Friday, 11 May 2012

Know your onions … and cabbages

The damper areas of the University woods are currently ablaze with the white flowers of the Wild Garlic, the leaves from which are great in salads and soups (pick a few of the fresh green leaves but leave the bulbs in the ground), having a similar but milder flavour to domestic garlic bulbs. The link below links to some recipe suggestions:

A rarer form of the onion family, and one without any culinary appeal is the Few-flowered Leek (below), which has become naturalised in only a few places in County Durham. One such site lies close to the University Botanic gardens, though you would have to be sharp-eyed to pick it out from among the surrounding grasses once its few flowers have dropped off.

Another non-native species that is very rare in County Durham but which occurs around Van Mildert college pond is the Skunk Cabbage. Despite its name, it isn’t related to cabbages at all. In fact it is a type of Arum lily. As its name suggest, it is rather smelly and not remotely edible. The skunk-like odour it's flowers give off is designed to attract flies and beetles to pollinate the flowers.