Forager Friday with Diego. In season now: Gallant soldier

Gallant soldier, great name ay?

Also known as potato weed for some reason. I guess because it loves cultivated soils, hence it pop up in potatoes patches. Galinsoga parviflora is yet another winter-y plant, abundant everywhere at the moment, it will disappear as soon as the weather warms up. This is a common cosmopolitan weed that deserves more appreciation. It is edible and  greatly appreciated in South America and although Plant for a Future only gives a 2 out of 5 rating to it, plenty of people around the world thinks otherwise and enjoy it regularly in traditional and not so traditional dishes. The whole plant is edible, just use it as a pot herb (spinach substitute).

An interesting story of this plant is that was one of the most successful pioneer specie to reclaim rubbles after the substantial bombings of London in WWII. An important ecological player I say.

Description: An annual herb. It grows to 75 cm high and has a spread of 50 cm. The stem is erect and much branched and rather weak. The leaves are oval and opposite, have leaf stalks and are toothed around the edge. The flowers are small and daisy like, occur in small clusters and have white rays and a yellow disk. The flowers are produced in the axils of the upper leaves.

Edible Uses: The leaves, stem and flowering shoots – raw or cooked and eaten as a potherb, or added to soups and stews. They can be dried and ground into a powder then used as a flavouring in soups etc. A bland but very acceptable food, it makes a fine salad either on its own or mixed with other leaves. The fresh juice can be mixed and drunk with tomato or vegetable juices.

Medicinal Information: When rubbed onto the body, the plant is useful in treating nettle stings. The juice of the plant is applied to treat wounds as it helps to coagulate the blood of fresh cuts and wounds.

More information: Wikipedia, Plant for a Future, Knoji