MnE 24 Spice up your life

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    2 Plants, Smartweed and Pepperweed

    Smartweed will definetly spice up your life and there is one most certainly near you, multiple species around the country. The first time I munched a leaf I thought this is nothing, then it hit, delayed reaction. The heat was similar to a Serrano or Cayenne pepper. Smartweeds like moist, even wet soils. Some species are semi-aquatic.

    Polygonum cespitosum or Oriental Lady’s-thumb is the easiest one for me to notice. It’s the plant with the pink blooms below. It grows everywhere east of the Rockies. Several species will have the appearance of a thumb print in the center of the leaf.

    I believe the plant below with white flowers is Polygonum pensylvanicum L. – Pennsylvania smartweed. Wasn’t to concerned with the species now that I know how to recognize them. It grows in 47 states.

    The heat intensity varies plant to plant. There are harmless grasses that are similar in general appearance but none have a bloom like it and their leaves are not hot. You can use fresh leaves or dry them for latter use.

    Here is a good write up and a recipe.

    Here is another site with great information and photo’s.

    Pic one – a mass of smartweed circled in red.
    Pic two – 2 species growing here, white and pink blooms
    Pic three – Closeup of stems
    Pic four – arrow pointing to dark spot or “thumb print”

    Virginia Pepper Weed or Lepidium virginicum. This plant is so common it has never occurred to me to take a photo. Disturb some soil and one will appear, at least it seems like that. It’s a nuisance here on the farm. It grows in all 50 states and much of Canada.

    Here’s a good photo and write up. – “The young leaves can be added to salads or soups — they are peppery. The seed pods can be used like pepper. The root, ground and mixed with vinegar is a good substitute for horseradish. I like them as a trail side nibble. The leaves contain protein, vitamin A and are rich in Vitamin C.”

    Green Deane video on Pepperweed

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