Jack by Hedge

There are many we usually ignore, or treat as weeds, growing through the cracks in pavements or invading those town & city parks and gardens, however they are now able to go a little wild with no councils at work. So over next few weeks I will see if I can find a plant a day or something else our ancestors would have found useful that you can find while out for your ‘one walk a day’. So first up is “Jack by the Hedge” also called Hedge Garlic, Hedge Mustard, Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) this is really abundant at the minute.

When bruised or chopped the leaves give off a distinct garlic smell and when nibbled also taste of garlic. I have also found some already flowering and the florets also taste of garlic, even the roots. This is the plants defence mechanism as generally animals don’t like garlic, but unfortunately for the plant humans do.

They are best eaten raw as a lot of the flavour disappears when cooked, so a few leaves in a sandwich or salad are great. But get inventive try it in soup or sauces.

This plant is easily identified by the garlicy aroma when bruised. But before you munch it make sure of the following:

  • Leaves are hairless – Heart shaped lower leaves, a little more pointy like a nettle in the upper leaves
  • blunt toothed edges
  • flowers (if developed yet) four tiny white petals
  • if it looks radically different to the photos above and if bruised between your fingers doesn’t smell of garlic I would say it is not the right plant and should be avoided for now.

David Menell

Author

David Menell

I have been called a “truly WILD man” by Kate Humble (BBC TV presenter) and I am affectionately known as “Jungle Dave” by my friends. I spent a year, half living and working with indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest. They taught me the skills and practices of living alongside nature. I have also studied with Ray Mears and his team to hone my traditional skills in bushcraft. For the past 15 years, I have been teaching bushcraft skills to kids, adults and business teams, through courses, parties and fun days out. My goal has always been to rewild people to get them to reconnect with nature because I see how a day in the woods boosts everyone’s mental well-being. Now research has demonstrated the real quantifiable benefits, even a few minutes around green spaces has been shown to have a positive effect. It has never been more important for us to get out in nature, not only will it impart numerous health benefits hopefully people will value it more and as David Attenborough said, “No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced".

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