Sochan: an Old but Under Appreciated Green


Occasionally we have the opportunity to access some interesting “new” plants through the sharing of friends and customers. This week I’d like to share the attributes of Sochan, aka Rudbeckia lacinata, also known as the green-headed coneflower or Cut leaf coneflower. One of our generous master gardener customers recently dug up some of her Sochan to share with us.

Long gathered and used by Native Americans, and most specifically in our area by the Eastern Band Of the Cherokee Indians on lands now part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this plant is native, edible, medicinal and beautiful. The Cherokee harvested the young greens in the spring from local riverbanks and creeks. The flavor can be described as zesty, mildly bitter (similar to arugula). According to Emily Glaser in her 2018 article in WNC magazine, its nutritional benefits are similar to kale and it has high levels of vitamins and minerals. The leaves get tougher and more bitter with age, so it’s best to enjoy the new spring growth and then allow plants to mature (to about 5’ tall) and then admire the clusters of yellow blooms in late summer.

In her very interesting and informative December 2021 Blog (CASTANEA), Juliet Blankespoor of the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine shares the history, medicinal uses, cooking suggestions and more.

We will currently have a limited quantity of 4” pots for sale this week for any of you who like to try growing and eating native plants. The plants require full sun/part shade and are also loved by pollinators. Sochan can also be started by seed (best in the fall since they need winter cold to germinate) or in the spring a few weeks before spring by stratifying the seed in the refrigerator. Seeds are available at Sow True Seeds in Asheville.

In her very interesting and informative December 2021 Blog (CASTANEA), Juliet Blankespoor of the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine shares the history, medicinal uses, cooking suggestions and more.

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