Vetch and daylily salad with red clover

Common Vetch and Daylily Salad with Red Clover

We have common vetch (Vicia) in bloom up by the bee yard, and yesterday during a break in the rain I went up to harvest some of the young, tender tips for a salad. These are related to peas and lentils, and the greens taste like sweet peas. Our deer like them, too, since I found all the ones at the edges of the path neatly eaten back.

Common vetch has long been part of the human diet, as attested by carbonised remains found at early Neolithic sites. But not all vetch is edible. At our last cabin, we had crown vetch (not a true vetch; this is why common usage names can be misleading) which is not known to be an edible variety.

Harvesting Vetch
Harvesting Vetch
Vetch tips and pods
Vetch tips and pods

While I harvested some seed pods from the vetch too, I decided not to eat this particular batch. There’s just too much conflicting information around them, because at the end of the season when they turn black and dry on the vine, they are toxic, and must be soaked, boiled, and processed like you would a raw or dried kidney bean, which has the same toxin. I posted to a couple of my foraging groups to see if anyone had experience eating the pods when young and green (which some online sources say are fine), but haven’t gotten a clear consensus. So I will keep asking until I find an authority I can trust before I take a risk; meanwhile I scattered my little bowl of vetch pods out on the trail for the deer.

Daylily buds
Daylily buds

Our daylilies are just covered in buds, which means one of the most delightful treats of the summer. As with all foraging, you have to be careful with these; some lilies are toxic. And while we have both kinds on our mountain, these that are growing right by our front porch are the edible kind.

Pippi inspects the greens
Pippi inspects the greens

As you can see from the photo above, I also added a handful of pretty red clovers to the mix (who can resist their beauty and sweetness?), and Pippi inspected the lot. I took the photo before the vetch peas went back out for the deer.

Vetch and daylily salad with red clover
Vetch and daylily salad with red clover

 


Remember: You must be incredibly careful when you forage for wild foods. Do your research thoroughly, consult with multiple experts, and if in doubt, leave it alone. I do NOT consider myself an expert on wild foods; just a very, very careful enthusiast.

 

2 comments on “Common Vetch and Daylily Salad with Red Clover

  1. Morgan Siem

    I did try the green seeds of common vetch. They had an interesting flavor that I liked. I saw conflicting info, too, so I didn’t eat many, just maybe 3 seeds.

    How do you distinguish the types of day lillies that are edible and those that are not?

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe

      Hi Morgan!

      I did a ton of research online.

      Basically I googled “Which daylilies are toxic” and read everything there, plus more. My general takeaways were to eat nothing with black dots, and nothing that has the central stem with small leaves in circles coming directly out of the stem (like Easter lilies). Also nothing that is highly cultivated — I wanted only orange or yellow with faint color gradations. I did my best to make sure I knew it was hemerocallis fulva and nothing else. Even so, some of the info I read said there are so many thousands of varieties now — since they naturalize so easily — that some might be toxic. Meaning, it’s hard to know for certain with so many of them untested or unreported on.

      And I’m almost 100% convinced that the green vetch pods are fine to eat raw. I ate a few that were growing normally on the upper tips of the branches, just none of the ones that were bigger (but also green and young). Still working on finding someone who knows about that. If you find a good authority, I hope you share info!

Leave a Reply