Pickerelweed (Pontia Gigantea) is one of the most popular edible plants in the world. There are many varieties of it, but they all have similar characteristics. They grow in moist soil and prefer full sun or partial shade. Some species are native to warm climates while others thrive in cold regions.
The leaves of the pickerelweed are usually green with white margins. The flowers are small, pinkish red and borne on short stalks up to 5 inches long. These stalks eventually dry out and fall off after flowering. The seeds are round, oval or oblong and resemble little popcorn kernels when fully ripe.
There is no special care required for growing pickerelweed except that it needs regular watering during its growth period from spring through summer. You may want to use a drip irrigation system so that water does not run off into your garden.
You can buy pickerelweed at local nurseries, garden centers and even online. It is sold as dried pods or fresh leaves. Fresh leaves are available in different colors including purple, yellow, orange and blue.
You can use pickerelweed in several ways:
Use the leaves when they are young and tender as a cooked green.
Pickle the young seedpods.
Gather the seeds when ripe and used them like capers or as a crunchy snack food.
Add dried leaves to soups and stews.
The entire plant is edible, including the roots, but do not consume any part of it that has grown in contaminated soil.
To dry pickerelweed for future use, pick leaves (and flower buds) on a dry day. Spread them out in a single layer on a tray and place in a cool, dark place for three to five days. You may notice a slight change in color. This is normal.
Once dried, you can crush the leaves and store them in an air tight container. You can also crush the seeds and store them in a cool, dark place. Add dried leaves and seeds to soups, stews, breads, pancakes, cookies, muffins, salads and rice dishes. They have a slightly peppery taste.
If you eat only one thing from the wild, let it be the pickerelweed. This plant will thrive even in poor soil and will provide you with food and nutrition when nothing else will.
Pontederia cordata: Growing Pickerelweed
Ditch weed, water grass and pickerel weed are only a few of the names for this amazing, edible plant. Native to North America, it is found in moist soils, swamps, ditches and river banks. Its long, narrow leaves can grow up to two feet in length and have a slightly peppery taste if eaten raw. Its flowers are also edible and are usually pink or lavender in color.
The pickerel weed can be found from early spring all the way into autumn, although its peak growing period is usually May through July. The seed can be stored dry for use at a later time.
You can eat the entire plant, including the root, while it is still young. Older plants should be peeled before eating. This plant is high in vitamin C.
You will find this common, green leafed plant in rich, well drained soils throughout North America.
Pokeweed is very poisonous and should not be eaten under any circumstances! Even picking and touching it can cause a skin irritation. Animals generally leave this plant alone due to its toxic nature.
This plant can grow up to eight feet in height and has a large number of oval-shaped leaves which grow close to the ground. It also produces a large, red berry in the summer and fall. Do not eat these berries or any other part of this plant!
Also known as “pusley” or “little hog’s soup”, this succulent annual is easy to find in old homesteads and vacant lots. Although it has a sour taste, it is said to be one of the healthiest greens you can eat.
This plant has thick stems that contain a dark, reddish purple juice. It produces small, three-parted leaves in clusters at the stem ends. It flowers during the summer and grows to a maximum height of twelve inches.
To eat, boil the stems for five minutes and then drain and add a little salt.
Purslane can also be found in many other countries, such as Mexico and South Africa.
Also known as “wild garlic”, this plant has three-foot stems with broad, green leaves. It is easy to spot in the Appalachian Mountains from January to June.
The entire plant can be eaten, but you should only pick for the first one to two years. After this period, the plant starts to become toxic. The roots can be eaten after boiling them for fifteen minutes.
You can find ramps in many other parts of the world, such as Asia and Europe. The taste and safe period of consumption varies from region to region.
Sources & references used in this article:
Ichthyology 4453 Literature Review of the Chain Pickerel by J Kirk – cfr.msstate.edu
An inventory of South Carolina’s coastal marshes by RW Tiner – 1974 – repository.library.noaa.gov
The transpiration of emersed water plants: its measurement and its relationships by CH Otis – Botanical Gazette, 1914 – journals.uchicago.edu
By the Waters of Turtle Lake by AK Main – The Wisconsin Magazine of History, 1922 – JSTOR
Preliminary Study of the Larger Aquatic Plants of Oklahoma with Special Reference to Their Value in Fish Culture by JHB De Gruchy – 1938 – shareok.org