A typical foraging adventure where things just didn’t pan out as expected, a bit to early for the plant I had in mind though this new floodplain I’ve started exploring this year is turning up some interesting plants like this Wood Nettle – (Laportea canadensis).
The greenery has grown a couple feet since my last visit, now there are many Wood Nettle peeking through the Sensitive Ferns and there are a few others like Poison Ivy I’m unfamiliar with and I’ve read it can give you a few different looks within a same area so I’ll have to be quite – rashional – in my approach so a few tools are in order like these gloves which I always carry with me anyway.
This one I didn’t bring but it as a rule conveniently grows around plants which can irritate your skin so I’ll keep a few juicy stems of Jewelweed – (Impatiens capensis) around just in case things get uncomfortable. As it turned out I didn’t run into problems though I did place the stem juice on my skin just to stay familiar with the smell and feel of this jewel of a weed, quite refreshing.
A few sunny light green Wood Nettles and lots of sunny light green Sensitive Fern.
Probably 75% of the plants in this view are tall healthy Sensitive Ferns.
A slightly drier area and we have some large Wood Nettle plants, none have any flower parts opening up yet also in view are some Dryad Saddle mushrooms on an Elm tree straight ahead in the distance, you’ll need to click on the photo to see them.
Now I’m a bit surprised that there a few areas on this floodplain with large colonies Wood Nettle covering several acres so I’ll gather a single leaf per plant and will have a year’s supply for tea, juices and soups in just a few hours. Back home the plant appears to have much milder stinging irritants as compared to the Stinging Nettles in the Urtica group I already know well. The raw leaves de-activated of the stingers tasted better than the raw Urticas but raw and de-activated in fruit juice it didn’t have the same invigorating qualities as the Uriticas. There are a few medications which interact unfavorably with both Wood Nettle and Stinging Nettle so do your homework before using this food and medicinal. ciao
Going to add 1 of the first 3 photos of Water Avens (Geum rivale) to my wild flower page soon, hoping maybe a few folks will enter a comment on their favorite pic of the 3.
Another view from below. Water Avens are a member of the rose family.
Above looking down at the leaves, pleasant to bee in this tiny wet meadow for a few moments.
Now here is a look at a piece of a root which can be used as a beverage and medicinal ingredient. I actually tried this one last night mixed with milk and honey, anytime you try a new wild food it is a good idea to proceed very slowly, at least for the first few times you try it, so I drank less than a half cup of a diluted version of this beverage over a span of an hour, very nice flavour and pleasant in the tummy but eventually my lips began to slightly tingle for a time which can be a warning sign of an allergic reaction, my first thoughts went back to a much more intense reaction a had with a strong anti-inflammatory medication I received 15 years ago, this time only the tingling lips with no other issues arising, nevertheless this beauty isn’t going to be my cup of tea anymore. ciao
Trillium undulatum is our most common Maritime Trillium.
It is the only Trillium you’re likely to see here in a forest of conifers in boggy lowlands. I’m actually here to gather another plant of triangular form, a certain sedge that grows along the forest edges which I’ll cook as a vegetable latter today, it is a new one, so I’ll see how this pans out before writing much about it.
I’ve walked 4 to 5 miles in this forest today and probably only seen a little over 10 of these flowers, there were no patches, just a flower here and then lots more walking before the sight of another Painted Trillium well raised above the mossy forest floor with the pleasant and far more familiar conifer trunks in the background.
This Purple Trillium is to rare in my area for me to eat its leaves.
There is one common Trillium locally, the Painted Trillium which you could gather 1 of its 3 leafs from when it is young and shaped like a spear as shown by the Purple Trillium with its red stem behind the Dutchman’s breeches in this photo.
Marsh Marigold is considered edible when properly cooked though I haven’t try it, in fact this is the first time I’ve noticed this plant flowering. Raw it is known to be an irritant and quite toxic.
This plant has interesting looking flowerbuds which I will also be not eating due to its rarity here and conflicting info on the safest parts and ways to eat this plant, but again this is a new plant I have no experience with except this encounter right here. I was driving by when I noticed these earliest of bright yellow flowers which I wasn’t expecting to see in a coastal swamp.
Now for some greens, ground elder and orpine in the basket. The tastiest part of the ground elder for my taste buds are the long leaf stems on the lightest green colored plants with barely unfolding leaves.
Here is a nice one, this patch covers several acres and you can harvest a lot in a short time. I first starting eating this plant just last year after reading an excellent post on Alan Carter’s blog — Of Plums and Pignuts
Usually you will find at least some of these young light greens popping up throughout the summer and right now about 30% of ground elder here is still light green with juicy leaf stems. This area I suspect started as a small patch of ornamental variegated ground elder 50 to 100 hundreds years ago as there are still a few at the front of this abandon farm yard though over time it has vastly spread and reverted to the old original which is known to be quite vigorous and a well known food and medicine for several previous centuries in Europe. Today in many places Aegopodium podagraria is consider quite invasive and very unpopular though if eaten at the right stage it suddenly appears to be a very healthy good food, funny how the goodness of nature doesn’t change, just our thoughts on it do. ciao
Looking down this steep hillside I could see a good sized birch with a nice chaga horn and even larger chaga mushrooms at the bottom of the trunk, so down I gradually slide to the tree. The chaga horn ended up being well out of reach, probably 12 feet up, so the ones level with my belly were the best options.
I decided to harvest the top section of this lower trunk Chaga mushroom which kind of resembles an elephant and weighed 8 lbs, so this will last a while at a tbsp of chaga per 2 or 3 cups of water. This tree has only a few branches producing leaves so this chaga is near the end of its most potent years if not harvested.
Earlier in the day no positional thoughts came to mind when I walked through this floodplain which was under several feet of water just 2 weeks ago. Long strips of bark lay beneath this tree, an unusual sight.
Yes this is the same neighbourhood where beaver’s been chomping down poplars. ciao
Corn Lily – (Blue bead lily) – Clintonia borealis – doesn’t stay tasty long, often by the time you recognize the plant it is to bitterly late, unless you have located areas of large beds in previous years and are familiar with its early growth.
This is a plant I haven’t gathered much as I never found any spots with a large enough population of plants, but today there are 10s of thousands in this area so I’ll gather a few as I would like to try a recipe with them.
In this collecting area south of Moncton this cucumber tasting plant is kind of distinct with its early start, size & up right curved around leaves so this isn’t a problem to identify here, though in other areas there may be a poisonous Lily member look-alike so study this one very well before gathering it for food these early growth edibles can be tricky and even in my province just 50 miles away along the St John River grows the toxic Veratrum viride which is larger but somewhat similar in early growth so be thorough with your Lily family identification. Off topic for a second – have a look at the single leaf in the bottom right, this is a Trout Lily leaf growing from a new young bulb, this will take possibly up to 5 more years before the bulb is mature enough to produce flowering, at this location the Corn Lilies and Trout Lilies seem to colonize their own separate densely populated villages throughout these hardwoods of mostly Betula cordifolia mountain birch, surprised to see very little Chaga mushroom up here.
Here is a Corn Lily in flower in early June, the leaves are much to bitter to eat at this stage. ciao
I’m going to add a new page tonight on wild flowers and first up on board will be one that is quite edible from bulb to pod which is the Trout Lily — Erythronium americanum
Trout Lily is one of our earliest bloomers after the snow melts and today in this area of mountain birch they are starting to shine,100 yards up the road in the conifers the snow is still a foot deep. These plants are only common in a few habitats in my area being usually river floodplains and some hardwood forest.
Here is just a flower.
This photo shows you why the name Trout Lily was chosen for this plant due to the purplish brown and green mottled leaves which resembles a trout’s sides.
The parts of the Trout Lily I choose to eat are the stem & unopened flower buds and also the young seed pods, the bulbs are by far the most popular edible part but I prefer not to dig them up. Some Trout Lily beds can be several hundred feet in area and can be a few under hundred years old with new bulbs spreading out from the parents and taking many years before they can produce flowers and also seeds on occasion can start up new areas often planted by ants due to something tasty attached to their seeds, check out elaiosome.
It was warm and wet the last few days so there was a small chance of some oyster mushrooms in a local sugar maple woods, but after a short look I was satisfied to move on, especially while seeing the early morning sun color these sturdy maples golden.
Interesting to walk into a familiar place which suddenly looks so new, never suspected this was a golden forest during a certain sun.
Back home it seemed a good time to unearth some Sunchoke tubers which is the variety I found in the early 90s from a vacant lot in a small town I was working in then, these ones have been in my indicator garden wherever I’m living ever since. That town was bordering a large fresh water marsh and I was finding many different types of Sunchokes in that area, most varieties grow between 6 to 9 feet tall and flower in the fall, there was one large tan colored tuber variety growing out in the marsh on heavy clay which had a stem only 3 feet high and blown even lower in the grass by the strong marsh winds, I should go back and gather that one some day to try in the garden. In the marsh they were extremely hard to dig in the compact clay though they were large tubered and smooth skinned and may grow the same in more workable soils?
Here is a closer look at these healthy tubers which people in the eastern part of Canada can harvest anytime during the winter that the ground isn’t frozen. This as many of you know is the one tuber bearing member of the Sunflower family Heliantus tuberosus, while the wild smaller tuber type is quite common on river floodplains and is native to North America, some of the other larger varieties like the ones in the photos which you will encounter at abandon farms, vacant lots and disturbed soils are possibly types developed in both Europe and NA. These ones in the photos I’ve moved to a few different areas as well, mostly places I know I may pass by in the fall to spring months, they don’t spread much and if I don’t harvest them the local voles or other rodents will have some good eating, I’ll try something different and lacto ferment a few of these ones I’ve collected today. ciao
It took over 100 mm of rain, but now most forest areas in my neck of the woods are soggy and snow free. There are a few edible mushrooms I’ve gathered this late in the year before, being mostly oyster types and Hygrophorus mushrooms, but none of those around today.
I’ve heard that the Tree-ear mushrooms may appear anytime there is a good amount of rain so I revisited an area I found this summer and yes here they are on the same downed balsam fir trees from earlier in the year.
These are Auricularia americana which are a new edible to me and I have only tried them a few ways so far, usually these mushrooms are always cut into thin strips, stewed slowly in milk they were quite good. These mushroom dry and reconstitute very well and some of its relatives are commercially grown in large numbers for use as an edible and medicinal mushroom. Auricularia americana probably does not possess the same blood thinning properties as Auricularia polytricha used in Szechwan cooking and is considered more akin to Auricularia auricularia used in Cantonese cooking. These mushrooms absorb other flavours and their crunchy texture is very appealing.
Here is a nicely covered conifer tree from this summer which I should have marked down its location. It would have been a nice place to look today.
Now this is a common mushroom found on conifers from late fall through the winter, Orange Jelly mushroom (Darcymyces chrysospermus).
These are a colorful edible which I’ll be tinkering with in the kitchen this winter. Anyone have any suggestions?
I know he doesn’t look to awe inspiring in the photo, but this is a large hawk who let me walk within 40 feet to take a phone pic on the way back to town. Click the photo to enlarge and check out the tree branches along the way. ciao