I call it: the usual unknown because basically everybody around here has in their backyards but very few know its name, and even less its wonderful properties.
Lapsana or Lassana Communis is one of the easiest weed to identify even at early stage of growth. The first two leaves are tennis racket shaped. Those remain different in shape and size firm all other leaves that follow.
From the third one onward leaves have a more pointed leaf blade with wavy margins. Often the plant grows in big quantities and can be difficult to spot the individual basal rosette. Those leaves are the most tender and appetibile.
Nipplewort leaves are green, thin, delicate and velvety to the touch. At some point a flower stem emerges from the center of the rosette with leaves round and hollow. Lastly small flower buds appear at the top developing in yellow flowers around June.
The basal rosette and the young tender central stalk are harvested before flowers appear because it quickly become bitter.
Nipplewort leaves and the young stalk (nipsparagus) can be mildly to strong bitter depending how young the plant is and the rate of growth. It usually grows very fast which is good because bitter constituents take time to form, and in general the earlier in the season the milder the taste.
Raw Nipplewort are great mixed in any kind of salad but also in sandwiches, pesto and salsas. Boiling them will further reduce bitterness.
What nipplewort is good for?
Traditionally Nipplewort was juiced (before flowering) and consumed fresh to stimulate the urinary tract in case of urinary infection or nephritis (kidney infection). It acts in a physiologically without stressing or alternating the normal function of bladder and kidneys .
It is a cold and balancing plant meaning that it is very useful in case of external or internal inflammation and when a balancing effect is needed.
The plant is also traditionally known for its emollient and anti-inflammatory action which explains its use in mastitis (breast infection during lactation) and external wounds.
But how to eat Nipplewort?
The fine taste makes this plant extremely versatile. Every recipe including greens like spinach, chicory, nettle or dandelion can successfully be substituted with nipplewort. Here today I would like to present a recipe to make a vegetarian pasta dish, full in flavor and in nutrients.
- 150 g of nipplewort
- 300 g of spaghetti
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- Fresh chilly pepper
- 40 g pine seeds
The second recipe is also very easy and can be prepared for brunch or as a tasty appetizer. I read this recipe in a very popular book for wild foragers written by John Kallas and I simply had to try! And it was delicious.
Poached Egg on Nipplewort (serves 4 people)
- 1 red onion
- 200 g of nipplewort
- 4 slices of bread
- 4 eggs
I invite you to write me for comments and/or questions here or on my Facebook page “traditional herbalism Denmark”. You can also follow me on Instagram on “the herbal geek” for more wild food and herbal medicine recipes and stories.
 Edible Wild Plants, John Kallas PhD, Gibbs and Smith editor, 2010.