Today during lunch I took a quick walk. While I was out I spotted some evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) growing at the base of an urban tree. Having recently read that the tap roots of the first-year plants make excellent boiled vegetables, I dug a few up. Evening primrose is a biennial plant, meaning that it grows for two years. Many biennials produce flowers only in their second year, and evening primrose falls into that category. That makes finding a first-year plant a little more challenging.

Peterson suggests that you look for second year plants, and once you find them, look around for some first-year plants in the immediate vicinity. I followed that advice and indeed found some small rosettes of leaves fitting the description of the plant. I dug four of them up. The first one had the largest tap root, roughly a half inch in diameter. The others were half that diameter or less. It smelled a little like horseradish (and a lot like dirt). I dug around for a plastic bag, but didn’t have one in my camera bag. (I usually carry a few for just such an emergency). I probably should have taken a few photos, but didn’t do that either.

Lacking a plastic bag, I just stuffed the tap roots into a pocket in my camera bag and went on my way.

Tonight when I got home I peeled them and then boiled them in three changes of water (or four, depending on what you call a change of water). Then I added some butter and tried them out. They were pretty good!

I think I could have skipped the changes of water though. Peterson says that they are not as strong during certain times of the year, and indicates that autumn is one of those times. I think boiling them in multiple changes of water is supposed to mellow them out, but I found them to have only a hint of radishiness (to coin a term).

I will do that again some time, but I will wait until I find a lot more of them. They aren’t that hard to make at all, especially when compare to other edible wild plants. They taste a lot better than most edible wild plants too.