Violets are welcome “weeds” in my garden. In fact, the common blue violet—my particular brand of violet garden guest—is native to these parts, which is more than I can say for myself. The common blue violet (Viola sororia, Violaceae) is native to most of central and eastern North America. It is a common sight in lawns, gardens, sidewalk cracks and along trailsides. The common blue violet is typically considered a “weed” because of its relative ease in adapting to human disturbance, but it pushes the definition of weed because it has been on this continent for a very long time. The leaves and flowers of the common blue violet, along with many other species, are edible and medicinal. The “confederate violet” is an escaped cultivar (cultivated variety) of Viola sororia—it has white flowers with blue streaks and is a common inhabitant of lawns in the southeastern United States.
Bent over the moist earth, we gathered up the crimson and golden fruit into our hungry bags, chatting about life as old friends will, with meandering topics and understood nuances. Picking through the fallen leaves and occasional thorn, our bags grew plump with the fallen medicinal jewels.
Passionflower is ecologically intriguing, drop-dead gorgeous, and an incredibly useful herbal medicine and wild edible. So I introduce this passionflower materia medica with some ecological, botanical, and cultivation snippets specific to this amazingly charismatic native vine, and hope that you wont skip this juiciness for the medicinal information.
Cherry Chipotle Nopales Salsa and the Medicine of Prickly PearWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Cherry Calendula Nopales Salsa Salsa ingredients Ingredients: 2 medium tomatoes 2 medium sized nopales (cactus pads) * ½ sweet onion 1 cup black cherries ⅛ teaspoon sea salt 1⁄10 teaspoon chipotle powder 2 limes ¼ of a small bunch of cilantro [...]
Daylily Greens Garlic Butter SauteWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Daylily greens Lime-green succulent spears of winter’s released slumber, daylily greens are a relished early spring wild green. Daylily’s pleasant mild flavor is excellent paired with the more pungent creasy greens or wild turnip. To prolong the season, cut the greens right at the ground, [...]
Cold Season Wild Greens and Pecan Feta Wild Greens PestoWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Creasy greens Creasy greens (Barbarea verna, Brassicaceae), also known as wintercress, is a common weed in the Southeast and the pacific Northwest. Its close relative, Barbarea vulgaris, has a more widespread distribution, occurring throughout most of temperate North America. Here in the southern [...]
Chestnut HarvestWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Chinese chestnuts freshly picked and washed - Chinese chestnuts (Castanea mollissima, Fagaceae) are a common yard tree in the southern Appalachians, and can easily be found this time of year, with their spiny burrs and nuts falling from the trees. - - The Chinese Chestnut is not affected [...]
Partridge BerryWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Mitchella repens in fruit; notice the two "eyes", which are the evidence of the two flowers sharing an ovary to form one fruit. - Partridge berry is an evergreen trailing vine which stays close to the ground as it weaves its way over the roots of hemlocks and [...]
Lamb's Quarters: How to Cultivate, Harvest & Prepare this Nutritious & Delicious Wild PlantWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor - Lamb's quarters (Chenopodium album) - Lamb’s quarters is one of the most common weeds in gardens, backyards, and fallow fields, following human habitation closely. Like other opportunistic plants, it thrives on the disturbed ground [...]
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)Written and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor - Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, Brassicaceae) is one of our earlier wild spring greens. With a flavor slightly reminiscent of mild arugula and roasted garlic, it makes a nice addition in salads with milder wild greens like chickweed and violets. I find that its flavor doesn’t [...]