Once again, so many things have been happening in the plant world around me! Although I wasn't able to attend my herb class this weekend, I have been seeing lots of other plants to share with you! Some of these plants I've seen growing close to the subway, on the lawn at work, on my neighbor's lawn, and beside a huge bus depot. In short, wild things are growing all over the place! However, the ones that you want to pick should NOT be close to the road. It's OK if a field or deserted area is close to the road, but you want to gather the plants that are the farthest from the road. You also want to avoid areas where people walk their dogs (for the poop contamination, yep) and beside railroads, the latter because of heavy metals. You can read Green Deane's 2 cents on where to forage HERE.
Living in the city, I use my intuition about where to forage. I might take a few plants close to a parking lot, but it also depends on the purpose. For example, I might use Mugwort as a smudge plant, so I wouldn't be ingesting it. Or perhaps I'm gathering Milkweed flowers to dry for potpourri. Or perhaps I'm not sure about the ID of the plant, so I will transfer her to a pot, let her grow, and use my field guide books to ID her.
My personal favorite places to forage are abandoned areas where few visit; my neighbor's garden; the lawn at work; the abandoned "raised beds" behind the local mall (a place where some cars do pass, but it's not used that much); and abandoned areas that are close to the road, but within a fair distance that foraging is OK.
So, let's get into some new plant friends that I haven't talked about this season yet!
Daisy Fleabane. She looks like a daisy, and yes she in the same family as Daisy, that is, Asteraceae. She has small white rays and in the middle, a shocking color of yellow. Sometimes you can find her with pink rays instead of white. Either way, her leaves are edible and you'll be wanting to cook them. I like adding them to the soup or stew pot. I've used the dried flowers in an infusion to help with menstrual cramps and being astringent, you can also use her for diarrhea. Make sure when you dry her flowering tops that she isn't about to die, as all you'll get is white fluff, and that's not so nice for tea! Her taste isn't bad, although I confess I mix her in with Red Clover and Rose in infusions, which are two herbs I often combine for menstrual cramps.
FYI: being a weed that you can find in lots of fields, feel free to forage away!
Oxeye Daisy. I mentioned Daisy when talking about Daisy Fleabane above, and yes this weed has many parts which are edible! Leaves and root can be thrown into the soup pot; leaves and flowers eaten raw in salads; root pickled. Some say it has a pungent taste, and I confess I'm not found of her "stinky" smell, which reminds me of the "pooey" smell of Valerian. I add both flowers and leaves to the soup pot and have yet to try pickling her root. The pungent smell makes me think of using her flowers and leaves in an herbal vinegar, which is something I have yet to try.
FYI: I've seen her growing on many a-lawn as an "ornamental," as well as wild in fields. Depends on the area, I suppose, because I don't always find her growing in every field I visit.
Vetch. Also called Hairy Vetch, I found this one growing in a Rose bush (she is a climbing plant), hence those leaves you see are of Rose, not Vetch. There is one set of her leaves on the LEFT and in the BACK of the picture, where you see two opposite, lance-like leaves (all similar in size) growing up the central stem (you can also look at this pic here). Being in the Legume family, she is often grown to help fix nitrogen for the soil and for fodder crop. Her flowers make a roadside nibble, and I've added some of her purple flowers (so pretty! just remove them from the stem first) to salads and to THIS FLAX CRACKER RECIPE.
I've also dried her and paired her half-half with dried lavender in sachets to put in your "unmentionables" drawer. This idea was told to me by Vetch herself, and if you understand plant spirit medicine and that plants do indeed communicate, then you can appreciate what a wonderful joy it was to discover such a beautiful use for her! I gave the sachets as gifts and they were well received :) You can find that recipe HERE.
Note that according to the PFAF Database, her leaves are said to be edible, however I've never eaten them or used them in anyway. Seems I will have to be poking my nose around and finding out what a fellow Vetch plant has to say on the matter ;)
Rose. I've mentioned Rose in a previous post, and foraged some petals just today. Notice that there are 3 different varieties in the photos above :) They all smell great, and I love eating the white petals fixed as a single layer on toast (add your fave nut butter, jam or spread, then place the petals in a single layer on top of the spread).
I wanted to mention HOW you should take off the petals. You see the central part in the 2nd picture, the part that looks like small cilia or hairs with a cream center surrounded by a ring of white? That part will turn into a Rose hip, or fruit, so if you yank the whole flower off the stem, it won't be able to do so. What you want to do is remove ONLY the petals, and gently. I cup my hand over a flower to enfold the petals and then gently use my finger to pull them off. The petals should all easily slip off into your hand. If they don't, then it means the flower isn't ready to give up her petals and you should wait for that particular flower---and move on to all the flowers are ready to give up their petals!
While some do collect Rose buds and use that for infusions (being higher in vitality and energy), I've never had an issue using only the petals in infusions or for any herbal recipe (such as for perfume, massage oil, toner or face cream).
Oh, I don't want to talk about too many plants at once, because I know it can create information overload, however there are still so many other plant friends that I have seen and would like to talk about! Suffice it to say that I saw Galinsoga (also called Gallant Soldiers) in leaf state; flowering Evening Primrose (she's a biennial); Sumac leaves, no drupes (or berries) yet; fairly large Yellow Dock plants (I love those spinach-tasting green leaves cooked!); and Lady's Thumb in leaf state.
I will mention one other plant that I have yet to have the pleasure of tasting, and that is:
Bladder Campion (pics below). She's a queer looking plant, which makes her easy to identify as she has this balloon shape which kind of looks like a bladder (I suppose). Her young leaves (BEFORE flowering) can be cooked and eaten like spinach. I'd add them to the soup pot, as some bitterness has been noted. After flowering, her leaves can be stringy and bitter, and blanching first is recommended to help with the bitterness, throwing out that water and then cooking her up a second time. I think her older leaves would be fine in pureed soups or even in green juices or smoothies, but I would have to try first. Interestingly, being high in saponins, her root can be used as a soap substitute.
To be honest, I've only seen her growing in one area (which was along a fence close to an alleyway) and her unique appearance made it easy to ID her in foraging guides.
I'll get back to some of those plants I merely mentioned in a future post. I'm also hoping to be able to share with you some of my plants that are slowly coming up in my balcony garden (Lamb's Quarter seems to be quite the rage in a majority of the pots!) and my experiences with my WILD community garden that was left to go to grass...not fun, removing grass! But there were some interesting weeds growing there, a-ha!
For now, sunshine, stay clean and bright, because the foraging days ahead will be burning on! :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: