Wisteria Flower Pancakes!

IMG_1119Wisteria is a beautiful, woody, ornamental vine blooming around Portland neighborhoods right now, and the gorgeous blossoms are edible! The flowers range from white to lilac to blue in color and have a structure typical of plants in the pea family, Fabaceae, with two banner petals fused together, and then two wings and a keel below. See the diagram below for an illustration.schem_faba

The flowers have a beautiful perfume-y floral scent and a tasty, light pea-like flavor. The seed pods produced by Wistera plants, however, are reportedly very poisonous and should not be ingested, according to Steve Brill, author of the excellent urban foraging guidebook Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places.

The leaves are alternate and pinnately compound.

There are 10 species of deciduous climbing vines in the Wisteria genus, which are native to China and Japan as well as the southern United States, where they can be invasive.

Today I picked some blossoms from a neighbor’s yard (with permission) and mixed them into a gluten-free pancake batter with some sliced strawberries. The finished product was very delicious and the blossoms cooked into a neat blue color in the pancakes, which was fun!
IMG_1111PRIVATE HIKES: If you are wondering what you can eat in your neighborhood or would like a guided tour of the edible and medicinal plants of the wilderness, urban or forest, I am available for private hikes and home visits. My clients include corporate groups, homeschool children, eco-tourists, foodies, herbalists, and more. For further info, click here.

PLANT SPIRIT HEALING: I will be the guest healer at New Renaissance Bookshop, 1338 NW 23rd Ave. in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday April 26 from 3:30 to 7:30 pm offering my special healing magic, Plant Spirit Reiki, a combination of Usui Reiki energy work with plant spirit herbalism. Reiki is wonderful at reducing stress and clearing emotional and physical pain. Stop by and say hello or call the store in advance to schedule a private session with me at (503) 224-4929.

Happy foraging!


3 thoughts on “Wisteria Flower Pancakes!

  1. In some german refferences on wisteria its mentioned to be toxic, due to alkaloids in all plant parts?
    Reading in ones foragers diaries, wisteria has ethnoculinarian gastronautics on her cv :-)
    Its eaten, under caution and selected way. There is still strong seemingly conclusive evidence on the wisteria toxicity.

    “Wiseria’s multiple personality continues with edibility. The blossoms of the plant are edible raw or cooked. The rest of the plant is toxic per se. In fact, as little as two raw seeds can kill a child. That is not uncommon for a member of the pea family which ranges from edible to toxic.”

    A 50 year-old female ingested 10 seeds from the pods of the Wisteria plant due to curiosity and the perception that they were edible beans. Subsequent toxic effects included headache, gastroenteritis, hematemesis, dizziness, confusion, diaphoresis, and a syncopal episode. She continued to feel tired and complained of being dizzy 5 to 7 days after the ingestion. Despite the abundant references in the literature supporting the toxicity of this plant and the cases cited by Lampe and McCann (1), a literature search identified only one additional case report involving two youths in Italy who ingested at least 5-6 seeds each (2). The three events were sufficiently similar in the onset of the gastrointestinal symptoms and the effects on the central nervous system as to characterize a Wisteria syndrome.

    • Niko, thanks for this helpful information! Looks like then the flowers are fine, but the seed pods are potentially dangerous. Good to know! Appreciate your research!

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