The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Food From Nature's Wildwood

By Delia Mays © 1988

Issue: October, 1988

Now that summer has come and the woods and fields are producing an abundance of herbs, leaves, bark and roots that may be eaten, it is time now to get out and avail ones self with a big bait of all the good free fare, just for the picking and will supply a body with fresh vitamins and minerals. Listed below is a description of some of the best.

1. Wild Lettuce - excellent for greens, it grows in rich woods, break off a leaf and a drop of milk will ooze out. Good cooked with other greens.

2. Wild Mustard - Look in old field for these plants with yellow blooms. All wild mustards are good greens to eat.

3. Shepherds Purse - Makes good eating, it is a member of the cress family.

4. Watercress - this is the best greens; may be eaten raw dressed with oil and vinegar, if picked young and tender; or cooked with mixed greens. It grows along stream beds.

5. Winter Cress - Makes delicious eating. Look for it in cultivated ground, it has yellow blossoms.

6. Chickweed - Instead of blaming Chickweed for invading your garden, pick it to eat. It's good as cooked greens.

7. Yellow Flowered Lettuce - (Botanical name is Compass Plant) Good to mix with other greens.

8. Lamb's Quarter - A plant often found in old gardens; a good substitute for spinach.

9. Groundhog - (Book name Self Heal) this member of the mint family has many healing virtues. Good mixed with other greens.

10. Poke - Eat when shoots are about four inches high; may be canned for winter use. This is the best and most popular of all greens.

11. Plantain - Very common about the premises; a good green to mix with Poke. It has great health giving qualities.

12. Wild Beet - (Common name Speckled John) Rosettes of the evening primrose; a good green to mix with Poke or Plantain.

13. Dandelion - Most healthful of all greens. The yellow blossoms are delicious when fried in butter. Blooms also used to make Dandelion Wine. The green leaves may be mixed and cooked with other greens.

14. Yellow Dock - has long curly leaves and yellow roots; very rich in iron and minerals.

15. Blackberry Leaves - when young are good to mix with other greens.

16. Artichokes - these are edible tubers growing on the roots of a large sunflower plant. Good food.

17. Teas - you may want tea to go with your greens. Use roots of red sassafras for the best tea; spireword bush also makes a spicy tea. Peppermint, catnip and horsemint make good tea.

This is 17 ways to say yum yum this summer. "How to pick greens," was taught to me many years ago by my dear mother who knew how to make a dollar go far. Our Poor Man's Menu Was:

A big pot of wild greens cooked with a piece fat back, slices of fried fat back, pot of soup beans, skillet of corn bread, cold milk and butter from the springhouse, and a big onion. Mighty good eating!