Not that kind of weed, people! Wrong blog!
I’m starting a new series to highlight what is growing wild and edible in the piedmont Maryland region. “Weed Walk” will feature backyard plants many people will recognize; “Forage Finds” by contrast, will go off the beaten path.
As always, please be 100% sure of your identification before eating something you’ve foraged! Even if you are confident in your harvest, introduce wild foods slowly to your domesticated digestive system.
Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) in a shady spot in my yard. Note the line of teeth on the underside of the leaf’s rib.
Violet (Viola papilionacea). Pleasant mild leaves – a great salad addition. The flowers are edible too. Some people (not me) dip the flowers in egg whites and then sugar as an edible cake decoration. I was very sad when working on this post to find numerous websites advocating ways to eliminate this “difficult to control weed”. I love violets in my yard.
First year leaves of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). Not only invasive, but downright dangerous. Do your ecosystem a favor by pulling these up, even if you don’t intend to dine on them.
Chickweed (Stellaria media). Literally my favorite wild edible, especially this time of year. So crunchy and juicy in salads.
Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella). Adds a sour tang to dishes. Most foraging resources warn of its high concentrations of oxalic acid so I will as well. But then, so does rhubarb and it does not feature disclaimers in the produce section of supermarkets. Double standard much?
Field garlic (Allium oleraceum). I minced the field garlic and sheep sorrel and mixed both with butter to baste a chicken I roasted for dinner.
Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule). I’ve never actually eaten this, because most accounts suggest it is bland and boring. My tastebuds have better things to do.
Purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum). I haven’t eaten this either because I’m miffed it’s not the much more famous and charismatic stinging nettle.
Pretty sure this is wild mustard (Sinapis arvensis). (So of course I haven’t eaten any. Right? Gotta follow my own rules.)
An extremely cheerful upland cress (Barbarea verna). Most of the ones I found were too diminutive to bother with. Unfortunately only this one was worthy to eat, but one plant is not enough for cress soup. Maybe a peppery sandwich filler, though.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), the king of the jungle… er, yard. This is the best time of year to enjoy the leaves raw; soon they will need extra prep to cope with the bitter flavor.