Plant Ally: Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Parts eaten: flower, leaves, stems. Height: 6-16 in. May - September.
Red Clover is part of the Pea family, and can be found starting now and into the fall. I drink at least a quart of Red Clover infusion per week (see my recipe below), because it's been found to be helpful in preventing cancer. Look for a purple-red, rounded flower with leaflets that often show pale chevron markings. When cooked or made into an infusion, this valuable herb provides protein, trace minerals, and large amounts of phytosterols. Phytosterols are substances found in many plants that can be converted into important anti-cancer and anti-stress hormones in the body. Garnish salads with the chopped flowers or cook a handful of them them into any vegetable dish.
For a refreshing and nourishing infusion, lay the plants spaciously in a basket for two weeks to dry, then place one ounce of dried herb in a one quart mason jar and fill with boiling water. Lid tightly, steep for 4-8 hours, strain and pour over ice for a refreshing herbal iced-tea. This nutritious drink can also be enjoyed warm with honey. If you need more Red Clover than you can forage, order it organic in bulk from Frontier Herbs or Jean's Greens and enjoy a quart per week.
As always, take care to practice the ethics of foraging by not harvesting more then 10% of the plant colonies, and never harvest more than what you'll use. For safety, it's best to have an experienced forager help you positively identify all plants before you set about gathering and eating them.