DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.
I had to debate with myself on the ethics involved with covering this plant in this series. Because, truly, many people do not have any sense of propriety and stewardship when it comes to our tender plant people. They will rip and pillage and leave nothing behind in their lust for acquisition of materials. So it is with great caution that I discuss our friend, the Puttyroot Orchid, or Adam and Eve root (Aplectrum hyemale).
This orchid is lovely, and modest, and has a long history with foragers, friendly healers, and casters. The roots are edible, so there is a strong appeal to try them.
“Potato-like roots/corms boiled and served with butter” – J.D’s Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants & Fungi
But I urge caution and reserve. Why? This plant is endangered in many areas in the United States, and once you eat it, you have removed another from existence. So make sure that you don’t take the only one in the area if you happen upon this lovely.
Also, this is a survival food. It is not popcorn. It is not a snack.
Identifying it will have to wait til later in the year, unless you are very observant. You will only see the flowers emerging, the leaves will not have their usual appearance. The old leaves are nice and brown right now.
But if you are fortunate to be in the right areas, usually near a wood-line, you will find them.Puttyroot has a very unique kind of appearance with veins that run lengthwise and have a silver hue in the fat leaves. The blooms soon will be adorning the stalks with a pleasing combination of tiny bursts of yellow and magenta. These altogether sweet appearances of color are not easy to see against the leaf fall.
In ideal conditions, Puttyroot sends up a single striped, accordion-pleated leaf in late fall, about 3-8 inches (.75 – 2 dm) long and 1-3 inches (.25 – .75 dm) wide. The leaf dies back by the time the single flower stalk blooms in May or early June. The flower stalk height can vary from about 6 to 20 inches (1.5 – 5 dm). – The Natural Web