Wild Foods in May

Spring is full-blown in the High Country of NC in May. Once Mother’s Day is past, there’s less risk of snow and hard freezes, so gardens—both cultivated and wild—are taking off. There are a number of plants that are still going strong from April, and plenty new ones as well. March and April wild foods still available where I live in Western NC during May:

  • Chickweed (Stellaria media)
  • Bluntleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolius)
  • Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum)
  • Bishop’s weed (Aegopodium podagraria)
  • Purple Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)
  • Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)
  • Violets (Viola)
  • Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina)
  • Yellow Rocket (Barbarea vulgaris)
  • Mint (Lamia)
  • Cleavers (Galium aparine)
  • Plantain (Plantago major)
  • Appalachian spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
  • Maples (Acer)
  • Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
  • Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
  • Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza)
  • Watercress (Cardamine rotundifolia)
  • Branch lettuce/saxifrage (Micranthes micranthidifolia)
  • Burdock (Arctium lappa)
  • Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum)

May (new) wild foods, in general order of their appearance:

 

Common vetch (Vicia sativa) — top four inches stems/leaves, raw or cooked

  1. Smooth Rock Cress, Solomon’s Seal, Lamb’s Ear and Vetch Greens 
  2. Vetch, Bishop’s Weed, and Sticky Grass Smoothies

Hawthorn (Crataegus) — leaves, flowers, raw

  1. Hawthorn & Spruce Tips in Pasta
  2. Four-Tree Salad

Spruce Tips (Picea) — new, longer than 1 inch tips raw or cooked

  1. Watercress Sandwich and Spruce Tip Tea
  2. Spruce Tip Cookie Recipe

Basswood (Tilia) — leaves raw or cooked

  1. Basswood and Stonecrop Salad with Bloody Butcher Bread
  2. Four-Tree Salad

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) — leaves raw or cooked

  1. Lemon Balm Bars

Beech (Fagus) — young leaves raw or cooked

  1. Foraging Beech Leaves
  2. Beech Leaves, Cleavers, and Virginia Waterleaf Greens

Wood Nettles (Laportea canadensis) — leaves and stems, cooked

  1. Wood Nettles and Virginia Waterleaf Greens with Taters
  2. Harvesting and Eating Wood Nettles
  3. Nettles, Mushroom, and Daylily Feast

Honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis) — leaves, flowers, stems raw or cooked

  1. Honewort and Wood Nettles in Miso Soup 

Red and White Clovers (Trifolium pratense and Trifolium repens) — leaves and flowers raw or cooked

  1. Red Clover and Plantain Salad
  2. Clover Cornbread 

Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) — blooms raw

  1. Black Locust Blossom Harvest

Geranium (Geranium spp.) — blooms raw, blooms and leaves for tea

Wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta) — blooms, leaves, stems, raw or cooked

  1. Poke, Sour Clover, Puffballs, and More
  2. Mung Bean, Heal-all, Wood Sorrel & Daylily Salad
  3. 8 July Greens (and 2 Flowers)

 


Please remember: Always be 100% certain of your identifications before harvesting or eating any wild food. Harvest sustainably, so that the plants can keep growing. And don’t forget to tell the earth and all her gifts “thank you.”

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