Daisies, nettles, and buckhorn tend to fly under the radar, though these wild herbs have superpowers.
Once only herb witches knew how to use wild plants and herbs properly. Today there are many opportunities to learn more about its effects, for example on a guided tour. Medicinal plant expert Claudia Kutschera from Amoltern has been offering herbal walks for 17 years. A visit to the Kaiserstuhl.
“Does anyone know what that is?” asks Claudia Kutschera, holding a delicate plant with small white flowers. A course participant next to her accepts the stalks and looks at them with interest. She doesn’t have much time to think. “Woodmaster,” calls a middle-aged woman from the right. Kutschera smiles and nods. The group stands in a large circle in the parking lot of the cemetery in the Endingen district of Amoltern and listens to the herb expert with short gray hair. Kutschera explains that not only does woodruff go well in a bowl, it also soothes migraines and headaches as a tea. “I already made syrup for it,” says one of the women.
Like many of the others, he has known Claudia Kutschera for years. She and her daughter regularly attend the courses. They both work in schools and then pass on the herbal knowledge they have learned to students, children and grandchildren. “My grandson always tells everyone what you can eat in the wild. But he also likes to say: You can eat that, but only once,” she says with a laugh.
Kutschera is always looking for new routes. This Tuesday we are going to the Amolterer Heide. Since 2008, the path of grass leads to it. Along the way she wants to collect herbs for a spring soup with the group. With a cloth bag for the finds, we set off. After a few steps, we quickly make our first stop. A green carpet covers the forest floor. A small path climbs the slope between the strong leaves. Here grows something that has many fans: wild garlic.
Whether as a pesto, in a risotto or in a salad: wild garlic adds flavor to dishes. But it also has its place in the medicine cabinet. “Brunch is anti-inflammatory, cleanses the stomach and intestines, and is itself an antibiotic,” Kutschera explains. His advice: Generally, collecting leeks is allowed because they are not protected by nature. However, you should never collect more than you can use in a day and only where there is a lot of growth. “If there are only a few leaves, then leave them,” says the woman from Kaisersthal.
Due to exhaust fumes, aerosols, or fox tapeworm, collection should not be done directly alongside roads and paths, or even along well-trodden paths. “They also hunt foxes. They don’t go through wild garlic,” explains Kutschera. But beware: wild garlic can be confused with poisonous lily-of-the-valley, arum or autumn crocus. Kutschera takes one of the leaves and turns it over. “Brunch has a matte bottom and only one leaf grows out of the ground,” she says. Therefore, she advises picking the leaves individually and examining them closely.
Those who are walking with Claudia Kutschera usually look down. Your attention is focused on what others would simply ignore. Just a few meters after the forest has cleared with the sea of wild garlic, she discovers the following wild herbs: daisies, dandelion, cuckoo flower. They provide patches of color in the grass between the vines and are versatile. As a tea, daisies stimulate digestion or, as an ointment, promote wound healing. Meadowfoam, on the other hand, strengthens the liver and kidneys. “And dandelion is delicious in a salad,” says one of the younger women in the group. Kutschera agrees and adds: “The leaves have a more aquaretic effect, stimulating the kidneys to excrete more water, and the flowers act more on the bile and liver. There are a lot of bitter substances, especially at the base of the flowers.”
Our group has been on the road for about an hour. Unnoticed, the sun has disappeared behind the Vosges and is getting noticeably cooler. Conversing happily, the participants continue on their way.
The next medicinal plant we discover is quite inconspicuous: the buckhorn. “Like the yarrow, it belongs to the meadow wound pharmacy, but also to the bronchial plants,” explains Kutschera. This type of plant not only helps externally with mosquito bites or blisters, but also with coughs. “The mucilage forms a film that covers the skin or the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract,” says the plant expert.
After an hour and a half and 1.5 kilometers without haste we reached the heath. The cloth bag that one of the participants carries on her shoulder is now full. “I’ve already arranged everything for you here,” Kutschera says, pointing to a table with cutting boards and knives. Before that, she drove everything here by car. Her husband, Marc, has just brought the prepared potato and leek soup when we arrive. Gradually, everyone helps themselves from the large pot and sprinkles the chopped fresh herbs over the soup. So it looks pretty and tastes spicy. Wild garlic and meadow foam give it a nice sharpness. “It’s a typical green nine soup,” says Kutschera, taking one of the bowls of soup.
More information: Claudia Kutschera offers her courses with herbal walks every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. There are still places available. Information and registration under 07642/931244.