowers are white-yellow, five petals, hang in clusters of two to five, hang from a bract, and have both male and female reproductive parts.

Uses

So why am I going on about these Linden tree flowers? Well, in the past, Linden Flowers have been used as a herbal remedy for all kinds of ailments, including high blood pressure, migraine, headaches, digestive complaints, colds, flu, insomnia, liver and gallbladder disease, itchy skin, joint pains and anxiety.

Apparently, during the war, Linden was used to make a soothing, relaxing tea. You can imagine why people might have wanted it then!

Personally, I have been known to suffer from mild anxiety, insomnia (of a kind) and joint pains, so I’ll be giving it a try (after doing my own research).

As I understand it, it also makes a nice drink, and as an occasional thing isn’t likely to do any harm

Warning

As always, you absolutely must do your own research before diving into believing the first thing you read online, and also check with your doctor too. Apparently some people have reported allergies to Linden, but apart from that Linden tea is pretty harmless stuff.

What to do with Linden tree flowers

Make sure that you pick the pale green bract that comes with the flowers – you’ll need it all. Also, pick responsibly. Whilst it’s unlikely that you could over-harvest a tree, if you need a lot, make sure you take small amounts from several trees.

linden tree flower

Next step – either dry it for future use (in the sun on a sheet, in your oven, or in your electric dehydrator), or make a tea from it immediately.

Tea

Put a few handfuls of flowers in a pan with one to two litres of water.

Bring to the boil, cover and remove from the heat, and leave it overnight.

Strain out the blossoms and keep the infusion in the fridge for up to three days. You can drink it cold, or reheat it. You can freeze the tea to keep it for longer, or make it into an elixir (thanks to the ladies at www.handmadeapothecary.co.uk for the idea) by adding 50% spiced rum to use as a cold remedy (take 50mls in hot water and go to bed to sweat it out).

Next steps

Coming soon – I plan to make my linden tree flower tea on video…

Hedgerow Beauties – Edible Spring Flowers

Given the time of year, we all know that the countryside is full of green and flowers, I was out looking for edibles when I came across these edible hedgerow beauties, so I thought I’d share these spring flowers with you.

Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra) spring flowers

First up is the Wych Elm. This tree, with one of the prettiest flower bunches over also has a great many uses. Sticking with the edibility, the young leaves are edible (raw or cooked), the inner bark has been dried and used to thicken stews, and the seeds are also edible.

Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)

Greater Stitchwort is one of those anonymous white spring flowers in the hedgerow or on the side of the road that largely gets ignored. Until you take a closer look, that is.

Hedgerow Beauties – Greater Stitchwort

The flower is made up of five white petals, lobed so deeply that they look like ten petals. Five green sepals support them, and the stamens are yellow tipped, growing from a green centre. The green parts look very much like grass before the flowers open, apart from the fact that the edges feel quite rough; As does the stem, which has a square cross-section.

The green shoots, flower buds and flowers are all edible raw and cooked. You can chop them straight into a salad.

Forget-Me-Not (Genus Myosotis)

Forget-me-nots are tiny blue spring flowers which you could easily walk by, if it wasn’t for the striking contrast of the blue against a green background.

Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-not covers about 74 species, but the flowers are usually pink/purple in the bud, turning blue when they open. The flowers have five petals, five sepals, yellow centres and are under one cm across. The leaves are long, thin, and unstalked. The stems are hairy, and the leaves are also hairy sometimes.

The flowers are edible and you can eat them as a walking snack, to decorate cakes, and in salads.

Primrose (Primula vulgaris)

Sometimes, with these wild flowers, it’s hard to believe that they’re not cultivated because they look so perfect, and in my opinion, the Primrose is one of those.

Wild Primrose

Easy to recognise, Primula vulgaris has a rosette of crinkly, tongue-shaped leaves that are so wrinkled that they look old even when new. Each flower grows from it’s own stem (which has fine hairs) and has five pale yellow petals, with a darker yellow centre. Sometimes, the darker yellow centre forms a pentagram.

WARNING: I’ve eaten the flowers raw, and the leaves both raw and cooked, yet some people have reported that the leaves have caused a rash. It’s worth checking first, and if the leaves do cause a rash or any kind of contact dermatitis, definitely do not eat it.