Spring Foraging

Now, at the end of May, the air is fragrant with the delicate floral aroma of black locust blossoms.

Black locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia) are well known for the durability of their wood; not everyone knows that their creamy white blossoms are edible. Eaten fresh, they have an unmistakable pea-like taste. I have made fritters with them in the past, and baked them into cakes or breads.

If you are lucky to come across some low-hanging blossoms, you can quickly harvest a substantial amount. Don’t they look playful and even a bit romantic?

Locust blossoms
Locust blossoms

I make a hot tea by simmering the blossoms in hot water, then straining the blossoms out and adding honey or sugar. A soothing tea on cool, rainy evenings. The tea can also be chilled and enjoyed as a refreshing lemonade.

Locust blossom tea
Locust blossom tea

Two other wild foods that required a bit more effort to harvest today were red clover (Trifolium pratense) and lyre-leaf sage (Salvia lyrata). Because my husband was going to mow our front field, I did a walk-through to see if there was anything I wanted to rescue first. I found lyre-leaf sage growing in abundance and red clover showing its first blooms.

Salvia Lyrata is a medicinal and edible herb. It can be used as a gargle to treat sore throat and mouth infections. A warm infusion serves as a laxative, eases colds and coughs and calms a nervous person. Young leaves can also be added fresh to salads or cooked as a pot herb.

Red clover has a long history of uses. Considered a blood “purifier,” it has been used in alternative anti-cancer treatments. It is a blood thinner, and a pain reliever for skin conditions. Red clover also has a high concentration of phytoestrogens and contains anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory components. While red clover’s medicinal use is best left to qualified health professionals, a gentle cleansing tea from its flowers can probably be enjoyed by most.

I am dehydrating both the lyre-leaf sage and red clover I collected today to add them to my home apothecary for later use.

If you plan to visit Highland County, VA and would like to participate in a “Backyard Foraging” tour, contact me here.

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