Yellow Archangel, Lamiastrum galeobdolon, is a widespread European woodland plant that is fond of heavy soils. It will grow in very shady areas but also likes some sun and can pop up in abundance in areas that have been coppiced. It can also be found on waysides and verges. In the UK the plant is found more in the south and is relatively widespread as far north as Yorkshire, but less so in the west of the country.
Yellow Archangel is in the family Lamiaceae along with dead-nettles and mints. It has attractive yellow, hooded flowers that appear from May to July. When in flower you can clearly see the family resemblance to White Dead-nettle, Lamium album. More generally, Yellow Archangel shares the Lamiaceae family traits of having a stem with square cross-section, and opposite pairs of leaves alternating at 90 degrees to the pair above or below on the stem. The leaves are a similar shape to White Dead-nettle but narrower and more deeply toothed. The flowering stem can grow up to 45cm tall but is often shorter than this.
Yellow Archangel is edible and the plant can be used in the same way as White Dead-nettle, Lamium album. The young leaves and shoots can be eaten raw. Later, when the plant is more mature, and the leaves are tougher, you can steam or lightly cook the leaves and eat as a green. At any stage you can add the leaves to soups as you would the leaves of Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica.
Best Practice while Foraging
Please read the BSBI’s Code of Conduct for the Conservation and Enjoyment of Wild Plants for guidance on the best practice (and UK laws) relating to foraging for wild plant foods.
This article is meant only as a guide and is largely a record of my recent forages. It is not a complete treatment of all edible plants that might be available. Nor does it provide a complete treatment of all poisonous plants that may also be present in the habitat where you find the above-mentioned plants. If you want to learn more about plant identification you should invest in some good field guides. The safest way to learn about edible wild plants is for someone who already has the knowledge to show you in person. Any foraging you do on your own is at your own risk.
The most important thing to remember when identifying wild foods is:
IF IN DOUBT, LEAVE IT OUT!
Recommended Books for Further Reading