On this cold and rainy day, Geert Heyneman gave us a very useful lecture on medicinal and edible urban plants as we walked and talked about what could be found on sidewalks, building sites and other unassuming locations around the city of Gent. We discovered and reflected on a small arsenal of edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants, and Gert gave us lots of background information, tips and tricks for urban plant soups and salads.
A major lesson from the walk: get to know your plant species before attempting to eat them! For example, a few of the fascinating urban edibles (and inedibles) which we encouter daily in overlooked corners of our city streets include…
Conium maculatum: the most famous victim of hemlock poisoning is the philosopher Socrates. After being condemned to death for impiety in 399 BC, Socrates was given a potent infusion of this plant.
Lactuca serriola: a bitter, edible salad. Very good to eat in the evening. Can be used to make pesto and herbal vinegar. Is often used in Mediterrenean cuisine (Turkish, Moroccan) where the knowledge of using wild herbs is still very much alive. It is very healthy and good for digestion to end a meal with a bitter salad.