I've recently spent some time in the North/West of England. The weather was pretty cool and rather wet, but I did manage to go for quite a few walks. The countryside was very green and the hedgerows were rampant. One of the plants that I noticed the most was a plant that I haven't seen growing in the surroundings of my home in Italy (although apparently it does grow here)
I can't remember this plant from when I was growing up, although it is stunning and grows along the roads, embankments, railways and sometimes takes over whole fields.
I was surprised to read that it is considered edible by some people, the young shoots were often collected in the spring by native American people and mixed with other greens and the pith of the stem is considered a survival food. Tea can be made from the dried leaves, in fact it was popular in Russia before the arrival of black tea. It's known as Kapor or Ivan tea there.
In Alaska, it was/is used to make candies/ syrups and ice creams and mixed with clover blossoms to make an alternative to honey "homesteader's honey"(see recipe links below).
Rosebay Willowherb contains a lot of vitamin C and has astringent and demulcent properties.
I found a recipe for the syrup in Hedgerow Medicine by Matthew and Julie Seal, which they consider a pleasant remedy for diarrhoea especially in children.
Rosebay Willowherb / Fireweed Syrup
20 flower heads
Bring to the boil and simmer until the colour leaves the blossoms (about 5-10 minutes)
Strain the juice
juice of a lemon
This should turn the pale liquid a bright pink.
Simmer for a further 5 minutes and allow to cool.
Bottle and label
|the bottle on the left shows the syrup after the lemon juice was added|
A dessertspoonful for children
A tablespoonful for adults - every few hours as needed.
I'm not sure how long it will keep in the fridge.
I think I will freeze my small bottles.
It could also be used to flavour cocktails, sweets or ice creams. It has a very delicate, lovely taste.
After I made the syrup I discovered information about "Homesteader's Honey" which I may well try to make next year with rosebay willowherb and clover blossoms. The only problem is that all the recipes seem to include "alum" which I have no idea what is, where to obtain or even if is safe to use......
More fireweed recipes @
akjackharper-fireweed ice cream and cheesecake