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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - May 28, 2009

From: Woodstock, VT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Edible native salad ingredients
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, I'm hoping to make a salad for a school Horticulture project, but I'm having a hard time finding some edible plants. I live in Vermont, and am hoping to find some edible flowers and 'weeds' as well as herbs and things like that. I need all the help I can get. Thanks much.

ANSWER:

Probably the best source for finding edible wild native salad greens is to visit Taste of the Wild: a Guide to Edible Plants and Fungi of New England from Brandeis University.  In this online source you can search by how you want to use the food, e.g., Salads/Raw.

Another excellent and entertaining source is 'Wildman' Steve Brill's website.  He is famous for foraging in Central Park and teaches classes and leads field trips there.  I know Vermont and New York aren't exactly the same place, but to someone who lives in Texas (as Mr. Smarty Plant does) they seem really close together.

He lists many non-natives as well as natives.  Here are some native possibilities from his page of plants.  Be sure to read how he prepares them and, especially, read all cautions he gives.  All of these occur in Vermont:

Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail)

Stellaria pubera (star chickweed)

Plantago major (common plantain)

Impatiens capensis (jewelweed)

Impatiens pallida (pale touch-me-not)

Amelanchier arborea (common serviceberry) and other Amerlanchier species

Morus rubra (red mulberry)

Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed) BE SURE TO READ INSTRUCTIONS AND CAUTIONS CAREFULLY

Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)

Chenopodium album (lambsquarters)

Oxalis stricta (common yellow oxalis) and other Oxalis species

Portulaca oleracea (little hogweed)

Allium tricoccum (wild leek)

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

You can find a few more suggestions in Foraging in Chittenden County, Vermont.

Good luck with your salad.  Bon appetit!


 

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