The beautiful plants in your water garden may be more than just another pretty face. Many of these plants we consider strictly decorative have been grown and gathered for centuries as food in their native land. You can do the same in your own backyard!
Whether you’re lucky enough to have a pond or stream on your property, a boggy area where water collects, or a fountain you’ve added, you’ll find many aquatic or semi-aquatic plants that are not only attractive but also edible — and even delicious.
Before you begin to plant or harvest, please note a couple of important caveats: Be very certain what plant you’re actually dealing with before anyone takes the first bite. Also, don’t harvest plants out of bodies of water that have been chemically treated or that are fed by runoff from chemically treated or fertilized yards.
Some plants to try:
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a familiar herb grown in bogs, wet garden soil and along the edges of shallow water gardens. It also grows well in ordinary, damp soil. This tasty herb grows up to 4 feet high and equally as wide and is known for the fleshy base of the grass stalks that grow on top of the ground.
Cattails (Typha latifolia) Believe it or not, all parts of the cattail are edible and delicious, from the young shoots, which are eaten raw, to the pollen, which is added to biscuits or pancakes
Water mint (Mentha aquatica) grows on the edges of ponds and water gardens. The leaves and flowers are delightful flavorings for ice cream, mint juleps, syrups, and sorbets.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) requires running water for growth. It floats on the surface along the edges of moving streams, with tiny rootlets that reach into the rocks and soil. It is delicious when added to salads, dips, and sandwiches.
Please note: Not all plants may be available or grow in all parts of the country at all times of year.