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The young shoots, while still tender and stripped of their leaves, can be simmered in water and eaten. Their delicate flavor is somewhat reminiscent of asparagus. However, they should not be collected for this purpose unless they are obviously abundant. Although the young shoots are edible, the plant becomes too fibrous and bitter to enjoy after it completes flowering and seed setting stages. The Ojibwa Indians harvested the roots of this plant and cooked them in lye water overnight to remove the bitterness and neutralize their strong laxative qualities. This plant should be consumed in moderation, as it can act as a strong laxative in sensitive individuals. A poultice made from the roots of this plant was used as an effective treatment for sunburns by American Indians. The roots of this plant were often dried and then smoked by several Eastern Native American tribes as a treatment for hyperactivity in children and emotional depression. The plant was also used by Native Americans as a cough suppressant. When young, Maianthemum racemosum may closely resemble members of the genus Veratrum, a highly toxic plant to which it is distantly related. Consequently, this plant should not be consumed unless identification is positive.
Spotted on Apr 15, 2012
Submitted on Apr 22, 2012