One of my favourite perennial vegetables and a fantastic edimental is Aster scaber (nowadays Doellengeria scabra), here harvested in spring in my garden:
In September, in a farmer’s market in Atlanta, Georgia I found packets of dried Aster scaber leaves (I had searched unsuccessfully for chwinamul in other Korean supermarkets, but hadn’t found it before):
On the front of the packet is a WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm!
On the other hand, on the back of the packet it says: “Keep your health with benefits of HAETAE Sangol Hyanggi Namuls”
Is the reason for the cancer warning on the packet due to the fact that the same packet is used for a range of dried vegetables and shiitake mushrooms (namul), including bracken fern which contains a carcinogen, ptaquiloside (however, it is both water-soluble and is destroyed by heat )
I was also surprised to read what would seem to be the excessive pre-preparation by boiling for 20 mins., followed by a soak overnight and then rinsing 7 times, to remove the bitterness. I’ve never detected bitterness and have understood it’s also used in salads. I wonder also why they are known as “thumbs”?
I’ve long had a Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) in the garden without a partner. The oldest is maybe 20 years old. I’ve several times tried to propagate more plants but they always died. I finally got a second plant going thanks to a gardening friend Alvilde who didn’t want hers anymore, but still no fruit, maybe it was a clone of the first one? This spring I took a few sprigs of flowering twigs from a couple of plants at the botanical garden at Ringve and put them next to my two plants. It did the trick as my two bushes were full of fruit this year, but only a few fruit on one of the bushes turned red and probably weren’t fully ripe. Perhaps we’ll make Polish Olives with them? It would be nice with a home grown olive surrogate? See Szczepaniak et al. (2019).
The bushes at Ringve, which were in a warmer and much sunnier spot than in my garden, were, on the other hand, laden with ripe fruit!
Although sour tasting raw, I was intrigued to see what they would taste like dried. My favourite dried fruit are sour cherries. Although not as good as those, I enjoyed the taste and they will this winter be part of my late winter dried fruit mixes that I eat every morning for breakfast once the fresh apples are finished.
There are many varieties of cornelian cherry bred for bigger fruits, there are also pear shaped fruit varieties and yellow cultivars. (Edit: My friend Jesper Bay tells me that there’s also a black fruited variety!) There are also a number of ornamental varieties, such as the wonderful variegated form I once saw laden with fruit in the Oxford Botanical Garden (see the pictures below).
´Elegantnyj´, ´Jalt´, ´Kijevskij´, ´Lukjanovskij´, ´Vydubeckij´ are Russian in origin; ´Devin´, ´Olomoucky, ´Ruzynsky´, ´Sokolnicky´, ´Titus´ are from Czechoslovakia and Slovakia; ´Joliko´ and ´Fruchtal´ are Austrian and ‘Ntoulia 1’ and ‘Ntoulia 2’ are Greek.<
There are also partially self-fertile varieties.
Cornus mas has been cultivated commercially for centuries in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Turkey has today an important Cornelian cherry industry.
‘Kasanlaker’ is a large fruited cultivar which is available from nurseries in Western Europe.
I remember on a visit to Scandinavia’s oldest forest garden at Holma in Southern Sweden being shown a large Cornus mas in the centre of the city Lund on 1st September 2017! Here’s a picture of various forest gardeners harvesting the fruit (the tree was full):
Oskar M. Szczepaniak, Kobus‑Cisowska, J., Kusek, W. and Przeo, M. 2019. Functional properties of Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas L.): a comprehensive review. European Food Research and Technology. 245:2071–2087
There couldn’t be more flowers on my oldest 17 year old Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde)!
Malva alcea (greater musk-mallow, cut-leaved mallow, vervain mallow or hollyhock mallow / Norw: rosekattost) is a mallow native to southwestern, central and eastern Europe and southwestern Asia, from Spain north to southern Sweden and east to Russia and Turkey. It is easy to confuse with musk mallow (Malva moschata). It is a much larger plant than moschata. My plant is the upright form Malva alcea var. fastigiata and reaches 1.8m, double the height of moschata. I had this for many years, but it was sterile and I suspected it was a hybrid with moschata. It finally died after some 15 years and I sourced new seed through the Scottish Rock Gardening Club seed list in winter 2012-2013. It grew quickly, produced seed and has self-sowed in a few places in the garden, growing well in the half shady conditions my garden provides for. Here it is, filmed from my balcony today:
It is often planted in gardens as it flowers for a long time in summer. It has naturalised in the UK (see https://www.brc.ac.uk/plantatlas/plant/malva-alcea) and also here in Norway there are a number of observations, particularly around Oslo.
This summer, I’ve been using this mallow much more than before as I now have a lot of it and it has replaced moschata in a few places, suggesting that these may be hybrids! This really is one of the most useful perennial vegetables in the summer garden. Along with other mallows you can pick off leaves, young flower buds and flowers over an extended period! I use them in various stir-fry dishes, in soups, on pizza, in quiches and mixed salads!
It is surprisingly not often mentioned as edible in ethnobotanical studies (maybe underreported due to confusion with moschata?). However, a quick search revealed it being used traditionally in Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria!
If I had written my book today, this may well have replaced moschata. I did mention alcea in the book under the account of moschata as follows:
I have less experience with Malva alcea, greater musk mallow, which is, as the English name suggests, a larger plant. It has a similar range to musk mallow, except that it isn’t found in the UK. I’ve only grown the form ‘Fastigiata’ which is long-lived and a nice ornamental, needing staking up during the summer. My plant was sterile and is
thought possibly to be a hybrid between M. alcea and M. moschata. The flowers are also good in salads.
Bees love it too!
Here are a few pictures of it in the garden today:
My annual vegetable beds are once again aglow with opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) flowers, my favourite annual edimentals. These are my favourite “weeds” that come up year after year. I’ve planted some 40 different varieties over the years, so there are many colours and flower forms! They need to be “weeded” in order that the individual plants are big! See my grand album of opium poppy pictures here: https://tinyurl.com/y6snlc4r
I collect the seed for using on bread (see the latter album and http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=3191) and other baked dishes!
However, great and blue tits compete with me for the seeds, see my blog post on my narcotits (narkomeis)! The flowers are almost certainly perfectly safe to eat raw, at least in small amounts and you’ll see the occasional flower in my salads.
Papaver somniferum is also one of the favourite plants for pollinating insects such as bumblebees, hoverflies etc., see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=12787!
Other poppy species have also been used traditionally for food and even the leaves of corn poppy (kornvalmue) are used in the Mediterranean countries (I remember seeing the leaves for sale in a market in Venice some years ago!
More about the uses of poppies from Cornucopia II. I grow all 3 in my garden here in Malvik!
Papaver somniferum – opium poppy (opiumvalmue). The seeds, called maw seeds in Europe and khas-khas in the Middle East, are widely used in breads, cakes, rolls, milky soups, rice dishes, stews, curries, saladdressings, and sweetmeats. When crushed and sweetened, they are used as a filling for crepes, strudels, pastries, etc. Poppy-seed oil is used like olive oil in French cooking, where it is known as olivette. A paste made from poppy-seed oil and roasted, ground poppy seed is widely used in Turkish cuisine.
Papaver orientale – oriental poppy (orientvalmue). Unripe capsules, though very acrid and hot in taste, are reportedly eaten as a delicacy. In Turkey, the seeds and flower parts are eaten.
Papaver rhoeas – Corn poppy (kornvalmue). Young leaves are cooked and seasoned like spinach, or used as a flavoring in soups and salads. A syrup prepared from the scarlet flower petals has been employed as an ingredient in soups and gruels. They also yield a red pigment used for coloring, especially wine. The seeds are used in cakes, breads, and rolls or pressed for their oil, an excellent substitute for olive oil.
A collection of pictures of my extreme salads from the last 20 years can be seen in the gallery below!
8th July 2019: The first 10! To be continued…..
I used to grow Oxalis triangularis, also known as the False Shamrock for the leaves and flowers. It’s also a perfect edimental house plant here as it likes cool indoor temperatures and struggles / goes dormant if it gets too warm.
I was given a couple of plants the other day, surplus to the plant sale at the botanical gardens. Repotting the plants yesterday, I noticed that there were quite a number of sizeable tubers and I had a taste for the first time. I was surprised how sweet they tasted!!
A year ago, I reported on variegation on a Hablitzia in my son’s garden on Nesodden near Oslo (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=18162). I gave him this plant a few years ago and I really didn’t believe it would thrive here as the spot appeared very dry with poorish looking soil, but this year it’s clearly thriving and is sprawling in different directions (they plan to paint the house, so it’s not been trained up the wall). I discovered for the second year running that one of the shoots is variegated, similar to Mandy Barber‘s plant a couple of years ago reported on the Friends of Hablitzia forum on FB!
Has anyone had success (or not) with layering Hablitzia to propagate?
Previous posts on variegated Habbies here (on Facebook):
Dandelion time has come around again! This is the only dandelion field I can see from the house! Is this the most productive field in the area?