Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wild Buffet: Part 2' Plants you didn't know you could eat!

Now that the obvious foods are out of the way it’s time to talk about the things you may not have realized you can eat. Today we have five common plants found in the landscapes of the eastern coast that can be grown by green and black thumbs alike.  Each one requires preparation, but all are easily identified in the field, and only one has any risk of poisoning with misuse.

Also to recap some of what was said at today’s neighborhood grange meeting, below is a list of recommended seed catalogs and local retailers.

Seed & Supply  Catalogs:
Botanical Interests  - Seeds
High Mowing  -Seeds
Johnny’s Seeds – Seeds & Supply
Richters –Seeds & Plants
Seed Savers - Seeds
Southern Exposure -Seeds
Totally Tomatoes - Seeds
Worm’s Way -Supply

Some Local Retailers:
Eastover Garden Center
3465 Murphy Road, Fayetteville NC 28312
(910) 321-6044

Flow & Grow
4521 Cumberland Road, Fayetteville NC 28306
(910) 423-3569

With all that said remember, now is the last time to effectively start your cool season seeds, and without further ado here are the forage foods!

American Yew – Taxus Canadensis

While American yew is not a common sight in the south as it prefers cooler temperatures up north it is often the replacement for podocarpus, and select types of cedar and juniper. Most of the plant is flat out poisonous; however the soft fleshy red coating on the seeds is edible. This fleshy coating should be handled carefully as the seeds themselves like the rest of the plant contain a powerful alkaloid.

Common Daylily – Hemerocalis fulva

Daylily grows like a weed in most parts of the eastern coast, up north the family is exemplified by the tiger lilies seen growing by streams and in the south by the day lilies planted along roadsides as erosion control. The flower buds can be pickled or dipped in batter and fried. The tuberous roots can be cleaned chopped and used like potatoes. For note all parts of daylily have a laxative effect so eat in moderation.

The Yucca Family
Yucca baccata (Soapweed)
Yucca glauca (Spanish Bayonet)

(Spanish Bayonet) Cut the young flower stalks into sections and boil for 25-30 minutes then peel off the tough outer rind season to taste and serve. The flavor of this preparation varies by the seasoning but most liken it to asparagus. The fruit of this yucca can be eaten raw or cooked. You may also collect and roast seeds at 375 degrees until dry then grind coarsely and boil as a non-flour type grain.
(Soap Weed)  Harvest the young flower stalks before the flower buds have expanded.  Cover one cup of buds with water and boil until tender which is roughly 15-25 minutes. Drain and chop coarsely then add pimentos or green peppers, several eggs and milk then cook like scrambled eggs.

Wax Myrtle – Myrica cerifera

The Wax Myrtle is also known as the Southern Bayberry. Surprisingly as we have no shortage of this plant in the southeast amazingly it is a source of greens, as the leaves can be picked at any time but are best in early summer.  Wash the leaves and dry the leaves in a shaded area then store in tightly sealed jars in a dark place. The leaves can be ground or crushed and added to stews and sauces for cooking and serving meats in the same way sweet bay might be used. The berries can be picked from late summer into winter as a seasoning and to provide a source of wax for candle making.

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