Pickerelweed (US) Pickerel Weed (UK)

Flower pickerel weed

Beautiful. Grows in clumps all summer long here along the edge of our tidal pond and even creates wonderful blue and green islands in the middle of the pond. Grown from seeds and rhizomes, they are regularly planted in water gardens here and across the pond. Young shoots, leaves and seeds are edible. Make sure you are collecting from clean water.

 

Lumberjack’s toilet paper

flower mullein

Mullein or Lumberjack’s toilet paper usually grows straight and tall, often in the shape of a candelabra lit with lovely yellow blossoms. For some unknown reason this group of plants followed a remarkably snake-like direction instead. I wonder if they will grow the same way in the same location next year. FYI, the toilet paper reference is to the broad, soft, velvety leaves the plant thoughtfully provides for the traveler or passing lumberjack in need. The leaves were also cut into rectangles and used as blankets in dollhouses. If you find the lovely whorls of early stage plants toward Christmas, save some of the small leaves, dry them and tie them together in bunches with ribbon to decorate your tree.

“Saddlebags” of milkweed pollen! Busy bee!

insect bee and milkweed

It was exciting for me and the busy bee to find some milkweed blossoms the deer haven’t eaten yet! The milkweed pollen our bee is collecting looks like butter! I wonder what it tastes like. We ate young green milkweed pods once over 40 years ago. As I recall, you need to boil them twice, changing the water. Warning: Please Google before you try them. They tasted like string beans.

Wild Lettuce may really be “wild”!

flower wild lettuce 1

I tried eating the leaves of Wild Lettuce and wondered why it was named wild lettuce since it didn’t taste like anything you’d want to include in a salad. But because it is pretty easy to recognize, I thought I’d share a photo or two. Then I Googled it. Now I know why Wild Lettuce is called “wild”!  Another name for it is Opium Lettuce! Since you’re supposed to swear you are over 18 to get necessary details, I will leave further research to you other than to say I learned that some Indians use the herb to enhance the vividness of dreams. They believe that induced dream states provide more information about reality than the conscious waking state.

flower wild lettuce 2

It’s a tall, sturdy plant with cool seeds. Both the flowers and the seeds look like they belong on a dandelion. So they must be related.

Garlic Mustard is not the first two items on a shopping list.

Flower garlic mustard

Garlic mustard is a delicious, critically invasive herb. Before I knew that it was an invasive, I knew it was yummy, raw or cooked. I am embarrassed to admit I planted it in my yard.  Even if we all set out to collect and eat it, garlic mustard has the upper hand. It is one of the few non-native plants that can spread rapidly through the forest floor in the spring, greatly reducing the diversity of all species. A single vigorous plant can produce up to 7,900 seeds. Fortunately/unfortunately most only produce about 600 seeds per year. Try it! You’ll like it!