Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beautiful, Tasty Orpine, Live-forever

Orpine (sedum purpureum) is a wonderful, tasty wild plant that is also grown in gardens and as an ornamental plant. If you are lucky enough to find it growing wild and in abundance, you'll have found one of my favorite salad greens. At least the young and tender leaves are great in salads or raw as a trail nibble. But you can also boil the older leaves for 5 to 10 minutes, and its tubers are edible as well, cooked for 20 minutes or so.

So far, I've only found this plant in a couple of places, neither of them wild. Fred has some growing by his doorway, and another friend has one in her edge garden. So, after asking these folks for their permission, I'll take some of the leaves, but never enough to harm the plant. The leaves are mild, a bit peppery, and very pleasant. With chickweed and wild onions, they make a great salad.

I'm on the lookout to find them wild here, which is reasonable, since they're a garden escapee. But from my reading, they seem to grow profusely in mountainous areas. I'd love to find a huge batch of them so I'll check the hilly areas.

This is a distinctive plant; once you see it and recognize it, you'll know it from then on. It has pretty pink/purplish flowers in the summer. Seems it grows in a lot of places in the country, even out west. Wherever it has escaped from gardens and landscapes, I guess.

There's a host of sedums, some of them edible. Sedum telephinum for one. I don't know all the others, if they're edible or not. Check it out before you snack on 'em, and make sure you ID properly. And ask, if you see it in a garden. :) Don't give foraging a bad name by snarfing up someone's plants without their permission.

But if you find a bunch of them wild, try the tubers. Wildman Steve Brill says they're crispy and tasty raw, like water chestnuts. I'd like to try some.

You can read more about orpine here and here.

I'm going to get a cutting from Fred and see if I can get more of these growing wild. They come back each year and if I could get lots of live-forever patches going, the valley would have another delightful free food to supplement our diet. In fact, I will try to spread as many of our wild plant friends around as possible. Not that these plants need my help; most of them are incredibly hardy survivors with many ways of propagating themselves.


chloeheartsowls said...

i just happened across this today on a path and wondered what it could be and completely forgot until i happened upon your blog! thank you!

Unknown said...

All over my property; I simply clip and plant in spring when plant is loaded with growth hormone.
Fill planters with clippings and then dump pots out in fall to enjoy yet another cycle in the spring.
Fiddle head ferns, live forever, water lily roots etc.. A very easy and satisfying harvest.
I plant with edibility in mind.