As promised, I am sharing some information about some other plants which are growing right now, in mid-summer---edible plants, too!
Creeping Bellflower. She's considered an invasive weed, but you can find this one growing on many lawns, depending on the area. The flowers look like bells and make a pretty sight in the garden. The other good news is that her leaves and flowers are edible! I like to use her leaves in soups, stews and in green juices. You can also use some of the smaller or younger leaves in salads. The flowers don't taste much, but do pretty up a salad real quick. Her root is also edible <- I think roots from younger plants might taste better as some of the ones I tried were rather fibrous and tough.
Day Lily. This flower, like Creeping Bellflower, can often be seen growing in many a-garden. Flowers come in many different colors and only the true Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva) is said to be edible (the orange colored one). I have tried different varieties and they do taste differently according to their coloring. Because they have a laxative effect, you should limit your intake to 1-2 flowers.
I like to add the closed buds and opened flowers to stir-fries, soups and stews. You can also stuff them as you would squash blossoms or bell peppers (with rice, quinoa, etc.), steam them with other veggies, or dip them in your fave tempura batter and then fry them up. The flowers are a good source of iron and Vitamin A, among other things :)
Note that the leaves are only edible when young (under 5 inches) and can have a sedative/hallucinogenic effect when eaten in large quantities. The young white tubers in the fall are also edible. You can read more about that and other info from Green Deane, foraging expert, Here.
One last thing about Day Lilies: as her name "day" implies, each of her flowers are open for only ONE day, so harvest them when you can :)
Hollyhocks. Hollys are another ornamental flower that you can see in many gardens. The flowers come in many colors, from pinks to purples to white and even black. Being in the same family as Mallow and Marshmallow, you can use all parts of Hollyhocks exactly as you would for Mallow/Marshmallow. That is:
Hollyhocks are perennials so they will come back year after year. They are tall flowers, so best to plant in the garden and not in a pot (unless it's a VERY tall pot to accommodate her long taproot). You can purchase seeds from Richters. You can read more her medicinal, edible and other uses Here and at PFAF.
Hope you have been enjoying me posting about different plants! These flowers can be seen as "edible ornamentals," so think twice about what's growing in your garden--you never know what Other Benefits your beauties may be able to bestow on you!!
Keep smilin', sunshine, because the days are long and hot and the weeds are flourishing everywhere :)
Churchground Foraging: Phlox, Bloodroot, Hosta, Day Lily, Bee Balm n More And Bra Adventure with Japanese Lover-boy Beetle
Thursday seemed to be another promising day for foraging, all except for the weather.
I realized that I've actually become a fussy forager: not too hot, not too cold, and certainly not wet at all!
Since I was invited by my neighbor to peruse the church grounds for weeds, and since it was close by, I decided to hop on my bike and pay a short visit.
On the way there, I stopped to smell the Roses.
The Roses were mostly spent, and the ones that were left were lodging Japanese beetle couples! I took a few white and deep burgundy ones, then off to the church I went.
I parked my bike and walked up to the side of the church.
Hm, rambling plants toppling over onto the concrete walkway.
I immediately noticed the trailing vine of Wild Grape and took a few leaves for a future pesto.
There was Sow Thistle and Dandelion, of course, those familiar friends!
I spotted Bee Balm, now with flowers almost spent. Most of the leaves were still viable, so I picked a good fistful for a future tea (or soup, as I've added the leaves to the soup cauldron in the past ;)). The minty smell as I picked the leaves off the stalk was a welcoming burst of olfactory delight :)
Purple Loosestrife, bent over by a strong wind most probably, was another looker that I noticed. I took none of her showy flowers, but did collect several of her leaves for a future pesto.
There were 2 plants that looked exactly the same, with opposite lance-shaped leaves and 5 heart-shaped petals. One had white petals while the other had pink petals. On quick glance I thought them to be Dame Rocket, except that rockets and cresses, being in the Mustard family, have 4 petals not 5, plus they come out in the spring and not in the heart of mid-summer.
And then it came to me that there is a someone who looks like Dame Rocket, but has 5 petals....Phlox!! Ah yes, that sweetie has petals which can be added to salads, the taste being a bit spicy and reportedly best in fruit salads. Growing some Phlox in a flower box myself and having a nibble, the taste is quite nice actually, no need for fruit :)
Then there were the Day Lillies. Orange ones, pink ones, mauve-yellow, red and white ones. There have been reports of allergies to the edible flower, although I suspect that when the opened flowers are eaten, it may also be because of the pollen. The closed buds are quite tasty, and I collected a few from each of the 5 different colors. While great dipped in a tempura batter and then fried, I like steaming mine and then adding them to.... pestos! Just be mindful that they are laxative, so a few go a long way ;)
I couldn't believe it when I spotted the unusual leaves of Bloodroot, but it was true: a patch of that strong medicine was growing right here by the wall of the church! Usually Bloodroot grows in woodlands, and plants that grow in the forest contain strong medicine. Bloodroot, so-called because her dark red root looks like the color of blood, is actually an endangered plant. Being highly toxic yet excellent to help those with tooth/gum disease and chronic lingering lung issues such as bronchitis or pneumonia, the dosage of Bloodroot is just ONE measly tinctured drop per day!
I then walked along to the front entrance of the church. There were a few plants on the terrace (hullo Mallow!) and then a hodgepodge of plants growing along the other side of the church.
Interestingly, before writing up this diary post, I had to ask for a bit of help identifying the cultivated plants! Yes, while most gardeners would recognize a Dahlia or Hydrangea, it would seem that I have only weeds on the brain ;)
On my way back from running a few errands, I collected a few Dock leaves then popped into my balcony gardening to do a bit of harvesting/pruning:
And speaking of lymphatic herbs, I also had the opportunity of collecting a few handfuls of Prunella from my neighbor's lawn. It was a such a lovely evening. I felt so calm and happy at the same time, just being out there in the evening sunshine, simply bending and squatting down to collect tiny little blue flowers that were smiling and winking at me...Such simple moments, living in the now....
I also discovered while hopping around my neighbor's front lawn that the Mallow plant I gave her last year made good on making babies: there must be about a dozen Mallow plants growing under her birch tree! I pruned them, of course, divesting each one of a few large leaves, to be dried and added to future infusions to heal and soothe irritated mucosal linings. And finally, I collected a large handful of Violet leaves. The ones hiding under the bushes were a dark shade of green while the few I plucked growing between blades of grass were such a light green in comparison.
Aaaah, my dehydrator trays all full, I'll be onto the next harvesting/foraging adventure soon enough! Keep smilin' sunshine, cuz you're brightness is just the sweet light that's needed :)
PS. True story: I was feeling something sticking into my back when I went to the mall after mini-foraging on the church grounds. I removed my backpack, trying to dislodge whatever it was that I thought was on the outside of my tshirt. Right there in the middle of the store, I wrenched my tshirt around, looking for the critter. Not finding it and still feeling something poking me mid-back, I reached my hand up under my bra to remove a lil wise-guy, who fell onto the floor of the store. Ah-ha! A Japanese beetle!
Where's your girlfriend, lover boy? I asked him.
I picked him up off the floor with a tissue, encasing him in the tissue and left the store. I couldn't very well leave him in the middle of the aisle, now could I?
His thanks was to poop right on my hand when we got to the big outdoors.
Gee thanks, I said, wiping up the mess with the tissue.
He wanted me to bring him to the Rose bushes.
You can find them yourself, I told him, especially after that last gesture.
He made a few small movements like he was hurt (yeah right, you're fine), then with a harrumph, opened his wings and took flight.
Interestingly, I saw a Japanese beetle the next day hanging onto a Nettle leaf. Same little guy, I wondered? Was his sense of smell that strong to find me out? And what the heck was he doing playing around with Stinging Nettle, of all plants?!
He stopped when I got close to stare at him, then took off with a harrumph ;)
Japanese Beetles, gotta love 'em :)
PPS. I took lots of pics, so Enjoy :)
Reading my previous post, WOW, how things change so fast! So let me get ya'll all caught up.
Encounter with Stinging Nettle: I got a nice rash after pruning one of my stinging nettle plants on my left arm. A small rash on my wrist and a large one on my bicep close to my armpit. What was worse was when I was foraging at Bellefield, I had put on an after-sun cream (it was a sample) and the rash on my wrist blistered in the hot sun. Ouch.
The cream seemed to have clean ingredients, mainly aloe vera with lavender and rosemary oils, but ya never know what else could be in there that they don't have to say. Yes, even natural companies don't have to list ALL their ingredients on their products. Anyway, I wasn't too impressed with their mattifying sunscreen either, so I won't be recommending these products to anyone.
Destruction at Bellefield: I've been to Bellefield 2 more times since my last diary post. On this last occasion, after parking my bike and walking along the path, I noticed that the lawn mower had been passed. I continued walking and just before I crossed the bridge to get to the field, I stopped to snap a pic of this orange beauty (see below).
Who is she? Orange-spotted Jewelweed! Hm, and where's there Jewelweed, a plant used to treat contact dermatitis with poison ivy, there just might be some poison ivy about as the two often grow in the same place. Well, this was on that same hill leading down to the creek I was telling ya'll about in the last post, about how I almost fell into the creek! So, nope, I wasn't about to be exploring the area along the creek (no place to walk anyway).
I crossed the bridge and...my breath left me. Half of the field had been crushed down, cleared of all the plants. It seemed more destruction than anything else, because the plants on the other side of the field were untouched (pic below).
I felt somehow like crying, but I realized that it was a reflection of my own inner journey. Practicing non-attachment, let-go, that all things revolve and change around you, but you in the center remain unchanged. The only thing permanent is change, although one's being remains the same.
Unveiling this reality has not happened yet to me. It's an art at this point, and rather challenging at times. One goes through phases until one has gathered enough courage to make the jump. All things that are born, die. Being, however, is.
So getting back to the field: I went to get more Yarrow, Red Clover and Sow Thistles. I had mentioned how to make a Yarrow Tincture in this diary post about an insect repellent spray. The same Yarrow tincture has multiple uses, FYI, one of them being to ward off insects, others being:
I collect a few more Blue Vervain plants and but a few Sow Thistles. The Sow Thistles were in between other plants and I didn't feel like doing the work to get to them! Which meant that after leaving Bellefield, I swang behind the mall to take a look-see. Oh yes, lots of yummy Sow Thistles there! I have to admit, I've been seeing more Sow Thistles than Dandelion, what a strange thing indeed! Going to have to go looking for dandelion now, because I really like using her diuretic properties. She's so easy to throw in soups and you'd never know she was in there what with all the other yummy veggies.
I collected many Lamb's Quarter plants... I was reading that her seeds are really a great source of protein and many vitamins and minerals. Well, I juiced her just today with some Wood Sorrel and she was fab, stem, leaf, seed and all!!
Two NEW plants worthy of mention that I collected today at work:
Day Lily. It's the "original" day lily. You can read the story here on Green Deane's website about how the first day lily has since been well cultivated into many, well, cultivars. It's unknown whether the cultivars are edible, but I've tried a few (sorry, my botany is not up to par to say what kind), and had no reaction. Mind you, I had a nibble, not a whole flower BUT I did take the flowers to make...Ta-dah: Day Lily Flour!
Well, yes, my dear, her sweet blossoms just beg being used in your next muffin or cake recipe. Oh, and Red Clover flowers and leaves can also be dried, ground and used like flour---sweet. Yes, but the flowers are sweeter than the leaves, just remember that :)
Peel the petals from the Day Lily flower. They are sticky so leave them to dry on a solid sheet in the dehydrator or on parchment paper. When you go to remove them, they are stuck on there and when you scrape them off, they are almost powdery, but still give them a go in a high speed blender. Day lilies are laxative in large amounts (about 1 flower a day is OK), so unless constipation is an issue with you, I'd go easy on how much Day Lily flour you're going to use! Hm, makes me think this would be good to use as a raw cookie, you know, an un-baked cookie. Oooh, I've got to get me some more day lilies, and they are only open for one day!!
Chokecherries. Yes, there's a tree at work and Chokecherries are a-plenty! I collected a whole ice cream container full (see pic below). When you're face-to-face with the branches, you can remove the stems that the cherries are on. I was using scissors initially, but it's must faster and easier to just use your hands. Just be careful you don't hurt the tree and rip off the (gray) bark. Once you've got a bucket of cherries, it's time to remove them from the leaves and twigs. Those you can put in the compost :)
Chokecherries are sour, and like cherries, you don't want to be eating the toxic pits (don't juice them either because the pits will get crushed). Making jam is also out, but---jelly is good! And once you got jelly, you can make pie!
Chokecherry jelly, choke cherry pie, choke cherry ice cream, choke cherry smoothie...Well, yes. Once you've got the "mush," that is, you've put the chokecherries in a pot, covered them with water and then boiled them to bits, now pour the cooled mush through a nut milk bag to strain out the seeds and peels. Use this mush to make jelly ( add in pectin, sweetener), then use the jelly as a filling in a pie. OR, use the mush to make ice cream or even to add it to your smoothie. Or make jello (gelatin or agar-agar + sweetener). Or apple sauce with chokecherry. Of course, knowing that choke cherries are sour, you might want to add another sweet fruit when boiling them or add a sweetener right away... I guess you'll just have to do some experimentin' now wontcha :) I know I will be :)
Not sure if I'll go foraging tomorrow, depends on the weather, but I'd like to get some more Goldenrod. That's the 3rd new plant, although I've mentioned her before. I've made an oil with her for muscular aches and pains, and this time I made a tincture, which is good to clean the kidneys (like cystitis or urinary tract infections). Susan Weed has more to say about Goldenrod HERE.
Muscular Ache and Pain Go-Away Goldenrod Oil
Use the top 1/3 of the plant when she is in flower (the flowering tops). She can have some unclosed buds, just make sure you DON'T get her when she is drying out and she's all fluffy (like dandelion flowers when they go to seed). If there are bugs, shake them off as best you can and leave the flowers out for a bit so the bugs can crawl off. Chop the tops with scissors to small bits, then fill slightly packed in a mason jar. Pour olive oil and cover to the top. Put on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain out oil and store in a dark amber bottle in a cool, dry place. You can add in 1 tsp vitamin E oil to increase shelf life.
As in above recipe, use the top 1/3 of the plant (flowering tops) and chop with scissors to small pieces. Place slightly packed in a jar and this time add in 80-100 proof vodka. Place lid and screw cap on and let sit 6 weeks. Strain out and store in a dark bottle that has a dropper. Standard dose is 20-30 drops in a glass of water per day.
My next recipe might likely include one with rose hips, as I'm hoping to collect some to make my facial oil. It's been my go-to face "cream" for the past few years and I've received glowing compliments on my skin! Very easy to make but this time I'm going to try avocado oil, walnut oil and some vitamin E oil...
Off for now...Stay bright, sunshine!
Curiosity Got The Cat: