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Good King Henry (Blitum bonus-henricus) bare root division


Good King Henry – Bare root division from two year old plant. These consist of a root section with emerging shoots which can be planted out right away. Good King Henry is a hardy herbaceous perennial, going dormant in winter and re-emerging in spring.

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Good King Henry (Blitum bonus-henricus) is a wonderful edible herbaceous perennial that produces deep green spinach like leaves. It is native to many areas of central and southern Europe and has naturalised in other temperate regions. A very useful hardy plant that has been used as a green vegetable for centuries. It’s an essential part of any perennial vegetable garden. Young leaves can be harvested from early spring to mid summer. Young unopened flowering shoots can also be picked in summer and cooked like asparagus. Bare root division, these are root sections with a few emerging shoots. Please follow the planting advice in the main description.


Good King Henry is also called English mercury or just mercury (sometimes ‘markery’ in Lincolnshire) It is also known as Lincolnshire spinach, all-good, poor-man’s asparagus, perennial goosefoot, and mercury goosefoot. There is some evidence that it has probably been in continuous use in Britain from Medieval times. Although its popularity died out in the last century its use is still within the living memory of communities especially in Lincolnshire. It makes a fantastic addition to any perennial vegetable garden and also supports many insects especially moths.

How to grow

Good King Henry is fairly unfussy about soils but prefers nitrogen-rich, fairly well-drained soil. Ours grow well in a spot that has part sun, part dappled shade during the day. Plants can grow up to 1m tall and need a spacing of about 60cm. Plants die right back in autumn and new shoots emerge very early in the new year. These are some of the most resilient plants we grow, free of pests and diseases and survivors of drought and freezing temperatures. Hardy down to about -20 degrees C.

Harvesting and eating

Harvest the young leaves from early spring to mid-summer and the young unopened flowering shoots from mid-spring to early summer and cook like asparagus. Use as spinach in any dish. Leaves can be steeped in salt water for 30 mins and then rinsed before cooking. They can be steamed, sautéed, stir fried and taste great in spiced dishes. Some people complain that the leaves are too bitter for them, but given the right treatment they can be a very tasty source of abundant greens. You can cut the plants back in the summer to get a flush of new growth. Interesting research is being done into Good King Henry seed as a potential perennial grain crop, harvesting it in a similar way to Quinoa.

“Thanks for everything, the info sheet was great. I planted the cuttings the day they arrived and have just multi sown the 9 star in seed trays. All very exciting, we’re now planning our perennial area.”

“You are right, perennial kale is fantastic! Thanks so much for the cuttings. I am a convert to having a corner of perpetual kale in the patch!”

“As the evening sun back lit the plants at Incredible Vegetables, I felt I was standing in one of the most important gardens of our time. Wildflowers working alongside an abundance of edimentals and perennial vegetables. A ‘food glade’ to rival the aesthetic of our greatest plant designers.”

– Jon Davies, garden designer, London Glades –

“I love your website and the work you’re doing. What you’re doing is exiting, useful, and one day will help to replace and enhance what human kind has damaged.With that our natural friends will return and we’ll be better for it.”

“Mandy, thank you. I am delighted with this plant – it is so strong and healthy and exceptionally well packaged – all done with loving care obviously. I shall look forward to having more plants from you.”

“Plants all arrived lovely and are growing well. I just wanted to say i was very impressed with the quality of the cuttings.. and its been a pleasure dealing with you. And I look forward to any purchases in the future.”

“The kale cuttings you sent survived the winter and are thriving. Thank you Mandy Barber you are the super hero of edibles, loving your work!!”

“I bought some Skirret seed’s off you last year. Well they grew and yesterday some got cooked and this message is just to say, they were delicious. Looking forward to a lot more next year. Thank you.”

“The Taunton Dean cuttings arrived a short while ago and never have I seen healthier looking cuttings! They are now firmly ensconced in some nice compost and are having a good drink. I even loved the packaging, which will be composted.”

“Hi I just wanted to let you know that I sowed half of my Caucasian spinach seeds and every single one grew, absolutely amazed, thanks for the seeds and keep up the good work.”

“Just to let you know that the lovely healthy looking plants arrived. Your plants are simply outstanding, every single tuber and plant are growing amazingly.”

“The plants arrived safely, I did not expect such magnificent specimens! I didn’t think I would be successful at stratification etc but I now have a whole bunch of Hablitzia seedlings sprouting after following your excellent advice.”

“Just to say, the Daubentons Kale is in the ground and looking well – thanks to the lovely damp compost encasing its roots…you do a good job at your end, I can tell by the way you package. Will be back for more of your wonderful perennials.”

“Thank you so much for all the vegetables, they really are incredible. I’m sure I’ve never before seen a healthier rootball than the one that arrived with our happy looking daubentons kale, and seeds and tubers are thriving thanks to all the useful information provided.”

“Thank you so much for sending such wonderful, healthy and very large plants. They are beautiful !! You packaged them so well and they arrived so quickly – I couldn’t get to the post office till the following day but they were absolutely fine. They’re now potted up and sitting in my ‘cold’ greenhouse while they adjust.”

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