The Vetch plants discussed in tonight’s Forage Friday post are listed as edible by some sources and as toxic by others. Therefore I have not eaten any wild vetches myself and cannot recommend their consumption. Forage Friday is only intended to be a conversation starter and all of the information is presented as trivia and should not be mistaken for an endorsement of treatment.
Somewhere in the distance mists of the past a primitive family uses fire hardened sticks to scratch the ground. Dirty hands drop the dried beans into the trenches and gently cover them as a distant thunder signals the oncoming rain. The simple act of creating a space for the plants that feed their families closer to their camp has moved this tribe from simple foragers to horticulturalists and spawned the birth of civilization.
The only member of the vetch family that I’ve actually eaten is also one that has been cultivated by humans since 6000 BC. The simple fava bean. But why this vetch and not the others. There’s a pretty wide range of the vetches to choose from.
One that’s imeadiatly off the list of forage plants is Crown Vetch.
The Crown Vetch is known to be poison and the toxic compound 3-NPA
The Crown Vetch causes a condition in which the red blood cells are unable to release oxygen into the other tissues. The plant is pretty and smells nice but is completely inedible. Ruminants like cattle are somehow able to process out the toxin in the gastric fermentation process but a human could die from it. So definitely avoid Crown Vetch.
Image Titled “Vetch 52620b”.
The feature image is believed to be common Vetch. Multiple sources list it as a wild edible stating that everything except the root can be consumed in some fashion. But again this one that I have no personal experience with so I urge you to do a lot of research about that one.
Where I know these plants from is reclaiming strip mines. The vetches are legumes and are dynamic accumulators of fertility. It’s recommend that you inoculate the roots with the proper mix of bacteria and fungi and let it grow. Typically the chop and drop method is used and the plants are allowed to decay where they fall and all that fertility is released back onto the spoil. After a few seasons the ground is healed and ready for those fava beans mentioned earlier.
So I’ve walked away from this Forage Friday post with more questions than answers. If you are person who has used any of the wild vetches then please share your knowledge in the comments.
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