Well, I said I would write blogs about things inside the city limits, and out. I don’t spend a lot of weekend days at home, but since I am here and I started out with Osceola National Forest and a few Florida black bears yesterday, I’ll bring it back to the city today and check out some wild forage in my own back yard. Odds are you can find this plant in yours as well. Of course, don’t eat anything from an area that has been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides!
Florida betony (bet·o·ny) is a bit of a hidden gem. Sometimes called Rattlesnake weed, or hedge nettle, it’s plentiful, tasty, easy to get, and stores itself until you’re ready to use it. Up north, when fall comes, the need to cut the grass ends. Not so here in North Florida. I suppose technically our need to cut the grass ends in the fall, but we may need to cut the betony if we like a well groomed lawn. Fall and winter are when betony does its thing. During the hot months, it lays dormant. In my yard, it is just starting to hit its stride. It is taller than the grass anywhere it is growing. In the case of betony, the part you are looking for as food is below the surface in the form of a tuber. They range in size, and I have seen them as large as a person’s finger, but most around here seem to be a bit smaller. They are more crisp and plump when the weather is wet and can range in color from clean white to dirtier brown. In my yard I seem to find the cleaner ones in the wetter periods, but not sure if that is the same everywhere. They can have long interconnected root systems with tubers throughout and can be hard to get rid of.
That’s a huge problem. Too much food in the yard! I’ve had them alone, and in salads. The taste is light and mildly sweet. Texture is maybe a bit like a radish, but less dense. Other parts of the plant can be eaten like greens, but the tuber is the star of this show.