Nature's Secret Larder - Game 2 - Just for fun!


Bushcraft Blog

Game 2 - Just for fun!
29th June 2009

Just for fun. If you think you know what it is then leave your comment below. One go per person and remember the clues may lead you up the wrong path!

This species can be found growing in hedgerows and areas of grassland. Identification must be correct, otherwise you may get more than you bargained for when handling. The leaves are covered in fine hairs. Cordage can be made from the stems, but there are better alternatives out there. The leaves may be used as a vegetable and are still often eaten in some parts of the world.  This species has lots of uses, and as well as those mentioned above it has been used to heal people. A good way to identify it is to rub a leaf, although you may wish you hadn’t. So what is it?

UPDATE - As this is still going on I have decided to give an extra clue.  so here it goes....

It's a wild food, and although common, it is rare to eat it.  Growing in the hedgerows it likes to hide, often under nettles, were it cuts through to the light, when it reaches its full height.


Sally on 21/12/09

It's good to have got there in the end. This is a plant I know but haven't given much thought to its uses. I will be looking out for it next year.

Kris on 20/12/09

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Yes, Hedge woundwort it is. It has been eaten in some parts, but rarely so. People get a shock when they touch it as it does pong! And, it it was used to treat wounds (cuts) hence 'the 'cuts' through' bit of text.

Have a very Merry Christmas Sally.

Sally on 20/12/09

Hedge woundwort

Kris on 20/12/09

Nope :oP The flowers are quite small, and mix in well with nettles.

Sally on 20/12/09

Purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria

Kris on 20/12/09

Hi Sally,

No, sorry. I will provide the answer sometime between now and Christmas Eve.

Sally on 19/12/09

Vervain(Verbena officinalis)?

Kris on 18/12/09


Some great attempts there and some interesting info for the readers! But, sadly still not correct. I will let all know what it is shortly, but first, one last clue. As a rule, it usually stands about 60cm tall and bears small purple flowers.

Sally on 07/12/09

I saw a plant in a garden today which sort of fits, Great Mullein, Verbascum, it's very tall when it flowers in its second year and is sometimes called 'hedge torch' so you could say it cuts through to the light. I can't imagine eating those leaves though, too furry.

Sally Heffer on 07/12/09

The last answer is a classic case of how careful you must be when identifying wild food plants.
'Jack by the hedge' is the common name most often used for the garlic mustard flavoured
'Erysimum alliaria' but I have also seen it used to descibe Red Campion 'Silene dioica' and
Cuckoo Pint 'Arum maculatum' although this may just be a mistaken form of one of Cuckoo Pint's
other names 'Jack in the Pulpit'. I ,too, considered the garlic flavoured 'Jack by the Hedge 'as a
possible answer but discarded it because the leaves are not hairy and as one of the most popular
wild foods both as a salad leaf and for stuffing fish, particularly oily mackerel it could not be
described as 'rarely eaten'. Red Campion does fulfil most of the criteria in the question. It grows tall,
has hairy leaves, medicinally the seeds were crushed and used in the treatment of snake bites
and while I am not sure about eating the leaves I have heard of the root being eaten like a parsnip.
Cuckoo Pint leaves are poisonous, as are the quite enticing orange berries and as they only grow
about 15cm tall cannot be considered. So, what could the mystery plant be? There are a couple on
my list to look out for next summer. Plants I have read about but not seen in the field include
Common Agrimony and Wood Betony both seem to fit the bill in many ways but without personal
experience I could not be sure. What about another clue? Is the plant still visible at this time of the
year? Is it an annual, biennial, herbaceous perennial or does it have brown or woody stems? An
idea of the full height of the plant when in flower would be helpful. I disregarded cranesbill,
Hardy geraniums, as being too short. I must say this has been a most interesting and informative journey.
It has given me several new plants to look out for next year and reminded me of a few that I hadn't
used for a while.

Kris on 28/11/09

A shameful attempt Andrew! Go and read some ID guides! I should point out to other readers, I know Andrew and he should have got this right.

Andrew on 28/11/09

I'm going to guess at Jack by the hedge!

Kris on 29/10/09

Hi Helen,

Thanks for having a go, but im sorry to say its not correct!

Helen on 28/10/09

What about Self-Heal (Bugle)?

Kris on 27/10/09


Not right this time, but you will get there if you keep checking those hedgerows :)


Sally on 23/10/09

I try not to resort to the internet or reference books when looking for answers to your questions but to actually find the solution on my travels. Consequently I have been taking extra interest in patches of stinging nettles and have spotted a few plants I hadn't thought of. One of my favourites is teasel. I have not eaten them but I think you could when they plant is in its first year. I use the heads for decoration in the house instead of buying supermarket flowers.

Kris on 17/10/09

Thanks for taking part Adam, but im affraid thats the wrong answer.

Adam on 17/10/09

Hairy, as opposed to Wavy, Bittercress ?

Kris on 11/10/09

I wish I could say yes, Sally, but it's not Yarrow.

Sally on 10/10/09

What about yarrow? It has strong stems, can be eaten and is known to help stop the flow of blood from a cut. I was stuck on which plant it could be mistaken for but then remembered one I have mentioned aleady, hemlock.

Kris on 10/10/09

Hi Sally, Yes, you can use the very young leaves as food of Potentilla reptans, however, im sorry to say its not the correct answer! I'm sure it won't be long before you crack it though!

Sally on 09/10/09

While I was at work today I noticed that growing up though a patch of mint was creeping cinquefoil which reminded me that I have often seen it growing through nettles too.
It is not widely eaten but I don't think is is poisonous to humans and it has been used as a medicinal herb. You could certainly use the roots for cordage but would need to be careful not to confuse it with buttercups which of course also have five petaled bright yellow flowers.

Kris on 08/10/09

Sally, im sorry to say thats not correct either, good go though!

Sally on 07/10/09

Meadowsweet grows very tall, is used as a medicinal and pot herb and I think the older leaves can be irritating. I am not sure what it could be mistaken for.

Sally on 26/09/09

Hi Kris,
I might have to admit defeat this time. I was looking in the hedgerows for inspiration while I was out today , but couldn't see anything. Of course the plant you are thinking about may have died down by now. If you feel like giving another clue it would be interesting to know which other plant it could be mistaken for.

Kris on 25/09/09

Hi Sally, that was a good go, but........... its wrong, sorry ;)

Sally on 24/09/09

What about White Bryony, although the berries are poisonous the root has medicinal uses where as the similar Black Bryony has no edible parts.

Kris on 22/09/09

Sally, It may be easier to ignore the edible part, as it is rarely used.

Sally on 21/09/09

There aren't that many hairy leafed plants which are edible.One that hasn't been mentioned yet is nipplewort but this does not fill most of the other criteria.As all the answers have been herbaceous plants I started to think of other types, shrubs or climbers, and I came up with bramble! You can eat the new shoots in the spring when they are green and the thorns haven't hardened. It is also possible to make the word 'rubus' the latin name for bramble from the last two sentences of the clue.

Kris on 17/09/09

Hi Sally,

Nope :)

Sally on 16/09/09

Is it cow parsley which can be mistaken for deadly hemlock when the plant is young.

Kris on 11/09/09

Ps. im starting to think my clues may well be too misleading!

Kris on 11/09/09

Go for it Sally, at this rate I wont have to think anymore up otherwise :-P

Sally on 10/09/09

I was reading the clues again when i noticed the part that said one go per person, note to self, read more carefully in future. This lack of attention to detail probably also lead me to put evening primrose as, of course, the leaves aren't hairy . I have thought of another possibility but am reluctant to post as everyone else stuck to the rules. Perhaps anyone who wants to can have another try and if the don't get it I will put mine up.

Kris on 06/09/09

Hi Sally,

No im affraid not! I seem to have everyone stumped on this one :-)

Sally on 06/09/09

Is it Sow Thistle?, I think that ticks all the boxes.

Kris on 05/09/09

Hi Mal,

no, sorry. Good go though!

Mal on 04/09/09

Rosebay Willowherb?

Kris on 14/08/09

Hi Ajali & Sally,

Both wrong, sorry :)

Sally on 13/08/09

Is it dead nettle

Ajali on 11/08/09


Kris on 10/08/09


Nope, sorry not the right answer this time.

Ajali on 10/08/09

Goosegrass? (Cleavers - Galium family)

Kris on 26/07/09

Hi Sally,

No, not right this time.

Sally on 26/07/09

Evening primrose?

Kris on 22/07/09

Hi Lizzie,

No, Im afraid not.

Lizzie on 22/07/09


Kris on 12/07/09

Good answer. but not right this time :)

Doug Mortimer on 12/07/09

It has to be a stinging nettle ;)

Leave Your Comments

(not displayed on the site)