Hungry for Hostas

Hostas are a popular plant species known for their lush green leaves and delicate flowers. These plants are native to Asia and are often grown as ornamental plants in gardens and landscapes around the world. However, in Japan, hostas are also cultivated as a crop for their edible leaves, known as Urui.

Urui has been a traditional food in Japan for centuries and is still consumed in various forms today. The leaves are typically harvested in the early spring when they are young and tender, and are then boiled or stir-fried with other vegetables, tofu, or meat. Urui is known for its sweet and slightly bitter taste, and is rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to any meal.

In contrast, in Ireland and many other parts of the world, hostas are primarily grown as ornamental plants. They are admired for their elegant foliage and are often used to add texture and color to gardens and landscapes. While there is no tradition of eating hostas in Ireland, some gardeners have recently begun to experiment with using hosta leaves in cooking.

In Japan, hostas are grown specifically for consumption, and farmers take great care to ensure that the plants are grown in a safe and sustainable way. Urui is an important part of Japanese cuisine and is celebrated for its unique flavor and nutritional value.

Overall, while hostas may be primarily known as an ornamental plant in Ireland and other parts of the world, they have a long history as a food crop in Japan. As more people become interested in sustainable and locally-sourced foods, it will be interesting to see if hostas become more widely recognized as a nutritious and tasty addition to the dinner table.

Urui, or hosta leaves, are a traditional Japanese ingredient that has been enjoyed for centuries. Here are two classic recipes that feature Urui:

Goma-ae is a traditional Japanese dish where vegetables are dressed with a sweet and savory sesame sauce. Urui is a popular vegetable for goma-ae, and it pairs well with the nutty flavor of sesame. Here’s a simple recipe for Urui Goma-ae:

1 bunch Urui (hosta furls), about 10-12 furls
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tablespoon water

Remove the stems from the Urui furls and blanch them in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until fragrant and lightly browned. Grind the sesame seeds in a suribachi (Japanese mortar and pestle) or a food processor.

In a small saucepan, combine the ground sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce, mirin, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy.

Toss the blanched Urui leaves with the sesame sauce and serve.

Nimono is a traditional Japanese simmered dish that features a variety of vegetables and protein cooked in a flavorful broth. Urui is a popular vegetable for nimono, and it adds a delicate flavor and texture to the dish. Here’s a simple recipe for Urui Nimono:


1 bunch Urui (hosta furls), about 10-12 leaves
1 cup dashi (Japanese broth)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt


Remove the stems from the Urui furls and cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
In a medium-sized pot, combine the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Add the Urui leaves to the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the Urui leaves are tender and the flavors have melded together.
Serve the Urui Nimono hot or at room temperature.

These two classic Japanese recipes showcase the unique flavor and versatility of Urui, or hosta furls. Enjoy them as a part of a balanced and nutritious diet.


Invasive introduced plant species (IIPS)

The introduction of non-native plant species into Ireland’s ecosystems is a phenomenon that has occurred for centuries, but the frequency and impact of invasive introduced plant species (IIPS) have intensified in recent years. While some non-native plants have little impact on native ecosystems, others can cause significant ecological, economic, and social damage. This article will discuss the need to conserve endangered plants versus the dangers of introducing an invasive plant material in the context of Ireland.

IIPS are plants that have been introduced to an area outside of their natural range and have established themselves, often to the detriment of the local ecosystem. In Ireland, several non-native plant species have become invasive, including Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam, and rhododendron. These invasive plants can have a negative impact on native plant species, water quality, and wildlife habitats. For example, Japanese knotweed is a highly invasive plant that can grow up to 10cm per day, outcompete native vegetation, and damage infrastructure such as buildings, roads, and bridges. The spread of Himalayan balsam can displace native plants, increase erosion, and cause a decline in biodiversity.

One of the key arguments for the conservation of endangered plants in Ireland is their cultural and ecological significance. For example, the Killarney fern is a rare and endangered plant species found in the Killarney National Park, which has cultural significance as it was used in traditional medicine. Another example is the marsh saxifrage, a plant species that grows in Irish bogs and has been identified as a priority for conservation due to its high ecological value. By conserving these endangered plant species, Ireland can ensure the continued existence of unique cultural and ecological resources.

However, the introduction of non-native plant species can pose a significant threat to the conservation of endangered plants in Ireland. Invasive plants can outcompete native species for resources, such as sunlight, water, and nutrients, and may also have no natural predators or diseases to keep their populations in check. As a result, IIPS can rapidly colonize and dominate ecosystems, leading to the displacement or extinction of native plant species. This loss of biodiversity can have cascading effects on the ecosystem, including changes to soil quality, nutrient cycling, and the availability of resources for other species.

One example of the impact of IIPS on endangered plants in Ireland is the case of rhododendron. The non-native species has become invasive in many areas of Ireland, including the Killarney National Park. The dense canopy of rhododendron prevents light from reaching the forest floor, limiting the growth of native plant species such as the Killarney fern. The removal of rhododendron is a time-consuming and costly process, and failure to manage it could result in the loss of native plant species and biodiversity.

Conservation efforts are crucial for protecting endangered plants from the threats posed by IIPS in Ireland. These efforts may include the protection of natural habitats, the removal of IIPS, and the restoration of degraded ecosystems. Additionally, the prevention of the introduction of new IIPS is essential to minimizing the risk to endangered plant species. This can be achieved through the regulation of trade and the enforcement of biosecurity measures, such as the inspection of imported plants and seeds.

In conclusion, while the conservation of endangered plants in Ireland is essential, it must be balanced against the risks posed by the introduction of non-native plant species. The impact of IIPS on native ecosystems can be severe, leading to the displacement or extinction of native plant species and the loss of biodiversity. Therefore, it is important to implement measures to prevent the introduction of new IIPS, as well as to remove and manage existing IIPS. By doing so, Ireland can protect endangered plant species and the ecosystems on which they depend.

Delicious Dandelions

Taraxacum, commonly known as dandelion, is a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. Although often considered a pesky weed, dandelion has a long history of use in traditional medicine and culinary practices. From its leaves to its roots, dandelion is a nutrient-rich plant that offers a wide range of health benefits.

Nutritional Benefits of Dandelion:

Dandelion is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals such as iron, calcium, and potassium. It is also rich in antioxidants and contains compounds such as flavonoids and polyphenols that can help reduce inflammation and improve digestion.

Medicinal Benefits of Dandelion:

Supports liver health: Dandelion contains compounds that can help improve liver function by promoting the production of bile and reducing inflammation.

Helps with digestion: Dandelion can aid in digestion by increasing the production of digestive enzymes and promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

Reduces inflammation: The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in dandelion can help reduce inflammation in the body, which may help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Supports immune function: Dandelion contains compounds that can help stimulate the immune system and reduce the risk of infections.

My favourite recipe

Salade de pissenlits aux lardons

Salade de pissenlits aux lardons, also known as Dandelion salad with bacon, is a classic French dish that is both flavorful and satisfying. It’s a simple salad made with Dandelion leaves, crispy bacon lardons, and a warm vinaigrette dressing. The dish is popular in the region of Lyon, where it is often served as a side dish or appetizer.


2 handfuls of young Dandelion leaves

6-8 slices bacon

1 shallot, chopped

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Wash and dry the dandelion leaves and tear into bite-sized pieces. Arrange in a large salad bowl.

Cut the bacon slices into small pieces and cook in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan and place it on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

In the same skillet, add the chopped shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.

Add the red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil to the skillet. Whisk until well combined, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the warm dressing over the leaves and toss to coat.

Sprinkle the bacon lardons over the top of the salad and serve immediately.


To make the salad more filling, you can add sliced hard-boiled eggs, croutons, or grated cheese.

The warm vinaigrette is what makes this salad so special, so be sure to serve it immediately after tossing with the dressing.

Benefits of Salade de Pissenlits aux Lardons:

Dandelion leaves are a good source of vitamin A, K and vitamin C, as well as fiber and antioxidants. Bacon lardons are high in protein and add a smoky flavor to the salad. The dressing is made with heart-healthy olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fats and can help lower cholesterol levels.

Salade de pissenlits aux lardons is a delicious and simple salad that is perfect for any occasion. It’s easy to make, and the warm vinaigrette dressing adds a unique touch to the dish. So next time you’re looking for a quick and satisfying meal, try making this classic French salad at home.

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