Wild garlic, or ramsoms, is growing in profusion now. It can be used in many recipes, added to soups and stews, or washed and munched raw.
Below is the young leaf of a Cuckoopint, or Arum Lily. These often grow in the same patch as wild garlic – weed them out of your own forage area. Pay attention to the leaf veins. They are branched, as opposed to the garlic which has parallel veins like a grass blade. The arrow shape becomes more pronounced as the leaves mature.
If you eat cuckoopint by accident, it will cause a burning sensation in your mouth which can last for several days.
Bluebell comes out a little later, so it’s fairly easy to tell the leaves apart from wild garlic, which will be moving into the flowering stage by then. It occupies the same woodland habitat as the garlic too.
All these leaves vanish completely in the summer, except for the cuckoopint which goes on to produce its vivid orange berry spikes. These are also poisonous to humans. No sign of any of these plants is visible in autumn and winter. However, the edible bulbs of the wild garlic are still there underground.
When learning this plant series, it’s identifying these bulbs which you should concentrate on. Without any other clues, it could be tricky; you need to avoid including cuckoopint or bluebell in your forage.
Establish specimens of each in pots and watch them grow. Dig up some roots and study them. Wash your hands after breaking up the cuckoopint; if you have sensitive skin, it may be worth wearing gloves. Once you have thoroughly learned all three, you are equipped to forage for them in the woods, should you ever need wild food.
In order to protect these important plants, it is illegal to dig them up in the UK without the permission of the landowner. Hence you should grow your own for study.
When you do, you will observe that the tiny first-year roots of all three look much the same – an oval white bulb about the size of a match head. Only gather the larger wild garlic bulbs which have developed the brownish root skin.
Action task 9 in the Food section of the Resilience Assessment requires you to go on a walk to identify edible wild plants. Look for wild garlic in local woods or under trees in parks. Are there more plants which grow in that area, such as daffodils, which you need to be confident of identifying?
The simple questions in the Resilience Handbook encourage you to establish a layer of underpinning knowledge upon which you can build your resilient lifestyle!