Wild Edible Plants - Corms, Roots, and Tubers
Corms, Roots, and Tubers
Daylilies are one of the most under rated food sources in the world. All parts of the plant are edible, but the underground tubers, when boiled for about 20 minutes and served with butter are absolutely delicious!
Watch for Trout Lily in early April. It is not widely abundant, so harvest sparingly. The young leaves are acceptable as a green after 20 minutes of boiling, but the deeply buried corms are best. Boil for 10-15 minutes and serve with butter. Yum!
Indian Cucumber Root, Medeola virginiana, which appears in late June, is not common, and should be harvested only when found in abundance. It is well named. The juicy root may be eaten raw and tastes very similar to cucumber.
Queen Anne's Lace is a cousin to the modern carrot. The roots of this common roadside bienniel smell and taste just like carrots purchased at the market, and may be eaten raw or cooked. Be careful when harvesting. Deadly Water Hemlock has a similar appearance!
Chicory, that beautiful blue flower that usually appears along roadsides from late June through mid- August offers both young leaves, which may be boiled and eaten as greens, and the root, which may be dried and ground, then used to make a coffee substitute. It is somewhat bitter, but when mixed 50/50 with coffee aquires a uniquely robust flavor.
Often found in large patches like the one in the photo top left Wild Leeks or Ramps, (Allium,) are prized wild edibles! They are so valued in the South for their mild garlic flavor that in North Carolina there are Ramp festivals throughout the Smoky Mountains, where hundreds of people will gather to consume thousands of them at a time. Unfortunately, this is contributing to a shrinking supply of them in the wild.
As our populations continue to grow it will be better if more people naturalize their own backyards, allowing, encouraging, and even cultivating a greater diversity of wild plants, thus reducing pressure on plants growing in the wild.
Ramp seed is available from a number of suppliers on the Internet. Why not grow your own?
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