Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wild Edibles #3 Dove's Foot Geranium

Disclaimer: Some wild plants are not only edible but delicious. Other wild plants will kill you if you eat them. Be absolutely certain what a plant is before you eat it. Plant varieties differ from region to region. When in doubt, consult a local expert.

This little plant is known by several names; Dove's Foot Geranium, Dove's Foot Cranesbill, and Geranium Molle just to name a couple. It is native to the Mediterranean but has spread over much of the industrialized world and is considered an invasive species in the Pacific Northwest.

This plant is very willing to fill any bare spot of ground and is not very picky as to the quality of soil. It is an annual but so readily reseeds that for the most part you can count on it returning year after year. The leaves are odd shaped and a little fern like. It produces flowers that range from pink to purple. I have read that this plant can reach 11 inches in height, but I have rarely seen it above say 8. Multiple stems rise from a single root base. The stems and leave are quite hairy. Dove's Foot Geranium blooms start in mid April here in the Southeast and can bloom until early fall. It produces an odd looking fruit the shape of which is where the Cranesbill name comes from.

As Food

Dove's Foot is not very tasty. At least not to me. The leaves can be eaten raw and I have even read of people using the leaves in smoothies. I can find no information as to nutritional value. Just know I have eaten it many times and am still kicking.

Don't worry,there is a lot more to be said for this little plant. Just know if you need something to munch on this plant is there. I would however eat in limited quantities.

As Medicine

This is where the excitement really kicks in for this plant. Historically there are tons of medicinal uses for this plant. Dove's Foot Geranium has been used for the treatment of gout, joint pain, muscle pain, and colic. This plant has been used for the treatment of bruises and bleeding. Extract or decoction of this plant in wine have been used to treat internal injuries.

The praises of this plant medicinally have been around for centuries. Nicholas Culpeper wrote of the benefits of Dove's Foot Geranium in 1654.

Decoction: an essence or extract of something obtained by boiling.

Dove's Foot contains gallic acid. Gallic acid is an astringent and is found in other plants like witch hazel. Gallic acid combines with glucose to create tannic acid. Tannic acid causes blood to clot which may be why it was used to stop internal bleeding. The most common herbal use of Dove's Foot is as a tea or extract.

Tannic acid has also been used to tan leather. I hope you are enjoying learning about the edible and medicinal plants around you.

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Other Posts in this Series: #1 Wood Sorrel, #2 Wild Strawberry and Woodberry

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Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

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