Well... that is what I spent my day doing yesterday, eating park plants.
I know that sounds dangerous, gross, and unsafe, however, rest assured that it was an edible plant walk in Prospect Park coodinated by the Organic cotton clothing company Loomstate. I came out unscathed except for a few huge mosquito bites. Luckily I have a great remedy for that thanks to
1) Yellow Wood Sorrel. (Edible) This plant, often referred to as clover, is insanely delicious. It has three leaves that are shaped like hearts as opposed to clover which has tear shaped leaves. It also has a standing fruit that looks like mini okra. When eaten, the seeds inside the fruit will explode in your mouth and fill it with a bright, sweet, lemony flavor. You can eat the flower, fruit, and stems!
3) Lady's Thumb (E): Lady's thumb has a long leaf with a pointed tip. To identify it, it has very small pink clustered seeds and the leaf, if you look closely, has a darker green mark on it almost like a lady's thumb print! It is mucilaginous which means that it has a gelatinous quality that prevents it from burning in the sun. It is a great source of potassium, iron and niacin.
4) Honewort (E): It can be identified because it has stems of three and leaves of three. You can pick it, dry it, and use it like chervil. It has flavors of parsley, carrot top, or chervil.
5) Mugwort (Magical): This can be used for people to remember their dreams. You take the mug wart, rub it up in your hands, and put it next to your pillow. It contains small amounts of thujone (or the chemical found in absinthe). It smells great, almost like a poultry spice. In asia it is used to season goose. Two ways to identify it are to look underneath for a white color, or to rub it and smell. Women use this leaf to make tea to treat PMS.
6) Sassafras (E,Med): Sassafras is amazing. It requires a ton of light to grow and drops its seed close to the parent plant so you can see groups of it. The leaves come in a few different shapes, a trident, dinosaur foot, flame, or average leaf shape. It is dried and ground to be used as a thickener for gumbo and the native americans would use it as a liver tonic in the spring after they sustained themselves on salted fish and meats throughout the winter. It has a bubble gum orangey flavor. You can pull out the root and expose the inner white bark which is full of safrole, the main ingredient of root beer. You take the root, cut about a three inch piece, and steep it in boiling water for 20-25 minutes. It smells EXACTLY like root beer!
7) Wine Berry (E): These berries are sweet and tart and have long sticky stems. The underside is a different color than the top leaf.
8) Plantain Weed (E): This plant is also known as the white mans footprint because when the white man was in America in the 1500's their horses would create muddy tracks in the soil where the plant would grow. They have unique parallel veins and can be identified because all of the leaves grow out of the same place. The stalk can be used as a digestive and the leaves contain allantoin which promotes skin healing. It also helps take the itch away from mosquito bites and seriously works if you just rub it on your skin or put it on and adhere with a bandage.
9) Burdock (not edible): this is the plant that inspired velcro- it sticks to EVERYTHING!
It was an incredible day and I learned SO MUCH! Stay tuned for some more wild edibles this week! Thanks Loomstate!