December’s Edible Wild Plant Harvest Is More Extensive Than Might Be Expected. It’s Almost A Culinary A-Z. Here Are Some Of My Favourites.

December’s edible wild plant harvest in my part of the West Country is a forager’s dream. It starts with A for Alexanders and runs through to Y for Yarrow. 

Beware.  Some wild plants are poisonous so please note that you should be absolutely certain  you have identified a plant correctly before consuming it.  Plants can also prompt allergic and other negative reactions so, before eating any quantity, ensure you are not sensitive or allergic to plants you don’t have experience of eating.  

If in doubt don’t eat them.  None of the following should be taken as advice that plants are safe to eat  Please always get professional advice before consuming or handling unknown or unusual plants. 

Alexanders – Smyrnium olusatrum

Alexanders is a plant I’ve written about several times including information on how to grow and harvest it. The leaf and stalk can be eaten raw of cooked.

Chickweed – Stellaria media

Chickweed is a common garden “weed”. But if you harvest it there’s no way it can still be called a weed.
 
Eat the leaf cooked or raw.

Crab apple – Malus sylvestris

There are an abundance of crab apples growing in the garden next to mine. The tree iOS loaded in small apples that can be cooked. They tend to be a bit tart so need something sweet with them but are good in an apple tart.

In winter some birds will also fest on the crab apple. So leave some for them.

Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale

Warmer winters are seeing our dandelions grow much faster. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads and the root can be roasted as an ersatz coffee substitute.

Both leaf and root can also be cooked and eaten.

Garlic mustard – lliaria petiolata

This used to be a plant I knew as a spring growing plant. But recently they seem to have been growing al winter and we have some ready to harvest for their leaves right now. Both the leaf and root can be eaten cooked or raw.

Hedge bedstraw – Galium mollugo

Walking down a lane a few days ago I saw an abundance of hedge bedstraw growing. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.

Nipplewort – Lapsana communis

Though it’s December we have Nipplewort in flower here in Devon. It always looks a stringy plant to me but the leaves can be eaten either raw or cooked.

Oxeye Daisy – Leucanthemum vulgare

This is a plant I’ve not tried but many swear by it. I imagine the flavour not to be too my liking, though I’ve never tried it. Maybe that shows how our imaginations run riot with our foraging instincts. Apparently there leaves are edible either raw or cooked.

Plantain – Plantago spp.

The only plantain I eat is buckthorn plantain which I grow in containers and the soil. I eat there leavers raw in salads but I understand it can be cooked as well. Leaf: Raw, cooked.

Rosehip – Rosa canina

Rosehips are allegedly full of Vitamin C. But so are several other veg. But reships are worth considering as they can be made into a jam and they have a wonderful colour. I’m told the fruit can also be eaten raw but I’ve not tried them.

Salad burnet – Sanguisorba minor

Salad Burnett is abundant in our wildflower meadow and is growing well this month despite the cooler weather. It’s another plant that can be eaten raw or cooked.

Sea buckthorn – Hippophae rhamnoides

A coastal plant with lovely, though small,  fruit that can be eaten raw or cooked.

Sowthistle – Sonchus spp.

Here’s another plant that is flowering in December this year (2022). The level can be eaten raw or cooked.

Stinging nettle – Urtica dioica

Stinging nettle is an old favourite foraging plant. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, as can the seed. The seed is however very small so gathering a mouthful takes time! Boiling there leaves removes the sting. Rolling there leaf tips into a ball before eating removes the sting from the growing tips which as the least fibrous part of there plant.

Once mature the stringy stems can be used to make a fibre that can be used as a string or rope.

Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

This is the last in my alphabetical list. The leaf can be eaten raw or cooked.

Other edible plants that are available in December include

Black mustard – Brassica nigra
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Burdock – Arctium spp.
Root: Raw, cooked.
 
Cleavers – Galium aparine
Leaf and tips: Cooked.
 
Cow parsley – Anthriscus sylvestris
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Cleavers – Galium aparine
Leaf and tips: Cooked.
 
Cow parsley – Anthriscus sylvestris
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Horseradish – Armoracia rusticana
Root: Raw, cooked.
 
Lady’s smock – Cardamine pratensis
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Mallow – Malva spp.
Leaf: Cooked.
 
Navelwort – Umbilicus rupestris
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Rock samphire – Crithmum maritimum
Leaf: Raw, cooked. Seed: Raw, cooked.
 
Saxifrage – Saxifraga spp.
Leaf: Cooked.
 
Scurvygrass – Cochlearia spp.
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Sea aster – Tripolium pannonicum
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Sea beet – Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Sea purslane – Atriplex portulacoides
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Silverweed – Potentilla anserina
Root: Cooked.
 
Sorrel – Rumex acetosa
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Stonecrop – Sedum album
Leaf: Raw, cooked.
 
Wood sorrel – Oxalis acetosella
Leaf: Raw, cooked.

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Tag: December’s Edible Wild Plant Harvest

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