Terrestrial Caviar

Conopodium majus

Hidden away in a small meadow in East Suffolk, and known only to myself, a few woodland fairies and a slightly bemused gathering of Jacob and Kerry Hill lambs, lies a small but perfectly formed patch of Conopodium majus; or to go by just one of its many colloquial names , The Pignut.

Sounds uninviting I know, but this is the caviar of my world, and even better, it actually tastes nice!  A delicate knee height apiaceae (umbilliferae) flower and fennel like leaves in May /June are the only clue to this underground treasure. The trick is to follow the stem with dentistry-like precision underground; but be warned, this innocent little temptress has a clever trick. As you follow the white stem down, it gets thinner and very fragile, and all of a sudden it turns 90 degrees and head off
sideways.  Sever this cord, and the hazelnut to walnut size treat will be lost forever.  If you make it, what lies at the end is only to be shared with fairies and loved ones.  Too much effort for anyone else!

June is manic in the wild flower world of Broxtead.
Mouse-eared hawkweed, with its covering of soft white   hair   lies   amongst the white sheets of heath bedstraw.
Ragged Robin with its unkempt hair and long legs rises above yellow
flag, spotted orchids and the yet to perform willowherb, that will explode and dominate in one month’s time. And my favourite, Cardamine pratensis (look that one up yourself) which stands alone and beautiful in sea of grass.  Her leaves have a wonderful peppery taste when nibbled.

It all sounds a bit poetic, but that is the reality.

Oh and on the farming front, too cold and wet early on; too dry now, onions windblown, potatoes late and carrots being eaten
by deer.  Bloody farmers – never stop complaining!

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