Weeds Are Just Misunderstood Salad

The story’s always the same. Someone decides a certain type of plant from halfway around the world would be just the solution for a local problem. He plants this foreign species, and it thrives. In fact, it takes over and begins to choke out the local foliage. In California, the culprit is the lovely yet deadly ice plant. In the South, it’s kudzu.

Southerners like to say that if you stand still long enough, the kudzu will come and grow right over you. The vines can grow as much as a foot per day in the summer.

But in the spring, before the vines get tough and creepy, some folks solve their kudzu problem by eating it. In “Kudzu: ‘Vine that ate the South’ is also good eating,” the Associated Press reports that there are many delicious ways to enjoy the ubiquitous vine. The kudzu root can be dried and pulverized to thicken soups and stews. Tender new greens can be sautéed or baked into a nice quiche. Beekeepers prize the honey made from its sweet purple blossoms.

[A] Rutherfordton, N.C., couple have been eating kudzu for decades. They began feeding it to their cows 45 years ago and decided to try it themselves.

‘You fry the leaves and they’re just like potato chips–delicious,’ says 83-year-old Henry Edwards.

Kudzu isn’t the only weed to be featured on plates in spring. I should have saved all those dandelions I just dug out of my yard. From New Jersey to Michigan, dandelion enthusiasts are enjoying vitamin-packed dandelion greens, whether they’re sautéed with bacon, tucked inside an omelet, or just plain boiled.

Have you foraged any weeds this spring? Poke salat? How about fiddlehead ferns?