The Lettuce Tree: Eating Elm Fruit
The Elm trees (Ulmus pumila) are covered in gorgeous green disc shaped fruits just now. It’s like the fruits in the picture, but when they’re fatter and greener and the seed is less developed. Loba and I were so entranced by the pretty papery green that we pulled over onto the side of the (remote) road during a recent journey to check them out. While Loba gathered Dandelion greens, I grabbed a handful of Elm fruits and popped a few into my mouth. Mmmm, said I, sweet and green and crispy and slippery all at the same time. Clearly food. I called Loba over and we began harvesting a full bag of these lovely, and easily gathered greens. Soon the fruits were fluttering down all around us, catching in our hair as we alternately munched and picked. Loba grinned and declared the Elm the most amazing Lettuce Tree she’d ever met.
We brought the fruits home and immediately started adding them to salads and soups. They’re SO yummy, especially in the salads and nice and moistening too. We’re also drying a tray full to see how they work in infusions and other medicine. The fruits seem more nourishing and food like than the young leaves, which are kind of chewy and astringent, but still mucilaginous enough to be very useful in medicine.