Alternative names - London Pride, Bomb Weed and Fireweed
After the Great Fire of 1666 and again after the Blitz, it “turned London pink” as it grew rapidly on soils that had been scorched by fire and damaged by bombs, earning it the name of Bomb Weed and also London Pride. The plant has been chosen as the flower to represent London(1,2).
It is a strong and resilient pioneer plant that supports the rapid recovery of life on bare soils that have been exposed to highly destructive forces.
A powerful symbol of the gentle power of nature to support healing and regeneration from even the most destructive of forces.
It frequently offers a sea of pink along hedgerows and on waste grounds. The tiny seeds (up to 80,000 per plant) once released, ensure near permanent colonisation of the ground into which they are dispersed. Growing again and again for as long as the ecosystem requires its services.
The leaves which naturally ferment when dried, can be made into a caffeine free tea - famous in Russia and known as Ivan Chai. This tea was popular in the UK and known for its calming effects, until it was overtaken by our much beloved black tea. It is well overdue a revival!
The human body has been exposed to a whole manner of mini bombs and various assaults from our modern lives - from antibiotics and halides to preservatives and chemicals from processed foods, like hexane and oxidised fats. We are all in need of the gentle pink and green regenerative power of the Rosebay Willowherb in our lives.
Our foragers call this Wild Asparagus - as the young shoots taste very similar to asparagus
You can use this as a replacement for asparagus - just half the cooking time (as this is a lot softer than asparagus stalks)
Alternatively chop it up raw in a salad, or pop it straight into a raw smoothie for a boost.