Common name: Forsythia
Botanical name: Forsythia sp.
Family: Oleaceae (Olive)
Worldwide distribution: Mostly native to eastern Asia, except Forsythia europaea, native to the Balkans in southeastern Europe.
Local distribution: Commonly planted in British and Irish gardens.
Habitat: Parks and gardens.
Foraging season: Bloom in early spring.
A very welcome sight after a hard winter, forsythias are one of the first bloomers to catch your eye every season, bursting into bright yellow shrubs overnight to then lose its colour two weeks later, becoming rather boring for the rest of the year again.
This genus is named after William Forsyth, a British royal gardener and founding member of the RHS, who brought the plant from China to England centuries ago.
Cultivated as a low-maintenance ornamental bush, forsythia is an extremely popular ornamental shrub in parks and gardens all over the UK and Ireland and is seldom found out of cultivated spaces.
Blossoms are edible raw, though they taste rather bitter. Toss a few fresh flowers in a salad for decoration, combining with other foraged leaves in season. It can be made into syrup, jelly, tea and infusions and petals can be added to gin & tonic.
Chinese medicine has been using the plant for thousands of years and Forsythia suspensa fruit (lian qiao) is well appreciated as a medicinal herb. There is not a great deal of scientific information readily available on safety, therefore caution is advisable.