Chamomile Flowers Daisy Family - Herbs & Vegetables


Daisies (Asteraceae (was Compositae)) are a huge family with many culinarily important members, but contribute only a few culinary herbs and even fewer vegetables. Some of them are, however, quite well known and important. As always, if you don't see what you are looking for, use the Search Engine - plants have lots of different names.   Photo © b0009

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Daisies Familiar in North America

Calendula   -   [Pot Marigold; Calendula officinalis
Flowering Calendula Plant

This plant, probably from southern Europe, is well known in North America as a medicinal tea ingredient and for fresh petals scattered on salads to add color interest. Fresh leaves have been used in salads and as a pot herb, but palatability varies with variety. Flowers and sometimes leaves were once commonly used in soups in Germany, thus the name "Pot Marigold".   Details and Cooking.   Photo by Wildfeuer distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 unported.

Marigolds   -   [Genus Tagetes]


French Marigold   -   [Imeruli Shaphrani (Georgia); Tagetes patula alt Tagates remotiflora]
French Marigold Flower

This plant is native to the highlands of southern Mexico and Guatemala, but has become widespread for decorative, aromatic and culinary uses. In the cuisine of Georgia (former Soviet Republic of), marigold petals (Tagetes patula) are a very important herbal flavoring. The dried petals are very aromatic. Powdered, they add both color and an earthy aroma to many recipes. Marigolds are also fed to chickens to get a nice rich color in the yolks of their eggs. Unfortunately dried petals are very difficult to find in North America. About the only way to get them is to grow your own marigolds. Calendula petals are as close as we can buy. They are aromatic but are not the same.   Details and Cooking.   Photo by Dori distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 unported.

Huacatay   -   [Huacatay (Peru); Huacataya (Bolivia); Black Mint, Muster John Henry, Southern Cone Marigold, Stinking Roger, Wild marigold; Anisillo (Spanish); Chinchilla, Chiquilla, Chilca, Zuico, Suico (South America); Tagetes minuta]
Flowering Huacatay Plants

This herb, native to western South America, has become naturalized in all other continents except Antarctica. It is used as a culinary herb in Peru, Ecuador, and parts of Bolivia and Peru, both dried and put up in jars as "Black Mint Paste". The paste is very important to the Peruvian potato dish Ocopa, while the dried is used as a seasoning and to make tea considered to have medicinal value.   Details and Cooking.   Photo by Paul Venter distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 unported.


Chamomile   -   [German Chamomile, Wild Chamomile; Manzanilla (Spanish); Matricaria chamomilla   |   English Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Low Chamomile; Manzanilla (Spanish); Chamaemelum nobile alt Anthemis nobilis]
Chamomile Stems and Flowers

Chamomile has a long history (since ancient Egypt) as a medicinal. Chamomile tea is often used for a calming effect encouraging sleep, as an anti-inflammatory, and for stomach problems. It is the flowers (usually dried) that are used. They should be steeped at very close to boiling, covered to prevent escape of volatile oils, and then crushed before straining.

German Chamomile, native to Europe and Asia and introduced to North America and Australia, is the species most used for tea. It has an upright branching growth pattern with long flower stems. The photo specimens were purchased from a multi-ethnic market in Los Angeles. English Chamomile, found in Europe, North America and Argentina, is used medicinally, in aromatherapy, and as ground cover (the lawn of Buckingham Palace is chamomile, not grass). It has a low, semi-recumbent growth profile and feathery leaves.

Common Chinchweed   -   [Limoncillo (Mexico); Many-bristle chinchweed, Many-bristle fetid-marigold; Pectis papposa]
Flowering Cinchweed Plants

This low growing plant is native to the United States Southwest as far east as Texas and into northern Mexico. In Mexico the herb is sold as Limoncillo and used as a flavoring for meat dishes. The Havasupai, of the Grand Canyon region, parch and grind the seeds for use in mush and soup, and dip the greens in salt water for use as a condiment. The Pueblo people use it as an herbal flavoring.   Photo by Stan Shebs distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported, attribution required.

Chrysanthemum   -   [Tong Ho (China); Ssukgat (Korea); Pak thang-o (Thai); tan o, cai cúc (Viet); Skal bzang, kelsang (Tibet); Shungiku (Japan); Gui-chini (India); Garland Chrysanthemum, Crown Daisy; Chrysanthemum coronarium]
Chrysanthemum Greens

Native to the Mediterranean region, these slightly bitter greens are now popular in most Asian cuisines, particularly for soups and stews, but also for stir fries. In Taiwan they are used in oyster omelets, a popular night market food, and in Korea as one of the many Banchan (small side dishes) served with a Korean meal. Young shoots are eaten in Crete, and flowers, fresh or dried, are used in herbal teas. Most common here in Southern California is the Small Leaf Tong Ho, as in the photo, but a Broad Leaf Tong Ho is occasionally seen.The greens are high in potassium, other minerals, carotene and antioxidants.   Details and Cooking.

Coltsfoot   -   [Tashplant, Horsefoot, Farfara; Coughwort (Old English); Tussilago farfara]
Coltsfoot Greens

Native to Europe through Central Asia, and introduced to East Asia and North and South America, this plant puts up dandalion like flowers before it leafs out. Once leafed it no longer puts up flower. It has traditionally been used as a medicinal tea. In Japan and some other regions it is used as a minor vegetable. Caution: this plant has been found to contain a highly mutagenic Pyrrolizidine alkaloid which can cause liver disease, particularly in children. One child is on record for having died of liver disease because the mother drank coltsfoot tea during pregnancy, but there may be many unreported cases.

Dandelion   -   [Dent-de-lion (Old French), Pissenlit (French), Taraxacum officinale]
Dandelion Leaves

Originating in Eurasia and now infesting lawns worldwide, this common weed is a highly successful member of the vast daisy family (Asteraceae). Its long taproot makes it very difficult to eradicate and its efficient windblown seed dispersal system assures reinfection. It prefers temperate climate and moist soil, which is why it has such an affinity for lawns. The photo specimen leaves were up to 14 inches long, but they are sold up to about 16 inches.

The plant has both medicinal and culinary value. Young leaves are used raw in salads while older ones are more often cooked or added to soups. . Under their bitterness the leaves have considerable sweetness and have a particular affinity for eggs. Roots are used, as are chicory roots, to make a coffee substitute, and flower heads are used to make dandelion wine. The leaves are a strong diuretic, thus the French name Pissenlit (wet the bed). Herbalists consider dandelion a general tonic and "blood cleanser".   Details and Cooking.

Daisy, Common   -   [Lawn Daisy, English Daisy; Bellis perennis]
Common Daisy Flowers

This low flowering herb is native to western, central and northern Europe, but is now common in the Americas and Australasia, and other temperate regions. It is often considered a troublesome weed, particularly in lawns. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked as a potherb. Leaves become more astringent as they age. Flower buds and petals are used in sandwiches, soups and salads.   Photo by WiZZiK distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported.

Daisy, Oxeye   -   [ Leucanthemum vulgare]
Oxeye Daisy Flowers

This herbacious flowering plant is native to Europe and temperate parts of Asia. It has been naturalized in North America, Australia and New Zealand, and is often considered a noxious weed in those regions. Unopened flower buds can be pickled and used similarly to capers.   Photo © Rob Bendall permission granted, attribution required.

Indian Aster   -   [Ma Lan Tou (China); Chinese Cress (frozen packages from China); Kalimeris indica]
Indian Aster Leaves

This plant is most common in China, Korea and Japan, but has been introduced to Hawaii and California by the large Asian populations in those states. It has a long history as a green leafy vegetable in Asia, with a unique flavor. It is particularly popular south of the Yangtze River in China. The photo is of three leaves carefully unraveled from a mass of frozen leaves and tender stems. The flowers look just like the Common Daisy except the petals are sometimes pale purple rather than white.

The taste is similar to Chrysanthemum leaves, but milder, and it's main use seems to be for making various salads combined with tofu. I haven't yet seen it fresh here in Los Angeles, but the Asian markets carry it frozen labeled "Chinese Cress", a name which more properly belongs to Shepherds Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) in the cabbage family. The whole plant, particularly the root, is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Pápalo   -   [Bolivian Coriander; Quillquiña, Yerba Porosa, Killi, Tepegua, pápaloquelite; Porophyllum ruderale]
Leafy Papalo Stems

Native to Mexico and South America, this plant, despite the English name "Bolivian Coriander", is not at all related to Coriander. Also note that it is one of two similarly used and closely related plants called Pápalo. The other one, with long thin leaves, is P. linaria. This plant grows to 5 feet high and 3 feet across. It is used as a culinary herb by many cuisines through its range, and is very popular in Pueblo in central Mexico.

Flavor is said to be like a mix of arugula, cilantro and rue, a reasonable description, but the rue is a bit stronger than the other flavors. The flavor is also slightly resinous. This herb is often used in salsas and sandwiches. Note the wavy edges of the leaves. when it starts to flower, the leaves become more elongated and the waves deeper. Another interesting feature is that the leaves have a number of pinhole like pores, thus "Yerba Porosa". Some is now grown in North America to supply street sandwich vendors in Los Angeles and New York The photo specimens were purchased from a big multi-ethnic market in Los Angeles. Leaves were up to 2-7/8 inches wide.

Pipicha   -   [Pápalo, Pepicha, Chepiche, Cola de coyote; Porophyllum linaria]
Leafy Pipicha Stems

This plant visually resembles tarragon, but it doesn't taste like tarragon - well, maybe just a hint. It is native to Mexico and used in Mexican cuisine, often in meat dishes. Fresh leaves are also used as a table condiment, particularly in Pueblo in central Mexico. The flavor is similar to that of its close relative Pápalo, but not quite as strong. It has been described as similar to Cilantro but with overtones of Lemon and Anise. The photo specimens were sold as stems about 13-1/2 inches long, with leaves about 1.4 inches long and 0.18 inch wide. They were purchased from a large multi-ethnic market in Los Angeles. Picked just before flowering, they had a few unopened purple flower buds. Note that this herb is sometimes called Pápalo, a name that more properly belongs to the very closely related broader leafed herb P. ruderale.

Pineappleweed   -   [Wild Chamomile, Disk Mayweed; Matricaria discoidea]
Pineappleweed in Bloom

This Chamomile is native to North America from Alaska to Northern California and east to Newfoundland, and to Northeastern Asia. It is used medicinally similarly to other chamomiles. The flower heads, which have no petals, are edible, used in salads, but may become bitter as they mature.   Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Stevia   -   [Sweetleaf; Stevia rebaudiana]
Stevia Plant

This plant, native to Paraguay and Brazil, is noted for the extreme sweetness of its leaves - up to 45 times sweeter than sugar. Extracts are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and are extremely low in carbohydrates and calories. These characteristics make it very desirable as a general sweetener.

Since 2008, extracts have been legal as dietary supplements and food additives in the United States, and since 2011 in the European Union, but not yet in table packets as in Japan. It is available as a food additive in Australia, New Zealand and Mexico, among others, and as a dietary supplement in Canada. Growing the plant is legal in most countries. The FDA has been very cautious, because they fear Americans will overdo stevia (like they do with any other "in" substance). The FDA did receive an anonymous toxicity report (probably sponsored by the artificial sweetener industry) but no conclusive dangers have yet been confirmed.

Tarragon
Tarragon is native to the Northern Hemisphere from Eastern Europe across Asia in cooler climates. It was probably introduced to Western North America by early migrants and now grows as far south as a little below the Mexican border. Tarragon is much used in French cuisine where it is an essential ingredient for Bérnaise Sauce and mixed with other herbs (typically chives, chervil and parsley) for the boquet called "fines herbes". It is also used in many other cuisines, particularly that of Georgia. Because dried tarragon is useless the flavor is often preserved in vinegar (tarragon vinegar) for use when out of season.


French Tarragon   -   [Estragon (French and other); Artemisia dracunculus]
Growing French Tarragon plant

French tarragon is greatly preferred to Russian but is rarely available in the U.S. because it's so hard to grow. Not only can it not be propagated from seed but it can't grow long in the same place because it poisons its own soil. It must be propagated by root division in the spring and planted in fresh soil. The leaves of French Tarragon are whiter and narrower than those of the Russian. It is thought to be a mutant form of the Russian.   Photo by Ies contributed to the public domain.

Russian Tarragon   -   [Artemisia dracunculoides]
Leafy sprigs of Russian Tarragon

Russian tarragon is more closely related to the wild form (originally from Siberia) than the French, but considered inferior in flavor. Unfortunately it's what you'll always find in the stores because it's much more robust, easier to grow and can be grown from seed. Russian Tarragon leaves are wider and a fresher green color than those of French Tarragon. Russian tarragon looses flavor as it ages, but that found in markets here in Southern California is quite consistent, so I presume it is being treated as an annual and planted from seed every year.

Mexican Tarragon   -   [Mexican Marigold, Pericon; Tagetes lucida]
Flowering Mexican Tarragon Plants

Native to Mexico and Central America, this small shrub grows well in dryer and hotter regions where French and Russian tarragon would die. The leaves, which are medium green rather than blue-green as with French and Russian tarragon, are used as an herb, and are considered a better substitute for French Tarragon than the Russian.

Dried leaves are used as a tea, and are burned as an insect repellant. It is also burned as an incense, which is supposed to have some mind altering effect. The flowers are used in ceremonies and offerings during the Mexican "Day of the Dead".   Photo by Don Manfredo distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.


Wormwoods
Wormwoods are numerous and widespread over the Northern Hemisphere, including dry regions of the Southwest United States. They have some culinary virtues, but are more noted as medicinals and as flavorings for alcoholic beverages.


Wormwood   -   [Artemisia absinthium | Mexican Wormwood Artemisia mexicana]
Common / Mexican Wormwood Fronds

Wormwood, native to temperate regions of Eurasia and Africa, has a long history as a bitter herb, medicinal, and flavoring for beverages (particularly Absinthe, Vermouth and various bitters, and Mexican Yolixpa). It is also sometimes used in beer in place of hops. It is now naturalized in much of North America. The Mexican variety is all but identical and some botanists think it's just a variant of the same species.

In Mexico it is dried and smoked for an effect similar to that of marijuana (1 to 3 grams). Taken internally 4 grams (dried) can expel parasitic worms (thus the name "wormwood") and larger doses can induce abortion. Wormwood oil is highly toxic, but the amounts used in beverages are too small to cause problems. I did, however, read of one young man who, upon hearing it was the active ingredient in Absinthe, took some straight wormwood oil to experience a high. His experience was more of the near death kind. The photo specimen is Mexican Wormwood fronds about 8 inches long, purchased from a specialty grower at a Los Angeles farmer's market.

Southern Wormwood   -   [Southernwood, Old man, Lad's love, Lover's plant, Maid's ruin, Appleringie; Garderobe (French); Artemisia abrotanum]
Southern Wormwood Fronds

Native to Southern Europe, this herb is most famous for hanging in closets to keep moths away, and as a deodorizing strewing herb, particularly for bedrooms, as it was thought to have aphrodisiac properties. As a culinary herb it has been used (sparingly) to flavor pastries and puddings, and is still in use in parts of Italy.   Photo by Kurt Stüber distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Small Wormwood   -   [Artemisia pontica]
Small Wormwood Shrub

Native to Southern Europe, this herb is now naturalized over most of Europe and northeast North America. It is cultivated in Spain and Lithuania for use as the main flavoring in Absinthe and Vermouth. It is considered less bitter than the larger Artemisia absinthium.   Photo from www.biolib.de distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Mugwort   -   [Cronewort; Janlim; Artemisia vulgari   |   Yomogi (Japan); Artemisia princeps   |   Chinese Mugwort; Aicao, Aiye (China); Gaiyou (Japan); Artemisia argyi]
Mugwort Fronds

This herb is native to temperate Europe, Asia, Northern Africa and Alaska, but has been naturalized in other parts of North America. Mugwort looks a lot like wormwood, but the leaves are darker on top than underneath while wormwood is about the same color top and bottom. This herb, with a slightly bitter taste, is used to season fish and meat, especially game. In Germany it is traditionally used to season the Christmas goose. In Asia, Mugworts are used to color and flavor glutinous rice dumplings (Mochi) and some Korean noodles. In Japan, young leaves are used as a pot herb and sometimes raw in salads. Dried leaves and flower heads are used for an herbal tea. Mugwort was formerly used as the bitter flavoring for beer, but was replaced by hops, which have the advantage of being strongly anti-bacterial.   Photo by Christian Fischer distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

California Sagebrush   -   [Artemisia californica]
California Sagebrush Shrub

This plant is native to California and about 200 miles into Baja California, Mexico. It is a member of the coastal scrub through most of its range, but goes far inland in some regions of the state. Sagebrush is not at all related to the herb Sage (which also grows profusely in California), but it can also be used as a seasoning herb, and be used to make herb teas. It once had wide usage as a medicinal by the Indian tribes of Southern California, particularly for colds, menstrual cramps and labor pains.   Photo by U.S. National Parks Service = Public Domain .

Carruth's Sagewort   -   [Artemisia carruthii]
Drawing of Carruth's Sagewort

This shrub is most common in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. Seeds are harvested by the Zuni people of New Mexico, ground, mixed with water, formed into balls and steamed. It is considered one of their most important foods, and is also used medicinally.   Drawing from Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions.


Daisies Not So Familiar in North America

Aqub   -   [Aqub, Akub (Arabic); Gundelia tournefortii]
Spiky Leafed Aqub Plant

This semi-desert plant is native to the Levant, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Anatolia. In the region it is gathered by Muslims, Christians, Druze and Sephardic Jews alike, and sold in some markets. When the plant is young the leaves are fairly tender and edible, but still need to be de-thorned. In one popular dish it is covered in minced meat and fried in olive oil, then simmered with lemon juice. It is also used for medicinal purposes.   Photo by lorsh contributed to the Public Domain.

Aster Scaber   -   [Chwinamul, Chamchwi (Korea); Shirayamagiku (Japan); Aster Scaber]
Growing Aster Scaber Plants

This perennial herb is common in mountain regions of China, Japan. the Russian East, and particularly Korea. It is in cultivation in Korea, where the young, tender stems are considered a welcome harbinger of Spring. The rest of the year, dried shoots are used. It has a unique herbal aroma and a pleasant bitterness.

As the plant gets older, it sends up a hard stalk about 4 feet high, with widely spaced leaves, and a profusion of thin branches at the top with small white aster-like flowers on the tips.   Details and Cooking.   Photo by Dalgial distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Balsamroot   -   [Arrowleaf Balsamroot; Balsamorhiza sagittata   |   Deltoid Balsamroot; Balsamorhiza deltoidea]
Flowering Balsamroot Plants

These herbaceous plants are native to western North America from British Columbia south to California and east to the Dakotas. They were once far more common than they are today and were important to the American Indians. They have been greatly reduced by over-grazing and trampling. Seeds were ground for breads and cakes, and for cooking oil. The tap roots were eaten both raw and cooked. The foliage is edible but is bitter with a pine resin scent.   Photo by Cory Maylett distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Bitterleaf   -   [Ironweed (English); Ewuro, Ndole, Shiwaka, Onugbu, Dembezeko, Inyathelo, Musikavakadzi, Muzhozho, Nyareru (Africa); Vemonia amygdalina, V. colorata, V. calvoana, probably others]
Leafy Bitterleaf Plant

There are about 1000 species of Vemonia native to Africa, North and South America and Asia. They are used medicinally in all those regions, but only in Sub-Saharan Africa are they used as a green leafy vegetable. The species listed above are the main ones, with V. amygdalina the best known, but very difficult to tell apart from V. colorata. They are shrubs or small trees, and the leaves are particularly used in Nigeria and Zimbabwe for Bitter Leaf Soup. They are best used fresh, but dried are also used. The photo is of Vernonia colorata.   Photo by Dr. J.C. Knobel distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported, attribution required.

Brighteyes, Common   -   [Galatsida (Crete); Reichardia picroides]
Flowering Common Brighteyes Plant

Native to the Mediterranean region, a variety of R. picroides is used for food on the island of Crete (and probably elsewhere). Leaves are eaten raw, steamed, or fried lightly brown in olive oil.   Photo by Forest & Kim Starr distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported, Attribution Required - Notification Appreciated.

Cape Snow Bush   -   [Wildroosmaryn, Kapokbossie (Afikaans); African Rosemary, Wild Rosemary; Eriocephalus africanus]
Flowering Cape Snow Bush Plants

While not at all related to real Rosemary (a mint, not a daisy), Cape Snow Bush, a shrub growing to 3 feet high, is used similarly as a culinary herb. It is native to South Africa, and when the profuse white flowers have finished and it's gone to seed, it looks really snowy, completely covered with white woolly puffs where the flowers had been. Livestock, particularly sheep, that have grazed on this plant are prized for their flavor. This plant is also used as a medicinal and as a hair conditioner.   Photo by Dinkum distributed under license Creative Commons .

Cat's Ear   -   [Flatweed, False Dandelion; Hypochaeris radicata   |   Brazilian Cat's Ear; Hypochaeris brasiliensis]
Flowering Cat's Ear Plant

H. radicata is native to Europe, but has been introduced to the Americas, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It can often be a troublesome weed, and is listed as a noxious weed in Washington State. H. brasiliensis is native to South America, but is also now a common weed in the United States, particularly in the southeast. Cat's Ear is easily recognized from it's low lying basal rosette of deeply toothed leaves and tall, solid and branching flower stems. H. radicata leaves are quite hairy on the underside, H. brasiliensis only a little hairy.

All parts of the plant are edible, either raw in salads or cooked as greens, but the leaves are most often used. They tend to be bland and only occasionally have bitterness. The root of H. radicata is most often roasted for use as a coffee substitute. The photo specimen is of H. brisiliensis.   Photo by Matthias Buchmeier distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Cosmos, Pink   -   [Ulam Raja (Indonesia); Cosmos caudatus]
Flowering Pink Cosmos Plants

This fine leafed plant originated in Mexico and was introduced to Southeast Asia through the Philippines by the Spanish. The flowers can be pink, purple or white. It is now popular in Indonesian and Malay cuisine, particularly for the salads Urap and Pecel. Other species of Cosmos also have edible leaves, but the flavor is considered far inferior to C. caudatus. Malaysians also consider this plant to have anti-aging properties and to be a blood circulation toner. The photo was taken in Japan.   Photo by name distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Fuki   -   [Giant butterburr, Bog Rhubarb, Sweet coltsfoot; Petasites japonicus   |   Petasites frigidus (Arctic Butterburr)]
Live Fuki Shoot

Native to Japan, Korea, Russia's Sakhalin Island and parts of northeastern China, this plant has been introduced to western Canada and Washington State by Japanese immigrants. This is a very strange plant. It starts out at the end of winter putting up flower head shoots that look sort of like a light green cauliflower (see photo). The flower heads rise on a stalk and spread out. These are followed by huge rhubarb like stalks more than 3 feet long with leaves over 2 feet across, but round, not arrowhead shaped like rhubarb.

The stems are eaten in Japan and Korea. The traditional preparation in Japan is to treat them with ashes or baking soda, then soak in water to reduce astringency. The back side is very stringy, worse than celery, so after a brief boiling the strings are peeled off. The stems can then be cooked like a vegetable (red stems are not considered suitable, only green). In Korea, steamed or boiled stems are wrung out, then seasoned with sesame or perilla oil and served as a side dish. The young flower heads can be fried as tempura. They may also be chopped and stir fried with miso to make a condiment for rice.

It should be noted that this plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can cause cumulative liver damage and another known to be carcinogenic, so proper preparation is important to reduce their concentration.   Photo by Claes Lööw distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Goldenrod   -   [Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod), Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod) and at least 100 others]
Flowering Goldernrod

Most goldenrods are native to North America, mostly east of the Rocky Mountains and from central Canada to Florida, but have become invasives in East Asia and Germany. There is one goldenrod widespread in Europe, Solidago virgaurea, used medicinally. Young goldenrod leaves are edible, and seeds, particularly of S. nemoralis, were used by American Indians for food. Goldenrod is also often included in herbal teas, but the main culinary use for goldenrod is in the production of honey by bees. Goldenrod is often blamed for causing hay fever, but it is actually caused by ragweed which blooms at the same time. The photo is of S. gigantea, found in most of North America east of the Rockey Mountains.   Photo by Pethan distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Golden Samphire   -   [Limbarda crithmoides]
Flowering Golden Samphire Plants

This plant grows in salt marshes and on sea cliffs all across Eurasia. Young green leaves, which are succulent, may be eaten raw in salads or cooked.   Photo by Chilepine contributed to the Public Domain.

Hawkbitt, Tuberous   -   [Glykovyzia, Glykoradika, Vyzakia (Crete); Leontodon tuberosus]
Flowering Plant

Native to the eastern Mediterranean region, this plant is used for food on the island of Crete (and probably elsewhere). The tuberous roots are eaten raw, while the leaves are eaten steamed.   Photo by Ariel Palmon distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Hawksbeard   -   [Glykosyrida (Crete); Crepis commutata   |   Kokkinogoula, Lekanida, Prikousa (Crete); Crepis vesicaria   |   Maryies, Pikrouses (Crete); Crepis ???]
Flowering Hawksbeard Plant

These small herbaceous plants apparently originated in the Mediterranean region, but about 200 Crepis species are found through most of the Northern Hemisphere. Leaves of the above species are eaten on the island of Crete (and probably elsewhere), raw in salads, or leaves and tender shoots are steamed or boiled and eaten as a green vegetable. The photo is of C. jacquinii, but it looks just like C. commutata.   Photo by Jerzy Opiola distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Jambu   -   [Pancress; Buzz buttons, Szechwan buttons, Sansho buttons, Electric buttons (flower buds); Acmella oleracea]
Jambu Flower on Plant

This plant is native to northern Brazil, but it is planted as a decorative in various parts of the world and extracts are used as a flavoring worldwide. In Brazil, small amounts of fresh leaves are added to salads for a unique flavor. Leaves combined with garlic and chilis are a popular ingredient in stews.

The flower buds have a grassy taste, but provide a numbing or tingling effect in the mouth similar to the very unrelated Sichuan Peppercorns of southern China. A major reason for using the extracts, which have a somewhat citrus aroma, is that they provide a strong mouth watering effect along with the tingly sensation. The plant and extracts also have medicinal uses, particularly for toothache (Sichuan Peppercorn and other Prickly Ash fruits are also used for this purpose).   Photo by Phyzome distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported, attribution required.

Jersey Cudweed   -   [Shuqucao (China); Hahagohusa, Houkogousa (Japan); rau khúc. (Viet); Gnaphalium affine]
Flowering Jersey Cudweed Plant

This plant is found in temperate regions of China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea, and in the mountains of Vietnam, Nepal, India and Thailand. Throughout the region it is associated with Sweet Rice, and in some regions with noodles and dumpling wrappers, sometimes as an alternative to Mugwort. In these applications it provides both a unique flavor and a green coloring. In China it is used to flavor scallion pancakes. Where the name Jersey Cudweed came from I don't know, and Wikipedia considers it "citation needed".   Photo by KENPEI distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Marsh Ragwort   -   [Northern Swamp Groundsel, Marsh Fleabane, Marsh Fleawort, Clustered Marsh Ragwort, Mastodon Flower, Senecio congestus]
Flowering Marsh Ragwort Plant

This plant is found throughout North America from the Great Lakes region of the United States north into the Arctic Circle, including all of Canada and Alaska. In Europe it is found in Spain and France, and in Sweden, Poland, the Baltic countries, and south through Ukraine and well into Russia. Unlike other members of genus Senecio, this plant is considered safe for human consumption, raw or cooked. Young leaves and flowering stems are used in salads, and cooked as a potherb. It is also salt fermented like sauerkraut.   Photo by Tigerente distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Nipplewort   -   [Lapsana communis]
Flowering Nipplewort Plant

Native to the Europe and western Asia, this plant has a long history as food, the leaves served raw in salads or cooked like spinach. The English name comes from its medicinal use in Medieval times, derived from the absurd religion based "Doctrine of Signatures". Someone thought the closed flowers resembled nipples, so this must be God's signal that this was the herb to use to treat breast lesions. No scientific testing needed - that would be questioning God.   Photo by Forest & Kim Starr distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported, Attribution Required - Notification Appreciated.

Okinawan Spinach   -   [Hongfeng cai (China); Gynura bicolor]
Leafy Okinawan Spinach Plant

Native to East Asia, there are two cultivars of this plant. One is green on both sides of the leaves, the other purple on the underside, but they are considered equivalent for food and medicinal purposes. In China, leaves of this plant are considered "cool", so are usually stir fried with sesame oil and ginger to balance with "hot". The leaves are rich in iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamin A. Stems and roots are boiled in water to make a medicinal tea. I have not yet seen these leaves for sale in Los Angeles.   Photo by Alex Lin contributed to the Public Domain.

Redflower Ragweed   -   [Ebolo, Thickhead, Fireweed; Crassocephalum crepidioides syn. Gynura crepidioides]
Flowering Redflower Ragweed Plant

While used as a green leafy vegetable in many tropical and subtropical regions, this plant is particularly popular in tropical Africa. The slightly succulent mucilaginous leaves and stems are cooked as a vegetable. Many parts of the plant are used medicinally, but internal use for either food or medicine needs more study because the plant contains a number of nasty plant toxins.   Photo by Forest & Kim Starr distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported, Attribution Required - Notification Appreciated.

Skeletonweed   -   [Hogbite, Gum Succory, Devil's Grass, Nakedweed, Rush; Ampelosyrida, Glykosyrida (Crete); Chondrilla juncea]
Flowering Skeletonweed Plant

Native to Europe, Asia and North Africa, this plant is now known as a difficult to eradicate noxious weed through much of the Northern Hemisphere temperate zone. Young shoots are used in salads, raw, steamed or boiled, on the island of Crete. They are known to be similarly used by ethnic Albanians in southern Italy, which suggests they are also used in the Balkans.   Photo by pjt56 distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported, Notification appreciated .

Sow Thistle, Alpine   -   [Bear Hay (Finland); Insalata Dell'Orso ("Bear Salad" - Italy); Cicerbita alpina]
Flowering Alpine Sow Thistle Plant

This plant, which can grow to nearly 60 inches high but is usually around 31 inches, is native to all the mountain ranges of Europe, from the Pyrenees to the Urals, including Scandinavia. Shoots of this plant are considered a delicacy in northern Italy, cooked and served with olive oil and/or tomato sauce. Used both in homes and in restaurants, it is currently gathered wild. Due to the probability of over-harvesting, pilot plots are being planted to prove it for agriculture.   Photo by Michael Becker distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Sow Thistle   -   [Common Sowthistle, Smooth Sow Thistle, Hare's Colwort, Hare's Thistle, Milky Tassel, Swinies; Sonchus oleraceus   |   also Prickly Sow Thistle, Spiny sow thistle, Sonchus asper]
Flowering Common Sow Thistle Plant

This mildly bitter herb is native to Europe, Asia and Australia, and is an invasive in many other parts of the world. Leaves are used raw in salads or blanched similarly to spinach and eaten as a vegetable, particularly in China. Blanching or wet cooking reduces the bitterness. It is considered palatable and very nutritious. These plants can grow to 6 feet high and the flowers are in clusters. You can see a cluster of buds on the leaf in the photo. S. asper, native to Europe but a common weed in North America, must be handled carefully, as some people are very sensitive to the spines. You wouldn't use it raw in a salad, but blanched, it is very similar to the S. oleraceus, equally edible and nutritious.   Photo by Alvesgaspar distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Spanish Oyster Thistle   -   [Common golden thistle; Tagarnina (Andalusia, Spain); Scolymus hispanicus]
Flowering Spanish Oyster Thistle Plant

Native to southern and western Europe, this plant was known to the Ancient Greeks as both food and medicine. Today it is very popular throughout Spain, generally gathered wild in the Spring rather than cultivated. It is used in soups and stews. In Andalusia it is also used in scrambled eggs.   Photo by lorsh contributed to the Public Domain.

Sweetscent   -   [Salt Marsh Fleabane, Shrubby Camphorweed; Pluchea odorata]
Flowering Sweetscent Plant

Native to southern United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and parts of northern South America, this three foot shrub is found in moist, often saline coastal environments. It has been introduced to Hawaii and is a noxious weed there. In parts of the Caribbean this is the most popular plant for herbal teas.   Photo by J.T. Story distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

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