I’m not sure why I haven’t heard about eating fireweed before, but it somehow slipped under the radar. Certainly, fireweed honey is familiar and delicious, but apparently pretty much the whole fireweed plant is edible in various ways.
Since I’m “blessed” by a lot of this stuff in my garden area, I just went out weeding this afternoon.
The fireweed that is out in the undisturbed areas of the yard is at least 3 feet tall, but my garden regularly gets new shoots. I’ve been pulling them out and tossing them into the compost all this time! *blush* Today I picked the young leaves and tops off and added them into a tabbouleh salad.
They have a flavor that is similar to sorrel, but much milder. Later I will try cooking up some of the more mature stems like asparagus. Read about identifying fireweed and the various ways of dining on it and try some soon! More at Paghat’s site. Please identify this one correctly! Do not confuse it with purple loosestrife which is a common noxious weed in our area.
The leaves of fireweed are unique in that the leaf veins are circular and do not terminate on the edges of the leaf, but form circular loops and join together inside the outer leaf margins. This feature makes the plants very easy to identify in all stages of growth. When fireweed first emerges in early spring, it can closely resemble several highly toxic members of the lily family, however, it is easily identified by its unique leaf vein structure. –Wikipedia
By the way, there’s a wonderful tool for identifying our local flora is at the Burke Museum website.
Later when the fireweed blooms, try making some fireweed “honey” or fireweed jelly! Since our bees are in such dire straits, I think a batch of ersatz honey can be justified both for the pocketbook and the benefit of our apian friends.