The Resilient Smilax Waving Triumphantly
Literally. There are two large and annoyingly recurring vines on either side of our back door that I continually hack down. Their huge thorns and proximity to the azalea bush roots make it impossible for me to uproot them once and for all.
The Down Side
I always remember their scientific name because when they were first identified for me years ago on a nature walk, the botanist said that anyone would smile at the chance to use an ax on them. But she neglected to say that their tender shoots taste like asparagus - and that another name for them is sasparilla. Theirs is the famed root of root beer!
The Edible, Tender Shoot
I doubt if I'll ever get at the root of these particular vines, but I will add their shoots to salad tonight and hopefully several times again as I continue to hack back (prune?) this vine of paradox.
I learned about the smilax' edibility at a class I attended last night given my Susan Marynowski, a local herbalist. In addition to smilax/sasparilla, I confirmed that we have a number of other wild edibles already growing in the yard - the aforementioned betany and spanish needles as well as oxalis (wood sorrel). I plan to serve these up soon as well and will let you know what I learn.
What a wonderful thing to know. I am so grateful to Susan for sharing her knowledge with us and very happy that it has been years since I've used herbicides or pesticides in our yard (thus all these wild edibles, formerly known as weeds). If you're nearby, you can check out classes like these here. The handout listing local edibles and medicinals is available here. But Susan gave us much more information than is contained on the handout and warned that some of the plants listed have toxic qualities as well. Good to take the class.
As the weeks go by, I'll highlight each of these plants as they become ready to harvest in my yard. Next up: Wood Sorrel (oxalis).