6 Wild Plants to Harvest Now
Spring is upon us and while you’re upping those vitamin D stores and taking advantage of the warmer temps, it’s an ideal time to share the joys of ethical wildcrafting with your children. Spring brings forth a veritable salad bowl of wild things that have many a creative application in your kitchen. Why not start a new family tradition around the wild bounty of Spring? Spending time in nature learning about plants instills a deep joy and love of the natural world and is a building block of raising little changemakers. Here are four common plants the whole family will enjoy this Spring:
1. Chives, the perfect topper for baked potatoes, also make an excellent addition to soups, salads, and salsa. The long, hollow, and cylindrical leaves, root bulb, and blossoms are all edible. Wild chives are extremely common and easy to identify; check out this article for in-depth information for more uses of this wonderful wild plant.
2. Dandelions are a nutritional powerhouse. All parts of this humble ‘weed’ are edible: the dark green leaves are rich in potassium and vitamins A and C and can be enjoyed steamed, sautéed, or raw, dandelion flowers can be made into syrup, infused into oil, or fried up as a fritter, and the roasted root of dandelion is a liver tonic with a pleasant coffee-like taste. Dandelion is best enjoyed in the first flush of spring—leaves become bitter as the season progresses. As always, be sure to harvest from pesticide-free places.
3. Violets are not only lovely to look at, the leaves and blossoms are fully edible. The lilac or deep purple flowers look lovely in salads, can be candied and added to cookies and cakes, or dried for later use. Try adding blossoms to popsicles or adding dried violets to your homemade raspberry jam.
4. Garlic Mustard is a highly invasive plant that rears its ugly, yet savory head, every spring. Many communities host annual garlic mustard pulls to control the plant’s rapid spread and prevent habitat loss for native plants. Luckily, the plant is also delicious and nutritious when harvested from pollution-free sites. Try steaming or sautéing the greens, making garlic mustard pesto, or adding the leaves and blossoms to soups. Your taste buds will thank you.
5. Red cover produces beautiful, sweet blossoms that are wonderful as accents in your spring salad mix, but can be dried and used for teas and tea blends throughout the year. Red clover has been used medicinally for centuries for a variety of aliments, and is considered known for alleviating symptoms of menopause. However, it is generally not recommended for pregnant women. As with any herb, do your research!
6. Pineapple weed or wild chamomile is commonly found in disturbed and compacted soils. Its feathery foliage and pleasant smelling blooms make a nice herbal infusion, but it can also be added to homemade jams for an herbal, pineapple kick.
Remember to harvest wild plants respectfully and be sure to select specimens free of pesticide applications and growing away from car exhaust or other sources of pollution. If you're new to wildcrafting herbs and other edibles, try downloading Plant Net, known as the 'Shazam of plants' to identify plants in the wild and on the go.
What other wild plants do you look forward to harvesting in Spring? Let us know in the comments!
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