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Discover The Healing Qualities of Charlock Which Adds Vibrancy To Gozo’s Winter Landscape.
Charlock IS native to the Mediterranean and a staple for your natural medicine cabinet.
We are delighted to welcome back Heléna Szöllősy, the author of the fascinating book, Weeds For Health On Gozo, for the second series of Foraging Gozo, where we uncover the natural benefits of Gozo’s healing flora through the seasons. The spotlight starts on Charlock, the early flowering plant of the mustard family which not only adorns Gozo’s fields with colour but is bursting with edible goodness from its flowers, seeds, leaves and oils. Read on to learn more.
Sinapis arvensis – L
Botanical Name: Sinapis arvensis – L. Synonyms: Brassica arvensis, Brassica sinapis, Brassica sinapistrum Family Name: Brassicaceae Maltese Name: Mustarda selvaġġa Common Names: Charlock, Charlock Mustard, Crunchweed, Field Mustard, Wild Mustard Meaning of the Name: Sinapis, from, Latin sinapi, name for the mustard plant, from the flavour of the seeds, arvensis, from Latin arvum, field, cultivated land, plowed land, of cultivated fields
Charlock is an annual growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in), reaches on average 20–80 cm (7.9–31.5 in) of height but under optimal conditions can exceed one metre. The stems are erect, branched, and striated, with coarse spreading hairs especially near the base. The leaves are rough, unequally cut, and serrated, and the flowers, which are yellow and large, are followed by nearly erect, angular, knotty pods, longer than their flattened conical beak.
Flowering on Gozo occurs from January to May. The inflorescence is a raceme made up of yellow flowers having four petals. The fruit is a silique 3-5 cm long with a beak 1-2 cm long that is flattened-quadrangular. The valves of the silique are globous or rarely bristly, three to five nerved. The seeds are smooth 1-1.5 mm in diameter Charlock is a troublesome weed on arable land.
- Habitats: Grows in the plains and mountains, in pastures, fields, roadsides, waste places and ruins, but mainly in cultivated places.
- Range: A native of the Mediterranean basin, it is widespread in all temperate regions of the planet. Europe, including Britain, south and east from Norway to North. Africa, Siberia, and South West Asia.
- Status for Malta: Doubtful origin. It is not established if this species is native or not. Common in the wild.
- Parts Used: flowers, leaves, oil, seed
- Herbal Actions: Antirheumatic, Antiseptic, Digestive, Expectorant, Rubefacient, Sterilizing agent. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies the keywords for prescribing it are” Black depression”,” Melancholia” and” Gloom”.
- Main Active Constituents: calcium, fibre, folate, potassium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin K.
- This herb has been commended for chronic coughs and hoarseness, using the juice mixed with an equal quantity of honey, or sugar. A strong infusion of the herb is excellent in asthmas. It is recommended in the prevention of pleurisy. Charlock is a good pulmonary relaxant, relieves discomfort resulting from bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Mustard oils present in the wild mustard stimulates metabolism and digestion.
Precautions: The plant is possibly poisonous once the seedpods have formed. Avoid long-term contact of mustard oil with skin because of its irritant and inflammatory effect
- Wild mustard can be used externally to relieve rheumatic pains, joint pain, and backache.
- You can crush the seeds and put over the skin irritant mustard plasters (poultice) that irritate the skin and promote blood circulation.
- Such mustard plasters are suitable for the relief of stubborn musculoskeletal problems, such as rheumatic pain, lumbago, and tension. Mustard plasters are suitable for problems in which heat is soothing.
- Leaves – raw or cooked. Somewhat hot, the young leaves are used as a flavouring in salads, where they add a piquant flavour. Older leaves are used as a potherb. It is best to use just the young shoots and leaves in the spring, older leaves are bitter.
- Flowering stems – cooked. A pleasant, cabbage/radish flavour, they can be used as a broccoli substitute before the flowers open. The stems should be lightly steamed for no more than 5 minutes. The flowers can also be cooked as a vegetable or used as a garnish.
- Seed – it can be sprouted and eaten raw. A hot flavour, it can be added to salads and sandwiches. The seed can be ground into a powder and used as a food flavouring. It has a hot mustard flavour. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.
Make Charlock, Beetroot and Mozzarella Salad.
- 2 large beetroots
- 4 balls of mozzarella
- handful of hazelnuts
- bag of fresh charlock or rocket
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- rapeseed or olive oil to drizzle
- charlock flowers
- Fill a pan with water and bring to the boil. Place your beetroot in the water and cook with the lid on for 40 minutes until tender.
- While the beetroot cooks, halve the hazelnuts and in a frying pan toast the nuts on a medium heat until they begin to turn golden brown and start to smell toasted then remove from the heat.
- When the beetroot has cooked remove from the water and allow to cool. When cold peel the outer skin from the beetroot and slice into thick slices. The mozzarella balls can also be cut into thick slices as well.
- On a flat serving plate or board start by placing a layer of fresh charlock or rocket on top. Next begin to layer the beetroot and mozzarella alternately.
- To finish wash the charlock flowers and lay over the top of the beetroot and mozzarella. Drizzle the honey and oil over the salad and scatter with the toasted hazelnuts. Serve.
Author : Heléna Szöllősy. Editor: GITH
Helena is an expert on the medicinal properties of plants having trained in Herbal Medicine and Naturopathy, specialising in Phytotherapy including Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Apitherapy and Bach Flower Therapy.
Information on the traditional uses and properties of herbs are provided in this book for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace professional medical care. If you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering herbs. Please also undertake your own research when foraging. Some wild plants are endangered and are protected by law.
Want to learn what else you can forage on Gozo? Click here.