Wild in the City: Foraging Fridays

this will be the first in a series of (hopefully) Foraging Friday postings!

at one point last week, i was home alone with fern and realized the cupboards were bare, except for a few odd ingredients. i was craving something fresh and springey, so i went outside to see what i could forage from the neighborhood. i ended up creating a salad out of different greens from abandoned pots and garden plots, tree wells and city parks. i added some fruit and nuts and voila! instant lunch.

clockwise: fava bean greens, borage flowers, parsley, three cornered leek/wild onion, sorrel, kale and mint leaves.

lunch is served.

as i walked back home, i noticed how many herbs and plants were edible or useful just on my block. not to mention the green fruit ripening in the trees. and thus…

every friday i will be featuring a new wild or public, edible or useful plant that can be found in the city of San Francisco, and sometimes those that are found in surrounding areas. this week i would like to introduce Allium Triquetrum.


Allium Triquetrum (Wild Onion, Three Cornered Leek, Angled Onion, Three Cornered Garlic, Onion Weed)

nice cigarette butt. and oh hey, is that a dog by a tree? as with all wild foods, especially those picked in the city (and at dog height), wash wash WASH. and then wash again.

HOW TO HARVEST: you can (with most wild foods) feel comfortable in using your hands to harvest, especially if you are just out and about. but you can also collect supplies for having a ready-to-go foraging bag. i see my little bag lying around and i want an excuse to go use it. use any type of cloth sack that fits well on your shoulder (if you are a guy, and don’t like the murse, think messenger bag). in it, you can keep things like scissors for clipping, light gloves to protect your hands from grime or thorns (think blackberries or nettles), plant identification books and even other smaller sacks for keeping multiple wild foods separate.

my bag of fun. and my toes. notice there are no gloves. i like to live dangerously. um…i don’t actually own any gloves. if you know me, it’s remarkable that i even have a bag.

or you can just pick willy nilly and come home with flowers in your pants pocket. it all works! just keep in mind to pick only what you need and leave many so they can reproduce.

EDIBLE PARTS: Bulb, raw or cooked (harvest the bulb after the leaves have died down in summer). Leaves, raw or cooked. Flowers, raw and as garnish.

DISTINCTIONS: tri-cornered leaves, nodding white flowers with green mid-veins.

CAN BE FOUND: everywhere. it’s native to the mediterranean and is, unfortunately, invasive. look for it in parks, along paths, in fields, in tree wells, and as pictured below, in cracks in cement!

WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?: very mild oniony/leeky/garlicky flavor. i only used the leaves in my salad, since the bulb will not be ready until summer (see above under “edible parts”).

USES: you can use it anyway you would spring onions or leeks, but is less hearty than a leek. it’s a tender plant, so if you decide to cook, it only needs light sauteing or steaming. overcooking will turn it mushy and flavor-less. as with any wild plant, i would use a small portion at first to see how you like it and how it agrees with you. i would not recommend using a lot, or featuring it as a primary ingredient.

Disclaimer: think with your stomach! do not ingest wild plants unless you are sure you have identified them correctly, and are also willing to take responsibility for using yourself as a guinea pig. i am SO not responsible if you eat the wrong thing and get poopy pants, or die. you’re an adult, you can make your own choices.

happy foraging!


3 thoughts on “Wild in the City: Foraging Fridays

  1. thanks jen! those recipes look fantastic. kale chips are amazing…always make them in the oven so i’m excited to see how they turn out in the dehydrator. 🙂

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