Tradescantia - A Common Little-Known Wild Food

| 1/11/2013 9:02:13 AM

Tags: wild food, Chrstopher Nyerges,

wandering JewVarious vining plants of the Tradescantia genus are very common throughout the Southern California area. Sometimes they are called spiderworts, sometimes wandering Jew. They are great survival plants. They can be green or purple, and are sometimes used as ornamentals. However, more often they are simply the plants that take over an area when nothing else is grown.

The purple ones are Tradescantia pallida, which are usually house plants or hanging plants. The ones with purplish leaves with stripes are T. zebrina, also typically an ornamenal. Both of these are occasionally sold at nurseries.

The variety that is widespread, growing in the mountains and backyards, and seeming to need no care, is T. fluminensis, a common vining groundcover with green leaves. There are a few horticultural varieties that you might encounter.

Though the leaves are usually solid green with a smooth margin, some have white stripes in the leaves, and some have wavy margins. And while the flowers are typically blue, some have white flowers.

So is this an edible plant?

I long wondered about this, and yet there were no references to this plant being used for food. In the mid-1980s, a Phillipino friend told me that he commonly ate the leaves back home, usually in a soup or broth in which chicken and beetles were added. I tried cooking without the chicken or beetles, and found that it made a spinach-like dish, though somewhat bland, and certainly improved with butter.

Al Uridel
1/26/2013 7:14:39 AM

i have some mushroooms that you may want to eat!!! please, never eat anything that your not sure of. you only need to make one mistake!!

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