Back in the early 1990s I bought a book by leading Norwegian ethnobotanist Ove Arbo Høeg (and Helga Hjort) “Barkebåt og kongleku”, all about games children played with plants…at least one of these games I remember teaching my kids…using the flowering stems of Plantago major (Greater plantain / storblad or kjempe)…and the same game turned up in Japan!!

From the Norwegian book on childrens’ games using plants, “Barkebåt og Kongleku”, an illustration of two games using the flowering stems of Plantago major! The top one I taught my own kids, Robin Arne Barstow and Avellana Wood…hook the stems over one another and pull…the winner continues.. The game below is called “slå kjempe” (beat the giant) and here the idea is to knock the top off the opponent’s stalk….this has given the name to the plant, kjempe in Norwegian..
…and in Nagoya, Japan I met Kevin Cameron and his daughter Mona who had a great little book to learn wild plants and here we see exactly the same game :)


Persian shallot confusion!

I’ve also harvested onions of Allium stipitatum “Album”, one of the so-called Ornamental onions…but for those in the know also a fantastic Edimental onion. I bought this one as Allium rosenbachianum “Album” from Taylor’s bulbs in 2009. My friend, THE onion man,Mark McDonough​ tentatively ID’d it rather as Allium stipitatum “Album” – a bit disappointed as I’d just discovered a paper documenting the traditional use of the young leaves of rosenbachianum in traditional soup dishes in Tajikistan (see However, stipitatum is one of at least 3 species of onion of which the bulbs are harvested, sliced and dried and sold as Persian shallots around the world. I’d earlier blogged about a second tall edimental onion I was growing; ID’d by Dutch onion grower Wietse Mellema​ as probably Allium altissimum (but bought as Allium hirtifolium “Album”) (see my blog A Year in the life of the Persian Shallot – and However, Wietse commented this summer that he didn’t think it was altissimum….so still unsure what this is…
Anyway, I harvested the largest onions, replanted the smaller ones and they are now drying along with apples above my wood stove…must remember to mark them as onions when dried this year as the last time I did this somebody ate one thinking they were apples ;)

I also discovered that the roots that the bulbs had already put down in preparation of spring were tasty and crunchy…. to be used in tonight’s salad!