False lily of the valley (Maianthemum dilatatum) is one of those plants you see in the Pacific Northwest all the time in shady, forested riversides. Most of us never know that it’s a crisp and lightly peppery edible wild plant. I love using these as a lettuce wrap, they look and taste gorgeous.
Not to be confused with actual lily of the valley (Convallaria_majalis) which is deadly poisonous, but isn’t a native BC plant.
Where do I look?
- Near rivers in shady forests, sitka spruce forests near the sea especially.
When do I look?
- Spring when the leaves are tender
- heart shaped leaves with long stalks, growing in groups
- small white flowers (parts in 4 unlike most lilys)
- small green berries turn mottled brown, then reddish
- low elevation, wet, shady, forested areas
Know these look alikes first…
- Lily of the valley which doesn’t grow naturally in the Pacific Northwest but can be found in cultivated gardens.
- Corn lily (Veratrum viride) is a poisonous native BC plant that grows more like a corn stalk and is much larger with multiple leaves growing from the stalk. Still a good one to know. Higher elevations, open stream areas.
Chef’s tips on food uses
- Lovely in salads
- Use as a lettuce wrap (I usually fry up some ground pork with ginger and hoisin as the filling)
Come on one of our wild foraging walks with a wildcraft guide this Spring to learn about more spectacular native edibles of BC. April 30 to May (Fall is wild mushroom season) – More info here