I love foraging. No matter what mood I find myself in, it slowly slips away to one of wonderment and appreciation. Such wonders, such adventures...
Today at work, having the opportunity to have a job with a wild "garden," I collected some great finds:
Violet flowers, viola odorata, now giving way to violet leaves, and well protected by other towering plants, so almost growing in the shade, they can produce such big leaves as I've found in previous years, as big as my palm. Both violet and white flowers! They transplant pretty easily too as they propagate by runners. I have some growing in a flower box under a table and they are late to come, but they are coming back, those sweet perennials!
Hostas, yep edible, first try for me. I've had hosta flowers last year and they pretty up a salad but I'd describe the taste as nondescript...no taste really. Apparently they're known and eaten in Japan.
Yellow cress...first try also for me. I thought that this might be garlic mustard but then on Susan Weed's weed walk found in her weekly newsletter, there she was, yellow cress (or yellow rocket, or Barbara's cress, barbarea vulagris)
Dame rocket, also mustard family as yellow cress. I knew about her from last year but discovered her more as an ornamental than as edible but gonna try her leaves to see her taste. Above link to Susan's weed walk has pics of dame rocket, cress and garlic mustard.
Dandelion leaves ---of course, what garden would be without dandelion! And flowers, too, because although spring came late this year, it's still "early" spring and the flowers have the most energy. Have been using in my soups, green bits under the yellow flowers and all! Leaves too of course :)
Plantain leaves (plantago major). A few, but not many and still with tiny leaves. The neighbor has tons of plantain on their front lawn and already the bugs got to feastin' on them...The biggest I've ever seen was in a forest where few people passed. Otherwise, I find plantago lanceolata has bigger leaves, at least from what I've experienced so far.
Wild Strawberry leaves, great astringent plant, huge leaves like the size of my palm. Pretty white flowers peek out from the leaves...berries might be there. Or not. Since the grass gets mowed every few weeks. But a few flowers by the fence might go unscathed...Tasted a few last year; edible but no taste really.
A few wood sorrel (oxalis acetosella) plants, of which I took off a few sprigs and ate some leaves. Mighty good for relieving thirst, and time passes so quickly while foraging.
Spotted some red clover leaves (trifolium pratense). They'll be coming up soon enough but didn't bother to get any leaves. I'll wait 'til they get bigger.
Also collected a few plants that I don't know about. I collected a few just last week and already I've identified them: ox-eye daisy (yes, edible), lamb's ear lettuce (yep, also edible, also good as toilet paper substitute!) and cleavers! Been seeing cleavers everywhere since I started growing her...
It's a really good idea, I've found, to get some seeds, say from Richter's, then plant them and see what they look like when they're young and how they change as they mature and flower. That way, you can then go out foraging and bring home a specimen to compare it to what you are 100% sure is the real thing. I did this last year to confirm identification of a few plants, including Queen Anne's Lace, mugwort and lamb's quarter. Coincidentally, once you know what they look like, you start seeing them everywhere!
Of course, another good trick is to uproot the whole plant and give it a home at your house (either in a suitable pot or in the garden). I've done that with several plants (as previously mentioned, from work), but also many plants growing out in the "wild." This is another way to see how they change/look like as they grow and also to research the plant for proper identification. If you like the medicinal properties and/or edible benefits of the plant, you can also collect the seeds and then grow them in future years. I did that just the other day, when I spotted shepherd's purse growing in an alleyway. She's a styptic medicinally but she also has a sharp taste like arugula and can be added to salads for a bit o' bite :)
More adventures tomorrow!
Curiosity Got The Cat: