Thumbs-Up for Lady’s-Thumb!   7 comments

You see Lady’s-thumb everywhere.  At least I do!  Coming up through sidewalks, lining roadsides, settling in vacant lots, and filling fields; there’s a whole lot of FREE nutrition and eating enjoyment going by the wayside.  Around here Lady’s-thumb is nutts!  I could gather pound after pound; day after day; and no one would even notice.

Lady’s-thumb, Polygonum persicaria, a perennial, in the Knotweed – Smartweed family; is an upright to sprawling beauty, which grows from 1-2 ft. high,

has narrow, lancet-shaped leaves, from 2–10 inches long. The leaves often have a brown or black spot; which someone, somewhere, for some reason, decided looks like a woman’s thumb print, hence the name, Lady’s-thumb.

The white, pink and/or red flowers are arranged in dense, spiked clusters and bloom from early summer to late autumn.

Lady’s-Thumb stalks have slightly enlarged joints, encased in papery sheaths.

Older stalks and leaves become reddish as summer moseys along.

Lady’s-thumb is mild and tasty; at least here in New England!  Many foraging guides describe her as merely acceptable, or palatable.  I strongly disagree.

The green foliage, flowers and young shoots are pungent, with a bit of a peppery bite, and only slightly bitter.  They make a great splash of color and flavor in salad.

Lady’s-Thumb leaves can be used interchangeably with spinach in soup, stew or as a side dish; it’s great steamed for about 7 minutes, drained, sprinkled with a bit of salt, a splash of lemon and a dot of butter.  Look out, Popeye; spinach has strong competition in my house!

I, also, enjoy sprinkling the flowers in yogurt.

A yellow dye can be produced from Lady’s-Thumb with alum used as a mordant; and Lady’s-Thumb makes sweet bouquets in tiny vases!

This “smartweed” is also called Redshank, Persicaria, Redleg, Spotted Ladysthumb, Gambetta, and Adam’s Plaster.

Just click any photo to enlarge, for greater detail.

Thanx for stopping by.  See you soon!



7 responses to “Thumbs-Up for Lady’s-Thumb!

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  1. I found some LT today and was planning to look it up when I got home to see if it was edible. But now I see that it is! Thanks for the post.

  2. Pingback: Walking The Wareham « Forageporage's Blog

  3. Pingback: Springing Into Summer, Along the Wareham River. « Forageporage's Blog

  4. Reblogged this on Forageporage's Blog and commented:

    Gathering Lady’s thumb, whenever the sunshines!

  5. I love your thoughtful treatment of plants, forageporage. 🙂

    I remember the first time I saw this plant along the banks of Johnson Creek in SE Portland and how much it reminded me of its incredibly invasive relative Bohemian Knotweed (Polygonum x bohemicum) in miniature. It’s good to know we can eat these, though!

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