Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking forward, Looking back - Sow Thistle

Sow Thistle

healthy patch, with all stages of growth

Well it's winter now- almost spring, so we'll take some time to post some articles that we didn't get to last year, some of th' family favorites. First, let's take a look at Sow Thistle, sonchus genus, if you're latin savy. 
This plant grows all over where we live, and probably where you live too, but rarely gets noticed due to it's flower's close resemblance to the dandelion. I must've passed it up a thousand times till i realized what, and how good, it really was, now i see it everywhere. Here's a close up of th' flower, and the unopened buds too.

flower and buds, both yummy

There's a few different types of Sow Thistle around here, one with lots of spines that seems to get bitter quick- but this one here i ate from may till september. That's a long growing season for any salad green. Usually i would just pick some in th' morning on my way to work, from th' many patches i've found. With such a large selection, and constant selective picking, i was always able to find some new growth, and unopened buds, which i just ate plain as a salad for my lunch everyday. Th' stalk is good too. If you keep picking th' new growth, it'll be better tasting than most greens in a salad mix from th' farmers market or grocery store. Here's what it looks like when young.

young sow thistle
And here's some good tasting leaves on a mature plant.

mature but tasty leaves
That white clover in th' background would liven up a salad too, though they are a bit more fibrous than most greens. Add it to fresh water for a great summer cooler.
One of th' neat things about sow thistle, and a good way to help identify it, is that when it gets wet, th' water beads up on th' leaves and sits there for a long time. Looks really nice.

wet sow thistle leaves

with beaded water
These plants had already gone to seed, but they were growing in a very shady and moist location, and th' leaves never got too bitter to eat. I ate them till th' frosts came and th' plants died, mid to late september. I also transplanted quite a few of them to our garden and yard, so we'll see if they come up again next year. They are annuals, but they made a lot of seeds.

Here's a late summer wild salad with sow thistle, purslane, mallow leaves and fruits, and a diced walla walla onion from Native Hill Farm. A touch of olive oil and apple cider vinegar makes it perfect.

wild salad.
If you eat a lot of salad, sow thistle makes a great addition or base. If picked at th' right time it's flavor is not only agreeable, it's down right delicious. It's free, and probably not too far from your house. It's even considered an invasive weed in some states, so you'd be doing them a favor by helping yourself to a plate full every day. And it keeps in th' fridge for a long time, at least as long as can be expected of any green. So if you can't pick it every day, pick yourself a bag full and eat it through out th' week. This should be coming up again around here about late spring, early summer. Happy hunting.

1 comment:

  1. Good info, well put together, thanks mate.