On Sunday, we went for a walk up to a mountain farm (seter) near to the lake Foldsjøen in Malvik with the main aim to gather alpine bistort (harerug) bulbils (Polygonum viviparum / Persicaria vivipara) to dry for the winter. This is one of the 80 plants in my book and I grow various accessions of this plant also in my garden! See also my post on 25th June: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=22680
You can often find large quantities of this plant in open sheep pasture and dampish meadows. I hadn’t been to this “seter” before and right enough there were large amounts of this plant, although the bulbils were still not fully grown. We walked from Verket, an outdoor museum on the site of Mostadmark Jernverk, the site of an old iron furnace (see https://www.malvik.kommune.no/mostadmark-jernverk.6168342-478994.html) up through the forest past Hulåsen to the seter, returning via Slåttdalen and returning along the side of the lake. We didn’t meet a single person or car all the way! At the end you can also see a number of pictures and films of nature and some fungi we found along the way!
Here’s a short film showing thousands of flowerheads in a damp meadow (the flowers are sterile, the plant almost only multiplying vegetatively by bulbils):
It’s a rare event that I forage outside the garden at this time of year and almost never for leafy greens. I’m trying to find time at least once a week for a walk in the woods and at the weekend I did just that and I was surprised to find that the alpine bistort (viviparous knotweed / harerug) bulbils were ready to harvest. It often grows in large quantities along tracks in sunny spots on the edge of the forest.
We had a perennial veggie quiche for dinner and these were used as as a tasty nutty topping. The vegetables we used included sorrel (Rumex acetosa / engsyre), musk mallow (Malva moschata / moskuskattost), day lily flowers (Hemerocallis / daglilje), various onions (løk), Hablitzia leaves and Hosta.
Harerug? Literally meaning “Hare rye” is a plant found in Norway from the outermost coast to the high mountains and is also one of the few edible plants of Svalbard in the high arctic! It’s Polygonum viviparum (Persicaria vivipara) or alpine bistort in English, in the Knotweed family or Polygonaceae along with many other edible plants such as giant rhubarb and Japanese knotweed and the sorrels and docks. Despite its small size, it has been an important survival food for arctic peoples including in some Norwegian mountain villages in the past as plants have comparatively large nutritious and tasty tubers! I’ve been using the bulbils (hence the latin viviparum meaning living birth as these fall off and form roots giving plants that are genetically identical to the mother plant). They have a delicious nutty taste, something my kids loved as a trail snack in the mountains. Indeed this is a plant one should learn if one is in the mountains as in the event of getting lost, one will still be able to find food. It is a particularly common plant above the tree line here!
It’s also circumpolar as the map in the album shows, even found in the alps and Himalayas. I have a number of different forms in my garden and there are also closely related species which are larger that I believe could have an even bigger potential as a cultivated mountain / arctic crop. There’s a robust subspecies in North America I’d love to get hold of…(Flora of North America: “… with large leaves, compact spikes, and persistent bulblets…. named subsp. macounii”). It’s also one of the 80 in my book Around the World in 80 plants!