By Dr Mark Merriwether Vorderbruggen
From late spring to first frost, canna lilies (Canna indica) are a common landscaping plant that is also edible.
They resemble small (under 7’) banana trees with the big, slightly rubbery leaves wrapped around the stalk. These leaves can range in color from light green to dark purple, depending on the variety. At the top of the stalk bursts forth large, beautiful flowers any color of the rainbow, both single colors and streaked mixes.
If you dig up a canna lily you’ll discover big tubers clustered together. Those tubers are food!
Pound for pound, these tubers have more calories than potatoes, but they are slightly fibrous. Go ahead and use them as potatoes; boiling then mashing giving the most potato-like results.
The large leaves can be wrapped around meat, slathered with a layer of mud, then cooked in a fire to roast the meat. Cook fish in this manner for about 30 minutes, a chicken for three hours. You can also use the leaves as disposable, biodegradable plates.
About the Author
Mark Vorderbruggen started one of the top foraging sites on the internet in 2008, but he has been a forager all his life. Both his parents’ families used foraged foods to survive during the Great Depression, and they passed their knowledge on to him. Knowing how to harvest nature’s free food fed him through the poverty years of his childhood and while getting a master’s degree in medicinal chemistry and a PhD in physical organic chemistry.
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