The wild things we eat…
Here’s a list and description of some of the wild edibles we have. You are likely to run into them in your own garden, walks through your neighborhood or hikes around the state. For me eating these wilds is part of building a connection to my land. The information I am sharing with you on these wilds comes from my own experience, the internet, and from Edible Wild Plants Eastern/Central North America, a Peterson Field Guide by Lee Allen Peterson, 1977.
- Lamb’s quarters. An original Native American staple. We eat the leaves fresh, usually grazing from young plants while working in the garden. The leaves can be eaten in salads or cooked in a stir-fry or soup. The seeds can be ground for flour (I haven’t done this yet) or made into a breakfast porridge.
- Sorrel. Everything green has been loving this wet cool spring. The sorrel is no exception. We have two types of sorrel here at Wildland Gardens– Wood Sorrel (clover shaped leaf and yellow flower) and Sheep Sorrel (arrow shaped leaf and green flower). With a light lemon flavor, both are excellent added to salad. They can also be added to tea, soup, and stir-fry
- Day-lily. The original owners of our place might have bought a plant, but at this point they grow abundantly in both our gardens and woods without any help from us. You can eat the unopened flower heads, the flowers, dried flowers, young shoots, and the roots during the winter. We fry or sauté the unopened flowers as you would green beans or okra. They are delicious.
- Wild Blackberry. As soon as Afton could walk his destination was the blackberry patch. Small rich blackberries abound on all four edges of our place. We eat them straight from the plant, or collect a few for our morning cereal. It looks like we can expect a bounty this year so maybe we can make some jam and freeze some for later.
- Muscadine Grape. Have you eaten Muscadines yet? An Arkansan favorite– these grapes grow in pairs or sets of three instead of bunches. They grow abundantly along hiking trails (Seven Hollows Trail at Petit Jean) and in our very own yard. Eat the center, spit out the skin and seeds. They have an outstanding flavor. Deep, rich, earthy.
- Wild Blueberry. I’ve planted a lot of blueberries. But they are small and it will take 2 more years before they produce much in the way of fruit. In the mean time, I have a couple of wild blueberries growing along my “woods”. Beautiful plants hiding in the shrubbery. Each berry tasting like a gift.
- Maypop or passion-flower. Our logo plant. I first came across Maypop’s while riding my horse along a dirt road near our place. They love growing on the west side of a road– where they can enjoy the morning sun and be protected from afternoon heat. The fruit are green and egg shaped. They feel firm, neither soft nor hard, when ready. We eat the inside while walking– little white sacks of sweet juicy sunshine.
- American Persimmon. In the fall I would highly recommend collecting some persimmons. They grow wild all over this state. Last year I made a persimmon vinegar that was amazing– I drank it mixed with apple juice. They are only delicious for a couple of days– going from mouth suckering tart to a mushy mess. But during those few days of glory they are sensational- fragrant, sweet, perfumed.
In addition to supporting the habitats that these wild plants love we also grow some North American native plants that do extremely well here in Central Arkansas. These include Elderberry, Jerusalem Artichoke, Amaranth, and Sunflowers.