Monday, April 1, 2013

Eating Invasive Species

Garlic mustard leaves, flowers, roots and seeds made into a few tasty foods

I have been reading and participating in a discussion regarding trading edible wild plants across state lines on a Yahoo Group. The most troubling aspect of this chat involves another Connecticut resident who wishes to trade for edibles, and that person wants to trade 3 of Connecticut's worst invasives: garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius), and autumn olives (Elaeagnus umbellata). While all of the plants are edible, they are all listed  as "illegal to move, sell, purchase, transplant, cultivate or distribute" on the October 2012 Connecticut Invasive Plant List, produced by the Connecticut Invasive Plants Council. Our take on many of these invasives (eat them!) is less serious than other groups, who wish to cut, pull, poison or eradicate many of the plants on the invasive list, but we are no less frustrated by the ignorance of some who wish to spread these plants to new areas. Our contribution may be as simple as volunteering at public educational events, or putting together a small brochure on eating the most common and tasty weeds, along with a few recipes.

Wineberries, invasive
Wineberry Bavarian dessert, delicious!

We recently became volunteers with the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group, and attended a meeting with other concerned citizens, DEEP employees, CT DOT employees, master gardeners, and land conservation managers.  One of the most encouraging actions taken by the group will be a publication of a list of native species of plants to grow in Connecticut, some of which are edible. At the meeting we picked up a small publication put out by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, a non-profit group. It only includes 10 invasive plants, not all edible, with plant information and identification, plus suggestions to manage the invasive plant, and the native plant alternatives. I also have a 75 page guide to Invasive Plants in Massachusetts published by he Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife that I refer to for resources. One of the most extensive publications we own on invasive plants is Invasive Plants: Guide to the Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species by Sylvan Ramsey Kaufman and Wallace Kaufman. Along with the list of Connecticut invasive plants, I hope we are using these resources to forage and educate responsibly., and can be part of a solution, as opposed to contributing to a great ecological problem.

Autumn olives, a prolific invader

Goat cheese and autumn olive dip and dressing, eat those weeds!

1 comment:

Kate @ Snowflake Kitchen said...

Looking forward to what the working group comes up with!