Monday, April 29th, 2013 at
A carpet of musk mustard along Cherry Creek Trail in Parker. Look, but don’t pick, at this spot.
I’m just back from a two-day spring foray in Denver, where I visited old places with old friends and new places with new friends, along with a few solo missions—looking for wild edible plants, of course.
How nice it is to see spring springing up down low (around 5,000 feet), to hear birds chirping and see people out walking, enjoying the sun. Swaths of green decorate expanses of earth where not long ago it was white with snow or brown and dry.
Among the plants I observed and collected on this trip, wild mustards made a strong showing. These are often overlooked or passed over for sexier wild fare, but wild mustards are plentiful and accessible throughout Denver area right now—making them a good choice for a late April, early May foray.
Mustards are in the Brassicaceae family, which includes both wild and cultivated plants. Brassicaceae family members you can buy at the grocery store include such ubiquitous veggies as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, radish, horseradish, collard greens, and kale.
Brassicaceae family members you can gather for free in the Denver area right now include musk mustard (Chorispora tenella), tansy mustard (Descurainia sophia), field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense), and watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) if you’re brave. Other wild mustards in the U.S. and beyond include field mustard (Brassica rapa), wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris), garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), and shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), all of which are covered in the “pungent greens” section of John Kallas’ (2010) book, Edible Wild Plants. Read the rest of this entry