We are exploring the plants we have either discovered on our property during 2013, or that we learned new uses for this year.
You can find Part 1 of Wild Edibles and Medicinals 2013 by clicking the link.
Here is the next installment of plants:
Trailing Wild Bean – (Strophostyles helvola)
I first noticed this plant when I was down at the goat pasture feeding our Great Pyrenees. The pink colored flowers poking up over the rest of the surrounding green vegetation really stood out.
When I noticed it, I had the thought that the blossom looked similar to our cow peas, so I investigated.
As soon as I got near it I could see the the seed pods. Sadly, my mind immediately asked “Can I eat that?”. Well, after some research and the help of people on Facebook who helped narrow down the possibilities it was determined that it is Trailing Wild Bean and that yes, it is edible.
Of course edible may not mean practical. The seed pods are tiny. However, when green (they turn black when they dry) they can be steamed or eaten fresh in a salad.
Why don’t you see them at the market? Well, apparently they are tasteless. I haven’t eaten them yet as I am saving the seed so I can spread them across the property.
What really perked my interest is that our cow peas are riddled with weevils laying eggs in the pods. While we will plant catnip next year to help with that, the point is that the Trailing Wild Bean was bug free. Perhaps bugs aren’t interested in it, perhaps it was growing among a companion plant that repelled bugs or masked its presence.
Whatever the case, it justifies some further investigation!
Native American cultures have used the beans to treat typhoid and the leaves to treat poison ivy and warts.
Indian Tobacco – (Lobelia inflata)
There are more uses for this than meet the eye. However, when it comes to meeting the eye, it is the little purple flowers that caught my attention. What a great addition into a perennial flower garden or in a vegetable garden to bring in more pollinators.
Yes, the plant can be smoked and is used both fresh and dry. Yes, it has a reputation for causing psychoactive responses. However, it is also a medicinal herb that can be used for respiratory issues and as a laxative.
Black Raspberry – (Rubus occidentalis)
I called these Blackberries time and time again until I read another article that suggested to me that they are indeed Black Raspberries. Of particular note, when plucked the fruit is hollow, leaving the fruit stem on the stem of the plant.
These are, of course, delicious. Fresh on salads, in pancakes, in jam, or just for snacking while walking around, these are wonderful. To top it off, they are prolific. So prolific that many people want them removed from their land entirely. How silly.
Thorny as they are they can grown in a place that lets them act as a fence. The fruit can be persevered well and feed you all winter. Goats love it.
There are just too many reasons to keep it to justify getting rid of it. Trim it back, perhaps, but please, do not treat these as the enemy, just an overzealous friend.
Check back at this link for more of our Wild Edible posts!