Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Cabbage.

The family of plants known as Brassicas is a large and diverse one. Our ancient ancestors would have been extremely familiar with all of our native species as they were used as summer vegetables. Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) was - and still is - eaten widely among the natives of Southern and Western Europe.
This specimen was photographed on the Great Orm, North Wales, ideal countryside for wild cabbages as they like the sea air and lime-rich soils. The Leaves form the main, edible part of the plant and it has been cultivated for many years as a garden vegetable from which the more familiar cabbages, Brussels Sprouts, etc. have been developed.
Another of our native Brassicas is the Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale).
A common British 'weed' it is widely seen on wasteland all over the place. The leaves of this plant have a strong 'mustard' flavour and have been used since ancient times as a condiment. It is also used by herbalists as an expectorant, stomach settler, diuretic and laxative as well as a general tonic. The seeds have also been used in parts of Europe, to make mustard paste.
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