this week’s contributor is lynn till. lynn is a plant nerd. and along w her friend, robin, she’s about to launch a company, linden beauty, that creates whole-plant-based skincare products. i need them to launch soon as they make the most incredible facial […]
Yet I do miss having a chunk of earth to get my hands dirty in. Our chickens joined a friend’s flock when we moved. We still get their eggs, but I miss my early morning walks in the garden while they pecked and clucked around me. I miss seeing all my herbs popping back up in the spring. I miss carefully collecting from the stinging nettles patch to make our favorite bright green soup. And I miss prepping the raised beds for veggies. Luckily, the patio at our new place will work great for container gardening. Plus, the city is teeming with lovely little plants popping up around every corner: in side walk cracks and up and down the alleys. It makes for fun discoveries during our daily walks. I listed some my favorite springtime plants and their uses below. If you go urban foraging just make sure you know for sure what you are collecting, use common sense, stay away from places that might have been sprayed with chemicals and those that are in high dog traffic areas…and most importantly, have fun!
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) This much maligned weed is a true healing powerhouse, containing more vitamin A than carrots, plus vitamins B, C, D, choline, and inulin. The whole plant, root, leaves and flower are edible and considered medicinal and packed with antioxidants. Dandelion leaf tea is a cleansing and non-potassium depleting diuretic, making it my go to tea for cycle related break-outs and bloating. Plus the leaves make a lovely, slightly bitter addition to any salad and are seriously amazing sautéed w/ a bit of garlic. The flowers can be made into wine, jelly and can even be dipped in batter and fried up for dandelion breakfast fritters!
Sweet Violet (Viola odorata) I look forward to the delicacy of eating sweet violet flowers every spring. The aroma is to die for! All you need to do to candy them is paint their petals with egg white, coat with super fine sugar and let air dry for three days. Super easy. Their cooling, slightly slippery, fresh leaves can be eaten in salads, taken as a tea to relieve a raw throat, or crushed and rubbed on blemishes.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) If you have ever planted peppermint in your garden you know it has the ability to spread out and take over quickly. It’s also one of the first herbs to pop back up in the spring. Peppermint tea soothes belly aches, is helpful to sip during a cold, and is just plain delicious. I like throwing a handful of fresh mint leaves into the blender with some lime juice, greens, and ice for an energizing mojito like detoxing green drink.
Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) Midwifes know this plant for it’s ability to slow bleeding after birth or during a heavy menstrual cycle and foragers know it because it’s in the mustard family and offers darn yummy, slightly spicy leaves in early spring. Shepherd’s Purse tea may help stimulate and tone the kidneys and urinary tract and helps clear uric acid for the body. This pretty weed has the cutest heart shaped seed pods and I’m such a plant nerd that I even had incorporated them into my wedding bouquet!
If you’d like to learn more about the awesome plants popping up in your neighborhood and how to use them or to share your favorite urban foraging recipe, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
For additional resources check out these helpful books:
- Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat
- Dandelion Hunter: Foraging the Urban Wilderness
thanks, lynn! i’m definitely gonna go take a look around my yard and neighborhood and on walks for these plants. i’ve never thought this is something i could do myself. also, i am so excited for you and robin and linden beauty.
if you are interested in contributing to A Denver Home Companion, please submit original writing (or ideas!) to emily [at] adenverhomecompanion [dot] com. though i may not be able to publish everything, i certainly consider all of them.