Shooting stars

Sunday 6th January 2013

It isn’t spring yet, and it certainly didn’t feel like it in the cold fog this morning but the are some plants that could fool you into thinking it was.  Hot on the heels of someone posting on twitter that they had spotted the first shoots of Ramsoms or Wild Garlic Allium ursinium coming through I stumbled upon these little shoots in the woods today….

Common Primrose Primula vulgaris

These very young Primrose shoots can be eaten raw in salads, any larger and they start to get quite bitter.  The only problem is that when they are young like this, they are harder to identify and it is possible to pick something not edible or even toxic by mistake.  If you wait another month or two until they are flowering they are unmistakeable, and there will still be plenty of the small, young leaves coming through in the centre of the clump plus you can use the flowers as well.

Meanwhile our instructor Martyn noticed this patch of Horseradish Armoracia rusticana which is also shooting but being eaten back by slugs as quickly as it can grow.  As we move into April it will start to really grow at a rate the the slugs can’t keep up with.  This is one that is more difficult to mix up with anything else as the large root is distinctive and the leaves themselves are quite pungent if crushed which should help you identify it.

Horseradish Armoracia rusticana


Horseradish is almost certainly an introduced species and probably originates from South eastern Europe and Western Asia.  It tends to be found not too far away from human habitation; waste ground, roadside, railway embankments etc.   If you’ve only ever tried Horseradish sauce from a supermarket  you need to try making your own with the fresh root.  Peel and grate a few inches of the root and mix with 2 tablespoons of white wine or cider vinegar and leave for 30 minutes or so before stirring in a small amount of English mustard (optional) and either creme fraiche or double cream to produce a thick creamy sauce……you won’t ever go back to buying it again!


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