I was visiting a friend down on Lewes Lake last week and was delighted at the profusion of
blue and pink lining his driveway. Wild roses and lungwort — which he told me deserved to be called bluebells, their prettier name — were both in full bloom.
The bluebell is an interesting flower in that its colour changes. Its bud is pink, and when it’s ready for pollination, the familiar blue bell-shaped flower attracts pollinating insects. While Lee may not like the name “lungwort” it does tell us what medicine the herb has to offer; though, interestingly, that name was likely bestowed because the plant resembles European lungwort, to which ours is not related.
In the Boreal Herbal — the functional Yukon plant bible — Bev Gray says that lungwort is good for coughs and other ailments of the respiratory system. It is also used as a poultice to help heal tissue and mend bones, and the tea can help with diarrhea. This last function is because it is astringent, a property it share with its domestic cousin, borage.
It also shares with borage a refreshing cucumber flavour, and I find the leaves softer and more palatable than the vegetable. I was reminded of this last week when I was ravenously diving into a cheese sandwich on my way down a mountain. Hunger made it taste pretty good, but frankly, neither the bread nor the cheese was particularly interesting.
Then I noticed I was sitting in a patch of bluebells. I popped a handful of leaves between the slices and presto; I had a match made in heaven. I got to thinking, what else do I do with cucumber besides salads and sandwiches? Tzatziki, of course.
Tzatziki is Greek as I know it, but comes in many forms and I imagine could be traced through a continuous lineage of different dips until you get raita, at the eastern end of its range in India. My cucumber version is quite simple: grated cucumber, salted and drained to lose some of the water, mixed with thick yogurt, salt, pepper, and garlic. Num.
So what about trying chopped lungwort leaves? I gave it a go and was not disappointed. A little wild mint is the coup de grace. It goes particularly well with spicy zucchini fritters, which should be plentiful by now.
1-cup fresh lungwort leaves, chopped into fine ribbons
1-cup thick plain yogurt (can drain through a cheesecloth to thicken if necessary
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)
Small bunch fresh wild mint, chopped fine salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and serve as a dip with veggies or pita, or as an accompaniment to a spicy dhal or fritters. If serving as a dip, top with a few bluebell fl owers and a mint leaf for decoration.