Surprisingly Scurvy Weed is not actually a weed but a native plant called Commelina cyanea. This plant also goes by the politically incorrect common name of Native Wandering Jew.
For the past few weeks I’ve been walking through it, first wondering whether it is toxic to guinea pigs and chooks, and then, when it became really abundant, whether it is edible.
I was pleased to discover its leaves are edible. The terminal buds can be eaten raw or cooked. I felt like I’d discovered a field of spinach and lettuce at my back door.
It was eaten by early non-indigenous colonists to alleviate scurvy, and hence its common name.
I foraged a bunch and added a couple of handfuls of terminal buds to a frittata.
It was delicious, although admittedly, its taste was hard to distinguish from any other green leafy vegetable in amongst the other frittata ingredients.
I’ll definitely be using this fresh, local and free vegetable as one alternative to leafy and salad greens from now on.
Wondering where you can find your own patch of Scurvy Weed?
It grows in moist forest or woodland areas along the east coast of Australia. It’s particularly fond of moist and disturbed soil so you may even see it pop up in your back yard. It was common in my Newcastle backyard.
It does resemble the introduced weed Wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminensis) which is not edible, but Scurvy Weed can be easily distinguished by its gorgeous bright blue flowers. The introduced weed Wandering Jew in contrast has white flowers.
Foraged Greens Frittata
Frittata is one of my favourite ways of trying new foraged greens. I really like Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia tetraganoides) in frittata and will one day try Stinging Nettle frittata.
To make a foraged greens frittata simply use your favourite frittata recipe and substitute a vegetable for your foraged greens.
Learn more about foraging
If you are interested in learning more about foraging there’s a range of handy field guides including Useful Weeds at our Doorstep by Hunter’s own foraging expert Pat Collins and The Weed Forager’s Handbook: A Guide to Edible and Medicinal Weeds in Australia by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland.
Pat Collins from the Total Health and Education Centre in Muswellbrook also runs workshops on how to forage and use weeds across the Hunter region and further afield. To find out more about upcoming workshops subscribe to their newsletter by emailing info (at) patcollins.com.au or phone 6541 1884.
Do you or would you forage greens to eat?
[Originally published in my column LESS IS MORE in the The Newcastle Herald Weekender Magazine 16th February 2013]