Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wild Spring Greens

Here are some of the items that we will be foraging for in the next few weeks.

Stinging Nettles--Excellent wild leaf that can be dried and used to make tea, or cooked fresh like spinach. That's right, the same nettles that you remember stinging you on the legs as you ran down to the lake as a child, are edible!!! And one of our best sellers every Spring. Eastern medicine has used nettles for thousands of years for their medicinal properties. They are excellent for treating hay fever and allergy symptoms in the Spring. Furthermore, we know the nettles contain more protein than any other vegetable!!! Just one of our "wild superfoods."

Miner's Lettuce--Given its name because the California gold miners during the gold rush eat this wild green because of its abundance, incredible sugar-sweet flavor, and it's super high levels of vitamin C. Miner's lettuce was consumed for their health as it would help prevent disease, sickness, and even scurvy. Miner's lettuce can be eaten raw or cooked, like spinach.

Watercress-- Watercress is an aquatic leafy green vegetable that grows wild in shallow waterways, ponds, streams and natural springs. The peppery flavor of watercress is certainly a treat, but we tend to consume it in smaller portions, than say miners lettuce. It can definitely overpower a super juice, if you put in too much. Watercress also has superfood qualities, as it is high in iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folic acid.

Fiddlehead ferns-- Each spring for a very brief time, we smile when we see the green, curly fern tips known as fiddlehead ferns. Not only are they delicious, but they're a special treat as we can only get them during a short window of time each year. Each spring when the snow melts, the ferns push their way up through the forest floor, uncurling slowly. It's at this moment just before they uncurl that they are harvested. Tender and with a taste that is reminiscent of a cross between a green bean and asparagus, they can be sautéed or fried. WARNING: Fiddleheads MUST BE COOKED!!! You can get VERY sick if eaten raw OR undercooked!!!

Wild Asparagus--Personally I have never found this item, but I have a few reliable leads that I am going to follow up on this Spring. Asparagus reportedly grows wild along the Columbia River in the Columbia Basin. Asparagus is a perennial and is cultivated by many farmers in Central Washington. Birds eat the berries from the asparagus spears and spread the seed across the landscape in their droppings. Asparagus can grow wild in this region in areas that are not mowed or maintained.


  1. I've yet to find a good spot for either ramps or wild asparagus, but down here in the southern part of the Willamette Valley, it's a slightly different ecology than the Columbia Gorge.
    Nettles, OTOH, are nearly as easy to find as trees. ;)

    Most of the Miner's Lettuce in this area is C. siberica (Siberian Miner's Lettuce) with the C. perfoliata being comparatively rare. Both, however, are fantastic!

  2. Jason--Thanks for the comment. I hope you enjoy the blog!

    For wild ramps, they are pretty abundant up here in Spokane. They seem to LOVE the pine forests and will flower in locations that receive enough direct sunlight. Ramps are ripe for the digging in the Dishman Hills Natural Area and Riverside State Park in the months of May and June.

    Wild asparagus can be located along railroad tracks in the Tri-Cities area. I have a couple of hopefully reliable leads that I will be checking out in the next few weeks.


Please leave your questions and comments below. They will be added to the page as soon as I can moderate them. Thanks for contributing!