Don't worry, it's not crawly but if you have ever tried to eradicate it then you may shiver when I say its name: Creeping Bellflower - Campanula Rapunculoides - otherwise known variously as Cancer-of-the-Garden, Hellcat Bellflower and Harebell*.
How often does your urban harvest fill your wheelbarrow...
An embarassingly short number of years ago, someone told me to stop pulling the weed from beneath my hedge as it was a pretty wildflower. I didn't recognize the basal leaves so I let it be and it matured into a not unattractive tower of purplish-blue bells. Shortly afterwards, I discovered its true identity and tried in vain to pull it up, but this ingenious invasive has a clever trick. Its taproot and future source of its spawn is connected to its many tangling runners by brittle thin roots. If you weren't familiar with its anatomy, you would pull up one its clones and find some weak roots dangling from it., no hunk a taproot like in a dandelion giving you a clue to its power source beneath. You might think that you had got it all. Ha! Not only does it propogate vegetatively but also by seed and its flowers are pretty enough that some people will leave it in their garden... perhaps feeling that this naturalized European native belongs here as much as the dandelion. Like the latter, it is here to stay and also like the latter, you can delight in devouring it.
You can see the tenuous connection between the taproot and the roots to the above ground part.
Creepy Bellflower is edible from its sizeable leaves to its starchy taproot(s).** If you like the taste, you might even have the incentive to hunt them down into the depths of soil. Before I tried the taproot, I was imagining how excited I'd be if my potatoes went feral like this. After I sauteed them with a little butter and drizzled them with paprika, salt and honey, my verdict is: "Meh, not bad. Good texture, slightly bitter, inoffensive taste." The typical description is more positive such as "nutty, crunchy flavour. A delight in salads" or as in A Field Guide to Edible Plants: Eastern and Central North America, "The taste is slightly sweet, suggesting parsnips."
The next day, I cooked up some of the plentiful greens, cut with an equal portion of baby kale, in stock and mixed with toasted sunflower seed and pepper. All this was put between two toasted slices of bread. They were pretty good, not bitter at all. Again, the adjective inoffensive comes to mind as they had no strong flavour.
So do I recommend Creepy Bellflower? Well, I wouldn't plant it. For those that already have it then just remember that like the proverbial pot of rice/oil/whatever, empty it as much as you want, there'll always be more and for a food plant, that's a quality we can appreciate.
* Also known as European Bellflower, Rampion Bellflower
** I have seen a couple references to eating the flowers but not enough that I would try it without more double checking.
Do I have Creeping Bellflower? Ministry of Agriculture of Ontario
Plants for a Future lists some edible Bellflowers
Oft mentioned on the web, true Rampion - Campanula rapunculus - is not the same plant as the above plant. Instead, it is a biennial with a radish tasting taproot (so I'm told, my seeds never germinated) that enticed Rapunzul's father to harvest either to help her mother in childbirth or for food. I've read both versions. (Some of you botanical latin geeks might find it interesting that 'loides' bit means 'is like').
For some fun, read Dave's Garden's page on the plant and hear some vitriol against it.
In other news, I owe you some posts:
Tomato Tuesday - Frost tender veggies that you know and love
Alliums Part II, Wild Onions - I haven't forgotten!