Wild, Edible, and Nutritious! Research and recipes reveal the benefits of regional Turkish plants

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Visit any of Türkiye’s regions and you will find diverse plants growing in uncultivated areas such as wetlands and woodlands: wild fennel, catbriers, golden thistle, and knotgrass, to name just a few. These plants have been the subject of ethnographic studies, generally for their medicinal qualities, as far back as 40CE (when a Greek botanist documented their role in Anatolian folk medicine). But although they also have numerous culinary uses (for example in stews, salads, and savory pastries), little data has existed on their high nutrient content – until recently.

Food composition analysis

Researchers from the Alliance’s Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project (2012-19) collaborated with national research centers to identify 39 wild edible plant species that are viable for foraging, consumption, and potential sale in markets. Samples of these plants were collected and either stored or transported for laboratory analysis. In a recent article published in the journal MDPI, the authors report:

“Most wild food plants are excellent sources of minerals, particularly iron, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus…the findings clearly highlight their nutritional value.”

Figure 1. Variation in iron (Fe) concentration in selected WFP compared to spinach. Quantities are expressed as mg per 100 g of fresh weight (FW). a. knotgrass (P. cognatum); b. watercress (N. officinale); c. Elm-leaved sumach (Rhus coriaria); d. purple salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius); e. berberis (Berberis crataegina); f. chicory (Cichorium intybus); g. spinach (Spinacia oleracea).

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