[Note: This post was started in late July/early August, but as usual, life got in the way. Consider this a tip of the hat to the end of summer.]
High summer is here. Most likely there are fewer flashes from fireflies and the visual dearth is replaced by a nearly-incessant daytime buzz-sawing of calling cicadas. Not to mention the katydids making their crunchy nocturnal songs.
Regardless of the insect A/V presentations, I trust you have been outside to observe and enjoy.
You’ve probably even experienced a repast or two in your yard.
Has any of the food come from your garden? Even if you don’t raise fruits and vegetables, you’re likely to find fruits and edible plants that you didn’t sow blossoming in your yard or neighborhood.
This month’s topic should be obvious at this point: wild (and semi-wild) edibles!
Let me start with the easy ones—easy because you are more than likely familiar with them presently.
- Raspberries – both red and black-capped varieties can be found in backyards, on farms, and in the woods.
- Blueberries – the wild strain are smaller (and tastier to me). I’ve not found them in yards, but along trails in more northerly latitudes.
- Blackberries – thornier than raspberries (and too seedy for my tastes) but many people enjoy jam, pies, and alcohol made from these giants.
(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
- Serviceberries – these grow on trees and some municipalities plant them
Forbs, i.e. herbaceous (a plant that has leaves and stems that die and return to the soil at the end of the growing season) flowering plants:
- Dandelions – I know you have these, in not in your yard, then a neighbor’s or somewhere down the street. There isn’t even a reason to post a photo as they are unmistakable in the U.S. (and Canada). I’ve seen the greens for sale, labeled as organic at $6 a pound! They are bitter, but do well in soups and in a mixed salad. But why would anyone buy them?
- Chicory – the flower and bud are edible, but bitter. The root can (and has) be used to flavor coffee. It’s probably growing near the road outside your home.
- Lamb’s quarter – found in your yard and around construction sites (or any disturbed soil). The leaves are less bitter than dandelions, but shouldn’t be eaten by themselves. Toss into something.
- Plantain – not related to the relative of the banana. Again, edible leaves, easy to find, works well in a mix of other foods.
- Mushroom – everyone knows mushrooms are edible. Just not which ones. Please don’t ever eat any, unless you are sure they can be consumed. Bad mushrooms go from bad tasting all the way to death. Double check before putting them in your omelet.
- Cattails – not normally found in neighborhoods unless you have some wetland present. The root is—not bitter—very akin to the taste of a cucumber.
(After the flavor is gone.)
This simply scratches the green surface of the many, many edible wild plants growing among us.
Try this book if you have any interest. That’s certainly not the only one if you “hunger” for more.
Save a bit of money, increase your knowledge of the plants/food sources around you, and impress (or cause disgust) when you snack on some random plant.