Alliaria petiolata

Jack-by-the Hedge – Alliaire officinale

Jack-by-the-Hedge is a common herb found throughout Europe.  It is a biennial.  The first year it produces a rosette of leaves, the second year it flowers.  The leaves are triangular to heart-shaped with serrated edges.  The 4-petalled white flowers bloom in clusters.  The name Jack-by-the-Hedge, or Hedge Garlic, comes from the fact that it often grows near hedges.  It prefers moist, semi-shady conditions.  The plant belongs to the cabbage family.

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Hoary Cress flower

The leaves and stalks were used medicinally as an expectorant to treat bronchitis and asthma, as well as for infections, skin problems and wounds.  The plant is rich in Vitamin C.
The leaves have a mild garlic flavour which, unlike garlic, does not linger.  The leaves should be used fresh, if dried or cooked they loose their garlicky flavour.  The seeds taste like mustard seeds and are used as a condiment.  The taproot is scented like horseradish.  The leaves and stalks are picked in spring.
Recently archeologists found grains of Jack-by-the-Hedge in shards of pottery dating back to 5000 B.C.   One of the oldest culinary herbs known to man.

Chicory Salad

Ingredients:  4 chicories, a handful of chopped Jack-by-the-Hedge leaves, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
Make a dressing with the oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper.  Chop the chicory and Jack-by-the-Hedge leaves. Pour the dressing over the salad, mix well.  Serves four.
Bibliography:  Sauvages et comestibles – Marie-Claude Paume; Encyclopedia of Herbs and their uses – Deni Bown; Alliaria petiolata – Wikipedia
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About seasonalforaging

We are a group of friends who enjoy walking in the countryside in Provence searching for plants and herbs to identify and use.
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