Liverleaf, Hepatica nobilis

Besides Lungwort, Liverleaf is another spring flower that blooms before new leaves are fully developed. As if they couldn’t wait longer, light purple flowers raise their heads from damp soil to the spring sun even in the shadow of forest.

I know the place where Liverleaf grows in abundance, creating incredible carpet of live wildflowers. The beauty of them takes my breath every time, and I am almost afraid to enter the place because those flowers are so fragile!

Yesterday, I found the first blooming Liverleaf. So far, it was the only Cinderella in the middle of nothing, but also it was a clear sign that the right time is coming and sisters are going to bloom very soon.

If you are looking for the place with Liverleaf before blooming, you can find it easily according to the evidence of last year leaves. They are very unique with 3 lobes, tough in consistency like an old alcoholic liver. No matter how long and hard the winter was, the old leaves stay in their place, so the young flowers could lean on them.

Similar to Lungwort flowers, I like to eat the Liverleaf flowers. As they grow close to each other and bloom simultaneously, they create beautiful and healthy mix of edible flowers, suitable for immediate consumption.

Even though I’m careful to keep the ratio in favor of Lungwort because Liverleaf is slightly poisonous as it belongs to the family of Ranunculaceae, But the main portion of active substances is contained in leaves, so the consumption of flowers is quite safe.

As the name suggests, Liverleaf (Hepatica nobilis) is used in cases of liver disease. Although I prefer to use other herbs for this purpose, I still gather some Liverleaf because I’m fascinated by the shape and tough consistency of its leaves. I admire the ability to overcome difficult conditions and hope to learn it, drinking the tea.

With love, Ivana

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When the swallows return and fly away: Celandine

In my language, Celandine (Chelidonium majus) is more like swallow-wort, which is one of the common names in English as well. I was curious why. What do the swallows have in common with this yellow flower? Perhaps except the shape of swallow’s tail – this could remind on a distance the shape of Celandine’s capsules with seeds. Is it enough?

Then I found a simple connection in books. They say that Celandine has a pretty long period of flowering. It starts at the time of returning the swallows and it’s finished when they fly away to the warm regions. To be honest, I was disappointed with this explanation. I would expect something more sophisticated from books.

So I came back to life, back to my childhood, to my first memories with Celandine. I still remember mom, telling me that this plant grows abundantly in places where people urinate a lot. Of course, Celandine is a widespread plant, but notice that it often grows in dark alleys around pubs or in distant corners of gardens and around paths. Mom is always right 😊

I don’t know if it was an intention, but with this idea, mom took out my liking to taste the plant. And that was also right, because the whole plant is poisonous. Celandine belongs to the poisonous plants with medicinal effects and it is safer not to experiment with it.

The main constituents of Celandine come from the group of alkaloids. Some of them are on the opiate basis – similar to morphine and that’s probably reason why Celandine belongs to the same family as poppy (Papaveraceae). Other alkaloids are toxins or neurotoxins and they have the ability to directly kill the tissue cells. And some of them are healing such as yellow berberin, which is also present in turmeric and is responsible for many of its healing features. With professional supervision Celandine can be very effective especially for liver and gallbladder. Otherwise you can carefully try external application.

Traditionally, the yellow-orange latex from Celandine stem is recommended against warts. Again, be careful! The nice colored latex is kind of corrosive and this is how it works. If it was a harmless juice, the warts would remain on the skin even after many times repeated application. Some people may be sensitive, and touching the latex can cause them red itchy spots on the skin. Then it’s better to avoid this plant.

Do you have your own experience with it? I once drank homemade liqueur from a mixture of herbs including Celandine and was excellent! Looking forward to your tips and experiences.

With love, Ivana