Over the last few rainy days, in between
showers downpours, I've seen a few of these lively, colourful little flowers. As I had no idea what they were, I set about trying to identify them as soon as possible. If you are also a plant nerd you will understand how frustrating it can be sometimes trying to identify flowers, leaves or plants.
I had spied these flowers before, but only ever seen a few in hedgerows, here there was a huge colony. Eventually I found a book that could help me "Wild Flowers of the Mediterranean" by Neil Fletcher. I discovered that they are called Muscari Comosum (Hyacinthus Comosum or Leopoldia Comosa). In English the common name is Tassel Hyacinth)
I didn't expect them to be edible. They don't look as if they could be in my trusted list of wild edibles.
I was very surprised when I realized that the bulbs are edible and considered a delicacy in the South of Italy, especially in Puglia and also Greece. I had to laugh when I read the entry for the tassel hyacinth at pfaf.org "A slightly bitter taste that is appreciated by certain ethnic groups, especially Greeks and Italians".
They are boiled and added to recipes or boiled and preserved in oil. I've eaten them a few times, but had no idea what the plant looked like.
They are known as " Lampascioni"or "Cipolline Selvatiche" (wild baby onions) and look like pickled onions. They are crunchier than pickled onions and have a pungent, peppery, slightly bitter taste. My husband loves them. I don't mind them in recipes with other ingredients, but I find them quite strong tasting to eat on their own. They should be gathered in early Spring when the first leaves appear.
Further reading and recipes @
theshepherdandtheolivetree (roasted wild hyacinth bulbs)
blog.italian-connection.com (wild hyacinth bulbs preseved in oil and vinegar)
theatlantic.com (Greek lentil soup with wild hyacinth bulbs)