Common Plant Otherwise Known As Chickweed
Having a knowledge of edible plants that are abundant in many different countries provides a deeply satisfying sense of place for people living and/or traveling abroad. Familiar plants can be like familiar friends, constant companions that travel with you wherever you go. It’s such a pleasure to find nutritious wild edibles and herbs that can be discovered in similar climates all over the world.
Some Tidbits About This Unassuming Herb</h1>
While most of us know this common plant, growing in a range of soil types and acidities as a somewhat common weed (or maybe we wouldn’t even recognize it at all), Chickweed is actually a nutritious and delicious spring salad ingredient, sure to surprise and please at your next Spring Solstice party. Full of nutrition and fiber, this tender spring green is fresh and palatable and can really fill you up as it grows in large tangled colonies, which makes it very easy to scoop up in the arms like so many bales of hay.
This Past Spring, I Took A Little Walk Through Yoyogi Park
in central Tokyo and found, growing in a quiet and shady corner of the park, one of my favorite abundant wild foods: Chickweed! or, in Japanese, Hakobera はこべら. This wildly undervalued plant is one of Japan’s traditional ingredients in the annual winter Festival of Seven Herbs – “Nanakusa no Sekku” 七草の節句. Thanks in part to this longstanding traditional holiday, most Japanese people have eaten this herb, possibly every year of their lives, even if they don’t know what it looks like or where it comes from.
But how many people would recognize it when seen growing in a waste area by the side of the road?
or, as in this case, in a quiet corner of a park in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world? Probably very few, and that’s unfortunate. I eat wild edibles regularly and there is absolutely nothing demeaning about them. I find people have strange reactions to eating things they’re not accustomed to, but if we utilized the abundance of nature more effectively, we could really solve some problems!
Chickweed is a very abundant edible,
usually growing in large wispy green patches and is best to eat when still covered by the morning spring mist. I gathered a rather decadent bag full and will save some to hang and dry and the rest will be in my salads for the rest of the week. Go to a park near you and taste some of this lovely Spring green for yourself!