Outdoorsmen and women trudge through many hard-to-reach places; sometimes knowledge of local edible plants and flowers might aid in a difficult situation or test the knowledge of the individual. Perhaps, it is just fun to go exploring with friends, bring back unappetizing plants, and make them delicious. In France, many plants are edible including ground Ivy, hogweed, stinging nettle and dog rose.
Ground Ivy is a vine growing low to the ground in moist, shady areas. The plant is native to Europe, but has found its way over to North America as well. It grows to about two feet long with dark green leaves occasionally with a hint of purple. It produces flowers in March. Ground Ivy is an amazing plant with several medical uses such as an appetite stimulant. From the mint family of plants, ground ivy can be dried and used like an herb. It may accompany salads and be eaten uncooked.
Common hogweed is a plant with a long history of being on the menu. Like ground ivy, hogweed is common item to find in Europe and North America. The European version is different from the American, but both are edible. The stems taste best cooked by boiling in water, but the plant may be eaten raw. Avoid large qualities of this plant---particularly raw---as it irritates throats. Common hogweed grows rapidly in France. The plant is easily visible along roads and meadows. Avoid giant hogweed. It grows much larger---nearly 3.5 meters. The stems grow thicker, too. However, the giant hogweed produces a poisonous sap.
Stinging nettle stings. The plant possesses a nice set of fine hairs that protect the plant and makes them painful to gather without protection. The plant, another common species in both North America and France, provides several vital nutrients. The plant must be cooked to remove the sting. Similar to spinach, the possibilities range from tea to soup to vegetables. You'll find clusters in wooded areas, on the forest edges and meadows.
A relative of the roses, the dog rose grows in a bush with stems filled with thorns. The plant grows clusters of five to seven leaves with pale pink, seasonal blossoms. The plant is found in meadows, near roads or paths and forest undergrowth. The pedals and hips are edible.