This post is WAY long overdue! I started writing a post about 2 weeks ago and have been busy ever since. Can you tell it's summer? Oh yes, summer is in full swing and there are many plants that you can choose from!
Lady's Thumb. She is an easy one to identify as she has this distinctive mark on her lance-shaped leaves that kind of looks like a thumb print. Her flowers grow in little clusters and are also rather unusual. The flowers can be pink or white. Usually you'll find her growing rather small, however the other day I found one growing on a busy street and she was about waist high at 3-4 feet!
Is she edible? Of course! I've never used her seeds, but her leaves have a pungent taste when eaten raw, so you chop them up and add them to salads. She makes a great spinach substitute (or use as you would any green) and you can steam the leaves or add them to soups and stews. She can be juiced and added to veggie smoothies as well :)
Gallant Soldiers. I confess: this plant must've been in my potting soil, because I found her growing in EVERY single one of my pots! The good news about her is that she is an edible weed! Her white petaled & yellow-centered flowers are quite distinctive: the yellow centers have small "pockets" that are reminiscent of honey comb while the 5 white indented petals are widely spaced and look like a mini tulip or a bear's paw shape (two ways you might find useful to conceptualize/help with ID). I use her leaves in soups, stews and stir-fries, and you can certainly toss them into salads and use them in smoothies and green juices. You can read more about Quickweed (another name for her) HERE.
Horseweed. This was a new plant I discovered just this year at work. She looks very much like Solidago, or Goldenrod before she flowers <-scroll down and you'll see a pic of the plant with just leaves, before she flowers) but there are hairs on her central stem. She also has many small flowers that start in June while Goldenrod has bushy yellow flowers that come out in late August. When you crush her leaves they give off a carrot-like smell.
She also starts off in a basal rosette and then grows to kinda look like a bottle brush, sort of looking like Horsetail or as her other name, Mare's Tail. The taste of her leaves is bitter, so she can understand why she makes a good vermifuge. You can read more about her medicinal uses here.
Is she edible? Young or old, I'd throw the leaves into the soup or stew pot. I'd also juice her, but not put too much in the juice, just like with Dandelion leaves. Since her flavor is similar to tarragon, you can dry and grind her leaves and use her that way. I've yet to do this, but I would dry her leaves whole and add in a small bunch to the soup pot come wintertime.
Note that one of her common names is Canada Fleabane (latin name is conyza canadensis/erigeron canadensis). She in the same family as Fleabane (erigeron philadelphicus) but they do not look the same.
I've kept this post to just talking about 3 plants, because I know it can get hairy when there are too many plants to identify! I'll continue to mention a few different plants with each new post.
Being in early -and starting almost to enter into- mid-summer, many plants are thriving, so there are many plants I can talk about! Indeed, I found a nice patch/ field that I am hoping to visit soon where I located---Comfrey! This is the 1st time I've ever seen her growing in the wild, and I want to go and get some in order to dry her for infusions and make oil (more about that in the next post!). It has been quite a rainy summer, in all truth, which has meant that foraging for herbs hasn't been ideal. However, I am hoping to take a day trip to a field a bit far away in order to collect Red Clover. I visited Bellefield the other day, or should I say what is now a big building of condos. Along the water, there are some Stinging Nettle plants in seed, which I would like to collect and use to make a mean green pesto! I also noticed some Motherwort and Jewelweed growing, as well as some Blue Vervain. I am mentioning these plants now, and I might talk about them in a future post, but it isn't my intention to collect these plants.
Of interesting note: on the way to the dance studio the other day, I came across a Lamb's Quarter plant as tall as myself (over 5 feet tall)! I always find it amazing when I see a plant growing in a "mini-form" (usually like on a lawn or the crack in a sidewalk, and the plant is small because it has been mowed down and then regrows) and then seeing the same plant growing in its full potential (like in a field or abandoned lot).
Anyway, sunshine, I am happy to report that the herbs are bountiful and green blessings are everywhere! Stay bright, because there are many more lush days ahead :)
Came across a new plant while out for a jog: galinsoga parviflora , called Gallant Soldiers in Britain. Leaves and flowers are edible, can eat raw in salads, eat steamed, or add to soups and stews. I'm sure this is another green herb that could be dried and added to a wild greens powder.
How fun to discover new plants!!
Interestingly, when I saw her, I asked her name, and it came to me galinsoga. Strange, because when I've done that in the past, plants usually don't respond! But then I remembered I had most probably had a brief interaction with her last summer and it was a name my memory dredged up.
In any case, galinsoga is her latin name and I'm happy to have gotten better acquainted with her this year. Indeed, I'm going to be actively seeking her out and adding her to pestos AND drying her for future soups. YAY!
Also spotted some huge Lamb's Q growing right in the middle of these concrete raised beds in the middle of the road. In previous years, the city had planted flowers, but they had decided not to this year. Instead, good ol' weedy friends are growing there now. I was tempted to take Lamb's Q, but I know foraging plants close to the street is not recommended. I did take a sprig of Penny Cress, now all gone to seed, to plant next year. The seeds, just like Pepper Grass and Shepherd's Purse, can be ground and used as a pepper substitute
In the previous post, I had forgotten the name of 2 pea flowers, but while flipping through a foraging book for my area, came across the names: Yellow Vetchling or Yellow Flowered Pea and Everlasting Sweet Pea or Perennial Pea (pink colored). Toxicity is noted in large doses. I've tried a few while out and about as a trailside nibble. Not bad at all. Will have to look further and see what others have come across in terms of toxicity.
Have 2 unidentified plants to find out who they are: one looks like Flax, very distinct pattern of the leaves, but the flowers are so tiny. Another one I'm sure there were seeds in the compost, because I found her in almost all of my pots. Also distinct pattern of clusters of flowers growing on the central stem.
On further inspection, yes, it's definitely flax! I planted her in a flower box last year and some seeds must've remained in the soil. As for the other, not sure yet....but I did find another weedy friend that had made her home without an invitation: Lady's Thumb! While there are a few different persicarias in my area, Lady's Thumb has that easy-to identify splotch on the leaves. Of course she's edible and being high in oxalic acid, I naturally added her to the pot with other wild greens to make a most tasty pesto.
Yep, I've been making a pesto most days now. Last one I made had tons of Wood Sorrel and Common Sow Thistle. A bit much on the sour and bitter flavors, but that's OK. Tasted fine when eaten with sweet Carrot and Flax crackers, yummers!
Alrighty, darling sunshine dear, all for now...hope for more foraging adventures in the future, cuz the weather is sticky and hot!
Curiosity Got The Cat: