One thing that often gets overlooked when foraging is the area of edible seeds which can be used to replace spices or even, in some cases, add a whole new taste sensation. I am working my way through them – it has been Winter! – but will update this over the year. If any one has any interesting contributions to add, please email me through the Contact me page. Thanks
Wild Spice Conversion Chart
All species are found here in Britain unless specifically labelled elsewhere.
Allspice > N. America: Spicebush berry (Lindera benzoin)
Aniseed > Sweet cicely seed (doesn’t keep well use x 4)
Caraway > Whorled caraway (Carum verticillatum)
Capers > Pickled; Lesser celandine buds (Ranunculus ficaria), nasturtium seed, N. America: redbush flower buds (Cercis canadensis)
Cardamon > Dried (or toasted) hogweed seed / Wild carrot seed
Celery seed > Dried alexanders seed / Wild lovage seed
Chilli pepper > Water pepper, raw (Persicaria hydropiper) or Toothwort root ( ) Clove > Wood avens root (Clove root)
Coffee bean, roasted > Roasted dandelion root, toasted cleavers seed
Coriander, seed > Dried hogweed seed (like coriander with an orange citrus aroma) / Wild coriander / Spignel seed
Coriander, fresh gut; Sea arrowgrass / Spignel / Wild coriander leaf
Fennel seed > Wild fennel seed
Garlic > Wild garlic leaves & bulbs (use x 4-5) / Few flowered &Three cornered leeks (pungent ‘berries’) / Crow garlic / Rosy garlic
Ginger > Sweet flag rhizome
Hempseed > Nettle seed
Horseradish > Wild horseradish
Lemon, flakes > Cultivated Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)
Mustard > Wild mustard seed / Nasturtium seed / Bittercress seed
Parsley > Cow parsley (wild chervil)
Pepper > Pepper dulse, Water pepper, Toothwort (herb, dried/powdered) Rosemary > Yarrow leaf
Salt > Any powdered seaweed like wrack or kelp
Thyme > Wild thyme / Flowering currant blossom
Turmeric > Dried ground elecampane root
Walnut > Invasive Himalayan balsam seed
Possible spices that I haven’t tried yet
Bishops’ flower (Queen Anne’s Lace) seed (Amni majus)
Did you know?
Wild carrot seed Daucus carota was used as a contraceptive in ancient times. One method is to chew 1 teaspoon of dried carrot seed daily, for three days before and 3 days after having unprotected sex. (No guarantees offered but a herbalist in the USA did run a pilot study and says it works! Robin Bennett on wild carrot seed contraception)
List of edible seeds (work in progress)
Get your species right. This is particularly meant for anything in the wild carrots family! I have not included common kitchen herb seeds.
Alexanders Smyrnium olusatrum
Charlock (wild mustard) Sinapis arvensis
Cuckoo flower Cardamine pratensis Dry the immature seed pods
Curly dock Rumex crispus Ground to replace buckwheat
Hairy bittercress Cardamine hirsuta Like mustard seed but fiddly
Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare
Field pennycress Foeniculum vulgare
Lovage Levisticum officinale
Milk thistle Silybum marianum Like hemp/flax seeds
Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus
Nettle seed Urtica dioica Energy pick-me-up!
Plaintain (Ribwort) Plantago lanceolata Fibogel like psyllium husks.
Poppy Papaver somniferum and P. rhoeas Not before a drugs test!
Sweet cicely Myrrhis odorata Seed loses aromatic oils quickly
Thistle Cirsium spp. All thistles are edible, some more so than others!