Appalachian Food

Foraging for Food in the Flowerbeds

cooked hosta spears on pan

Several years back I came across a foraging article about eating hostas. I was immediately intrigued, because if there’s one thing I have its hostas.

Years ago when we first moved into our house I didn’t have money to purchase plants, but would gladly take them from anyone willing to donate them to me.

My aunt loves growing things as much as I do and for a good long while every time I went to visit her in Canton, NC I brought home a car load of plant starts from her bounty.

She loved hostas and had all different varieties—from the typical green ones you see to lovely gold and variegated hostas. And if that wasn’t enough, she also had miniature varieties.

Hostas are easy to grow and spread and multiply readily if they’re happy where they are. Over twenty years later I have hostas growing everywhere thanks to her generosity.

Many of mine have grown so large they desperately need to be divided. I thought I would tackle that issue the last two winters but it hasn’t happened yet. I did manage to share a few with Pastor Lon and Robbie Lynn when they were here for the wedding.

After I realized hostas were edible I started munching on them as I worked in the garden, but only got around to cooking some this week.

So what do hostas taste like? The small shoots taste very similar to asparagus and are really tasty raw or cooked. The same is true for the leaves. They have a mild green taste, sort of similar to lettuce or kale and can be cooked up in the same ways or eaten raw.

Once the leaves get really large and sort of hardened by the elements they are much tougher and not quite as good, but are still edible. In fact, according to the articles I’ve read the entire hosta plant is edible including the blooms, although most folks say they are rather bland. You can do some research yourself if you’re interested in trying hostas. The main thing I noticed folks warning about is pretty obvious: you wouldn’t want to eat plants that have been sprayed with something harmful.

Tipper

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Kathy Patterson
    April 6, 2022 at 12:26 am

    Eating hostas is a new one for me. I love wild plantain. My Great Grandmother loved her wild greens with hot grease poured on them, hot corn bread, butter, onions, and a glass of milk. Great eating.

  • Reply
    Mary
    April 5, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    I love learning about foraging and plants that are edible. When I was 11, I watched an interview with a man named Euell Gibbons who had written a book titled Stalking the Wild Asparagus and another on herbs. I remember being so intrigued that when I was lucky enough to go to camp, we had a counselor named Kit who taught us to make tea from white pine needles and a few other things like how to collect and make wax for candles from bayberries. I took classes on herbs as well. I will have to try hostas.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 5, 2022 at 6:31 pm

    To all those who have problems with deer eating their flowers, deer are also edible!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 5, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    Did you know that dahlias are edible too? The “dallie taters” as Mommy called them can be used like arsh taters but the rest of the plant can be eaten as well. I didn’t know until todays post reminder me of them so I googled it.

    • Reply
      Tipper
      April 5, 2022 at 7:04 pm

      Ed-I did not know that thank you 🙂

  • Reply
    Jenny Young
    April 5, 2022 at 5:05 pm

    I’ve been thinking about sampling mine…do you know if there are any varieties you should not eat? I love hostas but have a hard time keeping the deer out of mine.

    • Reply
      Tipper
      April 5, 2022 at 7:05 pm

      Jenny-I didn’t see any information about not eating certain ones, but would suggest you do some research to see what you find 🙂

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    April 5, 2022 at 4:23 pm

    Well I’ll be dogged! Hostas are about the only thing that grow here in my Michigan woods. Hostas and ferns. I do have some Celandine poppies and my beloved trillium that grow (as long as I can keep the deer off ’em). It’s so rewarding to know that I can grow something edible.

  • Reply
    Gloria Hayes
    April 5, 2022 at 2:43 pm

    I never knew that hostas were edible. I learned something new again today. Thank you Tipper!

  • Reply
    Jackie
    April 5, 2022 at 1:51 pm

    Tipper, you mentioned foraging for greens in this blog. My dear Aunt Peggy did this in her own yard. I was amazed at how she could put together a great meal with basic ingredients from her garden. 39 years ago, I lived with her for about a month while I found my own place in S. Carolina. She taught me how to make cornbread, biscuits& gravy and fried okra.
    She showed me on her property where she foraged for wild dandelion greens and taught me how she cooked them. They were so tasty! Your blog brought back sweet and precious memories of my aunt. BTW, my father had three sisters and the oldest one lived in Canton and when I came to visit, she would invite me to come stay with her and I learned about the old ways of canning and food preservation. The vegetables from their gardens tasted so good. The fresh tomatoes and cucumbers in season were the best!
    I live in San Diego, California now and my husband and I started a garden about 8 years ago just so that we could have fresh tomatoes and green peppers. Now we have fruit trees; apple, apricot, fig, persimmon and orange, lemon and lime trees. We are almost self sustaining. Our neighbors are amazed at what we can grow in our very little garden.

  • Reply
    donna sue
    April 5, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    You can eat hostas??? It never ceases to amaze me all the food God has provided us right under our noses if we just go looking for it. I love asparagus, so I will have to seriously consider eating hostas. I am a city girl, grown and raised on the left coast, but now an east coast inhabitant. So I have to confess I am one of those modern world people that Ron Stephens mentions, who looks at food growing in the wild with a lot of skepticism and hesitancy. I am learning it’s much better for me than the stuff they call produce in the grocery store, however! Thank you for another food lesson, Tipper! I am constantly learning new things on your blog and channels! That’s a good thing!

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 5, 2022 at 11:10 am

    Never knew they were edible; I’d love to try them. I’m always interested in the wild things that we can eat. I’ve eaten polk salad quite a few times and found it tasty.
    From the picture it looks like it is the new shoots that are eaten. I’d like to give it a try!

  • Reply
    OkieJammer
    April 5, 2022 at 10:13 am

    What great information, kid. Hostas are happy in my shady yard, so I’m going to try them. Thanks!

  • Reply
    AWGRIFF
    April 5, 2022 at 10:07 am

    Nope Tipper, I didn’t know that but I have tried Japanese Knotweed and native bamboo while they were shoots. I boiled them once and poured off the liquid and boiled again. Not bad seasoned and buttered.

  • Reply
    Angelyn McLain
    April 5, 2022 at 9:23 am

    I am going to have to try some. I have them planted around the house. I love them and think they are so pretty.
    While I was working on planting my spring garden a few day ago I came across three surprises that it provided. One red raspberry plant, one black raspberry plant and the biggest surprise was a small tomato plant growing in my greenhouse in the pot with my orange tree! Lol I put them all in their own pot until I could get them planted. The raspberries were from years ago and I thought they all died. The good Lord is always surprising us in the garden. I love that.
    Oh from another post or YouTube that you did I wanted to say that we had homecoming and decoration day as I was growing up. Oh I loved the homecoming! Huge dinner and all day singing. It was wonderful!

  • Reply
    Brad Byers
    April 5, 2022 at 8:37 am

    I never knew people could eat hostas but deer sure do love them. When we moved into our house about 35 years ago we didn’t know what was munching on our August Lilies until we got to witness it.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 5, 2022 at 8:27 am

    Never knew they were edible. But the modern world looks sideways at collecting greens from the wild. I guess urban folks think that sounds survivalist. I think that’s kinda funny because to me it sounds more like “beyond common” as you say. I think I’ll stick to the basic poke, mustard and turnip though since I don’t eat a lot of greens.

    Maybe deer can be a blessing in disguise though because if they can eat it, then we can? But the paired idea is most likely, if we like to eat it, they will to?

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    April 5, 2022 at 8:16 am

    I have noticed a big difference in some YouTube channels, as their focus has turned to foraging and prepping since the price of groceries has skyrocketed. Nothing new to many Appalachians, because most grew up in households that gardened, canned, and to a lesser degree foraged. I had read that about Hostas, but had never tried it. The knowledge is good, and with times looking as they do we best become more aware of edible food items. I have read so much on purslane, that Inordered a pack of this wild green seeds. I used to work diligently Tahoe that from my garden. As always, another interesting and informative blog post.

    • Reply
      PinnacleCreek
      April 5, 2022 at 8:19 am

      Sorry that maybe auto correct or big fingers took over my post.

  • Reply
    JC
    April 5, 2022 at 8:11 am

    That’s great information, Tipper. May God bless your aunt for supporting your garden.
    Around our mountain, the deer eat all the hostas we plant. We’ve tried growing them and some azaleas and within a few weeks they are nibbled down to nothing. It’s a shame really because I love having hostas in the garden.

  • Reply
    Mint2Bee
    April 5, 2022 at 8:06 am

    I’m going to have to grow more hostas! If the small shoots taste similar to asparagus I won’t have any hostas left because I love asparagus 🙂 There are so many plants that are edible that we don’t even realize. With predicted food shortages we might do well to learn about which plants we can eat.

  • Reply
    Christine
    April 5, 2022 at 8:00 am

    I never knew Hosta plants were eatable. I don’t have any planted around my house. I like them, but just never got around to planting any. This is good information. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences. We appreciate you, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    April 5, 2022 at 7:49 am

    Tipper, you are a WONDER to behold! You have more useful information than the law will allow! Hostas are a lovely plant indeed. I would have not even thought about them being edible! Once again, the lady in NC taught me another thing and I’m grateful for you and your knowledge. God bless you and your whole clan this day!!!

  • Reply
    Denise R
    April 5, 2022 at 7:26 am

    I’ve never heard that before, but my husband said he had heard they were edible. He said he learned about eating them from some YouTube survival video. I have plenty here around our house as well. Hopefully we don’t have to resort to eating them to survive, but I’m glad to know they can be used as a food source. Maybe I’ll fix some for us before they get too big!

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    April 5, 2022 at 7:24 am

    I had no idea that hostas are edible. I’ll have to try some.

  • Reply
    Martha Justice
    April 5, 2022 at 6:41 am

    How could I have gotten to be 71 years young and not know that you can eat these beautiful plants. Thanks for the info. Can’t wait till I see mine poking their little heads out this spring.❤

  • Reply
    Patti Brockwell
    April 5, 2022 at 6:23 am

    Oh, sadly, I know only too well that they’re edible—at least to the many deer we have that occasionally roam through our property! Several years ago, I had about half a dozen of the most beautiful, lush hostas growing near my patio; the largest and healthiest I had ever seen. They loved the shade of the deck above them, and their leaves were large and shiny, and not even a single bug bite or brown spot was on them. Then, overnight, (literally in one single night), I looked out and saw nothing but short green stalks sticking up from the ground! I went out to look closer and every single leaf from every hosta had been chewed off. I almost cried. I’ve been keeping house and garden for almost 30 years, and I’ve lost many, many plants, but that one really hurt. They grew back the next year, but they’ve never looked the same. They stay very small and thin looking now. As for the deer, well, I no longer think of Bambi the same way.

    • Reply
      Linda
      April 5, 2022 at 9:59 am

      Yes, the deer are so destructive. They have wiped out my ajuga (bugleweed), mangled my nandina and heavenly bamboo, and I even witnessed “Bambi” up on his hind legs so it could devour the impatiens in a window box.

      My hosta are just coming up now. I filled small plastic storage cups with mothballs, drilled vent holes in the lids and set them out. One would think the deer would be satisfied with all the acorns, hickory nuts and beech nuts on our land. Oh, and they leave the fresh, green weeds alone!

  • Reply
    Robin
    April 5, 2022 at 6:20 am

    I did not know hostas are edible, thank you Tipper. I will certainly give them a try now. There’s probably plenty in my my flower bed that I could munch on, I’ll need to do some homework.

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