Tuesday, May 25, 2010
More Wild Urban Edibles
I forgot a few plants last time. Mostly trees. Here they are!
Linden – Linden trees are often part of streetscapes. The sap, flowers, leaves, and fruit are edible. The flowers can be made into a tea which has calming properties. They also smell very nice. The flower looks sort of like a light green skinny leaf with fuzzy flowers. You harvest both the flowers and this light green leaf thing and that is what you make tea out of.
The leaves, if young, can be eaten in a salad. If they are older, they can be dried and ground up into a flour. They can also be added to stews as a green and/or thickener.
The fruit, when immature, tastes like chocolate, especially if you also add a few dried flowers to it. When mature, you can grind it up to make a coffee substitute. (This “chocolate” does not keep very long, however, so don’t try to put it by.)
The sap can be turned into a cordial, or you can brew it into a sort of mead.
Incidentally, the wood of the linden is GREAT for carving. It has almost no grain and is easy to carve and sand. Lots of European church fixtures/statues were carved in linden. It also makes good guitar tops. The tree has much folklore regarding its magical properties.
The bark of the linden is very stringy and was made into rope for rigging on Viking ships.
Ginkgo – Of course the leaves can be made into a tea, which is supposed to be good for your thinking and memory. The nut of the ginkgo can also be roasted or pickled in brine and eaten. They taste a little like chestnuts. Ginkgos are male or female, and most urban areas will have male plants only. This is because the fruit around the nut smells like barf when it is ripe! Still, you might find a female ginkgo here and there. Maybe the owner of the tree (or their neighbors!) would appreciate you removing its smelly fruit for them.
Elder – The flowers can be eaten in a salad, or made into a sort of beer, or even a soda. They have a natural yeastlike quality, but I would still recommend adding yeast anyway. The berries can be made into jam or wine. You don’t want to get very many stems into your wine. One way to get rid of the stems fast is to put the berries in water. One will sink and the other float. Another is to roll the berries down an improvised ramp. The stems will remain behind because they don’t roll.
Oak, again – I already wrote about acorn flour, but young, small oak leaves can also be eaten in a salad.
Pine – We all know about pine nuts, but the cambium, or inner bark, of the pine, especially the white pine and the Scotch pine, is edible. You can dry it out in a low oven and make a flour out of it, or boil it, maybe with a piece of meat. It’s not supposed to be very tasty, but it is nutritious. You can also take the cambium and brew a cough syrup. The needles can be brewed into a tea which has a lot of Vitamin C and a good amount of Vitamin A. The new shoots of the white pine can be peeled and candied.
Maple – In addition to maple syrup, you can also eat the seeds either raw or roasted. The cambium of the maple is also edible, if you make it into a flour.
Baobab – This is for you Californians! The leaves, fruit (including seeds) and roots of the baobab tree are edible.
Redbud – The flowers and young leaves are edible.
Thistle – The roots of the thistle can be eaten raw or cooked. You can also peel the stems and boil them. It’s also good for making twine.
Milkweed – You can eat the shoots, the flowers before they flower and are just buds, the flowers themselves, and the immature pods. The stems are also good for making twine.