top of page

Location 4

You guessed it!
Phytology garden,Bethnal green Nature Reserve

The Bethnal Green Nature reserve is a one acre forest garden in the heart of East London. The team that founded phytology in Bethnal green host residencies for art, architecture, science and humanitarian projects. The area was originally a church that was bomb in the second world war, remnants can still be found on the site. It was since reclaimed as a space to grow a community forest garden. From tree to root, there are hundreds of ways to work with the plants to produce medicines like tinctures, heat or congestion rubs or vinegars for salads. 


Sister Sapling Name: Bespoak


Description: I am an English Oak Tree and I am very popular. You can tell me by my leaves which are fairly long in length, and have deep round lobes giving my wiggly edges. They have almost no stems but grow in bunches together and they usually appear around May. I grow long dangly catkins that help distribute pollen into the air. Squirrels love me for my fruits which are called Acorns! They form on long stems that have cupples at the end, these are the cup shape holders the acorns grow from. They start green and eventually turn brown. once this happens the acorn nut loosens from the cupple and falls to the canopy below and sprout again the following spring. The sessile oak is similar however it's leaves have stems instead, and the acorns do not. This is the easiest way to tell us apart.  

Medicinal properties: The bark has highly astringent properties which cause cells to contract, helpful for agues and haemorrhages and bleeding gums. .You can also decoct (boil down) the bark in water, and gargle the substance to assist with sore throats. additionally, decocting my bark and acorns together with milk can serve as an antidote to poisonous herbs. 

Spiritual properties: The Greeks consider oak trees sacred. And the ancient Romans drew connection of the oak tree with Jupiter. Those deem high in society may be found wearing oak leaves. Oak trees can take 80 years to grow 20 inches in diameter, but live for so long that their trunk can grow incredibly wide as mother trees to many forests ( like the Fairlop oak in Hainault forest. For this, and their gift to wild life, many indigenous cultures like druids and celts would gather in oak sanctuaries for sacred ceremonies. even their acorns were used in divination ceremonies. The Celts referred to the oak as the tree of dagda and saw it as protective over their leaders and warriors. The oak wood is believed to bring good luck by knocking on the wood, so long as you ask permission from the oak tree spirits first. Just by sitting under and oak tree, you may feel an angelic presence with a message. Burning oak trees can solidify intentions you wish to manifest. As it's roots in the ground stretch as far as it's branches to the sky, many 'witches' have associated it with the quote, 'as above, so below'.

Sustainable treatment: Oak Tree forests are one of the most powerful native forest support systems in the world. They provide food for birds, badgers, deers and squirrels with their acorns; my soft leaves break down at the base of the tree in autumn and provide a leaf rich mould which supports stag beetles, fungi like the oakbug milkcap which forms coporative relationships with the trees roots and hosts birds in any holes or crevices. Being abundant in oak trees is no bad thing, so keep them around so we can suuport british wildlifw just as well. 


Surrounding siblings 1: Hazel 

Description: I am a Hazel Tree, I have a smooth grey to brown bark that get more flexible with age and bend. I embrace hairiness and have it on my stems and oval shaped leaves. My leaves are soft and I appreciate a gentle stroke, even though they double toothed and pointed at the top.  If I am left untrimmed I will grow to 12 metres and live for around 80 years. I have male and female flowers which makes me monoecious. Thought I can only be pollinated by other hazel trees. My male catkins appear first before the flowers. The female are tiny and bud like with pink sprouts coming out.  Once pollinated by the wind the female flowers turn into hazel fruits which hang in groups 1-4. These develop into a delicious nut, the hazel nut delicious as a milk or nut spread. 

Care instructions: I am often coppiced (which means cut back) and this actually helps me live for several hundred years. I am helpful to a grand amount of creatures like catepillers the blossom into moths, dormouse, woodpeckers and small mammals. Even my trunks host mossess, lichens( a sign of good air quality) and liverworts. Encourage my growth and keep me around and i'll reciprocate lovingly with fruits and familiarity. 


Medicinal properties: I support heart health , protect cell damage , reduce inflammation, lowers cholesterol. 

Spiritual properties: Hazel trees can be bended and twisted. My beauty  inspires wand makers and priestesses who divine highly spiritually connected individuals in water, known as divination ceremonies in certain countries. 

Historical context: I am native to the northern hemisphere, including Europe, most of Asia and the northern part of north America

About Mobile Apothecary

The Mobile Apothecary is a collaboration between Phytology, Rasheeqa Ahmad (aka Hedge Herbs), and a growing network of talented volunteers spanning the areas of arts, herbalism, and horticulture/growing. Since April 2019, we have been bringing people together to collectively learn about medicinal plants and create herbal medicine for distribution to fellow community members facing barriers to health, food, and shelter.

The Mobile Apothecary supports underserved communities in the locality with good-quality, homegrown and communally-made herbal remedies.

We believe

  • Healthcare, encompassing physical and psychological health, is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all people.

  • People have the right to basic knowledge and skills in herbal medicine and medicine-making.

  • Human health and planetary health are intertwined.

The Mobile Apothecary project facilitates

  • Habitat & local urban environment connection.

  • Collective ethical & sustainable growing, stewarding, and harvesting of plants.

  • The making of medicines for some of the most vulnerable people within the community, with local resources and local hands.

Collectively making herbal medicine strengthens bonds between people and local ecosystems.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
bottom of page