As an herbalist, I simply love to abandon the confines of the house and escape to the wilds of meadow and forest. If you’re like me -- prone to wandering around in the woods for hours at a time and nibbling on anything that looks half-way tender -- you might have come across young Solomon’s Seal shoots (Polygonatum bi-florum). These poke through the forest-floor mast in early, early spring and look less like asparagus than they do little slender whorls of green. They tend to have a greenish/bluish/grayish cast about them, and are usually smaller than the diameter of your finger.

Solomon’s seal leaves themselves are not edible, but the shoot is. That is, the stem growing south of the leaves that heads down into the rich, shady soil. Grasp carefully at the soil level with the fingers and thumb, and slowly pull straight up. The entire root will come up (which is exactly why you need to practice restraint and only pull up 1 for every 10 you see). Wipe off the dirt and you have an edible, crunchy, sweet, juicy hors-d’oerve, ready to enjoy immediately.

Ready for another seldom-discovered edible treat from Mother Nature? Another edible treasure you should look for in the woods is the creamy white blossom of the honey locust tree.

I love this tree. It’s useful for firewood, for fencing, and (though not many people know it), for wild dining. The mature tree produces white flowers that form a sort of drooping cluster, much like wisteria, that will cover the tree in the mid-to-late summer, depending on your location.

The best way, I was taught years ago, to enjoy these delectable flowers, is to snip off the cluster at the stem and immediately dip it into a bowl of ice cold water. Then simply, and gracefully, eat the cold, sweet blossoms. Heaven!

A third lovely and delectable culinary treat from the woods is jewelweed. In early spring, jewelweed sprouts alongside skunk cabbage in all those wet and swampy places we love to look but fear to trod. The soft, murky, marshy areas underneath the trees is usually too unstable to hold our footsteps, but just perfect for jewelweed, a member of the Impatiens family, to grow. These are the plants that have the yellow or orange flowers in the summer, and the same plants that boast the pods in the fall that pop out their spiraling mass of entrails (seeds), which is why they’re nick-named touch-me-not.

Most people associate jewelweed with their poison ivy remedies, and it is specific (and wonderfully effective) for that. But it's also, in the early spring, a delicious edible. At the beginning of spring, look for little, light green sprouts popping through, similar to basil sprouts in that they have one large lobe on each side of the stalk—and that’s it. Each lobe has a little notch in the end, and they are very flat, round and pale green. This is a baby jewelweed, and at this stage it’s edible.

Simply snip off the top part of the sprout with your finger and thumb and collect in a basket; add these snips to your green salad for a delightful crunch and sweetness. Once the sprouts grow to about 4 inches tall, they’re getting too tough to be enjoyed as an edible. A true spring delicacy!

To your health!

Author's Bio: 

Holly Bellebuono is speaker and an award-winning herbalist with, an author with Shambhala Publishers, and creator of Healing Across 6 Continents--a fascinating documentary exploring the heritage of medicinal plants and the women who use them. She will open her educational training school for medicinal plants in the spring 2012, "Heritage & Healing Herbal Studies Program." To learn more or to schedule her to speak at your event, email her at