Edibles You Grow

Gardener’s Corner | Questions and Answers with Local Experts

By Dan Songster, 2013 March

This column is a regular newsletter feature offering chapter members and local experts a chance to briefly share information on many things related to gardening with natives. This Issue’s question was “What edible native plant are you most likely to grow & why?”

Laura Camp – “OC natives Woolly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum) and San Miguel Savory (Clinopodium or Satureja chandleri) – both the flowers and leaves are great tea ingredients either fresh or dried: one floral, the other minty.”

Orchid Black -“Rubus ursinus – Blackberry! Fruit for me and the birds. Ribes aureum, it’s tasty, too, if small. Oaks, for the more adventurous.”

Mark Sugars -“Fragaria vesca, Woodland Strawberry. It’s hardy, dependable, and evergreen; it forms a dense ground cover and grows in all soils; and it produces scads of “berries” (yes, I know, accessory fruits)—small, but jam-packed with flavor.”

Gene Ratcliffe -“I have the native grape hybrid ‘Roger’s Red’, which makes wonderful jelly or juice, and if I don’t harvest the grapes the birds love them as well.”

Ron Vanderhoff -“I love berries, so I also love being near a “female” patch of our native California Blackberry (Rubus ursinus). Ummm, I could stop and snack for an hour. In a garden I’ll opt for another native berry, California Strawberry (Fragaria vesca). A fine groundcover for semi-shaded areas and quite tasty.”

Trude Hurd -“Lemonadeberry. When struggling up a trail, I can’t resist stopping and tasting its red fruit. It jolts me back to attention! It’s a nice looking shrub that attracts wildlife.”

Sarah Jayne – “I didn’t plant it for the purpose but soon discovered Cleveland Sage to be the best sage for cooking, far superior to the regular cooking variety Salvia officionalis. ‘Winifred Gilman’ works just as well as straight Salvia clevelandii. I always dry a bunch of it when I trim. California Bay Laurel, Umbellularia californica, I planted with the full intention of using its leaves—sparingly—as seasoning.”

Dan Songster – “Onion species (like Allium unifolium) to trim and use like chives in season. Also, Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) in salads. Oh, and Our Lord’s Candle (Hesperoyucca whipplei) blossoms thrown into a skillet with onions as a base for an omelet.”


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