Wild Edible Of The Week - Week 24 - "Heather"

Botanical name : Calluna vulgaris

Common names : Heather, Ling, Common Heather

Physical appearance : An evergreen shrub which grows up to 1 metre in height with numerous tiny leaves which grow in opposing rows. It has purple or white flowers that are bell shaped.

Edible parts : The flowers were often used as a flavouring for beverages including tea and ale.

Best places to find : Most readily found on heaths, moors and in open woodlands. Heather has a preference for acidic soil conditions.

Time of year : Best harvested from mid August onwards.

Serving suggestions : Moorland tea - The dried flower heads make a good tea by themselves or can be mixed with other dry flowers and fruits.

Other recipes  : Heather flavoured Ale.

Other uses : Historically, Heather has been a very useful crop. It provides good fodder for sheep and grouse. It is good fuel for fire (heating/cooking). It can be used for thatching, basketry and broom making (think of the archetypal witches broom). It is also used to produce a vibrant, orange dye.

NB - Please be sure you know what you are picking. Many plants look similar to one another and many can be poisonous!  Please seek professional instruction if you are unsure! Don't risk your life!!!

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