Urso Ivkovik gives us the botanical basics of gardening,
foraging and herbalism in a new series of articles.
Urso Ivkovik gives us the botanical basics of gardening, foraging and herbalism in a new series of articles.
For a decade, botany has been my passion, so let us delve in and learn botanical basics without further ado. There are amazing benefits to consuming the different edible weeds offered by nature. They are free of charge if you only take time to pay attention to our green universe!
As we get further into 2021, some may say we are in a health crisis. I would call it a health opportunity. It would be a positive approach to move towards solution-based thinking, right?
Let’s look at what nature offers us, here in the western Algarve, after three solid months of tropical-like rainfall. First, we all know how winter here assumes spring-like properties. It is now the Algarve’s plant life wakes up and shoots new growth.
The first weed (erva daninha) on our list is both loved and hated. It is the Algarvian omnipresent green Oxalis acetosella, also known as wood sorrel, African wood sorrel, sourgrass, Bermuda buttercup and Batatas de Monchique.
The plant supposedly originated in the Cape region in South Africa. Looking at how other South African plants and shrubs adore the Algarve, it is no wonder this plant found suitable conditions and spreads with such rigour. It makes ornamental gardeners agitated at times, yet leaves others, like me, in total awe. This marvellous little winter companion is both a decorative and edible cover crop. The last time I talked to local bees, they gave it a high-five as well.
People often confuse it with actual clover. Botanically speaking, it has nothing to do with real clover, although we might say it has “clovered” the Algarve right now pretty darn well!
They are known locally as Batatas de Monchique. In times of scarcity, like war times, people would dig them up and collect the small bulbs, and cook them because of their nutritional value and calories. Wild boars (javali) are also looking for their share of free food from nature, so if you are not eating it, drinking it, or weeding it from the edges of your garden then be aware that wild pigs love to indulge in this treat.