A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.
I’ve got chronic, spasmodic leaky pond trouble – and I’ve had it for years! My latest pond repair was made three weeks ago and I hoped it might have cured things. After making the repair I refilled the pond, but disappointingly an almost empty pond greeted me on my next visit a couple of days later. I’ve decided that I’m just going to have to transfer my pond plant collection to buckets, haul out the liner and examine it closely. I’ll buy a new liner if I have to. I’ve had enough – I want a pond full of frogs, dragonflies, beautiful and edible water plants – and water!
But at least it is a good time to try cooking the rhizomes of Butomus umbellatus, or flowering rush, as some of the plants are in danger of drying out anyway.
Butomus umbellatus is a beautiful, easily grown pond plant with edible seeds and roots. It was on my desired list of edible water plants from the beginning, along with water fringe, watercress, water mint and arrowhead. (At some stage in the life of the pond I have planted all of these, along with edibles rough bugleweed and water hawthorn, although not all have survived the drought and the leaks.) So far I had admired its beauty when in flower but not tasted it.
I harvested some plants, washed, trimmed, boiled and peeled the roots and had a taste.
As you can see the roots were thin and hairy, and they seemed quite tough.
Twenty minutes on the hob rendered them still firm but tender enough to bite. (Another forty minutes of boiling made them no softer).
They were edible but very mild in flavour – rather like scorzonera to my mind, perhaps a little like Jerusalem artichoke, but with a less inviting texture than either of those. They are said to be rich in starch, so in theory would be a good energy food. Except that they are not especially productive and are hard to harvest and prepare – and simply not delicious enough to warrant the work.
Flowering rush will definitely have a place in the renovated pond. I love its flowers and so do many insects. And I’ll try its seeds sometime. But unless they prove a lot more useful than its roots, I don’t think it will be found in the kitchen again!