Get to know your green neighbors!
There are wonderful medicinal and edible plants growing all around us, even right here in this urban jungle. Learning to work with our local plants improves our health, reduces oil consumption and offers the security in knowing that what you need is growing all around you.
We invite you to meet the plants who also call this port home and invite them further into your life and garden. Remember, if a plant grows easily in a forgotten alleyway, it will not demand much from you if you plant it in your garden. Weed is just another word for “low maintenance, prolific plant” in our book.
Never ingest anything you have not positively identified. For practice with proper plant identification, go on a guided plant walk (like our Medicinal Plant Rambles) or use a reliable field guide such as The Wildflower Key by Francis Rose. You can find more resources further down this page. Please harvest responsibly and review this Wildcrafting Checklist by Howie Brounstein who reminds us, “Wildcrafting is stewardship.”
Click on the thumbnails below to see full photo with descriptions.
Wild Flowers of Ireland An incredibly rich and easy to navigate on-line listing of local Irish wildflowers created by Zoë Devlin. Zoë has taken all of the photos on this website over the several decades and compiled them in several fully functional and searchable ways– you can search by name (both common and botanical), by color, and even by flowering season! Thank you Zoë! She has also published a handy print version called The Wildflowers of Ireland: A Field Guide.
Biodiversity Study of Dublin City Urban Parklands A survey commissioned in 1999 to make a comprehensive inventory of the flora and fauna of Dublin city.
Wild Food: Nature’s Harvest: How to Gather, Cook & Preserve by Evan Doyle is another lovely book with easy to follow instructions on harvest and preparation of several abundant and delicious herbs such as Elder Berry, Nettles, and Rose.
Is food foraged in cities safe to eat?
This is a layered question. As with anything, you need to use common sense when putting something in your mouth. The better you know the history of the land you forage from the safer. We also believe that the more you realize how important the plants which grow along the roads and under bridges are, the less we would tolerate trash being dumped there.
As urban foraging and community gardening on abandoned lots grows in popularity around the world, some folks are beginning to do some studies on the safety.
Click here to read Christina Boyes’ article on city foraging safety as researched by a team from Wellesley College and presented at the Geological Society of America.
“The way that different plants absorb contaminants is still being studied, but roots and tubers usually have the highest lead and arsenic concentrations, followed by leafy greens like spinach and mustard. Fruits and seeds, on the other hand, are literally at the other end of the plant and tend to have the lowest likelihood of contamination,” said Ciaran Gallagher, a member of the team who is majoring in Environmental Chemistry.
Check out this interview with Ava Chin who has a few recommendations for urban foraging, such as foraging in elevated areas away from buildings and roads, or if you tend to work a particular area for an extended period of time, consider some soil testing.
However, as there is not an abundance of data yet, do your own research! Knowledge is power!