FoodHorticultural therapy

Spring foraging

Six easy-to-find edible plants.

This time of year is great for foraging greens in New England, particularly if your cultivated ones have yet to pop. Here are six of my favorites that are in my back yard now.

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata): These plants are beginning to bolt with the leaves starting to taste increasingly bitter. However, a real treat are the flower buds prior to flowering, tasting like raw broccoli with a touch of cayenne pepper.

Plantain (Plantago): This broadleaf plant when small and tender makes a great addition as a tasty green to any salad.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Like plantain, its young leaves are delicious in a salad.

Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris): Even though most ferns look like fiddleheads as they unfurl, it is only the ostrich fern that delivers the deliciously tender edible shoots. Key to identifying this fern is a deep U-shaped groove on its stalk so be careful when foraging. Unlike other finds, however, these must be cooked and should not be eaten raw.

Wild violets (Viola sororia): One of the earliest wild flowers to emerge, both the flower and leaf are edible. The flowers can be used to make jelly or syrup.

Nipplewort (Lapsana communis): Another great salad vegetable, which has a calming effect. It can be a bit bitter and some find the texture of its hairy leaves a bit discomforting. Enjoy your Spring foraging!

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