A gallery of edible and useful wild plants, in Wellington and the Wairarapa (NZ)
Friday, June 10, 2011
Earlier this year, writer Sharon Astyk blogged about 'edible landscaping' - or 'stealth gardening' - planting ornamentals that secretly (or not so secretly) double as food plants. Fuchsias could fit into such a garden nicely, with their surprisingly edible berries and flowers.
Fuchsia is a genus of plants and within it are many species and varieties. The NZ Fuchsia Society website has three photo galleries which are good for identifying the different species and varieties of Fuchsia grown in NZ. (Scroll down and look on the left hand column of the front page.)
This is useful because, while all Fuchsia berries and flowers may be edible, there is a wide range of sizes, flavours, and textures. Some are definitely more appetising than others, and it's good to keep a personal track of which are which. (Maybe someone should start an online list.)
In parts of South America Fuchsia berries are cultivated and sold.
When eating the flower - generally the sepals are fleshier and milder. The petals and rest of the flower inside are more bitter.
The colours they can add to a salad or as a garnish are dazzling. And of course the smaller ones (or unpopped buds) casn be dipped in batter and made into that ubiquitous foragers' treat - flower fritters.
Small flowers can be crystallised (coated in eggwhite and then sugar and left to dry) - as a decoration for cakes and other desserts.
New Zealand has native Fuchsia including Kotukutuku, the only tree Fuchsia in the world, with berries that are especially nice.
Apparently NZ has another unusual Fuchsia too. Wellington botanist Phil Garnock-Jones explains on his blog!
Above photo of Fuchsia Magellanica courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.