Top 10 Waterway Wild Food Finds
Known to many children and dogs throughout the world, Cleavers, also known goosegrass or sticky willy, is a creeping plant that grows along the ground, or over other plants. They attach themselves to clothes and animal fur with small hooked hairs which grow out of the stems and leaves. Cleavers are edible, with the leaves and stems of the plant often being cooked as a leaf vegetable. Cleavers can also be used to make a coffee substitute, poultices, tinctures and teas.
9. Lesser Knapweed
Lesser Knapweed, is a widespread species of flowering plant in the daisy family that is native to Europe. From July to September, the plant bears bright-purple, edible flowers that are reminiscent of thistles heads. We tend to add the edible flower heads of Knapweed to salads, which adds a beautiful splash of colour to an otherwise very green dish. Arthur also occasionally bites flower heads straight from the plant whilst pretending to be a T-Rex!
8. Devil's Bit Scabius
The Devil's-Bit Scabious, is a member of the honeysuckle family, found in meadows, pastures, marshes, fens and damp woods throughout Europe. Species of Scabious were traditionally used to treat scabies, and other afflictions of the skin including the sores caused by the bubonic plague. The plant's common name derives from it's short black root, which folklore dictates was bitten off by the Devil, as he was angry at the plant's ability to cure these ailments he'd worked so hard to create 👿 The young shoots and leaves of this plant can be eaten raw, and we often add them to salads.
7. Bush Vetch
One of Arthur's favourites, Bush Vetch is one of many Vetch species, all of which, are members of the pea and clover family. It can be found scrambling through many different habitats, including woodland edges, rough grassland, and roadside verges. Lilac flowers appear between April and November and youngest of these, along with the leaf shoots and tips from the top part (approx 8 cm) of the plant are absolutely delicious, tasting of super-sweet pea shoots.
This pretty wildflower can be found along waterways or damp meadows. It is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family, and it's common names include sneezewort, sneezeweed, European pellitory, or fair-maid-of-France. It's leaves have a herb-like, peppery taste that produce a numbing / tingling effect in the mouth. For this reason, they were traditionally used as a cure for toothache, used as a culinary herb, or added raw to salads. The flowers also make a pretty garnish. The plant can also be dried to make sneezing powder!
Nothing quite beats the delicate honey fragrance of Meadowsweet on a warm, sunny day. This edible plant is very common throughout the UK and makes a great showing along riverbanks and country roadsides. The young shoots can be eaten raw in salads, and it is also a popular constituent of cordial, wine, champagne, beer, mead, and many vinegars. The fresh flowers can be added to stewed fruit and jams, and many desserts, giving them a subtle almond flavor, and the dried flowers are also used in teas, washes, and tinctures, as well as potpourri.
Yarrow is a common member of the daisy family that is native to most of Europe and Asia. Commonly found on grassland or along waterways, it is fairly easy to identify by its feathery leaves and umbels of small white flowers, which appear from June to October. As an edible, the younger leaves can provide an interesting, if slightly bitter flavour, to a salad, but by far the most common use of the plant is in the creation of teas, herbal washes and tinctures.
3. Oyster Mushroom
Purveyor of painful, itchy stings and bumpy red rashes, most children are all too familair with the humble stinging nettle, and have been avoiding them for years! Growing absolutely everywhere, from yards and gardens to fields and woods, the stinging nettle is an amazing superfood with unlimited uses in the kitchen, from soups and mains, and desserts and syrups, to teas and other beverages. Even their seeds can be used.
2. Wild Garlic
Despite being quite abundant in damp woodland and easy to spot (in fact, you'll probably smell them before you see them!), Wild Garlic is often overlooked as the choice edible that it is. These leaves are packed with wonderful garlicky flavour and can be used to take any dish to the next level. We regularly use them as an ingredient in ragus, sauces, kebabs and burgers, or to infuse mayonnaise or yogurt. We also use the unopened buds to make one of the best pickles I've even eaten. Being freezable as well, wild garlic a delicious staple food that can be stored for use all year round.
1. Water Mint
Water Mint is a perennial flowering plant in the mint family. It grows in moist places, often partly submerged in slow running water, and is native to much of Europe. It has a beautiful aroma, a mix of menthol and aniseed, and imparts this lovely flavour when crushed and added to dishes, or made into a tea.