A few spring flowers and greens

26 May

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This Purple Trillium is to rare in my area for me to eat its leaves.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

Trees worth barking about

25 May

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Yes this is the same neighbourhood where beaver’s  been chomping down poplars. ciao

Skunk Cabbage patch

19 May

DSC07776 Here is Symplocarpus foetidus, the Skunk Cabbage with its unique spathe and visible small flowers on the spadix, you can also see some tightly curled green leaves new on the scene. DSC07771 I have very little experience with the edibility of Skunk Cabbage as I vaguely recall drying a few stinky leaves over a very long time to use powdered around 30 years ago. Since I now have a wild flower page on the blog I have an excellent reason to show a few photos of these most striking plants. Here the leaves are opening up a bit more. To eat Skunk Cabbage you need to do your homework as the calcium oxalate crystals found within the plant are nothing to sneeze at, lets keep our foraged foods as painless to mouth and other bodily channels as possible. DSC07773 A good look at a few leaves, these usually are between 1 to 2 ft long. 20150518_141550 Another angle at the spathe. DSC07780 and now for a look at a slice of the Skunk Cabbage patch. I’m at the eastern most tip on N.B today and you will probably need to travel in NB a 100 plus miles SW to find another patch or even a few other Skunk Cabbages as they are kind of rare in the Maritimes provinces. ciao

Corn Lily

18 May

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here is a Corn Lily in flower in early June, the leaves are much to bitter to eat at this stage. ciao

Trout Lily

16 May

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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

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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.

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Here is just a flower.

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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.

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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.

Golden trees and Sunchokes

26 Dec

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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.

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Interesting to walk into a familiar place which suddenly looks so new, never suspected this was a golden forest during a certain sun.

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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?

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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

Mid-December meltdown

16 Dec

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Now this is a common mushroom found on conifers from late fall through the winter, Orange Jelly mushroom (Darcymyces chrysospermus).

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These are a colorful edible which I’ll be tinkering with in the kitchen this winter. Anyone have any suggestions?

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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

They Rose above the snow

1 Dec

20141130_135905 Dropped by here today actually looking for another member of the rose family which has fruit that grows on a tree and is off to the right and out of the picture, since the wind has knocked their fruit off and they are under the snow, I will instead gather a few nutritious rose fruits from some small wild roses and also these dark berried aronia fruit. 20141130_14193220141130_141951 These small rose hips which usually stay on their stems well into the spring are quite and interesting fruit as once they are dried and powdered they taste and smell a bit like sun dried tomatoes. 20141130_13544920141130_15185420141130_152512 The Aronia berries today feel like sultana raisins so I will simply dry them a little more and powder them as well. The last few decades both these fruits have been plentiful on their plants throughout the winter and following spring, though I can’t predict if any creatures may need these fruits if this is a tough one so this early in I’m only gathering a few for now. ciao

That fluffy light feeling

15 Nov

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The first snow landed gently last evening.

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Even the smaller branches will withstand snow of this nature.

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This morning the feelings is still here in the freshness of the obvious change.

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Another morning view and now as I write these words the snow has already left all the branches in the photos.

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Moving on in more of a wintergreen direction, a look at the largest Teaberry I’ve ever seen. ciao

Welcome to our world

8 Nov

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Here are a few not so foragery photos for you tonight. It was a cold one with a -11 Celsius wind chill and 40 km breeze, nevertheless some rosehips and mushrooms found their way into the basket. You may want to click on the photos for a closer look, this first one especially has a lot going on.

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You knew I’d find a way to slide a mushroom into this post somewhere. ciao

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