Your Local Woods Can Be a Veritable Smorgasbord

Jul 19, 2018

Milkweed
Credit Photo by Elise Leduc

 

A green twiggy thicket in a Mashpee forest may look unremarkable to the untrained eye, but to Elise Leduc it's an endless feast of wild edible plants.

PLEASE NOTE There are inherent risks to wild foraging. This episode is not intended as a guide to eating any particular plant. 

You can learn more about Elise Leduc's foraging here. She also has some ideas for what and how to eat wild foods like Milkweed

Once harvested, common milkweed flower buds should be cooked. No milkweed parts should be eaten raw. They can be blanched, boiled, or sautéed. We sautéed ours in a bit of butter, and seasoned only with salt and pepper. They made a delicious side dish to our dinner, with a taste somewhat similar to peas.

NB: Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) cannot survive without milkweed; monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed plants on which to lay their eggs. Therefore, if you do harvest milkweed buds, try to pick just one flower cluster per plant, perhaps skipping over some plants entirely, to ensure enough remain to mature into flowers, not only as a nectar source for pollinators, but also to produce seeds to facilitate new plant establishment.