As I’ve written before on this blog, nettles (Urtica spp.) are important food plants for birds, both due to insects and their larvae feeding on them in summer and the nutrient rich seed in winter. Today there was a small flock of redpolls (gråsisik) feeding on the seed on a small patch of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) that I’ve been encouraging just below the house and in good view of the living room.
AROUND THE WORLD IN THE EDIBLE GARDEN; Part 3 – Southern Europe and the Mediterranean countries Inviting you to the third in a series of dinners from Malvik’s Edible Garden where we “forage” from different parts of the world! If you’ve visited countries in south east Europe you will no doubt have eaten the delicious vegetable pies like Greek spanakopoita, Turkish börek, Italian Torta pasqualina, Bulgarian banitsa and others. Inspired by these and not wanting to make the time consuming to make filo pastry, we made a 100% wholegrain rye/barley quiche like dish with large quantities of the following perennial greens:
From left to right (from top left) : Allium ursinum (ramsons; ramsløk) Rumex patientia (patience dock; hagesyre) Urtica dioica (stinging nettle; brennesle) Silene vulgaris (bladder campion; engsmelle) Rumex scutatus (Buckler-leaved sorrel; Fransksyre) Rumex acetosa (sorrel; engsyre) Myrrhis odorata (sweet cicely; Spansk kjørvel) Malva alcea (hollyhock mallow; rosekattost) Melissa officinalis (lemon balm; sitronmelisse) Scorzonera hispanica (Scorzonera; scorsonnerot, svartrot) Asparagus officinalis (asparagus; asparges) Humulus lupulus (hops; humle) Tragopogon pratensis (Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon; geitskjegg) Taraxacum “Moss-leaved dandelion” Campanula trachelium (nettle-leaved bellflower; nesleklokke) Brassica oleracea “Daubenton variegated” (perennial kale; flerårige kål) Allium zebdanense (white flowers) from Lebanon (with garlic and chili and imported olives)
Last night we made a green pea soup and apart from the Hablitzia (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde), I used perennial vegetables growing in a wild part of the garden. With little or no help from me there’s a bounty of wild edibles in this area under wild hazels (Corylus avellana) and this made for a delicious pea soup with masses of greens. Campanula latifolia is documented as used in spring soups in the 16th century in my area in Norway and Heracleum shoots are also a tradional soup ingredient, in particular Russian borsch now thought of as a beetroot soup was originally made with hogweed shoots.
AROUND THE WORLD IN THE EDIBLE GARDEN; Part 1 – The Cherokee lands of Eastern North America The first in a series of dinners from Malvik’s Edible Garden where we “forage” from different parts of the world!
Cherokee Pizza is of course better known as Cherokizza…go on, look it up :). This is the classic Native American Italian dish and it was made in Norway today! All you need is a good selection of Cherokee wild vegetables: Appalachian greens / kyss-meg-over-gjerde (Rudbeckia laciniata); see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=22018 Nodding onion / prærieløk (Allium cernuum) Stinging nettle / brennesle (Urtica dioica) Virginia waterleaf / Indian salad (Hydrophyllum virginianum) Dandelion / løvetann (Taraxacum spp.) (a giant individual, as you will see from the pictures, growing on seaweed on the sea kale bed) Cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum)
I used a thick 100% whole grain rye sourdough base for the pizza, so a bit of Denmark in there too!
Tonight’s omelette had more or less only wild edible perennial plants from my area in it, although all grow in my garden, managed in some way…with one exception which has been in every evening meal for 65 days now, the first in this list: Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) Taraxacum officinale (dandleion / løvetann) Allium ursinum (ramsons / ramsløk) Campanula latifolia (giant bellflower / storklokke) Alchemilla spp. (lady’s mantle / marikåpe) Urtica dioica (stinging nettle / brennesle) Aegopodium podograria (ground elder / skvallerkål)
Urtica gracilis (often classified as a subspecies of stinging nettle, Urtica dioica subsp. gracilis) is a widespread nettle species in North America including Canada and Alaska. It has many local names including slender nettle, California nettle and American nettle. This year, my tallest nettle is currently over 2.9m high!
It was (and is) an important plant of the first peoples throughout the continent from Vermont to Alaska,used as a vegetable, medicinally and, most importantly as a fibre plant, including fishing nets!. One native use I noted was “Rubbed on the bodies of sealers to keep them awake at night” :) (Moerman’s Native American Ethnobotany has a long list of uses)
My slender nettle has almost no stinging hairs, and, in general, has much less than stinginess than the introduced Urtica dioica subsp. dioica (stinging nettle) and Laportea canadensis (Wood Nettle; see my book Around the World in 80 plants). It is unisexual ( I seem to have just one sex as it doesn’t produce seeds…)
Added 300917: The friend in Granville, Ohio who sent me the seed of this nettle writes: “I collected the Urtica gracilis along the back of my property, near an old railroad (now a bike trail). It’s a common plant in “waste places”. I’ve never seen the plants grow that large here. Could your additional sunlight be to blame?”
Sand leek (rocambole) or Allium scorodoprasum gives bigger yields here than leeks, so it’s not surprising to learn that this perennial onion was probably cultivated by the Vikings (it is found naturalised near many old Viking settlements in Scandinavia) and I believe it is the original “geirlauk” (meaning spear onion) and the root of the word garlic in English… See also pages 215-217 in my book!
I hadn’t noticed the red base to the stems seen in these pictures before…
I used it in a quick scrambled egg dish together with Amish onion (Allium x proliferum), sorrel flower shoots, ground elder (Aegopodium), nettle (Urtica dioica), Hydrophyllum virginianum (water leaf) with golpar spice.
These pictures can also be seen on my 700 plus album of Allium pictures on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150966880345860
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden