Which vegetables do you think have charisma?
In Tuesday night’s television programme Radar Across The Pacific, comedian Te Radar was given “fiddle fern” to eat. He seemed to be impressed by it, describing it as having charisma.
Te Radar was eating the young, unfurling fronds of a fern. These still-coiled fronds are variously called croziers or fiddleheads or, in New Zealand, koru. Fern fiddleheads are a common vegetable in some parts of the world.
I couldn’t tell for sure but there’s a good chance that the fern Te Radar was eating was Diplazium dietrichianum, ota dina (or Diplazium esculentum). The similar Diplazium ecsculentum is commonly eaten in Asia. The second part of its scientific name, “esculentum“, means edible. The related Diplazium proliferum, ota lalabe, is also eaten in Fiji and elsewhere.
During our 2011 field work in Fiji, we saw Diplazium fiddleheads being harvested for sale at the Suva market.
A New Zealand equivalent comes from the hen & chickens fern (manamana or mouku, Asplenium bulbiferum). Its fiddleheads are known as pikopiko. The popularity of pikopiko as a vegetable seems to be reviving, and it is commercially available.