|Oxalis sp. Clover like leaves, lemony flavour. This much maligned weed is a refreshing garnish anywhere you'd like a lemon flavour. Around Tasmania you'll find species with white, yellow or pink flowers, and green or maroon leaves.|
One such energetic, knowledgeable and all round nice gal is Hannah Maloney of Good Life Permaculture. Hannah is an experienced and vibrant permaculture designer and educator. On Sunday I had the pleasure of showing a group of Hannah's students around our plot and talking about the weeds that grow here and how we use them. It was heaps of fun to be around a group so interested in the functions of plants in a landscape and open to thinking about them in different ways. We have a tendency to want to label things as good, bad, edible, weedy, native...when many plants are far more than just one thing. Taking the time to think and chat about this stuff probably raises more questions than answers, but for me the questions are often more exciting and important than answers. Questions motivate you to think and research, which in turn gives you the opportunity to see something as mundane as a weed through the spectrum of its natural history, botanical detail, nutritional values and cultural significance.
Before the advent of modern vegetables many 'weeds' were important and nutritious foods. In seeking efficiency of harvest, bigger yields, consistent productivity and milder flavours, many of these plants have fallen out of favour. But many still hold significant cultural value. Traditional meals that celebrate the seasons can be found in many cultures. Pistic from Italy, Horta in Greece and Nanakusa-no-sekku in Japan. Below is a run down of what we looked at with Hannah's students on Sunday.
Before you use any of this info though please be aware that a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. It is all to easy to misidentify something and, while most plants are harmless, there are others that can upset your stomach, cause allergic reactions, burn the inside of your mouth, make you sensitive to sunlight and many other unpleasant outcomes. Some may not affect you negatively but could have adverse impacts on people who are young, pregnant or have compromised health. Please read the warnings below before you make yourself a meal.
ASTERACEAE, Daisy Family
|Spear thistle, Cirsium vulgare|
|California thistle, Cirsium arvense|
|Sow thistle, Sonchus oleraceus|
Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale Edible root, leaf and flower. Addictively bitter spring leaves are wonderful to stimulate digestion. Flowers can be battered and fried or made into ‘wine’.
|Chickweed, Stellaria media|
|Shepherds purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris.|
Hairy bittercress, Cardamine flexuosa There are several native, and introduced Cardamine species, all are peppery and edible.
|Acetosella vulgaris syn Rumex acetosella Sheeps Sorrel|
|Dock, Rumex crispus|
Other useful plants:
|Nettle, Urtica diocea|