Bastard Cabbage; Bad Name, Great Plant

Hey guys! Okay so I have become really interested in learning more about foraging and how to use the plants in nature for different things (such as food, tea, medicine, etc).

I’m proud to say I have foraged my first plant and it was a success! What was it? Bastard Cabbage. Yeah, horrible name but really great little plant!

So my hometown is in central Texas so that’s where I wanted to start learning first. In this area, this plant is found everywhere! That’s one of the reasons I chose to learn about it first; it looked familiar and I felt confident about being able to identify it (and not mistake it for something else and end up dying! lol).

Here’s where it’s located most in Texas and the United States…

It grows here a lot along roadsides and you can find it everywhere! It’s green and leafy and has tiny yellow flowers.

Bastard Cabbage

So some things I learned to help identify this plant are:

  • Flowers have four lobes
  • The seed pods have “beaks”
  • There is an alternating leaf pattern on the steam
Bastard cabbage seed pod “beaks”
“Beaks” on the seed pods
Bastard cabbage alternating leaf pattern
Alternating leaf pattern

I learned that you can eat the flowers and seed pods raw or cooked and that the leaves are good cooked like spinach.

So now that I had identified the plant, picked the plant, it was time to wash and eat the plant!

Bastard cabbage

I didn’t use any of the leaves that were brown or looked really bad/weird. So after I washed and inspected everything, this is what I had…

Washed bastard cabbage

I’m not going to lie…that first bite was kinda scary. I mean, some plants can kill you so how sure was I that this, indeed, was one that wouldn’t? I mean, I’m not one for attention to detail so I decided to look at everything one more time…very closely… just in case I had missed something.

After inspecting the plant again, I was like 99.9% sure that it was safe and figured to just go for it.

First, I ate a few of the flowers and seedpods raw. They were good. Kinda just tasted like raw broccoli. Had a bit of a “nutty” aftertaste to them.

Flowers from bastard cabbage

Then I tried a leaf raw. It was good and just kinda tasted like kale or such but had a very , very slight little kick to it. Not spicy like a pepper but kind of like ginger.

I decided to cook the rest so I could see what it tastes like and to see how much it shrinks when heated up.

I sautéed some mushrooms in a little butter and garlic, then added the bastard cabbage in. It shrinks up quite a bit; about the same as spinach does.

Sautéed mushrooms and bastard cabbage

I read that the “younger” leaves are good cooked, but I threw in older leaves as well and couldn’t tell a difference. With the garlic and mushrooms I really couldn’t even taste the bastard cabbage. It just took on the flavors of the other things in the pan. I plan on getting more this weekend and am going to try cooking it just by itself so I’ll let ya know how that goes.

So there ya have it…bastard cabbage..who knew? lol. I’m so excited to have learned about it. I mean, think about it…free organic food right there on the side of the road! Nobody spraying chemicals on it or making it grow at a weird rate..just a plant, growing in the sun, doing its thing. And when you eat it, you are getting all those good vibes. What could be better?

So, if you are in this region, next time you are on a hike, you can also do a little grocery shopping…in the best store ever…NATURE.

Now, one thing to be aware of–some areas may be sprayed or such to try to kill weeds so I would get this from places that obviously are not doing any landscaping / weed maintenance, etc.


I’d love to know- have you tried this before? Like do other people already know this plant and I’m just late to the party? Lol.

10 thoughts on “Bastard Cabbage; Bad Name, Great Plant

  1. Living in New Zealand I’m unlikely to come across this plant, but the name is truly funky. I love it when the wild fennel self-seeds in my garden, as the free food concept is great! So many people spray things here, i’d be more worried about getting sick from that than from a poisonous plant! Love what you are doing!


      1. I guess like anywhere it has it’s ups and downs, but it certainly is beautiful, and the people are generally very friendly and open, compared to the USA. And there are a lot fewer guns!!


      2. When I see the regular shootings you guys have, it’s really sad. The guns just seem to be part of your culture. I was in America about 25 years ago and I was terrified to see security guards and cops wearing big guns on their hips. We simply don’t see guns in public here. It was shocking. And it’s so sad how many people die as a result.


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