Brooklime – A Foraging Guide to Its Food, Medicine and Other Uses

Brooklime is a delicate blue flower of ponds and streams and often grows with watercress.It was used for centuries as a salad plant in northern Europe, collected in spring and well known for its pungency and bitterness.

Scientific Name

Veronica beccabunga

Family

Plantaginaceae.

Botanical Description

Brooklime has tiny, dark blue flowers; occasionally a pink form of the flower is found. The petals open wide in the sun and partially in the shade. The leaves are oval, glossary green and leathery to the touch. The succulent hollow stems creep in mud and root at the nodes.

Status

Native to Europe, temperate Asia and North Africa; naturalised in Britain, Ireland and other parts of the world.

Habitat and Distribution

Ditches, meadow, ponds & pond edges, river banks.

Parts Used for Food

Young shoots, stem, leaves.

Harvest Time

The plant is perennial with flowers and fruits appearing May to September.

Food Uses of Brooklime

Bitter-tasting brooklime can be eaten like watercress by adding raw to salads or cooked like a potherb by boiling or steaming. This wild edible is best mixed with strongly flavoured greens to compensate and complement its bitterness.

Brooklime can be brewed as a tea, called tea de l’europe (or European tea), which has a flavour similar to Chinese green tea.

Nutritional Profile

Brooklime is rich in vitamin C3 and antioxidants such as flavonoids and phenolics, which help to reduce incidences of chronic disease when eaten as part of our diet. Some studies suggest European brooklime also contains 3.8 g of protein per 100 g of fresh weight.

Herbal Medicine Uses of Brooklime

Traditionally, brooklime was used as a diuretic treatment for jaundice, urinary and kidney ailments, an expectorant for coughs and colds, and a cure for scurvy.Today we know that the plant contains vitamin C, as well as a glucoside (aucubine) and various other substances, such as sulphur.

Other Uses

A brown dye is derived from brooklime for dyeing textiles.

Safety Note

The plant is safe if cooked. Although it was eaten raw in the past, due to liver fluke it is best avoided raw.

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Photo Identification

References

Facciola, S. (1998) Cornucopia II: a source book of edible plants. Vista, CA: Kampong Publications.

Guarrera, P. M. & Savo, V. (2016) Wild food plants used in traditional vegetable mixtures in Italy. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. [Online] 185202–234.

Hatfield, G. (2008) Hatfield’s herbal: the secret history of British plants. London: Penguin.

Kuhnlein, H. V. & Turner, N. J. (1991) Traditional plant foods of Canadian indigenous peoples: nutrition, botany, and use. Food and nutrition in history and anthropology v. 8. Philadelphia: Gordon and Breach.

Watts, D. (2007) Dictionary of plant lore. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Wyse Jackson, P. (2013) Ireland’s generous nature: the past and present uses of wild plants in Ireland. St. Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden Press.

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  1. hi
    yes as Robin says on many occasion
    be very wary of pictures
    The Wild Flower Key
    by Francis Rose
    will help you once you get to grips with it
    its never let me down

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