The Wild State: Find It In New Jersey

New Jersey is home to plenty of strange yet satisfying edible weeds. Check out our illustrated guide and happy hunting!

Illustrations by Lazlo Kubinski

1. Beach Plum
The name of this olive-sized fruit is apt for its color and plummy flavor. Used in preserves and jellies, it also pickles nicely. Macerate in gin for several months for an outside-the-box aperitif.

2. Purslane
This immigrant from Asia has a surprising crunch, a lemony tartness and plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Add it to soups, salads, sandwiches and savory entrées, especially in spring and early summer when its flavor and texture are best.

3. Dandelion
The greens are bitter, but with an earthy, nutlike flavor—and they’re loaded with vitamins A and K. Harvest in spring, then cook them with chopped onions, garlic and red pepper flakes. (Fry the blooms tempura style.)

4. Yellow Wood Sorrel
This member of the Oxalis family is wildly invasive in lawns, but that can be good news. With its vibrant, lemony flavor, it adds sparkle to everything from salads to ice cream.

5. Garlic Mustard
This invader is colonizing the forest floors of New Jersey at an alarming rate, so eating it is an act of conservation. Its broad leaves have a pungent, garlicky flavor that makes them perfect for stir-fries, sautés and salads.

6. Violet
The peppery heart-shaped leaves and mild-tasting blooms of New Jersey’s state flower can add a graceful note to spring salads. Try freezing the blooms in ice cubes for a flashy addition to cocktails or sparkling water.

7. Mugwort
Its name isn’t sexy, but mugwort is a pretty plant, with leaves that resemble a chrysanthemum’s. Its slightly bitter, aromatic flavor makes mugwort a favorite of Japanese cooks. Use it in soups or chop it and sprinkle on poultry or pork for an herbal punch.

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