Wild in the City: Foraging Fridays

This week:

Erodium cicutarium (Red Stem Filaree, Common Stork's Bill)

Upon my recent discovery that Stork’s Bill is edible, my first thought was “Crazy! Who Knew!?!”. I can hear your amazement coming through the screen right now. You’re totally blown away. Take a deep breath, I’ll wait for you.

Ok, so maybe unless you’re my mom (Hi Mom!) you have no idea what the big whoop is. Well, allow me to explain.

It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I learned the name of this little purple flower and it’s seed pods: Filaree or Stork’s Bill. But as a kid, it’s summer manifestation had one name only: TWIST STICKERS.

I guarantee you’ve seen Filaree. It’s completely invasive and literally everywhere, especially in disturbed soil. Even if you haven’t noticed the little blooms, I bet you’ve gotten their prodigy stuck in your socks. In the spring, the pods look like “stork bills”. Come summer, they transform into crazy little dried corkscrews that dig their way in to your clothes and your pet.

You can see the dried seed pods on the left. The long tails are just beginning to curl. When they are fully dried, the stem will be wound in a tight corkscrew. As it dries, long hairs emerge that propel the seed into the air. Once it falls to the ground, it waits for rain, at which time it will UNcurl, and begin to burrow in the soil. As it dries once again, it will dig its way even further underground. Ingenious and insidious, best hope it doesn't burrow its way into your pet's skin.

Aside from having a very sneaky (and effective) method of reproduction, the entire plant is edible, with the leaves being the most commonly used. Originally from mediterranean Europe, after their introduction into the americas, Native American tribes the Blackfeet, Shoshone and Cahuilla gathered Filaree and ate it raw or cooked. (Clarke, C.B., Edible and Useful Plants of California, 1977).

Guess who forgot her foraging bag? I gathered as many stems with the pinnate (directly opposite) leaves as I could hold in one hand.

The Wild Radish, another invasive, plentiful and edible weed, are in full bloom.

I picked a handful, obviously painted by the Eostre Hare. This is another wonderful flower to munch as you mosey. Spicey, floral and radishey.

I read the taste described as “parsley” or “spinach”. There was also mention of an odd texture raw, and I prefer lightly cooked veggies. I brought them home with the idea to lightly saute the greens with an egg, adding the flowers at the last minute for a hint of radish.

It tasted…slightly astringent and like a stronger green…like a collard…mixed with…fish? Really, there was something a little fishy! Perhaps it was from the flowers…but despite my unpoetic description, it was really good! I don’t think I’d like it raw, but I definitely could eat a whole bunch sauteed with some olive oil and garlic. Eat yer weeds! Dey be good for you!

The Disclaimer:

Think with your stomach! Do not ingest wild plants unless you are sure you have identified them correctly and are willing to take responsibility for using yourself as a guinea pig. It is SO not my responsibility if you eat the wrong thing and get poopy pants, or die. You’re an adult. You can make your own choices.


8 thoughts on “Wild in the City: Foraging Fridays

  1. I am just crazy about the wild radish pods; when they first set pods they are so tender and tasty! i say let’s eat them all so we can control their invasive spread. i did not know filaree was edible, but i was just never drawn to the geraniums. same with nasturtiums. i love the flowers to decorate salads or lend color but i just cannot stand the taste of the leaves!! but yer right – whatever weeds we can eat and like to eat we should eat! btw – i did munch on a wisteria blossom the other day but it left me cold. i was just not feeling it. i think i will enjoy them better as eye candy.

    1. i wouldn’t want to eat nasturtium leaves…that sounds terrible! i know what you mean about the wisteria…the blossoms are truly meant to be used to infuse something else. eating them on their own gives you an idea of their flavor, but they aren’t tasty like the radish flowers.

  2. yay for foraging. i’m not sure if i’ve ever seen this plant and made note of it. but i will begin looking….. it’s funny to me how ahead in spring you are. our lilacs are just waking up. today was magical though. i saw so much more green in the trees, in just one day, and i wondered if it was for earth day, and if that’s why they chose today…..

    1. yeah, i can’t believe you just had snow recently! our lilacs are all gone by now. we’re getting well into mid spring here with beltane just around the corner. i’m so excited to witness spring through your eyes. i loved the pic you posted of the forest from your walk, with the snow up high and the green peeking through below.

  3. Yum. I wish our more common invasive weeds were edible. Wait! maybe they are. With your good example I’ve been looking at the world with new eyes, everything filled with delicious possibility. Thank you so much for all your inspiring posts. (Not to mention your breath-taking pace) It’s always so fun to come here and make discoveries. Lots of love and spring shine to you.

    1. I was just telling a friend this weekend that since I started foraging, I look at nature with new eyes too….eyes that are always on the lookout for snacks! :). I’m excited for what you might find locally, invasive or not. I hope you’ll come tell me when you make a discovery! Much love to you too Milla, and thank you so much for linking to me in your recent post. I feel like a superstar! xo

  4. Woah, woah, woah. Stork’s bill is edible? And it has as cool as name as “stork’s bill?!” Oh my goodness, we have that EVERYWHERE here! I’m so excited! Thank you so much for such a beautiful (and educational) post!

    1. my pleasure! and thank you for visiting…a big smile spread across my face when i saw your name, as i have peaked around your blog before and really loved it! i’m a shy commenter, but will be more brave from now on. 🙂

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