Monday, March 16, 2009

Nature Quiz of the Week 23

I'm going to branch out from just asking tracking questions, hopefully we'll both enjoy the increased variety :)

Setting: I took this picture last week in the park ravine not far from where I live in Kirkland.

1. What two edible spring greens are pictured here (you may have to squint and/or click to enlarge to see the smaller of them clearly enough)? (Bonus points for botanical names).

The larger plant is a dock (Rumex sp.),there are a lot more species of dock in Washington than I realized though (at least according to USDA plants database.

The smaller plant (though they are much larger now) is nettle (Urtica dioica).

2. What are some ways to prepare these plants for consumption?

Josh had some good tips about this in the comments. I don't have a lot of experience consuming either of these plants, though I have eaten them both. I would not particularly recommend eating either of them raw.

I have enjoyed the young dock leaves in a stir fry. I've also eaten the seeds (along with the husks) in baked goods with reasonably good results.

I sometimes use nettle in soups. It can be fresh or dried. Similarly you can use fresh or dried nettle for an infusion (tea). It is supposed to be loaded with important nutrients.

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Josh said...

Thanks for this quiz!

1. It looks like Dock (Rumex sp., maybe Rumex obtusifolius) and Nettle (Urtica sp.). In this photo, the Dock is the larger of the two.

2. Young nettles make fine cooked greens, but the way I enjoy nettle most frequently is by infusing the dried herb in hot water -- a nourishing drink. Susun Weed talks about it here: I've not eaten this particular Dock.

Jonathan said...

Hi Josh,

Thanks for the response. Sounds like you have some experience with wild greens/herbs. Thanks also for the link to Susan Weed's video, looks like a nice series she has on youtube.

Is there a different dock that you have eaten?

Josh said...

I'm a big plant fan. I've dug up Curly Dock (Rumex crispus) aka Yellow Dock and made a tincture out of the roots. This year I'll give the young leaves a taste.

Have you eaten the Dock in the photo?

Jonathan said...

I have eaten it, though not with what I would consider a great deal of success. I certainly didn't enjoy eating the leaves raw, but thought they were okay as part of a stir fry.

I have also eaten its seeds mixed into baked goods, though the plants around here are paltry when it comes to seed load. I've found plants in southern Idaho (not certain if they were the same species, but were pretty similar) that were just loaded with seeds.

possum59 said...

My great aunts back in Missouri used to pick dock and curly dock along wiht lambs quarter, and polk and probably some others. They would cook like spinach with bacon grease and serve with vinegar...we thought it was pretty good!

Jonathan said...

That does sound good! Hard to disagree with bacon grease and vinegar (though I'm not sure I've ever had them together yet) :)