The first wild edible I found is Common Mallow. This a wonderful green herb- it reminds me a little bit of spinach when eaten raw
|Common Mallow in bloom|
Pineapple weed got its name from the pineapple-y scent it emits when you crush it. You have to have a pretty keen nose to get the full pineapple effect, so don't fret if you can't smell it!
Pineapple weed makes a very nice, relaxing tea when you steep the arial parts of the plant in hot water for about 5 minutes.
|Close up of Pineapple Weed flowers|
Since it is a cousin to chamomile, you can expect the same medicial properties- very calming, good for menstrual crams, improves digestion, alleviates gas and treats colds. It has been noted as having mild antiseptic properties, as well!
It's also great to munch on when you find some on a hike! Feel free to toss some flowers and leaves into your spring salad mix :)
Catmint tastes minty, although more delicate and more floral than other mints. It can be used in the same ways you might use any more common mint such as peppermint or spearmint. In other words, in just about anything.
You can also drive your cats crazy with catmint! It is said to be just as stimulating as catnip for some cats...
|Common Yarrow in bloom|
Fresh raw stalks are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong, tart taste. The stalks are primarily used in the U.S. in desserts (think strawberry/rhubarb pie!). Do not eat the leaf, as it contains toxic components.
Anybody who has tried a wild strawberry knows that they taste the same as strawberries sold for cultivation- just much smaller :) As you can see in the photo, wild strawberries have three, toothed leaves and white flowers (unlike the "fake" wood strawberry- below- that has yellow flowers).
The fruits of the wild strawberry grow downward and hang from the plant, the wood strawberries point upward and are easier to spot. Both fruits are edible, but wood strawberries are known to be disappointing- they have zero flavor.
So, if you like strawberries, don't be fooled by the beautiful red fruit of the wood strawberry! Here is a list of things to look for when searching for real wild strawberries:
- Red fruit, pointing down
- Three, toothed leaves, plants close to ground
- white flowers
|Mullein, shooting up a flower stalk|
Bruised juniper berries have traditionally been used as a spice in meat dishes in Europe. It has also been used to flavor gin (the name "gin" is derived from either the French "genievre" or the Dutch "jenever", both meaning "juniper") and other traditional beverages.
Be sure to identify the species of juniper you find in your area, as the Juniperus sabina is toxic and should not be eaten.
For part 2 of my edibles post, click here!