The word veg­etable is based on culi­nary and cul­tural tra­di­tions, not science.

Edi­ble plants used to make savory dishes are typ­i­cally con­sid­ered vegetables.

Herba­cious plants that have edi­ble leaves, stems, flow­ers, or roots all claim the veg­etable moniker.

We exclude some plants that bear fruits, nuts, legumes, pulses and grains. Iron­i­cally, we then arbi­trar­ily deem cour­gettes (squashes, pump­kins, cucum­bers, and the like) in the veg­gie group.

As Spring emerges, flow­ers are in bloom. There are some veg­eta­bles that tech­ni­cally are flow­ers too. We’re eager for them as the shift of sea­sons hails to locally-​sourced Cal­i­for­nia vegetables.

Aspara­gus– Cal­i­for­nia pro­duces more than sev­enty per­cent of the nation’s fresh mar­ket aspara­gus. Peak of sea­son depends entirely on weather. This flow­er­ing peren­nial blooms and sprouts on cue depend­ing on the elements.

Typ­i­cal har­vest months are March through June. In warmer win­ter months, aspara­gus may sprout in the Golden State as early as February.

Com­pli­cated dishes high­light this grassy, bright spring veg­etable. Some­times, sim­ple is best. A quick pan sear­ing with a driz­zle of olive oil, dash of salt and pep­per and squeeze of fresh lemon can be amazing.

Arti­chokes– Truly a Cal­i­for­nia baby. Nearly one hun­dred per­cent of all com­mer­cially grown chokes hail from the state.

Mon­terey county boasts fields of this spec­tac­u­lar plant with abun­dant green globes. Dis­cern­ing tastes can be eas­ily sat­is­fied by the numer­ous ways to pre­pare and serve artichokes.

Cau­li­flower– It has flower in the name. This annual plant repro­duces by seed. The edi­ble white “curds” or flow­er­ing head are a blank can­vas to paint at will. Roasted, steamed or mar­i­nated, cau­li­flower takes on the fla­vor direc­tion we decide.

Romanesco– Strik­ing in appear­ance, this is actu­ally an heir­loom cau­li­flower. It has grown in pop­u­lar­ity in Cal­i­for­nia in recent years, due to increased plant­ing, pri­mar­ily by organic farm­ers. Use Romanesco to cre­ate a bit of drama on the plate.

Gar­lic scapes, dan­de­lions and fid­dle­head ferns are actual spring flow­ers. They can be treated as veg­etable ingre­di­ents in savory prepa­ra­tions. Again, ful­fill dra­matic pre­sen­ta­tion by uti­liz­ing unusual spe­cial­ties.

Veg­eta­bles can be eaten raw or cooked. Deliver a dose of spring excite­ment and menu diver­sity with the flow­er­ing plants close to home. Invite new takes on famil­iar edibles.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.