In this section, you will find a list of plants that I have identified in your neighbourhood that are either edible or medicinal. Before you start, be sure to ask for your free copy of Forest Foraging Safety Tips.
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PURSLANE — You will find this very tasty plant in every city, suburb, and disturbed soil. It is a pioneer species, which means it will take advantage of soils that have been stripped of nutrients. That’s okay, though. Purslane has an amazing ability to dig deep and grab great nutrients and minerals from within the soil.
Purslane is a succulent, which means the leaves are slightly thickened, like an aloe vera plant. They have a taste of citrus, and the small yellow flowers are even more tangy. They are a great addition to a salad, or to add as a garnish to your iced tea!
LOOK-ALIKES: There is one plant that looks similar to the purslane, and it often grows nearby. It is called Amaranthus blitoides, or ground pigweed. It is also edible, but that’s for another day! See if you notice the following traits in your suspected purslane:
the leaves are plump and taste crunchy
the plant sprawls along the ground and rarely stands up
you won’t see obvious veins in a purslane leaf — only the middle vein
the leaves are opposite, meaning that you will find them in pairs, across from each other along the stem
So go hunting for this delicious treat between sidewalk cracks, against buildings, and in open fields. BEWARE: only pick from areas free from toxins, such as herbicides, animal spray or urine, and chemical dumps.
Ah, the beautiful violet. So tiny, so beautiful as it blankets the soil with its heart-shaped leaves and its purple or white or yellow, 5-petaled flowers, its promise of spring followed so soon by summer.
Identification is quite easy. Leaves are heart shaped with slightly scalloped edges. The veins are evident, but not prominent.. In other words, they don’t make the leaves bumpy, like they often do with garlic mustard. The flowers have two petals on top, two at the sides, and one drooping at the bottom.If you find the yellow variety, and you feel tempted to pick it, DON’T! It is more rare, so just enjoy it while on your walk.
So what is even better than its beauty? This gorgeous plant is edible. Almost all wild violets are edible. The flowers, stem, and leaves are all ready to be added to your salad, a cool iced tea, or topping an ice cream treat. They can even be candied and stored for later. Imagine decorating someone’s birthday cake with tiny purple candied flowers!
CAUTION: Make sure you are eating violets. Always wait for the flowers to come out before eating. The leaves can be confused with other plants, such as lesser celandine (toxic) and garlic mustard (edible, but much different, less palatable taste.).