My now 5-year-old brought a Wood Sorrel (commonly thought of as clover) leaflet over to me the other day and said, "Mama try this - it tastes sour!" Immediately I was flooded with deja-vu-like warm feelings and memories from my own childhood, picking and eating this abundant lemony green between games of hide and seek and kickball on summer days that seemed to have no beginning and no end. Of course, we did have a conversation about being careful of the foods we find in our yard and in the wild, because many can make us sick or worse, but it's been interesting to catch her picking and chomping on the same wild plants I remember thoughtlessly picking and eating as a kid. It makes me (and many others) wonder if there's perhaps an often-overlooked intuition of edible wild foods that we're born with (as animals) that kind of gets knocked out of us as we grow and become jaded by the modern world.
I've been trying to be better about "remembering" to play during the day - taking a break from work, clearing my mind, getting on the floor or ground and just being present with my kids - letting them lead me on "pointless" activities and play... I'm hoping that including some of these edible plants I have fuzzy childhood memories about in foods I eat daily might help me regain some of my lost childlike behaviors and help me with this intention (as well as nourish my body from all the great vitamins and minerals!). I find the easiest way to enjoy them is to make a big salad and throw some in. Get creative! Here are 6 of my favorites from my past, with the physical/nutritional properties of each and the natural magical properties of each. Think back on your own experiences with edible plants in childhood, get creative with uses, and let a renewed sense of childlike peace and freedom carry you into the warm early summer days...
In order: Wood Sorrel; Plaintain; White Clover; Ground Ivy; Violets; Dandelion Greens
Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella):
Folk Names: Cuckowe's Meat, Fairy Bells, Sourgrass, Sour Trefoil, Stickwort, Stubwort, Surelle, Three-Leaved Grass, Wood Sour.
Powers: Healing, Health.
Magical Uses: If the leaves of the wood sorrel (dried) are carried they preserve the heart against disease. Fresh wood sorrel placed in sickrooms aids in recuperation from illnesses and wounds.
Physical Nutrition: High in Vitamins C and A.
Plantain (Plantago spp. lanceolata, P. major, P. media):
Folk Names: Cuckoo's Bread, Englishman's Foot, The Leaf of Patrick, Patrick's Dock, Ripple Grass, St. Patrick's Leaf, Slanlus, Snakebite, Snakeweed, Waybread, Waybroad, Weybroed (Anglo-Saxon), White Man's Foot.\
Powers: Healing, Strength, Protection, Snake Repelling.
Magical Uses: Bind the plantain with red wool to the head to cure headaches, and place beneath the feet to remove weariness. Plantain is also hung in the car to guard against the intrusion of evil spirits. A piece of the root in the pocket protects its bearer from snakebites.
Physical Nutrition: Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and K. Plantain also contains calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
White Clover (Trifolium spp.):
Folk Names: Honey, Honeystalks, Shamrock, Three-Leaved Grass, Trefoil, Trifoil.
Powers: Protection, Money, Love, Fidelity, Exorcism, Success.
Magical Uses: In general, clover keeps snakes away from your property, if grown there. When placed in the left shoe, and then forgotten, clover keeps evil from you. Worn over the right breast it brings success in all undertakings. If you have been disappointed in love, wear clover near your heart in a piece of blue silk to help you through.
Physical Nutrition: Vitamins A, E, C, B-2, and B-3. Minerals calcium, chromium, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and silicium.
Ground Ivy (Nepeta heredacea, Glechoma hederacea, Nepeta glechoma):
Folk Names: Alehoof, Cat's Foot, Gill-Go-Over-The-Ground, Haymaids, Hedgemaids, Lizzy-Run-Up-The-Hedge, Robin-Run-In-The-Hedge, Tunhoof, Field Balm, Runnaway Robin.
Magical Uses: Use ground ivy to discover who is working negative magic against you. Place the herb around the base of a yellow candle and burn on a Tuesday. The person will become known to you.
Physical Nutrition: Rich in Potassium and Vitamin C.
Violets (Viola odorata):
Folk Names: Blue Violet, Sweet Violet.
Powers: Protection, Luck, Love, Lust, Wishes, Peace, Healing.
Magical Uses: When the flowers are carried they offer protection against "wykked sperytis" and bring changes in luck and fortune. Mixed with lavender, they are a powerful love stimulant and also arouse lust. If you gather the first violet in the spring your dearest wish will be granted. Ancient Greeks wore the violet to calm tempers and to induce sleep. Violets fashioned into a chaplet and placed on the head cure headaches and dizziness, and the leaves work in a green sachet help wounds to heal and prevent evil spirits from making the wounds worse.
Physical Nutrition: Rich in Vitamins A and C.
Dandelion (I use the greens) (Taraxacum officinale):
Folk Names: Blowball, Cankerwort, Lion's Tooth, Piss-a-bed, Priest's Crown, Puffball, Swine Snout, White Endive, Wild Endive.
Powers: Divination, Wishes, Calling Spirits.
Magical Uses: To find out how long you will live, blow the seeds of the head of a dandelion. You will live as many years as there are seeds left on the head. To tell the time: blow three times at the seed head. The number left is the hour. The root, when dried, roasted, and ground like coffee, is used to make a tea. This infusion will promote psychic powers. This same tea, steaming and placed beside the bed, will call spirits. To send a message to a loved one, blow at the seed head in his or her direction and visualize your message. Dandelion, buried in the northwest corner of the house, brings favorable winds.
Physical Nutrition: Rich in Vitamin K, A, Potassium, and Calcium.
Reference for Magical Properties of each courtesy of Scott Cunningham's "Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs"