Thursday, May 23, 2013

Some Pine Valley Edible Plants from Laura Bergeson

Dandelions! The whole plant is edible, though it is usually less bitter in the spring. It is a powerhouse of vitamins C, A , and betacarotene. Eat the leaves and flowers in salads, or steam the leaves like spinach.

Elderberries An elderberry shrub can grow easily grow about 10 feet tall and will yield tons of food. These are easiest to identify in the spring as they blossom with white clustered flowers that resemble an umbrella. The dried flowers make a healthful tea. Harvest the berries when they’re ripe around September, as Elderberries are known for their flu and cold healing properties. You can make jelly, syrup or extracts from the elderberries, but don't eat them raw.
Pinon pine needles can be steeped in hot water to make a drink that is rich in vitamin C and will stave off scurvy. Pine nuts have healthful oils and protein.
Red Clover blossoms can be eaten fresh or steeped in hot water for tea. You can toss both the green leaves and blossoms into a salad, but be careful if you take blood thinners, as this plant has natural coumadin.
Cattails are usually found near the edges of freshwater wetlands. Cattails were a staple in the diet of many Native American tribes. Most of a cattail is edible. You can boil or eat raw the rootstock, or rhizomes, of the plant. The rootstock is usually found underground. The best part of the stem is near the bottom where the plant is mainly white. Either boil or eat the stem raw. Boil the leaves like you would spinach. The corn-dog looking female flower spike can be broken off and eaten like corn on the cob in the early summer when the plant is first developing. It actually has a corn-like taste to it.
Plantain Is another one of those plants that seem to thrive right on the edge of gardens and driveways, but it’s also edible. Pick the green, rippled leaves and leave the tall flower stems. Blanch the leaves and sauté with some butter.
Pigweed is a valuable plant. The whole thing – leaves, roots, stem, and seeds are edible. The Amaranth seed is small and very nutritious and easy to harvest. It is used to make flour for baking uses. Roasting the seeds can enhance the flavor. You can sprout the raw seeds to use them in salads, and in sandwiches. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach, sautéed, etc. Fresh or dried pigweed leaves can be used to make an herbal tea.

Shepherd's Purse's young leaves can be used raw in salads, or cooked in soups, in mixed cooked greens or in any dish that calls for cooking greens.  Although the leaves may be eaten throughout the summer, the mature leaves have a peppery taste that does not appeal to all palates.
Mullein leaves and flowers are edible. The flowers are fragrant and taste sweet, The leaves are furry and taste slightly bitter. This plant is best known as an herbal tea and can be consumed as a nutritious beverage containing vitamins B2, B5, B12, and D, choline, hesperidin, paraaminobenzoic acid, magnesium, and sulfur. Mullein tea is primarily valued as an effective treatment for coughs and lung disorders. The native people dried the leaves and smoked them to relieve lung ailments. The pioneers valued mullein as a poultice to help glandular problems, especially mastitis.
Purslane can be considered an obnoxious weed but it can provide much needed vitamins and minerals in a survival situation. Ghandi actually numbered purslane among his favorite foods. It’s a small plant with smooth fat leaves that have a refreshingly sour taste. Purslane grows from the beginning of summer to the start of fall. You can eat purslane raw or boil it to remove the sour taste. It is one of the highest vegetable sources for omega 3's.
Sheep sorrel is native to Europe and Asia but has been naturalized in North America. It’s a common weed in fields, grasslands, and woodlands. and flourishes in highly acidic soil. Sheep sorrel has a tall, reddish stem and can reach heights of 18 inches. It contains oxalates and shouldn’t be eaten in large quantities. You can eat the leaves raw. They have a nice tart, almost lemony flavor.
Wild mustard ! You can eat all parts of the plant- seeds, flowers, and leaves.

1 comment:

  1. Super cool! Thanks for the info. I am going on a hike on the Forsyth Trail this weekend and am looking forward to identifying some of these plants to my kids :)