Wild Greens Glossary

Welcome to the glossary for 'Wild' Greek Greens! You can read more about wild Greek greens and find clearly labeled images for them on the post  "Field Guide to Greek Greens". For recipes, just click the "wild greens" tab under categories. I would love to keep adding to this list, so if you know of some wild Greek greens that should be on this list, please don't hesitate to email me, or leave a comment below.  

Also, in terms of the glossary itself, I should note that the same species can have different names in different places in Greece. For example, my mother in law is from Zakynthos and the names that she has for certain greens are often different to what my father in law, who comes from a village near Olympia in the Peloponnese calls them. If you have a different name for the greens listed below, again - please don’t hesitate to leave me a note in the comments or send me an email and I will update the list.

Avronies (αβρωνιές): These are one of the most prized of all Greek greens. Wild asparagus are a particular delicacy in Greece, commonly foraged in Crete and other parts of Greece, such as the island of Ikaria and the Mani region. They are often served in a boiled salad, sometimes (because they are very long) they are cut into shorter pieces to fit into the pot and only the most tender part are eaten. Another favourite way to cook the asparagus is with scrambled eggs, polenta, as a fritter or in an omelette. Most deliciously, avronies are also commonly cooked with octopus. I have not been able to find these anywhere in Australia yet - a delicacy best enjoyed when visiting Greece.

Borage/ boratzi (μποράντζα): Borage (Borago officinalis) is known in different parts of Greece as Boratsena, Bouratsino, Varatsina, Voratsene, Voratsino, Armpeta and Angouritsa. With an aroma reminiscent of cucumber, borage leaves and its beautiful blue lavender flowers go into springtime salads. Again, the old wives tales say that borage has been used since ancient times against melancholy. Grow your own: You can buy borage seeds in Australia from The Italian Gardner.

Brighteye (γαλατσίδα): this is another green from the dandelion family. It is a favourite in Crete, where the leaves called galatsida (γαλατσίδα) are eaten in boiled salads or braises in olive oil.

Golden thistle (ασκολίμπροι):  this is another green favoured in Crete. Known as askolymbri, the roots of the common golden thistle (Scolymus hispanicus) are sometimes pickled and served as a meze or braised with goat and dressed in an avgolemono sauce.  The spiny, thorny stems do require some special treatment.

Kafkalithra / kafkalida (Καυκαλήθρα / Καυκαλίδα): (Mediterranean hartwort) is known in some parts of Greece as Myristira or (in Corfu) as Moscholachan. In English it is sometimes called bud chervil. It is one of the most important aromatic herbs of Greece, found during winter and spring. Due to its rich aroma, kafkalithira, is used in herb pies and also in combination with other herbs as a hot boiled salad. My father in law also remembers his mother using it for its rich aroma in braised spring vegetable braised. According to old wives tales, kafkalithira rejuvenates the nervous system and acts against melancholy. It is best when used before the white flowers bloom.

Mallow / Molocha (μολόχα) also known as Mouloucha or ampelocha: the leaves are eaten boiled with other herbs, in soups or are stuffed. You will like mallow if you are a big fan of okra - as it has a similar texture. Principally, the juice of the mallow is used for health remedies including treating burns or stings from bees or wasps. You can buy frozen bags of pre-cooked and chopped molocha from Greek or Middle Eastern delis. 

Nettles / Tsouknida (τσουκνίδα): called tsouknida (τσουκνίδα) in Greek are sometimes also known as agkinida or knitha. Nettles are gathered from autumn until they bloom in Spring and have a flavour similar to spinach when cooked. The fresh leaves are eaten boiled salad or can be sautéed along with other herbs. They are often used to make omelettes or in pies, called tsouknidopies. In Rhodes, they are also used to make a traditional thick soup. Where to buy: nettles are available weekly in late winter / early spring at the Ramsgate Organic Foodies Market. Growing your own: nettle seeds are available at the Italian Gardner.

Purslane / andrakla/ glystrida (αντράκλα or γλυστρίδα): Depending on which part of Greece you come from, purslane – this crunchy, textured, lemony summer green can be called andrakla or glystrida. It is added to fresh salads especially with garlic and yogurt or used in vegetable braises with plenty of other summer vegetables, such as zucchini and tomato. Where to buy: purslane can be bought in the summer months from the Urban Farmacy in Marrickville. Growing your own: purslane seeds are available at Green Harvest.

Radiki (ραδίκι) (Chicory and Dandelion Greens): The Greek term "radiki" covers a range of greens in the Chicory (Cichorium intybus) and Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) family. Known as radiki in Greek, these greens are usually served in cooked in salads and can be used in pies. Wild chicory and dandelions have a bitter taste and generally, narrow leaves. One of the most popular of the winter radiki choices (and my mother in law’s favourite – because it is so bitter and therefore extremely healthy) is the 'Red Dandelion' known in Greek as ιταλικό ραδίκι or Italian Radiki. As a cooked green it actually maintains its crimson colour. Most radiki are rich in vitamins B1 , B2 and carotenoids as well as minerals such as K , Na , P, and Mg. The greens have been used since ancient times for the treatment of liver and bile conditions. Where to buy: the Italian Radiki (ιταλικό ραδίκι) is available weekly during winter at the Ramsgate Organic Foodies Market, it is generally sold as "red dandelion". Growing your own: The Italian Radiki (ιταλικό ραδίκι) seeds are available at Green Harvest sold as "Chicory 'Red Dandelion'’. I can highly recommend these seeds - they have produced an abundant crop of winter radiki in my own garden and thst if my in law’s. Common chicory seeds are available at The Italian Gardner. I prefer the "Chicory (Cicoria) spadona" seeds after becoming familiar with this green in Puglia, where the wild chicory leaves are combined with fava bean puree in the traditional local dish "Fave e Cicorie Selvatiche".

Sorrel / Lapato (οξαλίδα / Λάπατο / λάπαθα): There are about 20 or more species of sorrel (Rumex acetosa) grown in Greece. Other names for sorrel include bitter dock called lapatho, Lapato, ksinolapato, ksinithra, agriosesklo. With its bitter, slightly lemon taste, sorrel is cooked in a variety of ways - similar to the use of spinach and vine leaves. For example, it can be used to roll up dolmades, mixed with other greens in pies or vegetable braises and also in omelettes etc. Grow your own: You can buy sorrel seeds in Australia from The Italian Gardner.

Stamnagathi (Σταμναγκάθι) this is another green favoured in Crete, where it grows wild and the leaves sprout in amongst a thorny bush. The roots and tender leaves are cooked and served with a lot of olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. This particular variety is now starting to be commercially cultivated and in Crete it is often served with other sweet or aromatic greens.

Tsagala (Τσάγαλα) this is not strictly a "wild green" but rather fresh green almonds, which can be eaten raw or cooked before the green fuzzy shell and the kernel itself hardens. A favourite in Crete, these are often added to braised lamb or goat dishes and finished with an avgolemono sauce, or they can be used in my dishes in the same way that wild greens would be. Also makes a great spoon sweet and the kernels can be added to preserved green figs or apricots.

Volvoi (βολβοί): these little nutritious powerhouses are the bulb of the tassel hyacinth, most commonly they are eaten as a 'pickle' having been cooked and preserved with olive oil, herbs and a little vinegar. Often, they are eaten as a side dish with fakes (Greek lentil soup) during the fasting periods of the Greek orthodox tradition. They provide a load of rich antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities. Volvoi have been eaten in Greece and in Puglia in Italy since ancient times. They also feature regularly on the meze menu, to be enjoyed along with a good glass of tsipouro or ouzo. The first time I tried these little bulbs was actually in the region of Puglia in Italy, where they are know as "lampascioni." If you are keen to try them here in Australia, most Italian Grocer’s stock them. I got my recent supply from the IGA Lamonica in Haberfield.

Vlita (βλήτα): Vlita is the Greek name for Amaranth (Amarantus blitum), this is the most popular green in summer, which is used in boiled salads but also cooked in summer vegetable stews, especially with zucchini. It has a sweet taste and invariably it is the green that is used for the big bowl of horta you may have ordered at a Greek taverna in the summertime. In Australia, you can buy it from Asian grocery stores, markets and other green grocers labeled as 'en choy'. It is available from late spring through until late Autumn. The leaves can be all green, or there is also a variety with a beetroot coloured blush. Where to buy: From late spring to early autumn, at Asian green grocers or markets where it is sold as 'en choy'. Grow your own: you can buy amaranth seeds in Australia from Green Harvest.

Zogos / Zochous (ζωχος) or Sow thistle (sometimes sold at Australian markets as ‘dandelion’). The leaves are used in boiled salads and have a sweet flavour.

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Maira Gall