305Re: [pfaf] From Argentina...
- Jun 9, 2003Dear Andrea,
Here is some information on those plants that I hope you find helpful.
This is probably he best edible from your list and also the most useful
plant there. Its edible uses are as follows:-
Young leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb[2, 7, 9, 12, 52, 54, 183]. They
can be available all year round if the winter is not too severe. Very
nutritious, they can be added to salads whilst the cooked leaves can
scarcely be distinguished from spring spinach[4, K]. The leaves contain
saponins so some caution is advised, see the note on toxicity at the top of
the page. A nutritional analysis is available.
Seed - ground into a powder and used in making bread or to thicken
soups[172, 183]. It would be very fiddly to harvest any quantity of this
seed since it is produced in small quantities throughout most of the year
and is very small[K]. The seed contains 17.8% protein and 5.9% fat.
This is also an important medicinal plant, its qualities are listed below:-
Chickweed has a very long history of herbal use, being particularly
beneficial in the external treatment of any kind of itching skin
condition. It has been known to soothe severe itchiness even where all
other remedies have failed. In excess doses chickweed can cause
diarrhoea and vomiting. It should not be used medicinally by pregnant
The whole plant is astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic,
expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, vulnerary[4, 7, 9, 21, 54, 165, 222].
Taken internally it is useful in the treatment of chest complaints and in
small quantities it also aids digestion. It can be applied as a
poultice and will relieve any kind of roseola and is effective wherever
there are fragile superficial veins. An infusion of the fresh or dried
herb can be added to the bath water and its emollient property will help to
reduce inflammation - in rheumatic joints for example - and encourage tissue
repair. Chickweed is best harvested between May and July, it can be
used fresh or be dried and stored for later use[4, 238].
A decoction of the whole plant is taken internally as a post-partum
depurative, emmenagogue, galactogogue and circulatory tonic. It is also
believed to relieve constipation and be beneficial in the treatment of
kidney complaints. The decoction is also used externally to treat
rheumatic pains, wounds and ulcers[4, 218, 222].
The expressed juice of the plant has been used as an eyewash.
Some care has to be taken with it, however, as the Cautions on the plant's
The leaves contain saponins[7, 65]. Although toxic, these substances are
very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing
harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in
many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain
beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain
saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and
hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams,
lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].
This is also edible, but not many people would find it either appetizing or
productive enough to want to eat it. The details are as follows:-
Leaves and young plants. No more details are given.
Seed - cooked. It can be dried and ground into a meal then used with flour
for making bread etc[2, 61, 106]. The seed is rich in oil. A famine
food, it is only used when all else fails. The seed contains saponins
so some caution is advised. See the notes above on toxicity.
Like the plant above, it contains saponins and so some caution is advised.
As regards Bromus mollis and Holcus lanatus, although these species do not
appear in the PFAF database, like virtually all grasses their seeds are
edible. However, I think it would be a very hungry and desperate person who
would try to get their food from plants such as these since the seeds are so
small and fiddly to harvest.
Methods were developed in the past, though, to harvest and utilize foods
from all different sources, including from a range of plants bearing small
seeds. It was very common for the so-called primitive peoples to collect
seeds from meadow-like environments, usually by women walking amongst the
plants carrying a large plate and a stick, using the stick to hit the plants
and dislodge the seeds which would then fall onto the plate. Whilst
individual seeds would have been very small and fiddly to harvest, it was
possible to harvest quite reasonable quantities which would then have been
ground into a powder and cooked together in a kind of mush. Very commonly it
would have been fermented to improve both its flavour and digestibility
prior to cooking. One of the simplest ways of doing this, practiced in many
areas of the world, was to spit into a paste made from the powdered seeds
and leave it in a warm place for a day or so. Don't ask me what it tasted
like, I've never really fancied food prepared in this way!!!!
By the way, of the other two plants you mentioned, Rumex acetosella makes an
excellent addition to the salad bowl and is also very productive.
Hope this is of some help to you. If you want to know more about a wide
range of useful plants then you can look them up in our on-line database at
My best wishes
----- Original Message -----
From: "Drakaika" <drakaika@...>
Sent: Monday, June 09, 2003 4:39 PM
Subject: [pfaf] From Argentina...
> My name is Andrea Cordone, and I live in Cordoba,
> Argentina. I want some information about the follow
> species: Bromus mollis, Holcus lanatus, Spergula
> arvensis, Stelaria media... Are there edibles?
> All these species was find in the stomach of European
> mummys. The scientists find other species like Rumex
> acetocella and Viola arvensis.
> These species grown spontaneusly en Cordoba, La Pampa,
> Buenos Aires and other areas of Argentina.
> A kiss for all, and thank you,
> Andrea Cordone
> Yahoo! Sorteos - http://loteria.yahoo.es
> Juega a la Lotería Primitiva sin salir de casa
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