Good King Henry or Good Henry, or Lincolnshire Spinach (chemopodium bonus-henricus)

This perennial which has spear shaped leaves which are about 20cm long and grows in fields and roadsides in the UK but is less prevalent in Wales, Scotland and South West England. Its flowers are found on a leafless stalk/ spike up to 30cm long, they are tiny and green  in colour  Its strange name is no as you might suppose connected with a monarch but linked to a fairy figure from old English folk lore ‘Good Henry’. This is because it often grows near another plant which was commonly know as ‘Bad Henry’ the poisonous Mercury, although the two plants are not related do not look similar.  The plant can be traced to having its origins in Southern Europe but it has been in the UK for around 5000 years often linked to cultivation where it grows larger and stronger in cultivated soil.  As a perennial its leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season, although first year crops are small and restraint must be used when taking the leaves. It is sometimes know as an ‘everlasting’ as such it is becoming more popular again as a sort of everlasting spinach.  Its leaves taste and are cooked like spinach while its stems are sometimes used as a poor mans asparagus (in fact it is sometimes known as this) cooked in bundles for 7-10 minutes and then served with hot butter. The seeds which are small and reddish in colour should be sown in April 1cm deep and 50cm apart; attempts to transplant often kill the specimen.