It’s hard to keep up with this spring growth, so on to part 2. If you missed part 1, click here.
I’ve noticed that nature, like myself, seems to love the color purple. If you look around your own yard, you will probably notice a lot of little purple flowers. Violets (which I mentioned in my last post) are just one of many wild edibles that produce purple blossoms.
Purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)
Have you ever seen those beautiful rolling purple hills in early spring? Well, what you are seeing is a field whose tilled soil has been completely overtaken by deadnettle. You can eat it raw or cooked, but I’ll tell you, I’ve tried it raw and it was pretty difficult to swallow…literally. The flavor isn’t great, and the fuzzy texture is not too appetizing to say the least. Likely the best preparation would be to boil and season, add to a soup, or saute in butter, but I haven’t actually tried any of those preparation methods yet. (If you’ve tried cooking deadnettle, please share your experience in the comments!)
Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)
Nope, that’s not deadnettle, but it is another member of the mint family. Henbit looks similar to deadnettle with it’s square stems and purple flowers, but it’s flavor is milder and more palatable. Like chickweed, henbit got its common name from the affection it receives from chickens. All parts of the plant are edible raw or cooked.
Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
Ground Ivy, also called Creeping Charlie, is yet another member of the mint family; but this mint isn’t so mild. You can eat it raw, but it’s strong flavor is best used as a seasoning. Use it fresh or dried to add flavor to soups, salads, teas, etc. Ground ivy’s medicinal properties also cover a host of ailments, including kidney and digestive issues, cough and sinus, and was even used to treat scurvy due to it’s high vitamin C content. The Saxons used ground ivy to flavor beer before hops became the bitter flavor of choice.
Winter Cress (Barbarea vulgaris)
Winter cress (also called yellow rocket) is one of the most cold hardy wild edibles. I have seen winter cress as late as December, and as early as late February. All parts are edible, but the leaves are best eaten before it bolts while they are still mild and tender. Winter cress has a strong flavor, so I would recommend combining it with lighter tasting greens. You can also use flowering heads to add flavor to salads and stir fries.
Common/Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major)
Ok, I know I said I’d find 10 edible plants in the yard, so just think of this one as a bonus.
Plantain is mostly recognized for it’s external medicinal uses, but it’s also edible and nutritious. If you are eating it raw in a salad you will want to chop it fine, or remove the fibrous ribs as they are tough and difficult to chew. Quickly blanch leaves in boiling water before adding to soups or sautes to tenderize and remove bitterness.
Plantain is also great for bug bites and stings. If you get stung by a bee, mosquito, or nettle; or have other acute skin irritation, make a poultice by chewing the leaves and applying it to the sting. You can also infuse oil with the dried leaves to make a salve.
Once again, thanks for reading! Have a great day and happy foraging!
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