Morning walk forage!
On our walk with the dog this morning, we were also trying to forage for the guinea pigs (they’ve had all the dandelions from our garden!). Pavements and kerbsides are actually great places to spot wildflowers – neglected nooks and crannies which are a haven for pollinator-friendly plants.
There were a couple from the mint family (but not at all minty!). Red dead nettle, and Yellow archangel (which is also known as weasel-snout!) are both dead nettles, and their leaves and flowers are edible. But if you’re going to pick any to eat yourself, probably go off the beaten (dog-walking) path… but if you do get some from a dog-free spot, cook the young tops as spinach and use flowers in salads.
Another one we spotted (although it’s not flowering yet) is Jack by the hedge, or garlic mustard – the young leaves can be cooked or used raw, and are slightly garlicky. The roots are hotter, almost like horseradish.
There were lots of small clumps of dog violet, which is unscented -‘dog’ because it has no scent and is considered inferior the scented violet. The leaves and flowers edible, lovely in a foraged green salad.
We did find dandelions (happy guinea pigs!), and both leaves and flowers edible, although they’re quite bitter. Dip the flower heads in sweet batter and shallow fry – this is one we’ve done in forest school! Don’t have too much – it’s other names include pis-en-lit or pissabed because of its diuretic effects!
Forget me not- there are about seven different types, including ones that grow in or near water. The wild, non-cultivated ones, like this field forget-me-not have edible flowers, which look very pretty in a green salad.
Cleavers or sticky weed is starting to spring up – it’s also called robin-run-the-hedge and sticky-bob, which are great names! You can eat it raw or cooked.
Around the pavements we found some wildflowers that are definitely NOT edible, including the lovely lesser Celandine, which is in the buttercup family.
Pink campion is also not edible, and it contains saponins, so you could use the root as a soap substitute!
Finally, a guinea pig favourite, but not edible for humans, is groundsel, which is in the daisy family, and also called old man in the spring. More wildflowers will be appearing along the pavements, so keep your eyes peeled!
(photos below, left to right, top to bottom: red dead nettle, forget-me-not, red campion, lesser celandine, dandelion, cleavers, yellow archangel with jack-by-the-hedge on the right hand side, groundsel, and dog violet)