Monday, February 1, 2016

Lamiastrum galeobdolon as hanging indoor edible

I find the plant Yellow Archangel (syn. Aluminium Plant, Artillery Plant, Lamiastrum galeleobdon, Lamium galeobdolon, Galeobdolon luteum) makes a good indoor source of greens, with its long runners hanging down beside a window maximizing use of limited space and light. Being a shade loving plant it grows with only a few hours direct sunlight. perhaps less. It is considered an invasive plant so can be expected to be reasonably productive. I only have it as a bad weather or late night source of greens, when I don't want to go outside, I have not tried to determine maximum possible productivity.

It is a little strange only a few authorities state the plant is edible (Food for Free. A Guide to the Edible Wild Plants of Britain by Richard Mabey 1972) Miles Irving also discusses its gourmet uses, though some of it could be interpreted as referring to ornamental use (The Forager Handbook (2009) perhaps there are others.  Mabey recommends "young shoots and leaves" cooked, somewhere along the way I forgot the details and started eating the boiled mature leaves too, like the young leaves they are fairly bland after brief boiling. Raw the leaves taste like detergent, perhaps this is why there does not appear to be an ancient tradition of eating the plant as one might expect from an edible native of Europe. 

Unfortunately in the process of researching this post I learned this plant is considered an "Unwanted Organism" here in New Zealand which means it is illegal to propagate it. A pity, dense rows of these plants hanging between skyscrapers could provide food for the inner city. This could make apartment dwellers less of a "pest species" needing food to be transported at environmental expense immeasurably greater than any caused by this plant.

Maybe there are other edible, shade loving plants with long runners that could be used in the same way, that hopefully meet with the approval of the authorities. 


It's been a year since I wrote this and I've found Yellow Archangel is not very productive in a hanging basket, at least the way I managed it, I found after cutting stems off, regrowth was very slow. 

I'm finding Tradescantia fluminensis, Wandering Jew, is the most productive hanging basket leaf crop tried so far. It is often grown as  a hanging basket plant around the world, in New Zealand it is regarded as a serious weed I'm not aware of it being used much for this here. But I'm finding it is handy indoors as occasional addition to cooking when its too dark, cold or wet to go out.

I'm only aware of one book reporting this plant is edible; The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America by F Couplan PhD 1998. I've eaten it cooked many times, it is okay in flavor...nothing special.       

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