Tag Archives: Norway

Mot en Norsk Spiselig Flora / Towards a Norwegian Edibles Flora

English text at the bottom!

Jeg har opp gjennom årene prøvd å dyrke over 6000 spiselige planter i Malvik like øst for Trondheim. Dette har vært inspirert av Food for Free bevegelsen på 1970-tallet og i hovedsak tre hovedverker om verdens spiselige planter: Sturtevant’s Edible Plants of the World Hedrick (1919), Stephen Facciolas Cornucopia II (1998) og Plants for a Future databasen (www.pfaf.org). Dette ble en spennende reise inn i verdens mat, lokal domestisering og sanketradisjoner og jeg oppdaget etter hvert både ville vekster og prydplanter i Norge som var viktige matplanter i andre verdensdeler som var ukjent i Norge som mat. Attpåtil var de ofte godsmakende også.

Jeg skulle gjerne fortelle om disse oppdagelsene og jeg begynte derfor å skrive en serie artikler for bladet Våre Nyttevekster (senere Sopp og Nyttevekster): strutseving (2002), strandstjerne (2004), ormerot (2006), slirekne (2010). Jeg også begynte å holde et foredrag «Jorda rundt med plante som smaker» og dette ble etter hvert til en bok Around the World in 80 plants fra 2014 som handler om min topp 80 flerårige grønnsaker som jeg hadde dyrket og hvordan jeg hadde kommet frem til at flerårige grønnsaker var et bedre valg for kalde strøk, burde generelt dyrkes mer fordi de krever mindre energi og vann, binder mer karbon og er også sunnere enn tradisjonelle grønnsaker. Samtidig, takket være interessen i Middelhavsdietten har det blitt gjennomført hundrevis av etnobotaniske studier i Europa de siste 20 årene og mange nye spiselige arter er oppdaget siden min bok ble ferdig i 2013. Resultatene har vist at det har tradisjonelt vært spist over 3000 planter kun i Middelhavslandene, et enormt mangfold! Det er dette mangfoldet som karakteriserer tradisjonelle kosthold i mange land. I tillegg er det oppdaget mangfoldsretter ofte med over 50 planter villinnsamlet og dyrket. Dette ga inspirasjon til mine mangfoldsalater og min verdensrekord på 537 ingredienser i en salat fra 2004. Med økt interesse i lokal mat (både dyrket og sanket) er det flere av forfatterene av disse etnobotaniske studiene de siste årene som har foreslått dyrking av enkelte arter.

Jeg fikk lyst til å søke systematisk gjennom norsk flora på jakt etter andre spiselige planter som ikke er oppdaget enda og jeg fikk en Excel liste av alle karplanter registrert i Norge, dvs både hjemlige og fremmede arter, laget av Norsk Botanisk Forening (i 2008).  Det er til sammen 4613 taksa i listen. Jeg har stort sett bare vurdert spiseligheten av arter (underarter og hybrider regnes å ha samme nytten). Det var igjen en liste over 2806 arter som er vurdert, et arbeid som har tatt 9 år å bli ferdig med (av forskjellige grunner, ikke bare arbeidsomfang som var riktignok mye større enn jeg hadde forestilt meg!). Spiseligheten av aller artene er vurdert og alle har fått en rangering på en verdiskala fra 1-5 hvor 5 er mest verdifull! Verdien i matlaging er basert på Plants for a Future databasen hvor alle plantene er rangert for spiselighet og dette er justert / supplert etter mine egne erfaringer. Når det gjelder de etterhvert mange spiselige arter som ikke er med i PFAF har jeg vurdert plantene så godt jeg kunne. Om det er snakk om planter hvor jeg ikke har erfaring selv og planten er lite brukt har den fått en verdi på 1. Det finnes en del giftige planter som er brukt etter koking / tørking (det gjelder feks smørblomstfamilien) og dette er notert ved å bruke en † symbol.  NB! En del av artene er fredet og jeg på ingen måte oppfordrer til å spise feks orkideer, men etnobotaniske informasjon ER med for alle planter!

Spiseligheten er vurdert i korthet ved å notere hvilken plantedel som brukes og hvordan, feks blad eller rot i supper, salat osv. Dette er gjort først og fremst ved å sjekke Facciolas Cornucopia II, som jeg fikk av forfatteren som pdf slik at det er lett å søke. Deretter har jeg sjekket samme planten i PFAF. Om planten ikke finnes i primærdatabasene har jeg gjennomført følgende søk ved hjelp av Google Scholar: («Botaniske navn» +Edible +Ethnobotany). Siden 2018 har jeg hatt adgang til NTNUs søkesystem gjennom min gjesteforsker stilling på Ringve Botaniske Hagen. Dette har letet dette arbeidet betraktelig og gitt meg adgang til de fleste artikler jeg vil sjekke. Det er oppdaget ca 90 nye «spiselige» arter på denne måten og referansene brukt finnes nederst her. Analysen av de første 1600 (av 4613) taksa ble gjennomført uten full tilgang til litteraturen. Derfor har jeg startet fra begynnelsen igjen med fullt søk. Jeg kom igjen de første 600 taksa før jeg måtte sette sluttstreken for arbeidet. Derfor er det sikkert noen få uoppdagete spiselige arter. Jeg regner med å fullføre dette eterhvert.

Av de 2806 arter funnet en eller annen gang i norsk natur har jeg dokumentert 1242 av dem som «spist» et eller annet sted i verden, dvs 44% av alle arter registrert i Norge er «spiselige». Men, 458 eller 37% av de «spiselige» er i kategori 1 som er planter som brukes som nødmat evt planter som er sjelden brukt eller har ikke nok informasjon til å vurdere. Videre er 34% (427 arter) i kategori 2, 16% (200) i kategori 3, 7% (91) i kategori 4 og 5% (63) er i den øverste kategori.

Hele databasen er foreløpig ikke offentiggjort i påvente av hva som skal skje videre med dette. 

Tabell 1  Eksempler av data fra den store norsk spiselig flora Excel ark (examples of data entries from the 2806 line Norwegian edible flora Excel sheet).

LATIN RANGERING (Verdiskala) († Mulig helseskadelig) HVORDAN BRUKT? VILL UTBREDELSES-OMRÅDET (fra Lids Norsk Flora, 2005)
Campanula latifolia L. 4 Blad (rå og kokt); Blomst (rå); Rot (rå og kokt); Se Barstow (2014) Europa og V Asia
Rudbeckia laciniata L. 3 Ung blad og skudd (rå og kokt, tørket); Stilker (skrellet); Thayer (2017) sier at “Sochan is among the best known wild edibles of the Appalachians”. Cherokee navnet Sochan betyr “grønnsaker”. Er ikke med i Cornucopia II! Det finnes en rekke hagevarianter av denne planten! Ø og M N Amerika
Scorzonera hispanica L. 5 Rot (kokt); Ung blad og skudd (rå og kokt); Blomsterstilker (søt; spises rå); Blomsterknopper (rå og kokt); Kronblad (i salat); se også Barstow (2014); a Norwegian article has been published recently here: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=21016 S Europa, Kaukasus, V Sibir
Lepidium latifolium L. 3 Blad (rå og kokt); Rot (brukt som pepperrot); Frø (krydder) Europa, N Afrika til V Asia
Lunaria annua L. 2 Rot (rå); Frø (som sennep) Europa
Erodium cicutarium (L.) L’Hér. 3 Ung blad (rå og kokt); Rot (tygget av barn) Middelhavsområdet?

Takk til Landbruksdirektoratet (og tidligere Genressurssenteret) som har støttet dette arbeidet gjennom prosjektet «Kartlegging – innsamling- dokumentasjon og vurdering av genetisk mangfold av spiselige planter i Norge»

References are below the English summary!
English summary:  Over the years I have tried to grow over 6,000 different edible plants here in Malvik, Norway, just east of Trondheim. This has been inspired by the Food for Free movement in the 1970s and, mainly, three principal works about the world’s edible plants: Sturtevant’s Edible Plants of the World (Hedrick, 1919), Stephen Facciola’s Cornucopia II (1998) and the Plants for a Future database (www. pfaf.org). This was for me an exciting journey into the world’s food, local domestication and culinary traditions and I gradually discovered both wild plants and ornamentals  here in Norway that were important food plants in other parts of the world that were unknown in Norway as food. They often tasted very good too.

I was excited to tell others about these discoveries and I therefore started writing a series of articles for the Norwegian Useful Plants Society’s magazine Våre Nyttevekster (later Sopp og Nyttevekster): ostrich fern (2002), sea aster (2004), bistort (2006), Japanese knotweed (2010). I also began to give a lecture in Norwegian with a title that literally translates as  “Around the world in tasty plants” and this eventually evolved into my book Around the World in 80 plants from 2014 which is about my top 80 perennial vegetables that I have cultivated and how I had discovered that perennial vegetables were often a better choice for cold climates like mine, and that they also should generally be grown on a larger scale as they require less energy and water, bind more carbon and are also healthier than traditional vegetables (healthy both for us and the planet). At the same time, thanks to the interest in the so-called Mediterranean diet, hundreds of ethnobotanical studies have been conducted in Europe over the last 20 years and many new edible species have been discovered since my book was completed in 2013. The results have shown that there has traditionally been over 3000 plants only in Mediterranean countries, a huge diversity! It is this diversity that characterizes traditional diets in many countries. In addition, diversity dishes have been discovered often including over 50 plants collected and cultivated. This gave inspiration to my diversity salads and my world record of 537 ingredients in a salad from 2004. With increased interest in local food (both grown and harvested), several of the authors of these ethnobotanic studies have in recent years proposed cultivation of certain species.

I wanted to search systematically through the Norwegian flora in search of other edible plants that have not yet been discovered and I was given an Excel list of all vascular plants registered in Norway, i.e., both natives and introduced species, put together by the Norwegian Botanical Association (in 2008). There are a total of 4613 taxa in the list. I have basically only considered the edibility of species (subspecies and hybrids are considered to have the same use as the main species). This left a list of 2806 species that have all been evaluated, a study that has taken me 9 years to finish (for various reasons, not just the scope of work that was indeed much larger than I had imagined!). The edibility of all species is considered and each species has received a rating on a scale from 1-5 where 5 is most valuable! This is based on the Plants for a Future database (pfaf.org) where all the plants are ranked for edibility and this ranking has been adjusted / supplemented according to my own experience. When it comes to the many edible species that are not in PFAF, I have considered the value of the plants as best I could, although this is naturally quite subjective. If it is a matter of plants where I have no experience myself and the plant is little used, it is given a value of 1. There are some toxic plants that have been used traditionally after cooking / drying (for example, some members of the buttercup family) and this is noted by use of a † symbol. NB! Some of these species are rare and protected by law and I by no means encourage eating e.g., orchids, but ethnobotanic information IS given for all plants!

The edibility is assessed briefly by noting which plant part is used and how, e.g., leaf or root in soups, salad etc. This is done primarily by checking Facciola’s Cornucopia II, which I received from the author as a pdf so that it is easy to search. Then I checked the same plant in pfaf.org. If the plant is not found in the primary databases, I have performed the following keyword searches using Google Scholar: (“Botanical Name” + Edible + Ethnobotany). Since 2018 I have had access to NTNU’s (University) search system through my guest researcher position at Ringve Botanical Garden. This has made this work considerably easier and given me access to most articles I wanted to check. About 90 new “edible” species have been discovered in this way, and the references used are found at the bottom of this page. The analysis of the first 1600 (of 4613) taxa was conducted without full access to the literature. Therefore, I have started again from the beginning with the full search. I have now reanalysed the first 600 taxa before I had to finish the work. Therefore, there are probably a few undiscovered edible species.

Of the 2,806 species which have been registered at some time in Norwegian nature, I have documented 1,242 of these as “eaten” somewhere/sometime in the world, i.e., 44% of all species registered in Norway are “edible”. However, 458 or 37% of the “edibles” are in category 1 which are plants that are used as emergency food or plants that are rarely used or do not have enough information to evaluate properly. Furthermore, 34% (427 species) in category 2, 16% (200) are in category 3, 7% (91) are in category 4 and 5% (63) are in the highest category.

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Incredible “Incredible Wild Edibles” by Sam Thayer

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Sam Thayer is without doubt my favourite foraging author and his new book Incredible Wild Edibles does nothing to change that! It’s been 7 years since his book “Nature’s Garden” and 11 since his debut, Forager’s Garden. All his books are thoroughly researched and I love his plant descriptions, which are detailed, thoughtful and accurate with lots of fun personal anecdotes intertwined! The range of edible plants in this book is very wide and includes amongst others plants yielding berries (including one of my favourites, but rarely grown, black raspberry), leafy greens and shoots (caraway, poke and bladder campion), annual weeds (chickweed and shepherd’s purse), “ground” nuts (chufa), herbs and spices (caraway and fennel), introduced invasives (Japanese knotweed, creeping bellflower), winter crops (miner’s lettuce), root crops (Psoralea or prairie turnip and poppy mallow or Callirhoe involucrata), nut trees (hickory), seed crops (black mustard), water vegetables (watercress), sap sugar (maple) and edible flowers (violet). As with Thayer’s other books, although these are North American wild edibles, some are cultivated as garden edibles around the world and several have a wide geographic distribution including Europe or originating in Europe (I like to think that caraway was introduced originally to North America by the Vikings from here in Norway). Some are also new wave perennial vegetables being grown in permaculture inspired and forest gardens. I actually grow most of this collection in my own garden in Norway. Therefore, all of Thayer’s books are also of interest to foragers, edible gardeners and permaculturists both in and outside of North America!  There are 3 species covered which I was particularly interested to read about as they are seldom covered in foraging and edible gardening books. These are water parsnip (Sium suave), Sweet root (Osmorhiza spp.) and sochan or cut-leaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), the secret vegetable of the Cherokee. I’ve grown the latter in my garden for several years (a double flowered ornamental form; see the picture) as I’d read that it was used by native americans but had never found much in the way of first hand information! I can now look forward to trying this in my ever growing collection of edimentals or edible ornamentals (plants doubling good taste with good looks!)

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The book starts with a number of short essays on various relevant subjects. I particularly enjoyed his “Foraging against the invasion”, that herbicides are not the solution, creating an ecological void, quickly recolonized by invasives….that it’s unrealistic that we will win in the end…and that foragers should participate in the deliberate control of invasives as they are the people most likely to notice and have an impact. Foraging can in this way actually save native plant communities rather than what is often stated, that foraging destroys by overharvesting. And many invasives are of course excellent edibles (we are planning an invasives festival here in Norway!)

The book ends with Thayer’s essay on what he terms Ecoculture! This is Thayer’s term for the ancient practice of the management of natural ecosystems to enhance their production of useful products…and argues that it should and could become an important component of future food systems. I remember on a visit to the West Coast reading in old (suppressed) literature about the amazing extent to which Native Americans managed the forests for food and other products. This is of course nothing unique to North America. These practices are also one of the inspirations of Permaculture’s forest gardens or food forests. Thayer also describes a part of his own garden that he has planted as a diverse productive garden of edibles, but he only (or mainly) uses native plants. Native ecoculture works for Thayer as native forests in his part of the world are particularly diverse and able to supply the calories…in my part of the world this is difficult without introducing non-natives like nut trees and introduced perennial vegetables in our relatively poor native flora……therefore I use forest gardening  rather than ecoculture. Thayer gives the prime example of the sugar maple and wild leek (Allium tricoccum) forests….the closest we have to this in Norway are hazel – ramsons (Allium ursinum) woods, but they are rather limited in extent and nuts are small. Our permaculture forest gardens lie somewhere between “unstable” mainstream agriculture and its predominantly annual crops and Thayer’s relatively stable natural plant communities with mainly perennials.

Thayer also argues that rather than reducing our impact, we need rather “to increase our positive impact on the landscape whilst gathering earth’s gifts to nourish and heal ourselves”.  There is also food for thought that in-situ natural perennial poly-ecocultures do not involve improved varieties as domestication or plant improvement happens in isolation……

Get this book, it could indeed change your life!
Seven years was worth the wait! Thank you Sam!!

Overview of Sam Thayer’s books:

Forager’s Harvest: 2006 (360 pages) 32 plants

Nature’s garden: 2010 (512 pages) 41 plants

Incredible Wild Edibles 2017 (479 pages) 36 plants

Eirik’s Udo

Eirik Lillebøe Wiken and Hege Iren Aasdal Wiken‘s Udo (Aralia cordata) has grown a lot since last year and has one of the best views over Fyksefjorden in the Forest Garden! :)

1.  Eirik and his Udo now towers over his head..

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2.  Decaisnea (Dead man’s finger / likfinger) on the left produces fruit with Udo (Aralia cordata)

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3.  View down over Eirik and Hege’s house close to the Fyksefjord

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Did the Carlin Pea originate in Norway?

PC123954At the weekend, I packed some seed of Carlin Pea, a very old English pea that I’ve grown here in Malvik since around 1990 when I ordered it from the Heritage Seed Library in the UK. I was googling it and to my great surprise, I discovered that it is both now commercially available in the UK and that there is actually a story about it arriving on a boat from Norway:

«…one tradition has it that when Newcastle was besieged by the Scots (in 1327), the citizens might have starved but for the arrival of a cargo of dried peas from Norway on the Sunday before Palm Sunday, known as Carlin Sunday.”

…and concerning the origin of the name Carlin:

«North East, Lincolnshire, Nottingham
Carling Peas, Black peas (Maple Peas or Pigeon Peas), boiled and then lightly fried in butter or beef fat, well-seasoned. Eaten, or given away, a tradition during Lent, particularily on ‘Carlin (or Carling or Care*) Sunday’, usually noted as the 5th Sunday in Lent known in the Church as ‘Passion Sunday’, but occasionally with the 6th Sunday in Lent, due to regional variations in the Church Calendar. Known by this name at least since Turner’s Herbal of 1562, the word may derive from ‘care’.”
* “Care” is an alternative name for “Passion”.
(Source: http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/carlinpeasorbrownbadgers.htm and https://www.slowfood.org.uk/ff-producers/nick-saltmarsh-hodmedods-carlin-peas )

There are, however, alternative interpretations of the word Carlin, see http://adambalic.typepad.com/the_art_and_mystery_of_fo/2007/02/left_maple_peas.html

I sent the peas this week after a request from Agneta Magnusson in Sesam (Swedish Seed Savers). Sweden, unlike Norway has a rich diversity of surviving old peas, so I asked if they knew of any old varieties that resembled the Carlin Pea. They answered that, no, they hadn’t seen such a round “marbled” grey pea before!
There’s some justification then in considering the Carlin Pea to also be a Norwegian heirloom!

The flowers are also very attractive:
http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/jun162-Carlin-pea.jpg

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Carlin seed pods
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Dried mixed peas, including Purple Podded and Carlin
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Sowing peas for indoor sprouting in my living room: Carlin and another Norwegian heirloom Ringeriksert!