Goosegrass, as I knew it growing up in Lancashire or “sticky willy” as it is known here in The Borders, is a complete nuisance at the moment; sprawling over newly planted willow saplings in the woodland next to the house, threatening to encroach onto the borders and raised beds, sticking to the dog and everything that it comes into contact with.
I have shattered a few myths about common “weeds” on these pages but even I had nothing good to say about this plant. Until yesterday. As part of the Permaculture Foundation Course currently being led by Kat Dunlop, she mentioned that you could make a tonic from goosegrass. So I looked it up!
Goosegrass is edible, though the hairs make it unpleasant if eaten raw – unless you are a goose. They love it, hence the name goosegrass. The shoots have a mild flavour which can be used like any leafy green vegetable to bulk up soups and stews. Alternatively, they can be fried in butter and used in stir fries and omelettes.
The little round seeds can be roasted to make a coffee substitute; not totally unexpected as goosegrass is in the coffee plant family.
And, as Kat said, Goosegrass can make a tonic water. Pour water onto fresh leaves and leave overnight to infuse. Remove the leaves and the liquid can be drunk. Alternatively, pour boiling water onto the leaves to make a refreshing tea. Both can be taken as a tea to help tackle urinary tract problems, including cystitis. They can also be taken to bring down a high temperature and reduce fever.
If you are going to forage, please follow the simple guidelines:
- Always be sure you are sure of the plant before you pick it and never eat any plant you are unsure of.
- Leave plenty behind for wildlife.
- Make sure you have permission to pick
- Only pick where plants are plentiful