Archive | May, 2012

Under the pines and aspens

27 May

Here is a look at a fully ripe teaberry, (Gaultheria procumbens) these little treats have a wintergreen flavor, but if your allergic to aspirin you’ll be unable to eat these safely. With the aid of a white pine cone I was able to display the expanded fruit’s interesting shape which naturally faces down. Click on to check it out.

Lady’s slipper (Cyrpripedium acaule) are real common in many of the maritime forest types and this one is no exception.

A close-up

Bunchberry appears to only have one flower though each little section in the central part could produce a red berry, so this one may have a dozen berries in a few months. This forest plant is very common here.               Enjoy the common things,—- when——now, ciao.

Urtication, hands become comfortably numb

25 May

The nettles have the knotweed surrounded, luckily the nettles are my primary reason for my foraging visit to this area which was a small farm back in the early 1950s.

Yes running approximately 15 feet out from this large patch of japanese knotweed is a healthy stand of stinging nettles which I’ve been gathering from each spring for around 30 years. The stinging nettle I will gather today should last me for a year, as I will dry them and use the majority in tea.

These 2 baskets took an hour to collect as I prefer to gather using scissors and bare hands accepting a few stings which I find somewhat pleasant and the gathering is more of a dance with them. The plants in my home garden came from seeds from these grounds where there are always a large number of water fowl, hawks, ravens and many other birds and creatures which move in close if you are relaxed and moving with gentleness as this is a very narrow valley which drops into a huge freshwater marsh and then a salt marsh before the waters of the Bay of Fundy.

I was too entraced with the stinging nettles to retrieve to my camera to take any bird photos but this little flying friend touched down long enough for a pic, this is a commonly found red admiral butterfly.

Back on the ridge, last look out into the marsh for today. If you are a stinging nettle tea drinker, you may enjoy trying  Christine’s these light footsteps nettle tea recipe which is very good cold and probably hot as well though I haven’t tried it that way yet. Check it out. ciao

Spring things

20 May

There are no morels in this story though that was my main reason for driving to a small rural community known for its limestone quarries.

Lots of dandelion fields.

Watch your step, bee aware

This bumblebee looks right at home on this Siberian pea-shrub. Check this shrub out, at PFAF database, if you like interesting wild edibles.

apple-bee

Here near the middle of this photo you may notice an old one passing on her insights to the new up and coming blossoms, although she is far from green I suspect she must be granny smith.

This little garter snake wasn’t far away.

We do not have many cedar trees in my area, so it was enjoyable to see their attractive bark and I see the woodpeckers are also very fond of this tree as well.

Along with the pleasant sights and sounds, I gathered a nice collection of yellow goatsbeard and on the drive back I had a little laugh when I noticed these 2 different trees together in someones yard, pine-apple trees. ciao

The (yellow goatsbeard) is always greener, naturally

15 May

Usually if you find one yellow goatsbeard, there will probably be hundreds to thousands close by. The trick is to return to an area where you have noticed they were blooming in the previous summer or fall.

This photo here highlights the issue, yellow goatsbeard is all but indistinguishable from many of the meadow grasses, so walk slowly and only look a few feet in front or to the sides and often there will be a joyous realization you have entered a place where the grass is never greener or tastier. 

Enjoy your gatherings as this must be one of the easiest wild edible plants to collect as it is very similar to being in a very pleasant garden, where you are relaxed in a gentle focus.

Here we see the brown latex yellow goatsbeard releases when cut, it has a mild bitterness which is pleasant if tasted raw. I cut the white sections of these plants shown here which measures around 3 inches and steamed them and simply ate these with butter, salt & pepper. I’m somewhat surprised Tragopogon pratensis & also T dubius are not already commerical crops. I suspect it is a shelf life issue as these are comparable to the best items in any vegetable market I’ve been to. If may also be the fact this relative of Salsify has a smaller root than the famous European plant, thought the secret to yellow goatsbeard are the parts above the roots, so for now lets enjoy this wild one.

The remaining upper leaves can be cut into small pieces and added to salads or you could do as we did today and make a (cream of yellow goatsbeard) which is even tastier than it sounds. Enjoy these common gifts presented naturally to you. chow for now

gill over the ground

14 May

I gathered a nice collection of yellow goatsbeard tonight which I will share some photos with you later on, but for tonight here are a few pics of a member of the mint family which was appearing very radiantly amongst the many greens this evening.

Glechoma hederacea is  very commonly described as a troublesome lawn weed, others have called it a fine medicinal  and herb tea plant.

There are always different points of view, click on to enlarge the photos, maybe there is a whole lot more than gill-over-the-ground going on here.

more ground-ivy, it also goes by that name.

and in the last photo we can easily notice a certain bee-ing is present, though it looks different than what we expected. ciao for now

Goshawk and Hobblebush

6 May

This is the first time I came face to face with the gray ghost. I have heard their wings on a few occasions but never actually seen one well enough to identify it as a Northern Goshawk. This one in these photos definately wanted me to see and hear her as she closely swooped & chattered at me several times in guiding me away from her nest. I didn’t get any photos of her swooping as a goshawk will attack you, so fiddling with a camera during her flights didn’t seem like a good idea.

This young hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolium) also caught my attention.

On this trip the big one didn’t get away, this is an old cod liver oil bottle I found today, click on the photo to see closer his catch.

ciao for now

A family resemblance

4 May

I’m in my driveway and over against the apartment building 15 feet away is one of my favorite wild edible plants standing taller and nestled amongst another very wholesome edible and medicinal plant. (Yellow goatsbeard with some Dandelions) Since the location they are appearing in is one from which I have no interest in gathering from I thought it best to at least get a few photos to share with you before my neighbour clips these plants. If you’re a person who enjoys gathering wild food it is a valuable asset to know your plants in all their stages of development, as often you will find unexpected plants while searching for other plants and mushrooms and may choose to gather some seeds or roots for introducing in other locations.

Yellow goatsbeard (Tragopogon pratensis) is also very similar to the vegetable Salsify and although the roots are alike I personally prefer to eat only the early shoots leaving the roots to produce another stem which will also produce flowers and seeds  during the early fall. Below is a photo of one from a harvestable area and in good condition for eating. So now you can see this plant in 2 different stages the shoot stage (below) and the flowering stage advanced by the sunny apartment foundation (above).

The taste of Yellow goatsbeard either raw or cooked is very mild, something like green beans. There are many other possible ways to enjoy eating this lovely plant, which in my area is common along river meadows and in semi tall grassy places and I’ve noticed they tend to grow along the edge of blueberry fields and roads, of course don’t collect in areas where you suspect potential toxins. Beyond eating the shoots you could sprout the seeds, roast the roots for coffee, cook the roots like (Salsify also known as Oyster plant), eat the flowers and cut up leaves in salads and they along with being tasty are also nutritious like their little brother Dandelion.

Last photo is of young caraway greens, I usually dry my caraway seeds I collect from the wild in my shed so now I have plenty of caraway plants surrounding my indicator garden  and they made their way over just a few feet from the yellow goatsbeard plants in this post, all kinds of goodies around. ciao

Northern fly honeysuckle coming out of its shell

3 May

Now is the best time to notice northern fly honeysuckle (Lonicera villosa) in the northern states of the USA and in southern Canada, it starts to bloom even before the amelanchiers (juneberries) in my area and is difficult to locate by the end of the month when the surrounding plants are also covered in leaves.

I will be returning to take more photos of these plants in a short time as they will be covered with  bees and I am interested to see which types of wild bees will be present for this early feast of blossoms.

Northern fly honeysuckle (Lonicera villosa & caerulea) has been developed into a  commercial crop in some parts of Asia, especially so in Japan and there are a few growers in North America as well, the berries are usually marketed as (Haskap or Honeyberries) which taste like a cross between raspberries and blueberries and are much larger than the wild varieties. Hopefully at some point you will have a chance to try Haskap or the wild fly honeysuckle as when fully ripe they have an excellent flavour and boost impressive nutritional figures. Also I should mention a few other varieties of honeysuckle blossoms are added to salads or added to teas and they are sometimes dried and used for cough relief and for asthma.

The last photo is what I suspect is a ring-necked pheasant egg and it inspired  the title of the post. This egg was laying a few feet from the fly honeysuckle bushes on the opposite side of the egg the shell was broken and dry so it appears a chick had recently emerged. The egg was approximately 2 inches long by 1 and a half inches width, similar to a small hen egg, if your familiar with wild bird eggs do you have another suggestion on what type of egg this could be? ciao for now