There are many we usually ignore, or treat as weeds, growing through the cracks in pavements or invading those town & city parks and gardens, however they are now able to go a little wild with no councils at work. So over next few weeks I will see if I can find a plant a day or something else our ancestors would have found useful that you can find while out for your ‘one walk a day’. So first up is “Jack by the Hedge” also called Hedge Garlic, Hedge Mustard, Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) this is really abundant at the minute.
When bruised or chopped the leaves give off a distinct garlic smell and when nibbled also taste of garlic. I have also found some already flowering and the florets also taste of garlic, even the roots. This is the plants defence mechanism as generally animals don’t like garlic, but unfortunately for the plant humans do.
They are best eaten raw as a lot of the flavour disappears when cooked, so a few leaves in a sandwich or salad are great. But get inventive try it in soup or sauces.
This plant is easily identified by the garlicy aroma when bruised. But before you munch it make sure of the following:
- Leaves are hairless – Heart shaped lower leaves, a little more pointy like a nettle in the upper leaves
- blunt toothed edges
- flowers (if developed yet) four tiny white petals
- if it looks radically different to the photos above and if bruised between your fingers doesn’t smell of garlic I would say it is not the right plant and should be avoided for now.