Late spring is a time of renewal and rejuvenation. It's as if nature hits the reset button and everything comes back to life in full force. From the vibrant colors of blooming flowers to the sounds of birds chirping, late spring is a feast for the senses.
But it's not just nature that's in full bloom during this time of year. People come out of hibernation and start to embrace the warmth and sunshine with newfound energy and enthusiasm. From outdoor concerts and festivals to beach trips and barbecues, there's never a dull moment in late spring.
It’s also a great time for foraging as many edible herbs and plants emerge in the wild. With the warmer weather and longer days, foraging enthusiasts can spend more time exploring the outdoors and discovering new treasures.
It also requires a bit of knowledge and caution, as some plants can be poisonous or dangerous if consumed. It's important to do your research and learn to identify the plants you're foraging for before eating them.
If you are new to foraging, this blog will help you get started to find the 5 comforting herbs that you can not only identify easily but also reap the best of their benefits.
Dandelion (Taraxacum) is a versatile plant and is easily recognized by its bright yellow flowers and deeply lobed and toothed leaves that are shiny and hairless, forming a rosette that sits flat on the ground. Before the plant blooms, in late spring and early summer, you can pick the dandelion plant's leaves. They can be cooked like spinach or eaten raw in salads. Dandelion leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and calcium.
The roots of the dandelion plant can also be harvested in late spring, and they are often used to make a coffee-like beverage.
Violet (Viola) is not only beautiful to look at but it also has many medicinal and culinary uses. It is often found in shady areas, and its heart-shaped leaves and delicate flowers make them easy to recognize. Harvest it by gently pulling the flowers and leaves from the stem. Its flowers can be used to garnish salads, desserts, and drinks, while the leaves can be used in soups and stews. Violets can also be used to make violet syrup, which can be used to flavor cocktails and desserts.
Plantain leaves are long and narrow, with parallel veins and a ribbed texture that grow in a rosette pattern from a central point and can range in size from a few inches to several feet long. They can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach. You can also use them as a wrap for other foods such as grilled meat and vegetables. Medicinally, they can be used topically to soothe insect bites and stings, and can also be used to make a poultice for minor cuts and scrapes.
Self heal (Prunella vulgaris) is a popular wild plant that has a long history of use in traditional medicine and is known for its many healing properties. It is a low-growing plant with square stems and leaves that grow in opposite pairs. The leaves are oval-shaped with toothed edges, and the flowers emerge in pink, purple, or white shades, having two lips that resemble snapdragons. Its leaves and flowers can be added to salads for a pop of color.
It is rich in antioxidants and can be used to boost the immune system. It is also known for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and wound-healing properties. Topically, it can be used to treat minor cuts, scrapes, and insect bites, and can also be made into a tea to soothe sore throats and respiratory issues.
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), also known as "dreamweed," has a fascinating history of use in traditional medicine and folklore. In many cultures around the world, mugwort was believed to have mystical and spiritual properties. It has distinctive leaves that are dark green on top and silver-gray on the bottom. Its stem is also silver-gray with a subtle reddish tint. The dried leaves can be used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces.
In traditional medicine, it is known for its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects and can be used to soothe menstrual cramps, digestive issues, and other ailments. It is also known for its ability to stimulate the appetite and aid in digestion.
One of the most interesting uses of mugwort is its role in lucid dreaming. Many people believe that mugwort can enhance the ability to have lucid dreams and increase dream recall. In fact, some people even make "dream pillows" filled with mugwort and other herbs to place under their pillows at night.
**Foraging in late spring is not only a fun and rewarding activity, but it also allows you to connect with nature in a unique and meaningful way. So why not grab a basket and head out into the great outdoors to see what delicious treasures you can discover?