Surprising Edibles

**Warning – These are the plants which I personally believe to be edible, but it’s always recommended that you double-check anything you pick with an authority to be sure you’ve properly identified it and you won’t have an allergy to it before eating it.**

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Wild Fennel

This was a volunteer in our garden, and I would caution you against planting it unless you want it EVERYWHERE.  The leaves taste like licorice and the bulb can be used in cooking, especially with fish.  The flowers aren’t particularly good, but the Swallowtail butterflies love them, and lay their eggs on the stems in mid- to late- Spring.  You can sometimes see the caterpillars crawling on the stems in late Spring or early Summer, followed by cocoons and, finally, more butterflies.  Fennel is one of the few plants that stays green all year long in our garden.

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Oxalis aka Sour Grass aka Bermuda Buttercup

This is also a volunteer in our garden, and it propagates via tubers underground.  This is IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of without using chemical poisons, so we have it everywhere.  It comes up annually in late Winter and stays through most of the Spring.  If you pick the flower by the stem, you can chew on the stem for a sour taste that some folks love and some really don’t.  Be careful when picking them because they are frequently targets for the dogs that walk by each day, so you might want to wash them off before chewing.  I don’t encourage folks to swallow the stems because I don’t know if they’ll give you a tummy ache.

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is one of my favorite flowers because of the delicately sweet nectar inside.  Pick a flower that’s white, but not greenish – if it’s turning yellow, that’s fine, too, but there will be less nectar inside.  Very gently, pull the stem end of the flower off the back, letting the stamen slide out.  At the end of the stamen there will be a little drop of nectar that you can “drink.”  Don’t eat the flower, though – it doesn’t taste very good.

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Lavender

I wouldn’t recommend eating lavender directly from the plant, because it’s very perfumed and a bit bitter, but you can use the flowers in baking, especially cookies.  You can also use the stems and flowers in potpourri and crafts, and, if you gently wrap your hand around a few stems and pull up gently without pulling the plant out of the ground, you’ll be left with a lovely lavender scent in your hands.  Lavender doesn’t do very well in water, but it dries beautifully.  Just hang it upside down out of the sun and then you can add it to dried arrangements and other crafts.

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Roses

Rose petals can be very bitter, but are edible.  Make sure you take off the white part at the base of some petals – that part is supposed to be the most bitter part of the rose.  Petals can be eaten in salads or used to decorate cakes.

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are edible and quite delicious – they taste like delicately peppery lettuce.  People frequently add them to salads or eat them right off the vine.

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