Having a space near your entryway full of lush and nutritious plants—whether planted near your back door or under a sun-soaked spot with pots—is a great way to improve your cooking and your health! Many of you probably planted herb garden staples such as rosemary, oregano, parsley, and dill, but have you thought about throwing some native plants into the mix?
Not only are our native plants essential to our pollinators and wildlife but some plants are great to eat as well. Round out your herb and kitchen garden with some of our favorite edible native perennials!
TEA FOR TWO
For an easy tea, use fresh or dried flowers or leaves steeped in hot water. Perfect to ease an upset stomach or to settle your nerves:
Oswego tea (Monarda) has a pungent oregano meets mint aroma. Traditionally used for tea, it also is fantastic steamed to help with respiratory issues.
Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum) has a bright minty flavor which eases indigestion, poor appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Think of it as our native plant equivalent to peppermint!
Anise hyssop (Agastache) has a licorice or anise flavor and is great for soothing an upset stomach. It can also be put in a pot of boiling water to help open the breathing passages.
Eat the emerging fiddleheads of Ostrich fern fronds (Matteuccia struthiopteris) as you would asparagus in early spring. A couple of tabs of butter in a skillet with a clove of garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper is a delicious spring time treat.
Wood oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) seeds can be harvested and used as a grain cereal or ground into a flour. This is a great plant to put in the back corner of a shaded lot. It outcompetes opportunistic invasive weeds like garlic mustard or stilt grass, self sows readily, holds erosion at bay, and if you ever have a need, the seeds can be used as food! How cool is that?!
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) helps boost the immune system and is a natural antibiotic.
Indian physic (Porteranthus trifoliatus) traditionally used by Native Americans as an emetic and laxative.
Wild false indigo (Baptisia) can be used for a natural blue dye, but was traditionally applied by Native American tribes as an emetic, purgative, and a poultice to help with inflammation.
Join in the fun of mixing in edibles in your garden as you continue to support the use of native plants!