I learned about these local edible blossoms just a few days ago here, and the very day after reading about them, saw a tree next to my house that looked like the picture shared. I was pretty positive the first time I walked by the trees after reading about them that these were redbud blossoms, but to be sure, we picked some to bring in and compare.
Sure enough, it was a match, and I’m delighted to have another wild edible to add to my list of local foragable foods! The tree is beautiful, and now that I know what it looks like, see that they’re in bloom all over my city.
How can you recognize these lovely edible blossoms? The tree is usually less than twenty feet tall, with young trees having a smooth, gray bark. More mature trees have a reddish-brown bark with flattened scaly plates. The flowers are a beautiful pinkish color, and the central petal (called a standard) is flanked by two more petals (called wings). Below them are two more petals called keels. (Tell your kids all about this when you’re picking them and you’re learning about science and botany!) The leaves of the tree are like a heart shape. (More details here.)
Since we have so many dogs locally, I don’t do much foraging of things that grow on the ground for obvious reasons. Seeing the abundance of these blossoms growing on trees so close by has got my frugal juices flowing! I’ve scoured the internet for ideas on how to use them, and seen some yummy sounding ideas. Use them in muffins, pancakes, for dessert with yogurt and berries, sprinkled into salad, pickled, or made into jam!
Redbud blossoms have an almost nutty flavor; they more closed they are, the more tart they are; the open blossoms have a sweet flavor that is very pleasant. I wasn’t surprised to learn that they are high in vitamin C, because the tart flavor makes one think in that direction.
The young pods of this tree are also supposedly edible, but since they come out after the flowers, I haven’t yet had a chance to taste them. I often wondered when I saw these pods if they were edible, but didn’t know what the tree was called. Now that I know what the tree looks like, I plan to experiment by using the pods in stir fries in place of snow peas.