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.
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!
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.