Category Archives: Shoots

Foraging Wild Shoots: Smooth Sumac

A lot of people are familiar with using sumac berries to make a lemonade-type drink, but what many people don't know is that you can also eat the tender shoots of this plant.

The process is simple and fun. The hardest part is locating a stand of small trees. While out for a walk in Wrentham last week, I came across a nice colony of Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra). The stand had lots of fresh new growth, so I decided to pause for a snack. Using the bend test, I snapped off a few tender growing shoots. Then I removed the leaves, peeled off the thin green bark, and ate them on the spot.

I find they taste reminiscent of melon or plum, though the flavor can vary. Overall, a nice crunch and a welcome June trail treat.

Foraging Wild Shoots: Japanese Knotweed

Photo of Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is another wild edible plant ripe for picking.  I gather young shoots when they are about a foot tall.  I act fast when I find this rapidly growing plant emerging -- stalks can grow several feet in just a few weeks!  This past week, I picked and froze 5 quarts of young shoots.  Cooked until soft and mushy, these shoots can be combined with fruit for a tasty sauce.