Curly Dock is prolific alongside my walking trails near the river.

At this time of year, the dark rust-coloured seed pods always make a showy contrast to the deep blue sky.

Apparently, the roots of this weed have been used for their medicinal properties for over 500 years, especially for their high iron content. It has been referred to as “the doctor” of herbal plants.

On a foraging site I check in to every now and then, it’s said that the entire plant is edible, including the stem. The seeds can also be ground right along with the chaff to create a flour similar to oat flour. The flour is gluten free, dense with fibre, and there are many recipes available for its use.

The name of the plant was derived from the curly shape of the leaves, which, if harvested in late spring or early summer, can be eaten either raw or cooked. Later in the season, they’re too bitter for consumption.

Once again, it’s interesting to read about the medicinal properties of common weeds, but I’m not about to jump in there and try them. I’m just not that adventurous. Instead, it’s fun to research things that were harvested and used in days gone by (and still are to this day) to supplement dietary needs. I’m sure that many of these plants are used in modern day pharmaceuticals as well. It gives me another thing to ponder as I pass these plants on my walks.

“In my experience, we are always trying to be good to ourselves, to be healthy and safe, but are often doing this in a convoluted way because it’s the best way we know at that moment. As soon as we are ready to open to a healthier way, a path opens up before us and we find that we’ve always been standing on it. And alongside, and over, and underneath our path, are our herbal allies.”

Robin Rose Bennett