Edible lawn

Sheep aren’t the only ones who can eat your lawn. You can, too. Depending on where you live, and whether or not you fertilize naturally, you can find all kinds of edible plants ready to munch on just outside your door.

Dandelion leaves, of course, are an especially easy one to spot, and they have a nice bitterness to them. I’ve recently learned that the invasive yellow-flowered Oxalis pes-caprae is also edible. Known as sourgrass, Bermuda buttercup or African wood-sorrel, it looks a bit like clover. It’s indigenous to South Africa, but very common in California. Named for the high value of oxalic acid it contains, oxalis is lemony in flavor. You may hear cautions not to eat a lot of it, so don’t pick a whole yard’s worth. Some Native Americans chewed it to alleviate thirst, though, and it’s used in a traditional South African lamb stew.

You might also keep an eye out for wild fennel, with its licoricelike flavor, or mint that has gone native. If you’re unsure how to spot these lovelies, consult a good foraging book or look for a foraging event with Hank Shaw, local author of Hunt, Gather, Cook (www.honest-food.net).