Category Archives: Spring

The Spring category is applied to all foraging, gardening, wildlife etc. posts. This includes all that relate to the spring period each year, so as to help to find information by season.

Hedgerow Beauties – Edible Spring Flowers

Given the time of year, we all know that the countryside is full of green and flowers, I was out looking for edibles when I came across these edible hedgerow beauties, so I thought I’d share these spring flowers with you.

Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra) spring flowers

First up is the Wych Elm. This tree, with one of the prettiest flower bunches over also has a great many uses. Sticking with the edibility, the young leaves are edible (raw or cooked), the inner bark has been dried and used to thicken stews, and the seeds are also edible.

Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)

Greater Stitchwort is one of those anonymous white spring flowers in the hedgerow or on the side of the road that largely gets ignored. Until you take a closer look, that is.

Hedgerow Beauties – Greater Stitchwort

The flower is made up of five white petals, lobed so deeply that they look like ten petals. Five green sepals support them, and the stamens are yellow tipped, growing from a green centre. The green parts look very much like grass before the flowers open, apart from the fact that the edges feel quite rough; As does the stem, which has a square cross-section.

The green shoots, flower buds and flowers are all edible raw and cooked. You can chop them straight into a salad.

Forget-Me-Not (Genus Myosotis)

Forget-me-nots are tiny blue spring flowers which you could easily walk by, if it wasn’t for the striking contrast of the blue against a green background.

Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-not covers about 74 species, but the flowers are usually pink/purple in the bud, turning blue when they open. The flowers have five petals, five sepals, yellow centres and are under one cm across. The leaves are long, thin, and unstalked. The stems are hairy, and the leaves are also hairy sometimes.

The flowers are edible and you can eat them as a walking snack, to decorate cakes, and in salads.

Primrose (Primula vulgaris)

Sometimes, with these wild flowers, it’s hard to believe that they’re not cultivated because they look so perfect, and in my opinion, the Primrose is one of those.

Wild Primrose

Easy to recognise, Primula vulgaris has a rosette of crinkly, tongue-shaped leaves that are so wrinkled that they look old even when new. Each flower grows from it’s own stem (which has fine hairs) and has five pale yellow petals, with a darker yellow centre. Sometimes, the darker yellow centre forms a pentagram.

WARNING: I’ve eaten the flowers raw, and the leaves both raw and cooked, yet some people have reported that the leaves have caused a rash. It’s worth checking first, and if the leaves do cause a rash or any kind of contact dermatitis, definitely do not eat it.

Forage close to home

Strictly speaking, this post isn’t about foraging as such, more like plant identification. The key point is this: You need to be able to positively identify plants in order to be able to forage for them. However, if you don’t live near the great outdoors, you can practice your plant ID anyway.

For example, just around the corner from my house is a small patch of ground in front of some houses. It’s not owned by any of the householders, and the local council probably can’t justify looking after it; So it’s left to get overgrown for a few years, then stripped back to almost bare earth. The following spring is a great time to go looking, as all the low growing ‘weeds’ get a chance to sprout.

Roadside plant identification (forage)

I wouldn’t forage from this spot because it’s too close to a busy road and a residential parking area, and therefore likely to be polluted.

What can I see here, that I could forage elsewhere?

Well, quite a lot as it happens. Good thing too really, or this whole post would have been pointless!

Firstly, there’s one of my favourites:

Crow Garlic. A great addition as a salad leaf and a garlicky flavour for soups and stews.

Then Burdock. The young, first-year leaves can be eaten, but will be quite bitter, the flower stem can be steamed, and the roots have been used for many types of drinks, not to mention all of the traditional medicinal uses.

Cleavers: The young leaves can be used in salads, the dried seed balls can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute, and the juice has been used in traditional medicine.

Common Mallow: The leaves and young shoots can be eaten raw and cooked as greens. The leaves are mucilaginous, which means that they thicken soups and stews nicely, the immature seeds are also edible raw, but so small as to not be worth the effort.

Dandelions are just starting to become prolific again, with those bright yellow flower heads popping up everywhere; Every part of the plant is edible.

Dock is great as a cooked leaf (like spinach) and can be used in pesto, and is high in ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The root is great for teas and medicinal uses.

Speedwells can be used to make a slightly bitter tea, which apparently, has good medicinal properties.

Ground Elder, pick the youngest, freshest shoots and they can be steamed or gently fried.

Stinging Nettles are one of the best natural resources out there; High in nutrients and as many uses as you can think of as a leaf, herb, flavouring, and for cordage.

Purple Dead Nettles are a little hairy compared to stinging nettle leaves, so use them sparingly as whole ingredients.

Spear Thistle roots taste like Jerusalem Artichoke when cooked, apparently, and you can eat the flower stems as a vegetable.

Clover can be used in small amounts to add variety to a wild salad.

Finally, Common Yarrow is edible both raw and cooked, but I just found out that apparently, it can be used in place of hops for flavouring and preservatives in beer! Guess what I’m looking forward to trying…