Wild Blackberries and Raspberries, a Diverse Group of Delicious Edibles

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Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus), a Common Species in This Genus
(Photo by: Karelj/Wikimedia Commons)

Do you know what Rubus is? It is a diverse genus of flowering plants in the Rosaceae family. Most Rubus plants are easily recognizable from their rough and prickly wood stems, much like the common thorny stems of rose plants. These stems are usually tangled, forming a bush called brambles. The fruits from a Rubus plant, often called bramble fruits as well, are classified as aggregate fruits. This means each fruit is made up of many drupelets.

From that explanation alone, you might not realize it, but you’ve probably encountered a lot of Rubus plants and fruits during your lifetime. Raspberry and blackberry are common Rubus plants. These berries are famous for their brilliant taste and great nutritional content. But they’re not the only wild edibles within this genus. There are many other Rubus plants which produce equally delicious and nutritious fruits.

In fact, Rubus fruits are widely consumed all over the world. The use of wild blackberries, raspberries, and other Rubus plants have been documented throughout the globe since ancient times. From Ancient Rome and Greece to China and India, many cultures regard plants in this genus highly as a health-inducing edible.

In this modern age, people only consume the tasty fruits of this plant. However, back in the days, our ancestors would use the entire plant to make all sorts of dishes and most importantly, traditional medicine. Roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits, no part of Rubus plants would go wasted at the hands of our ancestors. Aside from eating them, they would use different plant parts to make tisanes, infusions, poultices, decoctions, and plasters.

Since this genus grows all throughout the world, you’ll definitely be able to find wild Rubus plants growing nearby, no matter where you are. Additionally, some plants have even been introduced to foreign lands. They eventually naturalized in their new habitats and become another wild edible for foragers to consume.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the less-known members of this genus: Wineberry, Thimbleberry, Common Dewberry, and Black Raspberry. Though somewhat underrated, these plants are a great and nutritious food source.

Wineberry

Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius)
Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius)
(Photo by: Rasbak/Wikimedia Commons)

The first Rubus plant comes from East Asia. It’s known as wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius) due to its red, wine-colored fruits. Wineberry is very closely related to raspberry, gaining the reputation of being the Asian version of the common raspberry.

This perennial plant was first introduced to Europe and North America in the 19th century as an ornamental plant. Eventually, it naturalized in parts of those regions. Wineberry usually grows in sunny locations. In North America, you can find them in the mountains, on roadsides, and along the edges of fields and forests. Their most distinctive characteristics are their hairy, reddish stems and equally hairy, bright red berries.

Edibility and culinary use

If you love raspberries, you’ll definitely fall in love with wineberries as well. Wineberries taste just like the delicious raspberries, but juicier and slightly sweeter. These berries will definitely taste best eaten fresh right after harvest, but they can also be used in a variety of recipes. Wineberries will work great in sweet desserts, pies, fruit salads, and sauces.

You can use these berries to make jam and wine as well. In fact, wineberry wine is a popular alcoholic beverage. Research has also shown that wineberry wine has amazing health benefits. This beverage is very rich in antioxidants, containing even more than related fruit wines such as raspberry and strawberry wine. Drinking a serving of wineberry wine daily can boost the immune system, improve blood flow, reduce bad cholesterol, speed up weight loss, and increase overall health.

Note that these berries are rather fragile. They can only stay fresh for a few days after the harvest. But, you can extend their shelf life up to a couple of months by freezing them. And don’t worry, freezing wineberries will do little to diminish its juicy flavor and nutritional contents.

Thimbleberry

Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
(Photo by: Walter Siegmund/Wikimedia Commons)

The next Rubus species, thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) is native to western North America. Thimbleberry shrubs grow in open woodland areas and on roadsides. These wild shrubs tend to be huge; some shrubs can even grow to be more than 8’ tall. But despite the plant’s large size, it has small white flowers and even smaller red berries which appears and ripens every summer.

Edibility and culinary use

Thimbleberries look similar to raspberries, only slightly smaller and flatter. Due to how soft and juicy they are, thimbleberries typically can only stay fresh for a couple of days after they’re picked. For this reason, people typically dry or freeze them right after harvesting them. This way, they can last longer. While fresh thimbleberries taste best, dried and frozen ones also taste delicious.

Aside from eating them on their own, thimbleberries can also be used in many different recipes. Their fresh sweet and sour flavor is usually used to enhance the taste of sweet desserts, vinaigrettes, and fruit salads. Lastly, you can also make thimbleberry jam by boiling equal volumes of berries and sugar until the mixture becomes thick.

Common Dewberry

Dewberry (Rubus flagellaris)
Dewberry (Rubus flagellaris)
(Photo by: James H. Miller & Ted Bodner/Wikimedia Commons)

Unlike the first two Rubus plants, the common dewberry (Rubus flagellaris) is more closely related to blackberries. In fact, the fruits look very similar to blackberries, only slightly larger. They’re bright red when young and dark purple when ripe.

Also known as northern dewberry, this perennial plant is native to North America. It grows in almost every habitat you can think of, from deciduous forests to savannas.

Edibility and culinary use

Ripe dewberries are edible and they taste amazing. They have a rich sweet flavor with a hint of sourness. While they taste fantastic fresh, they can also be used in many different recipes. People mainly use dewberries to make pie fillings, cobblers, puddings, and other sweet desserts. Dewberries are also great for making jams, preserves, and sauces.

Aside from its fruits, dewberry leaves and stems are also edible. Dried dewberry leaves make a wonderful herbal tea. Meanwhile, young stems or shoots are typically peeled and eaten raw as a delicious snack.

Black Raspberry

Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
(Photo by: 성락 + 연주/Wikimedia Commons)

Lastly, we have black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) which is native to eastern North America. Unlike the previous Rubus plants, this one is actually rather well-known, especially in the medical community. Black raspberry has been touted as a super food. They contain more nutrients and three times more antioxidants than their red counterpart. The only reason why they’re not as popular as their red cousins in the market? People often have a hard time telling black raspberry apart from blackberry.

These tiny dark berries may look similar to blackberries, but they’re completely different. As its name suggests, black raspberries are dark-colored raspberries. So they’re shaped just like raspberries, with a hollow center and covered with fine hairs. In contrast, blackberries have a white core in the center.

Edibility and culinary use

This exotic looking fruit has a vibrant and rich taste. Black raspberries have a sweet and fruity taste. They’re also not as tart as blackberries and the more common red raspberries. Black raspberries taste great with just about any desserts you can think of, from pie and cobbler to pudding and sorbet. They also taste amazing when made into jams or preserves. Additionally, since they’re almost identical to their red cousins, you can use them as a substitute for any recipes which call for red raspberries.

Health Benefits

Rubus fruits are rich in essential nutrients. They contain vitamins A, B complex, C, E, and K as well as potassium, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, and magnesium. Eating them will improve the body’s immunity, help heal inflammations, promote a healthy cardiovascular system, strengthen the bones, improve vision, and boost your overall health. They’re also rich in dietary fibers. So, they will make you feel fuller longer while also regulating your blood sugar levels and improving your digestive system’s health.

Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis), Harvested
Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis), Harvested
(Photo by: Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons)

These berries are also rich in antioxidants. This means they’re great for fighting off free radicals, slowing down cell aging, and preventing tumors as well as cancers. In fact, medical experts have been using their extracts to make medicine and health supplements. They believe that Rubus fruits can prevent DNA mutations as well as block the blood supply to tumors and cancer cells. Moreover, these delicious berries can also help cancer patients combat the adverse side effects of chemotherapy.

Aside from eating the fruits, you can also use the leaves and roots of most Rubus species to make herbal tea. While it doesn’t taste particularly delicious, this herbal tea has many health benefits. This tea is especially great for treating nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dysentery. If you don’t like the flavor of the tisane, try adding honey, sugar, or lemon juice to make it more palatable.

Use in folk medicine

Many societies around the world have been incorporating Rubus plants into their folk medicine tradition. People usually drink Rubus infusions and decoctions to treat many ailments. Generally, they’re used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, poor eyesight, nausea, and inflammations. The Greeks and Romans also use Rubus infusions to prevent vaginal discharge and female infertility. Meanwhile, the Chinese use them to treat impotence and male infertility.

Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
(Photo by: Jim Dexter/ Wikimedia Commons)

Additionally, it’s also common to apply infusions and decoctions topically or use them as a mouth gargle. Due to their antibacterial and antifungal properties, these infusions are great for washing wounds and preventing infections. When used as a gargle, they can also heal canker sores and bleeding gums. Sometimes, people also chew Rubus leaves to strengthen their gums and teeth. People also make poultices from dried, powdered thimbleberry leaves. These poultices can treat wounds, burns, and bruises.

Cautions

Not only are they delicious, but almost all berries in the Rubus family are also safe to eat. There are no known adverse side effects from consuming Rubus berries, both in food and medicinal amounts.

Conclusion

There are all sorts of Rubus plants out there, waiting to be discovered. So, why limit yourself to the common blackberries and red raspberries? Take a look around the local woodlands or even browse the farmer’s market, see if you can find other Rubus fruits. The four plants mentioned in this article barely scratched the surface of this amazing genus. Start your journey from there and discover even more healthy Rubus wild edibles later on.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Illustration
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Illustration
(Photo by: Walther Otto Müller/Wikimedia Commons)

Who doesn’t know dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)? This lovely flower grows almost all around the world. You’ve likely blown fluffy dandelion balls at least once to make a wish during your childhood. Children love to blow on dandelion’s feathery light seeds into the wind, hoping that they would soar to the sky and make their wishes come true.

Despite its beautiful and ethereal appearance, people consider dandelion as a pesky and annoying weed. These flowers often pop up in the most unexpected places. After all, dandelion’s seeds are easily carried along by the wind, bringing them to many different places, like the roadside and maybe even your own lawn. But don’t be so quick to pull them out! Aside from granting children’s wishes, dandelions actually have many culinary and medicinal uses.

Apparently, our ancestors have figured this out long before we did. Historically, dandelions are prized due to their pleasant taste and numerous medicinal properties. In fact, societies around the world have been using them to make various recipes as well as to make traditional herbal remedies for thousands of years.

Edibility and culinary use

Dandelion is a very versatile ingredient. All parts of this plant are edible, including its roots, leaves, and flowers. Young dandelion parts have a delightful, chicory-like taste with a bitter note.

Roots

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Roots, Harvested
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Roots, Harvested
(Photo by: Zero-X/Flickr)

The larger and more mature the roots are, the more bitter they’re going to taste. Old dandelion roots taste extremely bitter, that’s why you should avoid them and harvest smaller, younger ones instead.

Once harvested, you can clean them and dry them out in the sun. After the roots are completely dried, roast and ground them. When steeped with hot water, this powder will work great as a non-caffeinated coffee substitute. Dandelion coffee tastes and smells almost just like the real thing. It’s a great substitute if you love the taste of coffee but need to limit your caffeine intake.

Aside from being used as a coffee substitute, some people actually eat dandelion roots much like they would with other root vegetables. However, due to its extremely bitter taste, there are mixed views about cooking them as a root vegetable. One thing is for sure though; eating these roots is certainly an acquired taste. It will take a lot of seasonings and spices to make them palatable. If you’re curious, you can try to include them in your meals and see if you like their taste. Some say they’re quite good when roasted or added into soups.

Leaves

Young dandelion greens have a pleasant earthy and nutty taste. Much like the roots, the older the leaves are, the more bitter they’re going to be. So, pay attention to when you are harvesting them and stay away from older leaves and stems. You can pick young and tender leaves all throughout the growing season.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Greens, Harvested
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Greens, Harvested
(Photo by: Farmanac/Flickr)

Here’s a tip if you intend on harvesting your greens. A week or so before the harvest, cover the plants with a dark and opaque fabric for most of the day. The fabric will block out most of the light and thus, blanch the leaves naturally. When you pick the leaves, they’ll be less bitter.

This leaf vegetable is quite versatile and can be used in many different recipes. Fresh young leaves will add a delicious crunch to salads and other fresh vegetable dishes. They also work great as a potherb and as a spinach-substitute. When cooking, note that the taste of dandelion greens is the perfect compliment for bacon, nuts, lemon, and goat cheese.

The leaves can also be dried for later use. Dried leaves can add a delightful nutty taste to bread and savory muffins. You can also steep them to make dandelion tea which is incredibly healthy. Note that dandelion tea can taste quite bitter. If so, you can dilute the beverage with a little bit more water to make it more palatable. Additionally, honey and lemon will also complement the flavor of this tisane nicely.

Flowers

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Blooming Flower
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Blooming Flower
(Photo by: Greg Hume/Wikimedia Commons)

Dandelion flowers are a fantastic delicacy; they’re versatile, healthy, and tasty. Unopened buds are tender and tasty. You can deep-fry them to make dandelion tempura or add them to fresh salads. Meanwhile, the bright yellow flowers will look lovely when used as an edible garnish in salads and desserts. You can also use them to make jams and syrups.

These flowers can also be made into several different beverages. Dandelion wine is a particularly popular delicacy, especially in Europe. Alternatively, you can steep the flowers to make a delicious herbal tea.

Health benefits

Nutritional content

Despite being a weed, dandelion is actually a very healthy wild edible. It’s low in calories and fat while containing lots of essential nutrients. A cup of raw dandelion greens only contains 25 calories, 0.4g of fat, and absolutely no cholesterol. It also provides you with 1.5 g of protein and 5g of carbohydrates which includes 3g of dietary fiber.

Aside from that, dandelion is also an amazing source of key vitamins and mineral. It’s especially rich in vitamins A and K. In fact, you’ll be able to fulfill your daily vitamins A and K needs with just a cup of dandelion greens. You can also get vitamins B complex, C, and E as well as antioxidants from them. This vegetable also contains small amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, and copper.

Medicinal uses

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Flower Buds
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Flower Buds
(Photo by: lcm1863/Flickr)

With such a fantastic list of nutritional contents, it comes as no surprise that dandelion has a lot of health benefits and medicinal uses. First, as a great source of dietary fiber, the green parts can promote a healthy digestive system, stabilize blood sugar level, control diabetes, and make you feel full longer. Then, due to its vitamin K and calcium contents, it can also improve bone and teeth health.

Dandelion also has mild diuretic property. This helps the kidneys in functioning properly and help remove toxins from your body. Dandelion is also fantastic at improving cardiovascular health. It can prevent and cure anemia as well as high blood pressure. Aside from that, vitamin C and antioxidants in dandelion can also boost your immune system, protect your liver from diseases, and even prevent cancer.

This flower is also great for pregnant women and new mothers. Vitamins A and B complex, as well as folate, iron, and calcium, are essential nutrients for pregnant women. Moreover, due to its diuretic effect, dandelion can help relieve mild edema that’s common during pregnancy. Dandelion’s nutritional content can also aid recovery after giving birth. It can also stimulate lactation.

Dandelion can also be used topically. The sap is potent at treating skin diseases. It has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. As a result, it’s great for treating itchiness, skin infections, bruises, rashes, boils, eczema, and other skin conditions. Dandelion juice can also be a valuable addition to your skincare regime. It can prevent and cure acne, reduce face redness, and make acne scars less noticeable.

Obtaining the edible

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Field
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Field
(Photo by: Tomasz Kuran/Wikimedia Commons)

Due to its amazing health benefits, dandelions are gaining popularity these days. Many supermarkets, grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and health food stores now sell them. It’s actually not recommended to forage dandelions from the wild. Since they’re considered a weed, there’s a big chance that wild dandelions have been sprayed with herbicides. If you’re not sure what the plants have been exposed to, it’s better to leave them alone.

Always make sure to pick young, bright green leaves with almost no blemishes. Then, you can store them in your fridge just like you would with any other greens. When stored in the fridge, they’ll stay fresh for 3 to 5 days. It’s recommended to wash them and put them inside a sealed plastic bag with some paper towels before storing them in the fridge. The paper towels will absorb excess moisture so your dandelion greens can stay fresh longer.

Cultivation

Aside from foraging them and purchasing them from grocery stores, you can also cultivate dandelion in your own garden. Doing this will not only provide you with a reliable food source but also give your garden a fresh pop of color. Moreover, dandelions are very easy to grow and maintain.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Seeds
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Seeds
(Photo by: Huw Williams/Wikimedia Commons)

Dandelions are resilient and will survive in poor conditions. They will thrive best under full sun exposure, but they can grow with just about any light. They’re also not picky about the soil condition, as long as it provides adequate drainage. One thing you must note though, don’t use chemical fertilizer if you plan on harvesting the plants for consumption. The chemical may harm your body if ingested. Just add lots of compost to the soil where they grow instead.

This plant can be grown outdoors as part of your vegetable garden or indoors in a container to make it easier for you to harvest them. Sow the seeds directly 4 to 6 weeks before the expected last frost date. Once they’ve sprouted, thin them so each plant is about 6” apart from each other. They will be ready to harvest by late spring or early summer. They will reseed themselves. But since the seeds often fly away, you may find them in places where you don’t expect them to grow.

Cautions

Dandelion is mostly safe when consumed moderately, both as a food and as a medicinal herb. However, note that this herb is a type of ragweed. Ragweeds may cause allergic reactions in sensitive people when taken by mouth or used topically. If you’re allergic to other types of ragweed, such as chrysanthemum and daisies, avoid consuming dandelion. Allergy symptoms may include heartburn, stomach pain, diarrhea, itchiness, and skin redness. If you notice any of these symptoms, stop consumption immediately and contact your doctor.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Flowers, Harvested
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Flowers, Harvested
(Photo by: wayne marshall/Flickr)

There are some concerns that overconsumption of this herb over a long period of time may reduce fertility in women as well as lower the testosterone level in men. This is because the plant contains phytoestrogen. While this substance may be good for some people, it may also be harmful to others.

This flower may also interact with certain medicines, such as antibiotics and blood thinning medications. So, it’s recommended to consult your doctor before you start consuming dandelion as a medicinal herb.

Conclusion

Once you look over its bad reputation as a weed, dandelion can actually be a valuable addition to your daily diet. They are an amazing nutrition powerhouse. Low in calories and rich in essential nutrients, dandelions are truly an underrated wild edible. The time has come to embrace the wonderful benefits of dandelion. Try them and you’ll soon find yourself recommending this edible to everyone you know.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

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Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum) Illustration
Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum) Illustration
(Photo by: Otto Wilhelm Thomé/Wikimedia Commons)

With a bad reputation as a common weed, dead nettle (Lamium purpureum) is a greatly underrated wild edible. Moreover, its creepy name often puts people off. But actually, the “dead” part of its name actually refers to the fact that this plant doesn’t sting like its cousin, the stinging nettle.

Dead nettle is a herbaceous flowering plant that’s native to Europe and Asia. But, they’re also common throughout North America, growing in planting beds as a weed. This plant is easily recognizable from their green, hairy leaves with purple tops and pink flowers. Despite its humble appearance, dead nettle is actually a valuable edible and medicinal plant.

Edibility and culinary use

Despite belonging to the mint family, these leaves taste nothing like mint. Instead, they have a mildly sweet taste. Young dead nettle leaves are amazing when eaten fresh. They can be a fantastic addition to your salad. They’re also a great substitute for the more common greens, like spinach, kale, and lettuce, in wraps and sandwiches. You can also blend them with other greens and some lemon juice to make a delicious green smoothie.

Alternatively, these leaves can also be cooked as a potherb. Much like any other greens, these leaves will taste great stir-fried, blanched, and roasted. They will also be a fantastic addition to soups and stews. If you want something different, try dipping them in tempura batter and deep fry them for a delicious and crunchy snack. Lastly, you can also steep these leaves to make a healthy herbal tea.

Health benefits

Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum) Flowering Tops
Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum) Flowering Tops
(Photo by: BerndH/Wikimedia Commons)

Dead nettle leaves are highly nutritious. They’re a great source of vitamin C, iron, fiber, and flavonoids. Moreover, these leaves also have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties as well as diuretic, astringent, diaphoretic, and purgative effects.

Dead nettle herbal tea is exceptionally potent in healing kidney diseases, seasonal allergies, chills, and common colds. Consuming this edible can boost the immune system and fight off bacterial infections as well. Lastly, the leaves can also be used externally to stop bleeding as well as heal cuts, burns, and bruises.

Cultivation

Even though dead nettle is often considered a weed, it can actually be a beautiful as useful addition to your garden. The green and purple leaves will give your garden gorgeous ornamental foliage all year long. Then, of course, it’s also a great source of healthy edible. Moreover, this amazing plant will continue to flower well into the winter. Aside from being beautiful all year long, they also provide the local population of bees the nectar they need when other sources aren’t available. Luckily for you, this hardy perennial is easy to grow and require very little maintenance.

Dead nettle can grow almost anywhere in your garden. It can tolerate both full sunlight exposure or partial shade. It can grow in the least fertile or poor soil, as long as it has good drainage. Also, while the plant isn’t exactly drought-tolerant, you don’t need to water it too often, just twice a week should do.

Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
(Photo by: Gavin Schaefer/Wikimedia Commons)

The purple dead nettle is a common plant, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to find some young plants from local plant nurseries. Once you’ve bought young plants, simply transplant them to your garden after the last frost and give them around 1’ to 2’ of space between each other. Alternatively, you can also grow them from seeds. Sow the seeds in the spring after the last frost and give them around 8” to 12” of space to avoid overcrowding. Remember to prune your plant after every flowering season to stop them from taking over your garden completely.

Cautions

Note that dead nettle leaves have a mild laxative effect. Consuming too much, especially in herbal tea form, may cause diarrhea. Dead nettle may also induce menstruation, so pregnant women are advised to avoid this wild edible.

Conclusion

Due to its reputation as an invasive weed, most people tend to overlook the purple dead nettle. But this amazing plant is actually a nutritious wild edible. So, if you find any growing in your planting beds, don’t immediately pull them out! Instead, be grateful for this wonderful food source. Then maybe, you can try cultivating them and make your garden even more colorful with their green and purple foliage.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

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Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg



eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

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Black Chokeberry, a Native Super Food

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Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits
Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits
(Photo by: Puchatech K/Wikimedia Commons)

Despite its funny name, black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) is a super healthy food that has been cultivated and consumed for thousands of years. It’s native to eastern North America, but due to its various uses, chokeberry bushes were later introduced to Europe as well. They’re easily recognized in the wild from their glossy dark green leaves, which turn red in the fall.

These small, black berries are a quite important part of Native American cultures. They’re a great wild food source and they have other uses as well. They’re used to preserve meat and make traditional medicines, among other things.

Edibility and culinary use

Black chokeberry has a really good but astringent flavor. The astringency is more pronounced when the berries are eaten raw. For this reason, they taste best when cooked. That way, their natural sour and sweet flavor will come out nicely. Some extra added sweetness from sugar and honey will make them taste exceptional.

Black chokeberries are often made into syrup, juice, and jam. They also taste amazing when added to cakes, muffins, pies, and tarts. They can also be dried to make chokeberry raisins, which has a tart yet sweet flavor. Dried chokeberries can be eaten on their own as a healthy snack or used as a topping for desserts, such as cakes and ice cream.  

Health benefits

Even though black chokeberry isn’t as popular as other berries as a wild edible, these underrated berries have fantastic health benefits. They are a rich source of vitamins A, C, and E as well as minerals such as potassium, manganese, magnesium, zinc, and iron. They’re also low in fat, sodium, and calories. In fact, 100g of fresh chokeberries only contains about 50 calories, making them an exceptionally healthy diet food.

Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Flowers
Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Flowers
(Photo by: Kent McFarland/Flickr)

Moreover, these berries have the highest antioxidant content of any fruit. They contain about 3 times as much antioxidants as blueberries. That’s why researchers believe that black chokeberries can be great for preventing and fighting off cancer. They also can eradicate free radicals in our bodies, making us healthier and boosting our immune system at the same time.

That’s not all these berries can do. Native Americans used to consume them to fight off the common cold and flu, but recent studies state that these berries are capable of curing many more ailments. Due to their dietary fiber content, these berries can assist your digestive system, promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, and even regulate your blood sugar level as well as prevent diabetes. These berries also contain compounds that can improve your cardiovascular health, reduce high blood pressure, and regulate cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Lastly, black chokeberries can reduce oxidative stress in the eyes and thus, lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Cultivation

Black chokeberry isn’t only great as a food source. Chokeberry bushes can also be an amazing addition to any garden. Its dark green, glossy leaves will turn into lovely shades of orange and red in the fall instead of falling off. As a result, you’ll have vibrant foliage in your garden all year long. Moreover, this plant’s tiny white flowers are amazing at attracting pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. The small, black berries will start to appear in early fall. Make sure to harvest them immediately once they’re ripe before the birds finish them all off.

Since black chokeberry is a native plant in North America, you shouldn’t have any problem finding them in local plant nurseries. You can either buy young plants to transplant to your garden or bare roots to cultivate later. They’re not very hard to grow and maintain either. Just keep the soil around them moist and make sure they get enough sunlight.

Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Bush
Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Bush
(Photo by: Cranbrook Science/Flickr)

If you buy young shrubs, then it’s not difficult for you to grow them in your garden. Simply pick a sunny location in your garden and carefully transplant the plants once they’re sturdy enough. Just make sure to give around 6” to 12” between each plant to avoid overcrowding.

If you buy bare roots, soak the roots in a bucket of water. Keep each root separated and don’t expose them to the sun. Then, you can start planting them in early fall. Dig a hole 6” wider than the root and with the same depth as the root. Carefully fill the hole halfway with soil then water the plants. After that, continue filling the hole with soil while readjusting the soil. Make sure that the crown or the graft of the plants is only slightly above the soil.

Cautions

Chokeberry is safe when consumed moderately. But, these berries contain oxalic acid. If you consume too much oxalic acid, it may cause oxalate-type kidney stones to form. If you have had kidney stones or other kidney problems before, it’s best to limit your chokeberry consumption.

Conclusion

It’s undeniable that black chokeberries are an amazing source of nutrients. Their late fruiting period also ensures you still have a healthy and reliable food source when other plants have already started to wilt.

If you’re lucky enough to have some chokeberry bushes growing nearby, make great use of them and don’t forget to harvest the berries before the birds finish them off. But if you’re not so lucky, don’t worry. You can still grow them in your own garden. Plus, they’re a lovely and colorful addition to your landscape.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Dryad’s Saddle, a Unique and Tasty Mushroom

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Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
(Photo by: Roger Kidd/Wikimedia Commons)

Walk around your local forest and you’ll probably spot some wild mushrooms growing on tree stumps. Take a closer look at these mushrooms, you might be lucky enough to find some edible ones. Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus) or pheasant back mushroom is one of these valuable wild edibles. In the wild, you can recognize these tasty yet underrated mushrooms by the unique pore patterns on their underside as well as the distinctive brown patterns on their light tan caps.

Edibility and culinary use

Dryad’s saddle has a mealy yet pleasant flavor. These mushrooms also have a distinctive aroma that’s reminiscent of watermelon rinds. They taste best when they’re young and tender. As they mature, they become tougher that they’re impossible to chew. Older dryad’s saddle can be used to make a soup base or vegetable broth, but their flesh can’t be eaten as they’ll be too tough and leathery.

Once harvested, immediately wash and clean the young mushrooms before cooking them. Dryad’s saddle tastes best when roasted or sauteed. You can also boil them and add them into stews and soups. Alternatively, they can also be collected, dried, and powdered to be consumed later. You can use this powder to enhance the flavor of soups, gravies, bread, and even tempura batters. Lastly, you can store the mushrooms in a paper bag and freeze them for later use.

Health benefits

Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus) Young Specimens
Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus) Young Specimens
(Photo by: Phil Sellens/Flickr)

Much like other wild mushrooms, dryad’s saddle can be a nice addition to your daily diet. These mushrooms are a wonderful source of protein and other essential nutrition. Dryad’s saddle contains vitamins B complex, C, and D as well as essential minerals such as iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium. They’re also low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol, making them great healthy food.

Dryad’s saddle is also high in antioxidants. For this reason, eating these mushrooms can help your body fight off free radicals as well as prevent tumors and cancer. These antioxidants can also boost your immunity against common diseases, such as cold and flu. Dryad’s saddle is also rich in dietary fiber, so its’ great for promoting a healthy digestive system. Additionally, eating these mushrooms will also make you feel fuller longer, thus reducing your overall calorie consumption. Lastly, adding these wild mushrooms into your daily diet can also help manage your blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, regulate your blood pressure, and improve your overall cardiovascular health.

Cultivation

You can find dryad’s saddle growing on fallen logs, tree stumps, or dying hardwood trees. They’re typically found around April and May, but it’s not uncommon to find them growing in the summer and early fall as well. If you’re lucky enough to find these brown mushrooms growing in the wild, take note of their location. They usually appear in the same place each year until they’ve consumed all the wood.

Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus) Underside Pore Pattern
Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus) Underside Pore Pattern
(Photo by: Rosser1954/Wikimedia Commons)

However, if you’re not so lucky, you can either buy them from the supermarket or grow them yourself. Though they’re a bit rare, you can buy dryad’s saddle growing kits online. These kits usually contain mushroom spawns that are ready to cultivate and an instruction booklet. Once you have these spawns, you need to get a hardwood log to grow them. Soak the log in water for 3 to 7 days to make it more suitable for mushroom cultivation. Then, drill holes into the log and plug your spawns. Keep the log in a cool, moist, and shaded place.

Just like in the wild, your mushrooms will begin to fruit around April and May. they will continue to fruit until early fall. Remember that only young mushrooms are suitable to eat. You can either leave older, tougher mushrooms alone or harvest them and boil them to make a soup base then discard the flesh. Much like in the wild, your colony will continue to provide you with an abundance of fresh and tasty dryad’s saddle mushrooms for years to come.

Cautions

There are no known side effects from eating this mushroom. There are no poisonous look-a-likes either. You just need to be careful to only pick young mushrooms for eating as older mushrooms often become infested with maggots.

Conclusion

Dryad’s saddle is a very underrated wild edible. These mushrooms are tasty and nutritious but due to their lack of popularity, they’re often ignored. Dryad’s saddle mushrooms can be a delicious addition to any meal while providing you with great nutritional contents. Just make sure to pick young specimens as older ones tend to be too tough to chew.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

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eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
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Ramps, a Popular and Versatile Herb

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Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
(Photo by: Fungus Guy/Wikimedia Commons)

Ramps (Allium tricoccum) are a wild onion species native to North America. While this woodland edible’s bulbs resemble that of a scallion, it has beautiful broad green leaves. It’s one of the earliest wild edibles to emerge in the spring and it’s a wonderful food source all year round. This herb is well-known among foragers and foodies alike for its wonderful taste and aroma along with its great medicinal uses.

Edibility and culinary use

This herb has been consumed for thousands of years by Native Americans. The leaves, stems, bulbs, and flowers of this plant are all edible. Ramps are famous for their strong garlic-like aroma and delicious onion-like flavor. It can be used and cooked as you would with regular leek and spring onions. It can be adapted into numerous recipes as a substitute for onion, garlic, or the common leek. Use ramps sparingly when you’re using it as a seasoning as its strong flavor can easily overpower the taste of your dish.

You can also chop up ramps and sprinkle them over a salad. This green can also complement your favorite sandwich or sub nicely. This herb also tastes particularly good and unique when deep-fried in batter. Ramps pesto will also complement pasta really well. You can also submerge them in olive oil to make a delicious infused-oil that will taste great for cooking and as a salad dressing. Lastly, you can boil, sautee, grill, or roast them to make a delicious vegetable side dish.

Health benefits

Aside from being delicious, this pungent herb is also very nutritious. It’s very rich in vitamins A, B9, and C as well as essential minerals, such as iron, selenium, and copper. Ramps also contain useful sulfur compounds as well as powerful antioxidants. For this reason, ramps have been shown to prevent tumors and cancer.

Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
(Photo by: John Winkelman/Flickr)

Ramps are also great in maintaining cardiovascular health. It contains a sulfur compound called kaempferol which protects blood vessels lining against damage and helps the liver in eliminating bad cholesterol from the bloodstream. Its rich iron content also boosts red blood cells production. Lastly, vitamin B9 or folate helps lower high blood pressure and prevent stroke.

Additionally, ramps are also a popular herbal remedy among Native Americans. The Ojibwa and Iroquois use ramps decoction as a quick-acting emetic, as a treatment for worms in children, and as a spring tonic that will flush out toxins and restore health. Meanwhile, the Cherokee consumes this herb to ward off cold, flu, croup, and other respiratory infections. They also use the juice of this herb to aid earaches.

Cultivation

While you can easily find ramps growing around local forests, it’s unsustainable to forage them. Overharvesting them can take a toll on its population and cause problems to the environment. When you forage them from the wild, make sure to only clip some of the leaves and stems instead of digging the plant along with its bulb. This way, they’ll be able to grow back over time. While doing this can help the local ramps population, it’s recommended to just grow some plants in your garden. That way, you’ll have a steady source of ramps without having to disturb the environment.

Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Flower
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Flower
(Photo by: Joshua Mayer/Flickr)

You can buy ramps seeds online or from local nurseries. But it’s not recommended to grow this plant from seed as they take a very long time to germinate and mature. The best way to grow ramps is to transplant the bulbs. You may be able to buy them from local nurseries. But if you can’t find any, you might have to get a few from the wild.

Be careful not to damage the bulbs and roots. You can start transplanting them in late fall or early spring. Choose a location that’s cool, moist, and partially shaded. Plant the bulbs 3” deep and 6” apart from each other. Make sure the tip of the bulb is above the ground. Water them well and cover them with 2” of shredded leaf mulch.

Cautions

There are no known dangers of consuming ramps moderately. However, overconsumption may result in food poisoning as well as cause nausea and upset stomach. Avoid giving this herb to your pets, especially in large amounts. Cats and dogs are susceptible to ramps poisoning.

Conclusion

With such amazing culinary and medicinal uses, it’s not hard to see why ramps are so popular. Despite its strong and pungent smell, this herb is very versatile and can be used in a lot of different recipes.

Unfortunately, this popularity acts as a double-edged sword. While this herb is regarded highly, a lot of events and festivals held to praise it has caused its population to suffer. So, while this is a great herb to include in your daily diet, try not to forage it from the wild. Instead, try growing some ramps plants in your own vegetable garden. That way, you’ll be able to reap all the benefits ramps has to offer without hurting the environment.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

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eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
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Maitake, the Wonderful King of Mushrooms

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Maitake (Grifola frondosa) in the Wild
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) in the Wild
(Photo by: Lebrac/Wikimedia Commons)

Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is a type of mushroom that’s native to China, Japan, and North America. To Westerners, maitake is often called hen of the woods and sheep’s head mushrooms. Despite being a native to North America as well, these mushrooms are more commonly found in Asian supermarkets throughout the US.

The name Maitake itself literally “dancing mushrooms” in Japanese. The mushroom got its name from how Japanese people used to dance whenever they found these mushrooms. These mushrooms are especially prized in the East due to its delicious taste as well as various health and medicinal benefits. In fact, it’s sometimes called “The King of Mushrooms” as well due to its large size and preciousness.

Edibility and culinary use

Chinese and Japanese people have been eating this delicious mushroom for more than 3,000 years. Maitake mushrooms are widely appreciated for their delicate and unique texture as well as their musky, earthy, yet versatile flavor and aroma. Since these mushrooms toughen up as they age, be sure to choose firm, young ones for cooking.

Maitake can be cooked in the same way other popular mushrooms, like shimeji and shiitake, are cooked. Before cooking, make sure to wash them to clean off any dirt that may be sticking to the mushrooms. Once washed, check if the base of the mushrooms is tough or firm. They’re often too tough to be eaten, so you might want to chop them off and discard them.

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
(Photo by: caspar s/Flickr)

After you have clean mushroom caps, you can cook them any way you want. Stir-fried, deep-fried, baked, or stuffed, these flavorful mushrooms will taste amazing. You can also boil them, then eat the mushrooms and drink the water as an herbal tea. Lastly, you can also eat raw maitake by crumbling or chopping them into small bits and sprinkling them on a salad.

Health benefits

Maitake is said to a type of adaptogen which means it can assist the body in fighting off any mental and physical ailments. This mushroom is also a nutrient powerhouse. It’s rich in beta-glucans, antioxidants, essential amino acids, protein, vitamins B and C, and important minerals, like iron, selenium, copper, zinc, and potassium. Moreover, maitake is also low calorie, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-sodium, and rich in fiber. So, this delicious mushroom is also a great food for those who are on a diet.

This herbal remedy can be used to cure and prevent a lot of ailments. A hot bowl of maitake soup will be especially good for boosting your immune system and overall health. Consuming maitake will protect you against common illnesses like cold and flu. This mushroom is also consumed to combat high blood pressure, control blood sugar levels, and reduce cholesterol.

Maitake also has strong antiviral properties. This mushroom’s extract has even been shown to kill off HIV and hepatitis virus. It has also been shown to be quite effective in preventing and fighting off tumors and cancer. Additionally, it can also be eaten to reduce the negative effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, hair loss, upset stomach, and loss of appetite. Lastly, this mushroom may also treat infertility caused by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Foraging and Cultivation

Maitake is common in the Northeastern US. They can be found growing in the woods at tree bases. They’re most commonly found under oak trees, but they may also grow under maple and elm, so keep an eye out. These mushrooms usually appear from late summer to early fall, but they peak in early to late September. Remember where you find maitake as they usually appear in the same place each year. After harvesting, you can immediately use them or freeze them to store for later use. They can be kept for up to 2 years when frozen.

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
(Photo by: Pethan/Wikimedia Commons)

If you wish, you can also cultivate maitake on your own. There are many ready-to-grow maitake kits sold online. These growing kits are great for beginners; even children can grow maitake successfully with these kits. Make sure to get your kit from a reliable source. The kits usually come with their own instruction booklets. Pay attention when reading the instructions to ensure optimum growth and yield.

Depending on the type, the maitake kits can be used to grow these mushrooms indoors or outdoors. Most kits are usually made to grow maitake indoors. But after the maitake kit fruits for the first time, you can bury them outdoors in your garden in a moist environment. The fungus will continue to fruit year after year.

Cautions

Consuming maitake may lower your blood sugar level. If you’re diabetic or prone to hypoglycemia, watch your blood sugar levels carefully when consuming this mushroom. It may also lower blood pressure, so avoid consuming it if you have hypotension to prevent worsening your condition. For these reasons, you should also avoid this mushroom two weeks before a scheduled surgery. Lastly, always consult your healthcare provider before consuming maitake as a health supplement.

Conclusion

It’s no wonder that maitake is called the king of mushrooms. With its rich nutrients content and wonderful medicinal benefits, it’s not hard to see why these mushrooms are so treasured. If you’re lucky enough to have them growing near you, forage them and try including them in your daily diet. If you’re not so lucky, don’t worry. Buy some from your local Asian supermarket or try growing them at home by buying ready-to-grow maitake kits.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg



eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Is Jewelweed A Good Poison Ivy Remedy? (Scientific Studies)
Read more.
Allium vineale - Wild Garlic Bulbs
5 Edible Survival Plants Everyone Should Know(Worldwide)
Read more.
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Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Dead Nettle, an Overlooked yet Valuable Wild Edible
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Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits
Black Chokeberry, a Native Super Food
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Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
Dryad’s Saddle, a Unique and Tasty Mushroom
Read more.
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
Ramps, a Popular and Versatile Herb
Read more.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake, the Wonderful King of Mushrooms
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Black medic (Medicago lupulina) Flowers and Leaves
Black Medic, an Underrated and Useful Wild Edible
Read more.

Black Medic, an Underrated and Useful Wild Edible

Check Out Our Latest YOUTUBE videos:


Black medic (Medicago lupulina) in Bloom
Black medic (Medicago lupulina) in Bloom
(Photo by: Simon/Flickr)

Black medic (Medicago lupulina) is often considered a weed and a mild nuisance in the garden. However, if you see this plant invading your garden, don’t immediately spray it with chemicals! Instead, you should actually be happy. This seemingly annoying weed is actually edible and rich in nutrients. It even has some wonderful medicinal qualities, making it a nice herbal remedy.

Also known by its other names, yellow trefoil, hop clover, or black clover, black medic originally came from Europe and Asia. People later introduced this plant to North America as a crop for fodder. Since then, this plant has naturalized and become a common sight in dry, sunny roadsides and meadows.

Edibility and culinary use

In Europe and Asia, where this plant is native, black medic leaves are often used as a potherb. They’re cooked and eaten much like other greens, such as spinach and collards. The best way to cook these leaves is to lightly sautee or stir-fry them, but they can also be added into soups and stews. Additionally, you can throw in the leaves into a bowl of salad, but most people find them too bitter when eaten raw.

Black medic seeds are also edible. Historians believed that Native Americans roasted these seeds and ground them to make flour. However, there have been some concerns that the seeds may contain compounds that interfere with the digestion of proteins. But these compounds will be destroyed if the seeds are sprouted first. This plant belongs to the same genus as alfalfa. While not as nutritious as alfalfa sprouts, black medic sprouts can be cooked and eaten similarly.

Black medic (Medicago lupulina) Flowers and Leaves
Black medic (Medicago lupulina) Flowers and Leaves
(Photo by: Tigerente/Wikimedia Commons)

Lastly, if you’re a beekeeper, you’ll be happy to find that black medic flowers can be used in honey production. Honeybees seem to love these flowers. Honey made of these flowers tends to taste nice and sweet as well.

Health benefits

Though not as powerful as its cousins, red clover and alfalfa, black medic is quite nutritious. Every 100g black medic leaves contain around 23g of protein and around 25g of fiber, making this herb an amazing source of protein and fiber. Due to its fiber contents, this herb can help promote a healthy digestion system. This plant also has a mild laxative effect, making it a great natural remedy for constipation. These leaves will also make you feel full longer and aid weight loss.

Black medic is also rich in essential minerals, such as calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. Including this herb in your daily diet will certainly benefit you in the long run. This herb has also shown antibacterial properties. Thus, making it a nice herbal remedy for mild bacterial infections and bacteria-related diseases. Lastly, this herb may assist the body’s blood clotting process which means it can help stop bleeding.

Cultivation

Despite being considered a weed, this sun-loving plant can actually be a useful garden plant. Aside from being a great and nutritious food source, black medic can also improve the quality of your garden’s soil. This plant’s roots can form a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacterias. As a result, the soil on which this plant grows become more fertile over time. This means black medic is an effective green manure cover crop.

Black medic is a short-lived annual plant which will die after flowering. But, since it produces a large number of viable seeds, it can behave as if it were perennial. This plant dislikes acidic soils and shades. So, try to grow it in a sunny location with neutral and alkaline soil. It thrives best in dry to moist, well-drained soil which contains clay, sand, or loam.

The seeds can be sown in spring or fall, but spring seems to be the best time for growing black medic. The plants will have a harder time growing if the seeds are sown in the fall. Before sowing, pre-soak the seeds in warm water for 12 hours to ensure germination. Sow the seeds directly and lightly cover them with soil.  

Black medic (Medicago lupulina)
Black medic (Medicago lupulina)
(Photo by: Anneli Salo/Wikimedia Commons)

Mow or harvest them often to prevent them from overtaking your garden. Lastly, black medic will survive over the winter and flower the following spring. The flowers will attract pollinators to your garden and help feed the local bee population.

Cautions

Since this herb assists blood clotting, it should be avoided by people who are taking blood thinning medications. This herb also has a mild laxative effect that shouldn’t be a problem when eaten moderately. However, overconsumption may cause diarrhea.

Much like alfalfa, black medic may also contain some estrogenic compounds. Therefore, it’s best for pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid this herb. It’s also better not to give this herb to children due to a lack of research on its effects on young children. As with any other herbs, it’s best to consult a doctor before consuming this herb.

Conclusion

Despite its various uses, black medic is still a widely undervalued crop. Instead of considering them a weed and getting rid of them, we should start utilizing them, both as a food source and as a nitrogen-fixing cover crop. In the end, we should use what nature gives us to the best of our ability.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

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Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
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Wild Sarsaparilla, a Native Source of Energy and Health

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Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)
Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)
(Photo by: Jomegat/Wikimedia Commons)

Despite their similar name, wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) is not related to the true sarsaparilla at all. Unlike true sarsaparilla which belongs to the Greenbrier family, wild sarsaparilla belongs to the Ginseng family. Wild sarsaparilla is a perennial flowering plant that comes from northern and eastern North America. This plant can easily be found growing on creeping underground stems in the woods.

This plant has had a long history with Native Americans. It’s considered a very filling food source as well as a wonderful herbal remedy. Also, much like its name suggests, the roots of this plant is often used as a substitute for true sarsaparilla roots in making root beer.

Edibility and culinary use

Wild sarsaparilla has a sweet spicy taste and a nice aromatic fragrant. The leaves, fruits, and roots of this plant are edible, but the roots are by far the most commonly used one. They’re used as a substitute for sarsaparilla, to make root beer, to make syrup, as well as to flavor other foods and beverages. Native Americans also used to eat wild sarsaparilla roots as emergency food, especially during wartime. This is because these roots are a wonderful source of energy.

Other than that, you can brew wild sarsaparilla leaves along with the roots to make a refreshing herbal tea. Young shoots are often cooked as a potherb as well. They can be stir-fried, blanched, or added into soups and stews. Lastly, ripe wild sarsaparilla fruits can be used to make wine and jelly.

Health benefits

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) Leaves
Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) Leaves
(Photo by: Homer Edward Price/Flickr)

Much like its similarly named friend, sarsaparilla, wild sarsaparilla is an amazing medicinal herb. In fact, Native Americans have been using the roots of both plants interchangeably for making traditional herbal remedies. The roots can be made into a tincture, tonic, and herbal tea for internal use or used as a poultice for external use.

This herb has diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and stimulant properties. Aside from that, it’s also a great detoxifier as it encourages the body to sweat all the toxins out. Wild sarsaparilla can treat a lot of ailments. Internally, it’s used to treat cough, asthma, pulmonary diseases, rheumatism, and digestive problems. It can also help alleviate toothache and stomachache. Then, a poultice made from this herb can be used externally to treat sore muscles, joint pain, ulcers, burns, minor cuts, rash, insect bites, and other skin diseases such as eczema.

Cultivation

Wild sarsaparilla can easily be found growing in woodlands, especially if you live in northern and eastern US. But if you don’t want to go into the woods each time you want to use this herb, you can grow it in your own garden. This perennial herb isn’t hard to grow and it requires very little maintenance, especially if it has matured. Plant wild sarsaparilla on rich, loamy soil in a shady and protected area.

Wild sarsaparilla can be propagated from root cuttings. You can do this by digging up the roots when the plant is dormant in late fall. Cut the roots into 4” segments and lay them in a planting bed. Bury the root segments under 2” of soil and a layer of bark mulch. They can be transferred to their permanent position outside in their second spring.

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) Flowers
Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) Flowers
(Photo by: Halpaugh/Wikimedia Commons)

Alternatively, you can also grow this plant from seeds. You can gather the seeds from ripe, unblemished fruits at the end of summer. If you can’t find any plants in the wild, simply buy the seeds online or from a nursery. It’s best to sow these seeds in the fall. They will germinate within 1 to 3 months. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, place them in individual pots and let them grow in a greenhouse. Transfer them outside in late spring or early summer, be sure to give approximately 10” space for each plant.

Cautions

Wild sarsaparilla has no known hazard, but it’s always wise to consult your doctor or other medical providers before starting to consume this herb.

Be careful when foraging this herb in the wild. Wild sarsaparilla and poison ivy can look similar, especially in the spring when young plants just start to emerge. Young wild sarsaparilla plants will have three sets of 3 young leaves on its branches, just like poison ivy. A way to tell the difference between both plants is to check for the base of the plants and their leaf shapes. Wild sarsaparilla doesn’t have a woody base while its leaves have finely serrated edges.

It’s easier to tell them apart when the plants have matured. Mature wild sarsaparilla will have three sets of 5 leaves branching out from a common point on the stem along with little white or green flower clusters hanging below the leaves.

Conclusion

Wild sarsaparilla is truly a wonderful medicinal herb. It has had an extensive history as a herbal remedy. In fact, Native Americans tribes see this plant as a panacea and a valuable food source. With its uniquely distinct taste and potent medicinal properties, wild sarsaparilla will be a great addition to your daily diet. So, try taking a walk in the woods and see if you can find any wild sarsaparilla. Once you find it, why not try to cultivate it in your own garden? Its lovely green foliage will look amazing in any garden.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

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Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
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Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
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Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
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White Clover, a Sweet and Nutritious Edible Weed

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White clover (Trifolium repens)  Meadow
White clover (Trifolium repens) Meadow
(Photo by: Hideyuki Kamon/Wikimedia Commons)

White clover (Trifolium repens) is a low-growing perennial plant that’s native to Europe and Central Asia. It has been naturalized all over the world as a yard crop. Its most distinguishable features are its smooth, trifoliolate leaves and white flowers. Despite its inconspicuous appearance, apparently, this plant possesses some great culinary and medicinal uses.

Edibility and culinary use

All aerial parts of this plant are edible, including the stems, leaves, flowers, and seed pods. The leaves and flowers have a delicate, sweet taste. They can be used fresh right after harvesting or dried for later use. The most common way to consume the leaves and flowers is to brew them to make a sweet and relaxing tisane.

Then, fresh leaves also taste great in a salad, soup, and vegetable stir-fry while dried leaves can add a vanilla-like flavor to baked goods. Likewise, dried clover flowers are also great for adding flavor to baked goods as well as jelly and cool beverages. Fresh while clover flowers can also be used as an edible garnish in various dishes.

Additionally, you can use white clover as a substitute for red clover. While both plants don’t exactly have the same flavor, they’re similar enough to be used interchangeably. For example, dried white clover flowers and seed pods can be ground to make gluten-free flour, just like with red clover flowers.

Health benefits

White clover (Trifolium repens) with Four Leaflets
White clover (Trifolium repens) with Four Leaflets
(Photo by: Joe Papp/Wikimedia Commons)

Compared to its cousin, the red clover, white clover is less popular in the herbal medicine realm. It also has fewer health benefits. But, that doesn’t mean white clover is useless as a herbal remedy. To begin with, it contains a lot of essential vitamin and minerals, including vitamins A, B2, B3, C, and E as well as magnesium, potassium, chromium, and calcium. Due to its nutritional content, this herb is often used as a natural remedy in various communities around the world, including Turkish, Indian, and Native Americans.

A white clover infusion can be used to treat fever, coughs, and colds. It’s also good for treating common cold symptoms, such as upset stomachs, nausea, and dizziness. White clover herbal tea can treat rheumatic aches and arthritis. It can also be used as an eyewash to cure minor eye infections or applied on the skin to heal wounds, burns, ulcers, and sores.

Cultivation

White clover is becoming more and more popular among gardeners. It looks great as a grass alternative. It’s an excellent creeping ground cover; it’s easy to maintain, moderately drought-resistant, and requires no fertilizer. Then, as a nitrogen fixator, this plant can improve your garden’s soil fertility. It also helps other plants in your garden by attracting pollinators such as butterflies and bees. And of course, you get the added bonus of having a reliable and convenient source of food and medicinal herb.

White clover (Trifolium repens) with Blooming Flowers
White clover (Trifolium repens) with Blooming Flowers
(Photo by: Forest & Kim Starr/Wikimedia Commons)

You should be able to get white clover seeds online or from a local plant nursery. Choose a sunny location with moist, rich soil. Aerate the soil, water the area daily to moisten the soil, and remove any weeds that might hinder the clover’s growth. It’s recommended to starting sowing the seeds in spring or summer.

Sow the seeds evenly over the area and bury them under ¼” layer of soil. The seeds should start germinating in 10 to 15 days. Water the area daily to ensure optimum growth until the plants are well established. Do not fertilize these plants as doing so will kill them.

Cautions

White clover is generally safe to consume in moderation. However, due to its blood-thinning effect, it might increase the risk of bleeding. So, it’s best to stop consuming this herb at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. This blood-thinning property might also interact with hypertension medications. Consult your doctor before including this herb in your diet.

Conclusion

Despite its humble appearance, there’s no denying that white clover is a very useful plant to have around. It’s not only good for your garden, but it’s also great for your health. Moreover, its lush green foliage will stay gorgeous all throughout the summer and sometimes, even winter as well. With white clover, you’ll have a beautiful garden all year round.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

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eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
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Stinging Nettle, an Interesting Herb with Many Virtues

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Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) Illustration
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) Illustration
(Photo by: Otto Wilhelm Thomé/Wikimedia Commons)

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is usually dismissed as a harmful weed due to its stinging hair. But in reality, this plant is actually one of the most beneficial and nutritious wild edibles out there. In some cultures, stinging nettle has even been used as a traditional medicine and food source since ancient times. This vitamin-rich herb has been used for hundreds of years to treat various ailments, such as eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia.

Stinging nettle was originally from Europe and West Asia, but now it can be found growing all over the world. This perennial herb is included in the Urticaceae family due to their stinging hair (trichome). While these stinging hairs can irritate the skin, they can actually be useful with proper preparation. They contain natural histamine which can actually help alleviate allergy symptoms.

Edibility and culinary use

Stinging nettle leaves, stems, and roots are all edible. It’s recommended to use young leaves for cooking and remember that stinging nettle must never be eaten raw. Cooking this herb will eliminate its pesky stinging properties, making them a delicious addition to your daily diet. The easiest way to consume stinging nettle is to brew it to make herbal tea or to infuse it in your drinking water. Stinging nettle tea has a pleasant, earthy flavor that goes great with lemon and honey.

Stinging nettle leaves make an excellent spinach substitute. These leaves can be sauteed, added to bread or pasta dough, or even made into pesto. They can also be added to green salads, just make sure to blanch them first to remove their stinging properties. The water from blanching them can be consumed as a tea. Nettle leaves and young shoots can also be a wonderful addition in soups and stews. Lastly, if you love brewing your own beer, try making a delicious nettle beer by brewing young nettle shoots.

Health benefits

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) Close Up
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) Close Up
(Photo by: Michael Gasperl/Wikimedia Commons)

Despite its reputation as a pain-causing weed, stinging nettle offers an excellent nutritional value. It’s rich in vitamin A, B complex, C, D, and K as well as iron, calcium, potassium, and silica. It’s also easy to use nettle as a medicinal supplement. You can add it to your daily diet by brewing the young leaves and roots to make herbal tea or tincture. You can also make nettle-infused water to drink each day. The infusion goes great with other herbs, such as clover, lemon balm, and raspberry leaf. Alternatively, you can apply it topically to help heal eczema and improve the appearance of your skin.

Traditionally, stinging nettle is used as a diuretic and body detoxifier. It has also been known to prevent and aid kidney stones. The histamine content has also been shown to prevent and treat hay fever as well as other mild allergies. Stinging nettle’s high vitamin C and iron content also make it great for improving circulation, controlling high blood pressure,  stimulating red blood cell production, and relieving anemia. This herb can also relieve inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatic arthritis, gout, and chronic muscle pain. It has also been shown to improve prostate health and treat enlarged prostate gland. Lastly, nettle is great for feminine health as it can relieve PMS symptoms, relieve cramps and bloating, as well as controlling hormone levels.

Cultivation

While they can be found easily in the wild, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t grow stinging nettles in your own garden. This perennial herb is very easy to grow and don’t require much maintenance. You can gather the seeds from wild stinging nettle plants or buy some from a plant nursery.

To start, sow the tiny seeds indoors around 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date. Once they’re big enough to handle, transplant them to your garden in early spring. Make sure to plant them in rich soil with full or partial sun exposure. Give approximately 10” space in between each plant. Water the plant regularly to keep the soil damp and moist.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) Bush
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) Bush
(Photo by: H. Zell/Wikimedia Commons)

You should be able to start harvesting nettle leaves 90 days after sowing the seeds. It’s best to harvest them in early spring when the leaves are young and tender. But, you can harvest them all the way to early summer, right before the flowers blossom. Pick the top two or three pairs of leaves from the top and cut them with a pair of scissors. Don’t forget to wear protective clothes and gloves so you don’t get stung. If you do get stung, apply over-the-counter topical ointment immediately. They can be used immediately, but you can also dry or freeze them to store the leaves for future use.

Cautions

When handling stinging nettle, it’s recommended to wear gloves. The stinging hair which covers the leaves and stems can irritate the skin. When used appropriately, cooked stinging nettle is safe to consume. However, only young leaves should be used as older nettle leaves may irritate the kidneys when consumed.

Stinging nettle can induce menstruation and uterine contraction, so avoid consumption during pregnancy. This herb can also lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. If you’re prone to either hypotension or hypoglycemia, consult your doctor before starting to use stinging nettle. Lastly, this herb may interact with some medications, such as blood thinning drugs, diuretics, and blood pressure drugs.

Conclusion

Despite its annoying spiky exterior, stinging nettle is an amazing wild edible. With all of its nutritional contents and medicinal benefits, adding stinging nettle to your daily diet will definitely keep you healthy and energized. Several studies have even backed up the benefits of using stinging nettle as a herbal remedy. Curious? Try cultivating this herb in your garden or if you don’t want to deal with the stinging leaves, you can easily find stinging nettle capsules and extract online.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg



eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Is Jewelweed A Good Poison Ivy Remedy? (Scientific Studies)
Read more.
Allium vineale - Wild Garlic Bulbs
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Read more.
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Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Dead Nettle, an Overlooked yet Valuable Wild Edible
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Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits
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Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
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Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
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Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
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Rosemary, a Prized Culinary and Medicinal Herb

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Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Illustration
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Illustration
(Photo by: Franz Eugen Kohler/Wikimedia Commons)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial herb which belongs to the mint family. Most people recognize rosemary as a famous culinary herb. Additionally, it also has some medicinal uses in addition to its various culinary uses. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region and some parts of Asia. However, due to its popularity, this herb can be found growing around the globe.

Edibility and culinary use

Rosemary has a strong yet subtle flavor; it’s minty, pine-like, and somewhat bittersweet. It also has a pungent, minty aroma. The leaves can season a wide variety of dishes, both savory and sweet. Rosemary’s unique taste goes well with almost everything, such as cheese, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, steak, grain, mushroom, potatoes, assorted greens, and many more. Rosemary also complements the natural sweetness of fresh fruits and honey really well.

You can also make rosemary-infused oil and butter. Doing this can help preserve the flavor and aroma of this herb. Rosemary oil and butter make for delightful substitutes for the regular oil and butter. You can also boil fresh rosemary sprigs to make a delicious herbal tea. Lastly, you can use this herb to spice up some lemonade. Simply drop a few sprigs in a pitcher of lemonade. Let it sit for a couple of hours to allow the flavor to infuse the lemonade.

Health benefits

This herb is often used to aid digestive problems such as excess flatulence, upset stomach, heartburn, and loss of appetite. It also increases blood flow, boosts red blood cell production, controls blood pressure, and increases overall energy level. Rosemary herbal tea can also help heal coughs, menstrual pain, and headaches as well as relieve stress and anxiety. It can improve liver and kidney health, promote a healthy menstrual cycle, enhance memory and concentration, prevent brain aging, fight off brain damage, as well as prevent tumors and cancer.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Bush
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Bush
(Photo by: Natalie Maynor/Flickr)

Rosemary oil can also be applied topically. This oil promotes hair growth, prevents baldness, treats dandruff, slow hair graying, and moisturizes the scalp. You can also include this oil in your skincare routine. It can improve the appearance of your skin, fight off UV rays, and reduce blemishes. Lastly, it can also heal eczema, muscle pain, joints pain, gingivitis, and even toothaches.

Cultivation

With evergreen, needle-like leaves and tiny yet vibrant flowers, rosemary makes for a great ornamental plant. This lovely herb can grow nicely outdoors as well as indoors. A single pot of rosemary will make your kitchen smell fresh while giving you a steady supply of the culinary and medicinal herb. And you’ll be delighted to find that rosemary works great as a companion plant. Its pungent aroma can help repel pests. It will increase the yields of other plants, such as carrot, cabbage, broccoli, kale, beans, and other leafy greens

For best growth, plant rosemary in loamy and sandy soil that’s rich in nutrients. This evergreen herb also loves the sun, so make sure to place it in a bright and sunny spot. Water this herb regularly to keep the soil moist, but allow the soil to dry between waterings.

Cold winter weather may harm this plant. It’s recommended to plant it in a container so you can bring it inside when winter comes around. You can plant it directly in your garden, but make sure to plant it a protected spot away from the harsh winter wind.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) in Bloom
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) in Bloom
(Photo by: Clinton & Charles Robertson/Wikimedia Commons)

You can easily buy rosemary from a local plant nursery. You should be able to find both matured plants and starter plants. If you buy starter plants, set them out in the spring and place them about 2’ to 3’ apart from each other. Later, you can grow more plants from seeds or cuttings. Plants grown from cuttings are especially good since they mature faster.

Once settled, they can be harvested at any time of the year. This herb can be used fresh or dried for later use. Remember to trim and prune this plant often to keep it in check, particularly in the spring after flowering. If not trimmed, the plants can grow up to 5’, especially in warmer climates.

Cautions

Using rosemary as a culinary herb poses no risk at all. Meanwhile, using it in medicinal amounts is generally safe. However, pregnant women should avoid consuming rosemary in medicinal amounts as it may affect the uterus or induce menstruation. This herb might also increase the risk of bleeding and bruising. So, avoid use if you have bleeding disorders or are about to undergo surgery. Lastly, it might worsen seizure disorders worse, so use cautiously.

Conclusion

There’s a reason why rosemary is very popular. This beautiful aromatic herb possesses numerous uses, culinary and medicinal likewise. Its unique flavor and fragrant are very versatile. Enjoy rosemary as an addition to various recipes or on its own. While you can easily get dried rosemary from the supermarket, nothing beats the taste of a fresh sprig of rosemary. With proper care, you’ll be able to grow rosemary in your own garden and get a constant supply of this amazing herb.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg



eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Is Jewelweed A Good Poison Ivy Remedy? (Scientific Studies)
Read more.
Allium vineale - Wild Garlic Bulbs
5 Edible Survival Plants Everyone Should Know(Worldwide)
Read more.
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Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Seeds
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Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Dead Nettle, an Overlooked yet Valuable Wild Edible
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Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits
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Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
Dryad’s Saddle, a Unique and Tasty Mushroom
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Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
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Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake, the Wonderful King of Mushrooms
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Black medic (Medicago lupulina) Flowers and Leaves
Black Medic, an Underrated and Useful Wild Edible
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Red Clover, a Powerful Herb with Great Healing Powers

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Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
(Photo by: Sanja565658/Wikimedia Commons)

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a wild edible that has distinctly beautiful red round flowers. It’s a herbaceous perennial plant that’s native to Europe, western Asia, and northwestern Africa. But, due to its beauty as well as culinary and medicinal uses, this plant has been naturalized in almost every region of the world.

As mentioned previously, this plant has numerous culinary and medicinal uses that vary from each region. For example, in North America, this plant is mostly used as livestock fodder. Meanwhile, in China, it’s a traditional herbal medicine ingredient. Likewise, many other cultures in the world have also incorporated this herb as food and medicine in their daily diet.

Edibility and culinary use

Nearly every part of red clover is edible. Its leaves and seeds can be used in various recipes, but the widely preferred part of this edible plant is its flowers. The round red blossoms have a sweet, bean-like flavor. They can be eaten raw as an edible garnish in salads and other dishes. Aside from that, the flowers are often made into jelly and herbal tea. They can also be dried and ground to make highly nutritious flour. Red clover flour can be used alongside regular flour to add flavor and nutrition in recipes or as a gluten-free substitute.

Red clover leaves taste similar to the flowers, but when cooked, they have a vanilla-like flavor. They can be eaten raw or cooked. These leaves can be tossed in a salad, added into soups, or cooked like other greens. Dried leaves can be ground to make a gluten-free flour or chopped and sprinkled on different dishes to boost their flavor.

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) Flower
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) Flower
(Photo by: Tony Wills/Wikimedia Commons)

Lastly, its seeds can be sprouted and used in salads or stir-fry dishes. Red clover sprouts’ nutritional value is said to be comparable to that of alfalfa sprouts. Avoid eating unsprouted seeds. The seeds contain a compound which can interfere with your body’s ability to digest protein. This compound will only be destroyed after the seeds have sprouted.

Health benefits

Red clover is a great source of essential nutrients including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C as well as calcium, chromium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc. This herb also contains antioxidants and isoflavones, compounds which act like estrogen in the body.

This herb can treat various ailments, such as indigestion, upset stomach, cold, cough, asthma, and bronchitis. Due to its isoflavones content, red clover is also great for treating menopausal symptoms in women, such as hot flashes, as well as prevent osteoporosis. It can relieve PMS symptoms and reduce menstrual pain as well. Aside from feminine health, this herb can also help maintain cardiovascular health. It can lower cholesterol levels and control high blood pressure. Lastly, due to its high antioxidants content, red clover consumption may prevent cancer.

Cultivation

Red clover is a terrific addition to any garden. Its round, red flowers will add a cheerful splash of color to your garden while also attracting pollinators, such as bumblebees. This plant is also a wonderful nitrogen fixator which means it can increase your garden’s soil fertility. And of course, you’ll also have a reliable source of a medicinal and culinary herb.

Luckily, it’s not hard to cultivate this plant. It can grow in poor soil, but for optimum growth, make sure to plant it in well-drained, fertile soil. It prefers partially shaded area but can tolerate full-sun exposure as well if the weather is not overly hot.

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) Field
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) Field
(Photo by: R. R. Smith/Wikimedia Commons)

You might be able to get a red clover plant from your local nursery. In that case, simply roughen the soil to prepare it and transfer the plant to its permanent location in your garden. But, if you can’t find any red clover plants, try buying the seeds instead. Prepare the soil in a similar way and sow the seeds in late spring. Water them generously and they should germinate within 5 to 7 days.

The plants can be harvested within 40 to 60 days after sowing. This plant usually lasts around  3 years and it will produce its maximum yield in its second year. You can harvest most red clover plants twice in a year, once before mid-bloom and once more between August and September.

Cautions

Consuming red clover may cause some adverse side effects, such as headache, nausea, rash, muscle pain, acne, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, breast tenderness, and vaginal spotting.

Additionally, consuming this herb may slow blood clotting and increase the chance of bleeding. So, use with caution and avoid it at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Then, due to its isoflavones content, pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume this herb in medicinal amounts. Isoflavones act like estrogen and might disturb essential hormonal balances during pregnancy and the nursing period. There are also some concerns that overconsuming red clover for an extended period of time may reduce fertility.

Conclusion

Red clover has so much to offer to you besides its beautiful appearance. Including this amazing herb in your daily diet can improve your health immensely. Start foraging wild red clover in meadows and grassy pasture. Or, if you’re unable to find this wild edible in your area, cultivate them in your garden and reap its benefits!


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

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Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Is Jewelweed A Good Poison Ivy Remedy? (Scientific Studies)
Read more.
Allium vineale - Wild Garlic Bulbs
5 Edible Survival Plants Everyone Should Know(Worldwide)
Read more.
Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
Wild Blackberries and Raspberries, a Diverse Group of Delicious Edibles
Read more.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Seeds
Dandelion, a Surprisingly Beneficial Wild Edible
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Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Dead Nettle, an Overlooked yet Valuable Wild Edible
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Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits
Black Chokeberry, a Native Super Food
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Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
Dryad’s Saddle, a Unique and Tasty Mushroom
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Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
Ramps, a Popular and Versatile Herb
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Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake, the Wonderful King of Mushrooms
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Black medic (Medicago lupulina) Flowers and Leaves
Black Medic, an Underrated and Useful Wild Edible
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Kudzu, an Invasive Weed with Hidden Virtues

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Kudzu (Pueraria montana)
Kudzu (Pueraria montana)
(Photo by: Jud McCranie/Wikimedia Commons)

Kudzu (Pueraria Montana), or also known as Japanese arrowroot, is a perennial blossoming vine which hailed from Asia. This plant was originally brought over to the US from Japan in the 1800s. It was cultivated as livestock feed at first, but over time, it becomes an invasive weed. Kudzu poses a lot of danger for nearby plants as it can cover, shade, and eventually kill them. These days, kudzu can be found growing across the US. This plant is especially rampant in the South and Southeastern US, giving it the name “the vine that ate the south”.

However, despite being a dangerous invasive species, kudzu actually has some hidden benefits. Almost all parts of this plant, except for its seeds and seed pods, are edible. Moreover, kudzu can also be used as a herbal remedy for many ailments. In fact, it’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

Edibility and culinary use

As mentioned before, kudzu is edible and safe to eat. In fact, it’s considered a staple vegetable in Japan. Just make sure the plant you harvested is safe to eat. Most kudzu vines in the wild have been sprayed with herbicides. Don’t eat them if you’re unsure whether they’ve been sprayed with chemicals or not.

Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Seedpods
Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Leaves
(Photo by: Jud McCranie/Wikimedia Commons)

Kudzu leaves and young shoots can be served raw or cooked. They can be tossed on a salad, added into soups, deep-fried, or stir-fried. Then, much like the common arrowroot, kudzu roots are also full of edible starch. This starch is a powerful thickening agent which can be used in soups, stews, and sauces. Kudzu starch is also gluten-free, making it a great wheat flour substitute for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance. Lastly, the fragrant blossoms can be served raw, cooked, or pickled. These flowers can be used as an edible garnish on salads and desserts and at the same time, they can also be made into jelly, syrup, and candy.

Health benefits

Despite being considered a pesky weed, kudzu has so many health benefits to offer. To begin with, it’s rich in dietary fibers, making it a good and filling energy source. It’s also a great source of minerals, such as iron, sodium, calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, and manganese. Lastly, this plant contains isoflavones which act like estrogen in the body. For this reason, it’s often used to treat menopause symptoms. Studies also suggest that kudzu’s isoflavones may be able to prevent and help treat breast cancer and uterine cancer.

Kudzu is also a popular herb among those with drinking problems. This herb can treat alcoholism and relieve hangover symptoms, such as headaches, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. It’s believed that kudzu can combat drinking addictions by increasing blood flow and making drinkers feel the alcohol effects sooner. This way, drinkers are more likely to drink less and stop drinking earlier.

Additionally, kudzu is also used to treat other ailments, such as cold, fever, flu, hay fever, sinus infection, migraine, upset stomach, diarrhea, dysentery, muscle pain, and neck stiffness. It can also treat skin problems, such as itchiness, rash, and psoriasis. Kudzu can help control blood sugar levels in diabetic patients as well. Lastly, it’s also great for treating cardiovascular diseases. The flavonoid-like compound in it increases blood circulation and flow. For this reason, kudzu works great to treat high blood pressure, stroke, cholesterol, angina, and even heart attacks.

Cultivation

Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Seedpods
Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Seedpods
(Photo by: Pollinator/Wikimedia Commons)

As mentioned earlier, kudzu vines can be found easily throughout the country. This invasive plant grows easily and spreads rapidly. It shouldn’t be hard to find kudzu vines to harvest. But, if you’re afraid some of these vines had been sprayed with herbicides, you can cultivate this plant in your own garden. Just remember that this plant has the potential to take over your entire garden; a single vine can grow up to 15’ to 75’ in length. So, be sure to prune the vines regularly to keep them under control.

To start, you need to get the seeds. You can get kudzu seeds online, but you should be able to gather seed pods from wild kudzu vines as well. Then, pick where you want to grow this plant. This hardy plant can grow essentially anywhere, just make sure it gets full sun exposure. Then, simply scatter the seeds in the spring and bury them in a layer of soil. Young shoots will appear not long after planting.

After the plant starts to grow, it doesn’t need too much maintenance. You only need to water them once or twice a week. You should be able to start harvesting the leaves in fall. This plant can be harvested any time of the year, except during the winter when it loses its leaves.

Don’t forget to control the growth of the vines. You can do this by pruning them regularly, digging up the roots, picking its leaves in large amounts, and covering it under heavy mulch.

Cautions

Be careful when harvesting kudzu as its leaves look similar to poison ivy leaves. The easiest way to differentiate both plants is to remember that kudzu is a vine which grows outwards in every direction, while poison ivy is a ground vine which grows vertically to the sky. Make sure you don’t accidentally harvest the wrong plant. If you’re unsure about the identity of the plant you harvested, don’t eat it.

Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Flower
Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Flower
(Photo by: Clinton Steeds/Flickr)

Kudzu may slow down your blood’s ability to clot. If you’re about to undergo a surgery or have a bleeding disorder, it’s best to avoid consuming this herb. There are also some concerns it might interfere with cardiovascular functions. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and affect heart rhythm. So, avoid it if you’re suffering from any cardiovascular diseases or undergoing cardiovascular treatments. Lastly, it can also affect blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Pay attention to your blood sugar level when consuming this herb.

Conclusion

Despite being feared and even hated for its aggressive nature, it turns out that kudzu holds so many potentials as well. This wild edible is versatile and can be used in numerous recipes. As a medicinal herb, this plant is also useful for treating many different ailments. If you want to include kudzu in your daily diet, it’s recommended to grow it in your own garden to avoid accidentally consuming herbicides. Just remember to keep the vines in control and don’t let them take over your entire garden.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

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eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Is Jewelweed A Good Poison Ivy Remedy? (Scientific Studies)
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Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
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Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits
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Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
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Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
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Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
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Indian Cucumber, Tasty Edible Roots with Many Virtues

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Indian Cucumber (Medeola virginiana) Illustration
Indian Cucumber (Medeola virginiana) Illustration
(Photo by: Sydenham Edwards/Wikimedia Commons)

Much like may other plants in the Lily (Liliaceae), Indian cucumber (Medeola virginiana) is a good wild edible. Indian cucumber is a perennial plant that’s native to eastern North America. This plant got its name from the fact that it tastes and smells almost exactly like cucumber. Aside from its culinary uses, this plant also has several medicinal benefits. In fact, some Native American tribes have been using this plant as a part of their traditional folk medicine.

Edibility and culinary use

As the name suggests, Indian cucumber is tasty with a fresh, cucumber-like flavor. Both the roots and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like other root vegetables. They taste especially great in salads due to their fresh flavor.

This plant can be found growing in woods throughout eastern North America. But, it’s not recommended to forage this plant in the wild. Indian cucumbers are rarely found in the wild and they’re even endangered in some states. If you want to include Indian cucumber roots in your diet, it’s recommended for you to grow some plants in your own garden.

Health benefits

The roots have diuretic and anti-convulsion properties. They’re usually brewed to make an herbal tea to aid convulsions and seizures in children. Sometimes, crushed berries and leaves are made into a herbal infusion. This infusion has similar medicinal benefits as the root herbal tea. Its diuretic property has also been shown to maintain kidney health and treat edema as well as water retention.

Cultivation

Indian Cucumber (Medeola virginiana) Plant with Berries
Indian Cucumber (Medeola virginiana) Plant with Berries
(Photo by: Jomegat/Wikimedia Commons)

As mentioned earlier, it’s better to grow Indian cucumber plants in your own garden. This plant isn’t overly common in the wild and overharvesting the roots may cause an imbalance in the ecosystem.

You can gather Indian cucumber seeds from the plant’s ripe berries in August or early September. It’s best to plant the seeds immediately, but they may also be stored in a cool and dry environment to be planted later.

Choose a shaded area for planting; this plant doesn’t like too much sun nor does it like deep shade. Sow the seeds in the fall in a cold frame and they should start to germinate by spring. Give them around 1’ of space apart from each other. Water regularly to ensure optimum growth, but make sure the soil doesn’t get flooded.

Indian cucumber is a very slow grower, so you really need to be patient before starting to harvest the roots. It might take up to two years for the plant to establish itself and another five years until it starts flowering. Also, you need to know that this plant is fussy when it comes to transplantation. So, once you dig it out and harvest the roots, the plant will most likely wilt and die.

Cautions

There are no known side effects of this herb. However, due to the lack of research regarding Indian cucumbers, it’s best to consult your doctor before starting to consume it.

Indian Cucumber (Medeola virginiana) in Bloom
Indian Cucumber (Medeola virginiana) in Bloom
(Photo by: Jomegat/Wikimedia Commons)

Conclusion

Indian cucumber roots can be a great supplement to boost your kidney health and cure some ailments. However, you must not harvest wild Indian cucumber roots as it may kill the plant and eventually, ruin the ecosystem. With this plant, your best bet is to grow it in your own lawn. As a slow-grower, cultivating Indian cucumber may be annoying and tedious for most. But with patience, you’ll be able to harvest the roots from your own garden.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg



eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Is Jewelweed A Good Poison Ivy Remedy? (Scientific Studies)
Read more.
Allium vineale - Wild Garlic Bulbs
5 Edible Survival Plants Everyone Should Know(Worldwide)
Read more.
Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
Wild Blackberries and Raspberries, a Diverse Group of Delicious Edibles
Read more.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Seeds
Dandelion, a Surprisingly Beneficial Wild Edible
Read more.
Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Dead Nettle, an Overlooked yet Valuable Wild Edible
Read more.
Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits
Black Chokeberry, a Native Super Food
Read more.
Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
Dryad’s Saddle, a Unique and Tasty Mushroom
Read more.
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
Ramps, a Popular and Versatile Herb
Read more.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake, the Wonderful King of Mushrooms
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Black medic (Medicago lupulina) Flowers and Leaves
Black Medic, an Underrated and Useful Wild Edible
Read more.

Hops, an Essential Beer Ingredient with Health Benefits

Check Out Our Latest YOUTUBE videos:


Hops (Humulus lupulus) Illustration
Hops (Humulus lupulus) Illustration
(Photo by: Otto Wilhelm Thome/Wikimedia Commons)

Beer enthusiasts must be familiar with this plant. Hops (Humulus lupulus) is commonly used in the beer-brewing industry. The name “hops” itself can refer to the plant as well as the female flowers from that plant. These flowers are essential for flavoring, preserving, and stabilizing beer.

Hops plant is a perennial twining vine that belongs to the hemp family. This plant is native to Europe, western Asia, and North America. Aside from being used as a food flavoring agent, hops also possess some medicinal properties.

Edibility and culinary use

As mentioned earlier, beer makers use the flower cones of this plant to flavor and stabilize beer. Aside from that, hop flower cones are never eaten by itself. They’re usually used to infuse syrup, beverages, and cream sauces. Some people even make hops-flavored hard candies. These flowers can be brewed to make tisane as well.

For the plant itself, mature hops are rarely eaten due to their bitter taste and odd texture. But people often eat young hop leaves and shoots. They have a unique flavor that’s reminiscent of asparagus or fiddleheads. Young leaves and shoots can be tossed in salads or cooked like other green vegetables. Much like hop flowers, hop leaves can also be brewed to make herbal tea. Hop leaves and shoots sprout each spring, but they have to be harvested immediately because they will harden under the sun. The younger the shoots are, the better they taste.

Health benefits

Hops contain vitamins B6, C, and E which work as antioxidants in our body. They’re wonderful for fighting off free radicals, preventing cancer, boosting the immune system, and slowing down the body’s aging process. Hops also contain essential oils which have therapeutic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. Lastly, it also contains a flavonoid compound which has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-tumor and anti-clotting properties.

Hops (Humulus lupulus) Fruits
Hops (Humulus lupulus) Fruits
(Photo by: Nejmlez/Wikimedia Commons)

For medicinal uses, hop flowers and leaves are often brewed to make some calming and relaxing herbal tea. This herbal tea is great for relieving stress, anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, mental tension, irritability, and sleeping disorders such as insomnia. The flavonoid contained in hops is a phytoestrogen so it can help treat menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes. Lastly, hops herbal tea can maintain cardiovascular health by relaxing blood vessels and improving blood circulation.

Cultivation

While you can always buy hops supplements from drug and health stores, growing your own hops would be far more beneficial. Growing this plant in your own garden allows you to harvest fresh young leaves and shoots each spring, which are rarely available commercially. If you’re a home-brewer, you’ll also find it very convenient to be able to harvest hop flowers easily. Luckily for you, hops aren’t fussy and don’t require a lot of maintenance.

First, buy hop rhizomes from the internet or from a local nursery in early spring. Then, store them in the fridge until late spring or early summer. Then, start preparing the planting area. Choose a sunny location with rich, loamy, and well-drained soil. Make sure there’s plenty of room for the vines to grow as each plant can grow as high as 20” to 30” tall. Then, aerate the soil, pull out any weeds, and fertilize the area to ensure optimum growth. Lastly, make some soil mounds for planting the hop rhizomes. Note that the mounds should be 3’ away from each other.

Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
(Photo by: H. Zell/Wikimedia Commons)

Plant the rhizomes 4” deep in each soil mound. Also, make sure the root side is facing downwards. Then, close the hole with soil and cover the mound with a light mulch. Water them often as hops love to be kept moist. Once the vines shoot up high enough, train them to coil around the trellis.

Hops can be harvested in late summer or early fall. The first year harvest may not yield much, but you should be able to harvest more hops in the second year. After harvesting, trim the vines to just about 3’ above the ground, otherwise, the winter frost will kill them completely. Then cover them with a tarp for the entirety of winter. In the spring, revive them by uncovering the rhizomes, trimming the root, and replanting them.

Cautions

Always wear gloves when handling this plant. Skin contact with hops may cause dermatitis in people with sensitive skin. Be careful of stray away plant hair, they might irritate your eyes. Overconsumption it may cause minor side effects, such as upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Due to its antispasmodic action, avoid consuming hops during pregnancy. Some chemicals in this herb may act like estrogen in the body. So, it’s recommended to avoid this wild edible if you’re suffering from breast, cervical, or uterine cancer.

Lastly, hops have a sedative effect. It’s best to avoid it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. This sedative effect may also worsen depression. If you’re suffering from clinical depression, contact your healthcare provider before consuming this herb.

Conclusion

Hops may be famous for being its use in beer brewing. However, it turns out this bitter herb has so many more benefits to offer. Studies have indicated that hops may be effective in treating and preventing a wide range of ailments, from stress and minor cold to cancer. Include hops in your daily diet and reap all its amazing benefits.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg



eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Is Jewelweed A Good Poison Ivy Remedy? (Scientific Studies)
Read more.
Allium vineale - Wild Garlic Bulbs
5 Edible Survival Plants Everyone Should Know(Worldwide)
Read more.
Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
Wild Blackberries and Raspberries, a Diverse Group of Delicious Edibles
Read more.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Seeds
Dandelion, a Surprisingly Beneficial Wild Edible
Read more.
Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Dead Nettle, an Overlooked yet Valuable Wild Edible
Read more.
Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits
Black Chokeberry, a Native Super Food
Read more.
Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
Dryad’s Saddle, a Unique and Tasty Mushroom
Read more.
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
Ramps, a Popular and Versatile Herb
Read more.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake, the Wonderful King of Mushrooms
Read more.
Black medic (Medicago lupulina) Flowers and Leaves
Black Medic, an Underrated and Useful Wild Edible
Read more.

Bearberry, Loved by Bears and Humans Alike

Check Out Our Latest YOUTUBE videos:


Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) Illustration
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) Illustration
(Photo by: Otto Wilhelm Thome/Wikimedia Commons)

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) is a dwarf, evergreen shrub that can be found growing in North America, Europe, and northern Asia. This plant can be recognized in the wild from its small, shiny red berries. These bright fruits are a favorite among woodland creatures, especially bears. They are also edible to humans and since ancient times, people often gather them for food. Bearberry leaves can also be consumed as a herbal remedy.

Edibility and culinary use

The small, bright red berries can be eaten raw or cooked. When eaten raw, these berries are dry, mealy, and almost tasteless. On the other hand, cooking bearberries bring out their natural sweetness, making them taste similar to cranberries. These red berries are great for making jam, preserves, and cool beverages. They can also enhance the flavor of stews and sauces.

Aside from the berries, bearberry leaves are also edible. Dried bearberry leaves can be brewed to make a refreshing and healthy herbal tea. This tea is often used to treat infections and to prevent kidney problems. Also, combining bearberry leaves with certain herbs can enhance its medicinal properties. People usually mix them with yarrow, dandelion leaves, hydrangea, corn silk, or couchgrass to make herbal infusions.

Health benefits

Native Americans have been using bearberry leaves to make herbal medicine for thousands of years. Bearberry tea is nutrient rich; it contains several B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It also contains antioxidants such as tannins and flavonoids.

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
(Photo by: Sten Porse/Wikimedia Commons)

This drink is mainly used to treat urinary tract problems, including kidney infections, kidney stones, urethra infection, excess urination, and painful urination. Additionally, it’s also drunk to treat other conditions such as fever, water retention, indigestion, back pain, rheumatism, constipation, bronchitis, and diabetes. This herbal infusion can also serve as a mouthwash for mouth ulcers, cankers, and sore gums.

Bearberry leaves can be used topically as well. To do this, the leaves are crushed and then used to make a poultice. This poultice can be applied onto wounds, cuts, and burns to help them heal and to prevent bacterial infections. Bearberry poultice can treat rheumatism, back pain, sores, rash, and other skin conditions as well.

Cultivation

Bearberry bush is a wonderful addition for any garden. The thick green foliage looks great as a ground cover. Then, since this plant is evergreen, it’s also beautiful in the winter when most other plants wilt. Moreover, bearberry can help attract pollinators, especially hummingbirds and butterflies, to help your garden thrive. And of course, as an added bonus, you’ll get a convenient food and herbal medicine source in your own backyard.

Bearberry isn’t particularly hard to grow, but it’s a rather slow-grower, taking a significant amount of time to settle down and mature. For the best result, choose a cool area with full sun or partial sun exposure. Bearberry prefers well-drained, sandy soil, but it can also tolerate poor soil conditions. This hardy plant is also able to tolerate drought and salty environment, making it great for gardens near the coast or cold areas where the roads are often salted.

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) Flowers
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) Flowers
(Photo by: Flowersinmyyard/Wikimedia Commons)

You can get bearberry bushes that are ready to transplant onto the garden from some plant nurseries. But if finding established bushes is difficult in your area, try growing them from seeds. Bearberry seeds are more readily available in the market.

Pre-soak the seeds in near-boiling water for 10-20 seconds and then stratify them in cold temperature for at least 2 months. After that, sow the seeds indoors and they should germinate within 60 to 90 days. Once big enough, plant them in individual pots and let them stay inside for their first winter. Then, transplant them outside in late spring or early summer. The plants will grow slowly in the first year. But eventually, it will mature and grow rapidly.

Cautions

These berries should only be consumed in small amounts for a short period of time. Overconsumption of bearberry can result in adverse side effects such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, tinnitus, liver damage, breathing problems, and convulsions. Pregnant women should avoid bearberry as it may reduce blood supply for the fetus and induce early labor. It’s also not recommended for breastfeeding women and children.

Conclusion

Bears aren’t the only ones who can enjoy bearberry, humans can also consume this plant. Aside from having a nice, mild flavor, bearberry also offers a wide range of medicinal properties. This plant can be found easily in forests across Northern America, so you shouldn’t have too much problem foraging them. But if you don’t want to have to compete with woodland creatures to get your hand on these shiny berries, try planting bearberry bushes in your backyard. They look great as ornamental plants, so on top of a convenient food and herb source, you’ll also get a lovely garden


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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American Ginseng, a Truly Wonderful Panacea

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American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Illustration
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Illustration
(Photo by: Jacob Bigelow/Wikimedia Commons)

Most people associate ginseng with Asia and Asian medicine. However, did you know that there are several different types of ginseng growing in different parts of the world? One particular species is native to North America and apparently, Native Americans have been using this herb as medicine for thousands of years.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a herbaceous perennial plant. This herb is a very potent panacea. Unfortunately, due to its popularity, it has become an endangered species in the wild. As a result, people aren’t allowed to harvest it from the wild. Instead, they have to buy American ginseng supplements from herbal remedy stores or resort to cultivating the plant themselves.

Edibility and culinary use

American ginseng has an earthy and sweet flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste. This herb tastes similar to its Asian counterpart but slightly sweeter. Both the roots and the leaves of this plant are edible. They’re usually brewed to make an energizing and healing herbal tea. This herbal tea has a unique taste which goes really well with honey and lemon. Other than that, the aromatic root can be candied to make a healthy snack.

You can also use ginseng to add some flavor to your cooking. If you have fresh American ginseng roots, try adding some small slices into gently simmering chicken broth or soup and let simmer for a couple of hours. Your chicken soup will taste amazing and become more nutritious. Alternatively, you can also used dried ginseng powder as a cooking spice for various recipes. American ginseng powder can really enhance the taste of white rice, soups, and stir-fry dishes.

Health benefits

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Harvested Roots
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Harvested Roots
(Photo by: John Carl Jacobs/Wikimedia Commons)

American ginseng has long been a part of Native American traditional medicine. Then in the 18th century, this potent herb was brought over to China to be cultivated and used to make medicine. American ginseng has similar health benefits to its Oriental counterpart. It’s rich in vitamins A, B6, and C as well as zinc and polysaccharide glycans.

As a supplement, American ginseng has the ability to boost your immunity, stimulates your metabolism, raises your energy level, improves your cognitive performances, as well as increases your stress resistance.

Aside from that, this panacea is often used to fight off other ailments as well. It works great against infections such as cold, flu, dysentery, and even HIV/AIDS-related infections. This herb can also stimulate the digestive system, treat digestive tract inflammation, increase appetite, and relieve nausea. Some people American ginseng to aid many other conditions such as anemia, diabetes, hypertension, nerve pain, erectile dysfunction, cancer-related fatigue, memory loss, menopause, and arthritis.

Cultivation

American ginseng once thrived in forests across the eastern US. however, due to popular demand, people over-harvested this amazing herb. As a result, the plant’s population plummeted. The plant is even an endangered species in several states. So, it may be difficult for you to find this plant in the wild. And even if you do find one, it’s illegal to harvest wild American ginseng in most states.

For that reason, you might have to rely on buying ginseng supplements online or from local herbal medicine stores. Or, if you’re up to the challenge, you can also try planting American ginseng at home. This plant species is rather difficult and time-consuming to grow, but with a green thumb, patience, and hard work, you’ll be able to cultivate it.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
(Photo by: Halpaugh/Wikimedia Commons)

First, you need to get the seeds. You can learn the regulations for harvesting ginseng seeds in your state, but your best bet is to buy them from a reputable plant nursery. If possible, get stratified seeds because non-stratified ones can take up to 18 months to germinate. Then, select a well-shaded area with rich, moist soil. Clear out any weeds and plant the seeds 9” apart from each other. After that, cover the seeds with a layer of leaves or mulch to keep the ground moist. Note that ginseng seeds do best when sown in late fall or early winter.

Then, make sure to water plants regularly to keep them well-hydrated. You also need to thin the plants once or twice a year to avoid overcrowding. After that, you have to wait for at least 5 years for the plants to mature before you can harvest the roots. Before the five-year mark, the roots will be too small to be beneficial and you run the risk of killing your plants completely. When the plants are mature, you can harvest the roots every fall

Cautions

American ginseng should only be consumed in moderately small amounts. Consumption in high doses might result in adverse side effects, such as insomnia, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and irritability.

Additionally, pregnant women should avoid American ginseng as it contains a compound that may cause birth defects. Nursing mothers are recommended to avoid this herb as well. This herb can lower blood sugar level too. So, avoid consumption if you’re hypoglycemic or diabetic. It’s also best to avoid this herb at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Conclusion

Consuming American ginseng may transform your life. This amazing herb will prevent and fight off numerous diseases while also making you more energized. With such great benefits, it’ll definitely be a wonderful addition to your diet. Since it’s illegal to forage this herb in most states, it’s better for you to buy dried American ginseng online or from a herbal medicine store. Or, if you’re good at gardening, why not take up the challenge of cultivating this panacea in your own backyard?


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

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eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

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Yarrow, a Delicious and Nutritious Panacea

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Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) White Variant
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) White Variant
(Photo by: Dawn Endico/Wikimedia Commons)

Known for its lovely flat blooms and classic beauty, yarrow (Achillea millefollium) is a common garden perennial. Aside from that, it’s also popular for its amazing medicinal qualities. Some herbalists have even dubbed yarrow as a herbal panacea. This plant is commonly found in the temperate climate of the Northern hemisphere. It’s native to Asia, Europe, as well as North America and it’s also been cultivated in other regions in the world, such as Australia and New Zealand.

Edibility and culinary use

Yarrow has a strong licorice-like scent and a mildly sweet flavor that’s similar to tarragon. This entire plant is edible, but its leaves and flowers are especially popular to use in recipes. They can be dried and used as a spice. But, fresh flowers and leaves are also great for salads, soups, and stews. Yarrow complements vegetables and fruits well. Add yarrow in your vinaigrette to make a nice salad dressing. You can also add it to sorbets, fruit salads, and even yogurt topped with fresh fruits.

Yarrow is a soft herb which means that high heat will destroy its flavor. For a nice and strong flavor, only add this herb and the end of the cooking process. Also, you might want to use it sparingly so its strong taste and scent don’t overpower your dish.

Health benefits

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Red Variant
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Red Variant
(Photo by: Timmeh 87/Wikimedia Commons)

Studies have shown that yarrow is a very rich source of nutrients. It contains vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, niacin, and antioxidants. Ancient sources reported that people mainly used this herb to make salves and balms to heal wounds, stop bleeding, fight infections, reduce swelling and bruising, heal scars, and treat skin problems.

Yarrow tea is also regularly consumed for various health reasons. This herbal tea is very effective in healing flu, cold, sinus problems, chest congestion, cough, fever, upset stomach, diarrhea, gas, and other digestive issues. The robust fragrant of this tea also has a soothing and calming effect, making it great for relieving stress and anxiety. Lastly, yarrow tea is good for maintaining a regular menstruation cycle.

Cultivation

Aside from being a potent medicinal herb, yarrow can be a beautiful addition to your garden. If you’re interested in growing yarrow in your own garden, you’re in luck. It’s a very hardy plant that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Moreover, it’s also pest-resistant and its white blooms are great at attracting butterflies.

Yarrow is very frost-hardy and drought-resistant so you can grow them in spots where other plants refuse to grow. This plant can grow in any type of soil, but it will thrive best in well-drained and fairly rich soil. Much like other herbaceous plants, yarrow prefers to be placed in a sunny area. But unlike other plants, it actually thrives on neglect. Avoid overwatering and overfertilizing them.

Before planting, loosen up the soil and fertilize it. If the soil is too moist, add some sand to help it drain properly. Start sowing the seeds in early spring or fall. Plant the seeds around ¼” under the soil and around 2’ apart from each other. They should start to germinate within 14 to 28 days. You can start harvesting the leaves and flowers in the first year’s late summer. After their first year and the plants have settled nicely, you can harvest the leaves anytime.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Pink Variant
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Pink Variant
(Photo by: Phil Sellens/Flickr)

Cautions

Excessive use of yarrow for an extended period of time may cause allergic reactions like headaches and sensitivity to light. It’s advisable to wear gloves while handling yarrow because it might cause rash or dermatitis in some people. This plant can also induce menstruation. So, it’s unsafe during pregnancy as it may cause miscarriage.

Conclusion

Throughout history, yarrow has been cultivated for its beauty and amazing medicinal properties. Yarrow is a great plant to have in your garden; it adds a touch of elegance to your garden while providing you with a valuable herbal remedy. As a hardy perennial plant, you can count on this herb to come back year after year to your garden.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg



eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

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Wood Betony, a Fascinating Herb with Many Benefits

Check Out Our Latest YOUTUBE videos:


Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis) Illustration
Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis) Illustration
(Photo by: C. A. M. Lindman/Wikimedia Commons)

Wood betony (Stachys officinalis) is a perennial grassland herb that’s native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. At first glance, people might dismiss wood betony merely as a pretty ornamental plant. However, this plant actually has a strong reputation of being a panacea since ancient times. People claim that this herb can cure anything, from the common cough to epilepsy. While these claims might have been exaggerated, this fascinating herb still holds many benefits.

Various Uses

Wood betony has a gentle bittersweet and astringent flavor as well as a warming aroma. The leaves and flowering tops are often brewed to make herbal tea. Simply brew 1 teaspoon of dried betony leaves or flowering tops in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. This herbal tea tastes similar to black tea. Alternatively, this herb can also be made into a tincture, infusion, and tonic.

Health benefits

Wood betony is great for alleviating headaches and migraines, relieving toothaches, improving sleep quality, relieving stress, and improving moods. It also has carminative and mild anti-spasmodic qualities which means it can relieve bloating, alleviate stomach aches, reduce uterine cramping, promote a healthy digestive system, and treat colic. Drinking wood betony tisane can also cure colds, cough, asthma, and other breathing problems. Additionally, you can make a poultice out of this herb to heal wounds and bruises.

This herb can be used on their own or mixed with other herbs. Combining wood betony with other herbs seem to enhance its healing properties. For nervous headaches, make a herbal tea mixture of this herb and skullcap. Meanwhile, wood betony combined with yarrow is great at stopping nosebleeds. Then to treat congestion, cold, and sinus headaches, combine this herb with comfrey.

Cultivation

Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis) Blooms
Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis) Blooms
(Photo by: Megan Hansen/Wikimedia Commons)

Aside from being a medicinal herb, wood betony is also cultivated all around the world for its beauty. With its vibrant purple blooms, wood betony can definitely be an attractive addition to any garden. This hardy perennial can adapt well to varying conditions. It’s also a self-sowing plant that’s not very aggressive. So, you can depend on it coming back to your garden year after year without having to worry about it taking over your garden.

As mentioned earlier, this plant can tolerate varying conditions. However, it prefers rich and moist soil. It also thrives well in a partially shaded area, making it the perfect plant to grow in shady areas where other flowering plants wouldn’t grow. As a grassland herb, it requires moderate to high amounts of water to thrive. But, be careful not to overwater them as it may cause the roots to rot.

Start the seeds indoors in early spring. Tamp the seeds lightly into the soil or cover them with a thin layer of soil (around ¼” deep). They should germinate within a week or two. Once they’re large enough to handle, transplant them outdoors in late spring or early summer. Plant them 10” to 12” apart from each other to avoid overcrowding.

The plants will start to bloom in the summer. The leaves and flowering tops taste best when picked before the flowers mature and bloom completely. Harvest by snipping the plant with scissors to around 4” above the ground. The leaves and flowering tops should then be dried by laying them out in the sun.

Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis)
Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis)
(Photo by: ceridwen/Wikimedia Commons)

Cautions

This herb is generally safe to consume, however, there are some concerns that wood betony might lower blood pressure. So, people who are prone to low blood pressure are advised to avoid wood betony.  It’s also better to avoid consumption at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Conclusion

Wood betony is truly an amazing herb. Throughout history, various cultures have been relying on wood betony’s wonderful medicinal properties. As a self-sowing perennial plant, you can count on this herb to come back year after year to your garden.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg



eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Is Jewelweed A Good Poison Ivy Remedy? (Scientific Studies)
Read more.
Allium vineale - Wild Garlic Bulbs
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Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits
Black Chokeberry, a Native Super Food
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Dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
Dryad’s Saddle, a Unique and Tasty Mushroom
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Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Field
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Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
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