It is a very slow process to learn about wild plants in your area. You must dedicate a lot of time and exercise patience. The plants in my region change constantly from season to season, and as we all know, time flies by quickly so I missed out on some plants that were at their prime for harvesting in the Spring.
I’ve just caught the tail-end of the season for Sumac and Milkweed shoots which I just learned about as edible plants. It hadn’t occurred to me that these robust full-grown plants start off as tiny little things before they become large and sturdy.
Sumac are exotic looking tall shrubs that have cone shaped clusters of bright red fuzzy berries in the summer. Milkweeds are very sturdy tall, green plants (up to 5 feet) with no branches but very strong, opposite patterned leaves. They produce large pods by the end of the summer that have a milky sap in them that turns to a silky feather-like substance in the fall.
Both of them are fascinating and special to me since they are two of the first native plants in my area that I learned about on my own. Sumacs and Milkweeds can both be found in open areas, sunny meadows and along roadsides.
Anyways, they make the most darling little shoots.
Milkweed shoots, when they are this size, are apparently edible just as if they were asparagus.
In my area, there are some that are already getting quite large since it is June already.
According to one source, sumac shoots are edible and you need only to peel back the skin. They MUST be the species of sumac that produce red berries – not white berries. Sumacs are distinctly lovely in that their shoots and branches are so soft and velvety. I was really thrilled when I identified some baby ones, which are quite abundant.
What are your favorite early summer wild edibles?