Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Edible plants

My younger two children have been experimenting with yellow wood sorrel. My younger son had some leaves saved in a little empty matchbox, shook it around to make sounds, telling everyone to guess what edible thing was inside. (None of us guessed correctly.) My younger daughter has bouquets of the plants all across the patio. They both gather the "candles" or fruit. I did these things when I was growing up, too. Except for saving it in an empty matchbox and playing a guessing game with my family. After I figured out that they had been eating the sorrel, I decided to read what the "authorities" say in order to caution them about eating this plant. I thought I would share with you here.

From _Reader's Digest North American Wildlife_, copyright 1982, page 402:

"Several plants with pleasantly sour foliage are known as sorrel (from the German for "sour"), and in fact, the wood sorrels are called sour grasses or sour clovers in many places. Popular salad ingredients for centuries, they were also used by old-time herbalists to treat various stomach ailments and to cure scurvy (they are rich in vitamin C). It is now known, however, that eating too much oxalic acid, the chemical responsible for the sourness, tents to inhibit the body's absorption of calcium. The special flavor of wood sorrel should thus be enjoyed only occasionally."

I should add here that my kids find yellow sorrel very frequently. According the above book, sorrels in Iowa may also have flowers that are white with pink stripes and violet/pink flowers.

In the words of Robert Krampf (also here), Have a wonder-filled day!


Forte said...

Awesome! Our Daughter is ga-ga over edible plants as well! One of her big favorites is also wood sorrell!
She'll eat it out on the trail;)
We have had the pleasure of going on guided hikes with a man by the name of Steve Brill ( he goes by "The Wildman") and he leads folks around, finding edible plants...It's great:)

sarala said...

I'm not familiar with wood sorrel but when I was growing up in Seattle I was introduced by another kid to what she called "sour leaves;" it turns out they are another kind of sorrel and I have always had a taste for them. They taste kind of lemony.
Cool post.