Corn Salad

Scientific Name(s): Valerianella olitoria, V. locusta, & other Vealerianella species
Abundance: rare
What: leaves
How: raw or cooked when young before flowers appear
Where: moist shaded yards, borders, and woods
When: fall, winter (in Houston), spring
Nutritional Value: Vitamins A,Bs,C
Dangers: Beware the inedible, similar-looking Cudweed.

Leaf Arrangement: Forms a basal rosette.

Leaf Shape:  Club-shaped (oblanceolate to spatulate) with a broader base narrowing towards the tip. 

Venation: Pinnate, with a central vein more pronounced than the lateral ones.

Margin: Entire, with smooth edges.

Leaf Color: Dark green, with a slightly glossy appearance.

Flower Structure: Tiny flowers grouped in loose cymes at the top of the stem.

Flower Color: Pale blue to white, sometimes with a hint of pink.

Fruit: A small, dry nutlet, less than 1/8" in diameter, slightly lobed.

Seeds: Typically one seed per fruit, small and enclosed within the nutlet.

Stem: Grows in a fractal pattern - one stem coming out of the ground which branches into two stems, and each of those may branch into another two, and each of those may branch again into two before ending with the flowers at the tips.

Hairs: Generally lacks hairs, presenting a smooth surface.

Plant Height: Ranges from 6 to 20 inches in height.

Young corn salad, ready for picking.

Mature Corn Salad (doesn't taste good at this point)

Close-up of Corn Salad flowers

Close-up of the Corn Salad stem. Note how the stem leaves encircle the stem itself.
Corn Salad

Texas distribution, attributed to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

North American Distribution, attributed to U.S. Department of Agriculture

I have found it in Harris & Montgomery counties as well as assorted places in East Texas, from Dallas to the Louisiana border.

Quickly sprouting up in late spring, Corn salad appears in sandy, shaded soil. It's delicate club-shaped leaves grow in an alternating opposite arrangement and that is when you want to eat it. In just a few weeks the plant's single stem will split into two stalks and then each of those will split into two more. Where the stem splits the leaves fuse into a single, pointy leaf surrounding the stem. At the top of the stalks a small cluster of white flowers appear, followed quickly by it going to seed. This plant grows and dies in just a few weeks.

Corn salad is not native to North America but came over with French settlers. It is a common, domestic salad vegetable in France. It has escape French gardens and can now be found in growing in thin stands in sandy, well-drained soil but needs a fair amount of moisture.

Be careful not to mistake Cudweed (Pseudognaphalium species) for Corn Salad. Picture below is the inedible (but medicinal and smokable) Cudweed. Note it has many more leaves than corn salad and the underside of the leaves are gray.

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

Privacy & Amazon Paid Promotion Statement

I use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit this website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.

I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. The prices you pay for the item isn't affected, my sales commission comes out of Amazon's pocket.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.