Sunday, March 23, 2008
Spring Greens, Shoots & Berries on the way!
All of these edibles were found within walking distance of each other, around the Columbia River Gorge area of the Pacific Northwest. These plants are abundant in forest areas, along road sides, in yards, along edges of pastures, and local parks here in the Pacific northwest. Of course if you plan on harvesting plants please get permission and be educated about wildcrafting.
Miner's lettuce montia perfoliata (Top) The flowers in the middle are just about ready to bloom. You can identify these from the characteristic leaf shape with the flowers in the middle. I have written more on a previous post here
More fun ways to eat miner's lettuce.
Wood Sorrel Oxalis oregana (2nd top) early in flower, the flowers here in this part of Oregon are white to pink, in other areas of the country they can be yellow. One of my favorite edibles, spreads and grows easily. I have a previous post about this here.
Salmon berry (3rd from top) is one of the first spring blooms. The new shoots are excellent eaten raw, just peal off the outside skin and eat the inside, you can see a picture of the shoots here. You want the new spring shoots that are growing next to the older tougher shoots that get the berries, they are usually growing directly under or near the older shoots. You can also add them to soups and salad.The shoots have a mild sweet flavor. The Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest would gather the young shoots in bulk for food. Of course you can also wait for the berries. I have written about Salmon berry previously, but it is worth another mention so you don't miss the berries this year!
Stinging Nettles Urtica dioica need I say more (4rd and 5th from top)? Over at learning herbs they have some excellent info on nettles, harvesting, recipes as a medicinal and more. Nettles are one of the most versatile herbs. They are used as a medicinal, food, to make cloth , even the stingers are used for flogging oneself for rheumaticism and muscle/nerve type pain (herbalist jim mcdonald reports using this method in recent times with good results). The entire plant can be used medicinally including the leaf, root & seeds. When the plant is about a foot tall (like the picture shown above), before it flowers and it gets tough, is a good time to harvest nettles for food. Nettles can be prepared like spinach, or drink as a tea or infusion. Wildman Steve Brill talks about ways he like to cook them here, along with some great pictures and other tips.
Curly or Yellow Dock Rumex Crispus
(pictured last) The common Dock we have around here is the Yellow Dock, considered to be a common "weed". The roots are yellow and a very beneficial medicinal plant (more on yellow dock in a future post). This is a dock in it's early stages. Here is an interesting recipe Fermented Curly Dock Leaves.
For later in the season yellow dock crackers.