Aquatic Plants Continued
- Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
- Skirret (Sium sisarum)
- Taro (Colocasia esculenta)
- Wasabi (Wasabi japonica)
- Water celery (Oenanthe javanica)
MORE EDIBLE WATER GARDEN PLANTS
Ramps: Allium trioccum AKA: Ramps, Spring Onion, Wild Leek, Wood Leek, Wild Garlic.
Ramps are an early spring perennial. This is well-known with a strong garlic smell and onion like flavor. They are found in much of the eastern US and Canada.
They are common in the traditional cuisines of these areas and are gaining popularity in upscale restaurants across North America.The mountain people of Appalachia celebrate the ramp with festivals and much folklore surrounds this plant. It was believed.to have power to ward.off many winter ailments and in the celebration of spring. It was used as a tonic for winter ailments. It is high In vitamins and minerals.
The city of Chicago actually got it’s name from ramps. Near Lake Michigan in Illinois during the 17th century there was a dense growth of ramps. The native tribes.called the plant shikaakwa (Chicago).
The flavor is of onions and strong garlic. Food writer Jane Snow described it as “fried green onions with a dash of funky feet”
Ramps are celebrated in multiple festivals across Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
Check out this website: http://www.kingofstink.com/
Interesting things about ramps:
Resembles lily of the valley with broader leaves
Can be found in colonies covering miles of the forest floor
Come up in spring before trees and shrubs leaf out taking advantage of the light.
Leaves and bulbs can be eaten.
When cooked they become a mild tasting gourmet vegetable.
Outranks garlic for causing bad breath.
It is said the smell will come through the pores of ones skin.
Called spring tonic by the older folk of Appalachia.
Added to printers ink as a joke.
A cooking wine is made from ramps by Kirkwood winery.
Ramp festivals are found in upland Southeastern United States for more than 70 years.
Keeps varmits out of your gardens.
And maybe… it could keep vampires or zombies away…..
SKIRRET: Sium sisarum
HARDINESS ZONES 3-8
Family is Apiaceae which includes:
Skirret is a small to medium herbaceous perennial root crop with long thin roots. It can grow to about 4 ft high. It is low maintenance and has few pest problems. It is said to have a flavor between potato and parsnip. Most varieties have a hard inedible core. Some better varieties are without this core. It is known to be resistant to pests and diseases. The flowers are very attractive to bees and other pollinators.
The name skirret (suikerwortel in Dutch) means “sugar root”. Used as carrots, parsnips, potatoes or salsify in cooking. From Sturtevant’s Notes on Edible Plants: skirret roots are “among the sweetest, whitest, and most pleasant of roots”. Skirret is thought to have originated in China, made it’s way to Europe and then to North America. It was once a well know crop in North America and Europe; but now is mostly replaced by the potato. It is still an important crop in Northeastern Asia. It was found on the table of ancient Romans.
The best and easiest way to grow it is from roots. Eat some and plant some. Seeds may not be true to the parent. If a good variety is found without the woody core. A clone from the parent instead of seed would be better. I has a large amount of flowers in an umbel shape (looks similar to Queen Anne’s Lace –wild carrot).
WATER CELERY: Oenanthe javanica AKA: Japanese parsley, Chinese celery, water dropwort. It originates from East Asia.
HARDY TO ZONE 6 as a perennial
Many other species of water dropwort are extremely toxic. Oenanthe javanica is not only edible but cultivated China, India, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Viet Nam, and Italy. It is also popular in Hawaii. The raw stems and leaves taste similar to celery or parsley. They become milder with cooking. There is a dwarf variety called Flamingo which is variegated leaves of green, pink and white. It is less aggressive than larger varieties and could make for a beautiful groundcover. It like most water plants should not be released into natural masses of water; as it can be very invasive.
It’s flowers attract beneficial insects, and it has few pest problems. The leaves and stems are best used fresh or lightly cooked in cooked dishes.
WASABI: Wasabi japonica AKA: Japanese horseradish
Wasabi is that wonderful green you eat with sushi that is pungent, spicy, and hot. Unfortunately most of us have never had real wasabi. It seems most “wasabi” you get is actually horseradish and green food coloring. It is in the bassicaceae family – same as cabbages, mustard, and horseradish. It actually affect your nasal passages more than your tongue is sensing the hotness. The root is dried and turned into powder or ready to use paste. It loses its flavor within 15 minutes if left uncovered after grating. The leaves can also be eaten and taste similar to the root. It is also used in salads and pickled in sake.
It is rather difficult to cultivate. It likes climates similar to the rainforest on the Oregon coast. Also parts of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina and Tenessee. It is very particular about it’s environment and can take 3 years to mature. All parts are used and prized.
Fresh wasabi roots are priced at $150.00 per pound currently. This is a good reason to try and cultivate wasabi.
TARO: Colocasia esculenta
These are the large elephant ear looking plants in the Araceae family. They are native to South India and Southeast Asia. The taro root has many name around the world from West Africa, Asia, Central America, South America and the Caribbean and Polynesian islands. It is known as taro, dasheen, eddo, and kalo for example.
This plant is used around the world for it’s edible tubers, stems and leaves. The root is hairy on the outside, and must be cleaned and cooked befor eating.
Taro can grow on irrigated land or in flooded areas. It produces twice as much tubers when flooded; such as in a rice paddy. The plant cannot be eaten raw due to calcium oxalate crystals. Cooking will decrease the calcium oxalate.
The root can be cooked like potatoes, baked, boiled, fried, roasted, steamed, added to soups or stews, made into chips or pounded into a paste. Taro chips are crunchier and nuttier tasting than potato chips. The staple food of the Hawaiians (poi) is made from taro. The leaves can be cooked as greens. My favorite way is lau lau. Lau lau is a piece of salty butterfish and other meat such as a chunk of beef, sprinkled with sea salt, rolled up in taro leaves, then wrapped in ti leaves, tied with a string and steamed.
Many cultures all over the world have their own special way of using taro. I like it just boiled with salt too. It is tastier and creamier than potatoes.