Earlier in the week we went to Lough Key Forest Park to pick Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum). This is one of the years first gifts from Mother Nature’s pantry that we accept gratefully here at Prospect Cottage. The plants, often called Ramsons, are found in damp woodland that has slightly acid soil. They are usually growing near or among bluebells. If you have not collected Ramsons before do be careful as Arum maculatum, commonly known as Lords and Ladies or Cuckoopint, also often grows in the same area. When the Arum is young it’s leaves are strappy like the Ramsons so can be easily mistaken for it.
I knew someone years ago who ate some of this Arum by mistake. Apart from being ill and hospitalised he never had full movement in his neck again. A foolproof way to be sure is rub the leaf between your fingers, you will get the unmistakeable smell of garlic.
Wild Garlic has many health benefits. It contains antioxidants and vitaminC, is beneficial for respiratory problems, high blood pressure, cholesterol and cleansing the blood. A free medicine from Nature.
If you intend to make food foraging a regular habit it’s a good idea to get a good book on the subject. The one on the left was published in Ireland in 1978, Wild and Free by Cyril & Kit O’Ceirin,it is out of print now. I have this copy for many years. It’s great as it gives the folklore of each plant. The other book, Food for Free, first published in 1978, I got recently. It has sketches and recipes plus plant descriptions.