Archive | July, 2013

The tree that cried wolf

29 Jul

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Tonight’s post is not on edible mushrooms, it is only to have a look at an evening in a dark forest of conifers with a few red maples, poplars and of course a few summer mushrooms popping up through the brown leaves, I’m not going to give the complete names of these mushrooms as a few (are not considered safe edibles) and others are tricky to identify based on field characteristics so let us just have a look at the sights in the evening woods starting with this glowing Russula next to a long ago fallen conifer. I don’t know what the wolf is up to here.

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A group of colorful Russulas

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Another Russula member

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This is one of our earliest Boletus to appear in eastern Canada

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This Boletus mushroom instantly stains dark blue when handled or sliced, the red to orange pore surface plus the blue staining is considered by many the key features in just enjoying the beauty of this mushroom, it is not worth gambling on as an edible, many with these features are poisonous.

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Amanita time, many members of this family of mushrooms are very poisonous, best to leave the stately Amanita mushrooms alone.

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This is a younger Amanita of the same variety as above, these are common under many types of conifers at this time in the Maritimes.

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Chanterelle, was also putting on a nice show rising above the sea of brown leaves this evening. ciao

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Wild Summer Mushrooms

28 Jul

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After some mid-week rain I was quite confident there would be a few wild mushrooms out today and Chanterelle topped the list of what I was hoping to find. It was interesting to see the different families of mushroom with the Russula, Amanita and Chanterelle family members out in numbers. Above we see 2 of the Chanterelle clan with the larger and best considered (inedible) Scaly-vase Chanterelle upfront and Chanterelle at the back of the photo.

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I won’t show any Amanita mushroom photos though I did see 4 different members in good numbers, the above photo though is of the plentiful Russulas with many pass their prime with visible spores already released, Russula compacta and the Almond-scented Russula were everywhere and a few white russula were out to which made me suspect the (parasitic) Lobster mushroom may have already gone to work transforming some of the white russulas in to the splashy orange clad lobster mushrooms.

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In the photos above are 2 of the young Lobster mushrooms I did find in this conifer area. Hope you are enjoying a wild summer. ciao

Soil settlers

26 Jul

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Here are a few edible and medicinal plants you may find in disturbed soils in the Maritime Provinces and also over much of N.A. and even many of the world’s other temperate zones as well, though it is kind of interesting to see what will turn up in some small areas when the soil is dug and left awhile, in fact all these photos were taken on the edge of my driveway where my neighbor had some work done a few months ago on a very small piece of land 25 ft by 6 ft, some of these seeds potentially may have lay dormant for the best part of a century.  First up is Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) above.

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Pineapple-weed (Matricaria matricarioides) makes a nice tea.

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Lambsquarters

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Lady’s-thumb (Polygonum persicaria), I find this is one of the better edible Smartweeds.

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Peppergrass (Lepidium densiflorum)

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Hedge-mustard (Sisymbrium officinale)

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Sheperd’s-purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

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(Left side) Mallow and Creeping Woodsorrel with the heart-shaped clover type leaves to the (right)

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Common Plantain (Plantago major)

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Black Medick (Medicago lupulina)

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Evening Primrose, first year basal leaves.

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Sow-thistle, this one is not the same as the perennial Sow-thistle I gather near the salt marsh, this one is an annual.

I’m hoping my neighbour will not mow or lay sod until some of these plants develop seeds for me to collect as I would enjoy having some young shoots for winter salads from at least some of these plants nature finds away to share with itself.

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Here is the kind of thing I would do with some of the seeds I’m hopeful to soon gather, above is a bag of Yellow Goat’s-beard shoots from seeds I collected fresh a few weeks ago, they look like grass though they are quite good in salads, Life blows me away with its natural goodness. ciao

The Tide says hi

21 Jul

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Mostly I seem to arrive here on the salt marsh during low tide when lots of marsh mud is in view, but today it is truly full.

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Low tide view.

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Again my 2 crow friends flew over to visit as I noticed a nice close shadow and raised up to watch them circle around me while I was gathering some Sow-thistle leaves. No photo of them as they seem to prefer it this way, though I will show the fresh Sow-thistle leaves which were very tender for late July.

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Back on the ridge above the marsh a few berries are ripe. Here on hand we have Blue, Amelanchier and Northern fly-honeysuckle berries.

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Raspberries to. ciao

Wild Caraway and kin

20 Jul

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Caraway seeds are now ready to be gathered in the Maritime provinces as Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata) is in full bloom. In the photo we see a group of already cut Caraway stems laying on the ground. Most places Caraway grows (including here in the high marsh) a dangerous relative or 2 is most likely close by so get to know this family well before you start gathering this or any wild edible carrot relative for food.

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Here we see some young green Caraway  leaves laying on top of the mature Caraway stems. This plant has edible roots, leaves and seeds. I like to chew the seeds and grow and eat the young shoot leaves.  Caraway (Carum carvi) was a popular plant in southern Europe and Asia for thousands of years and does also grow very well in the north as it has become quite popular in Germany and England in more recent centuries.

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Water Hemlock and Caraway are both members of the carrot (Umbelliferae) family and luckily they flower and mature at different times. Here we see the mature brown stems and seeds of Caraway in the bottom half of the photo with the poisonous Water Hemlock with white flowers in the top half of the photo.

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A closer look at the upper parts on a Caraway stem with seeds and the taller poisonous Water Hemlock still flowering in the windy background.

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Another carrot family member a few miles down the road side, the common vegetable Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) in its second year flowering stage. Water Hemlock is again growing right beside its cousin Parsnip only this time it is the smaller plant of the family.

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Parsnip is quite noticeable with its yellow flowers though Dill another family member has yellow flowers,  I should also mention you will need to wear gloves if you want to collect Parsnip seeds at the end of the summer due to potential strong contact dermatitis with Parsnip’s toxic leaf sap.

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Farther down the road Queen Anne’s Lace AKA Wild Carrot (Daucus carota), the direct ancestor of our orange colored carrot of today.

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A few more miles to the dykes edge where we see another Umbelliferae has like Caraway already gone to seed, the difficult to see here Scotch Lovage (Ligusticum scothicum)

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Back home, the last of the carrot family to be shown today, Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) which I believed was (Myrrhis odorata) for several years, this plant is rare to find in the wild in N.B. except here in my yard where it roams quite freely. There are lots more Umbelliferae family members you see on a regular bases along roads, in flower and vegetable gardens, at the grocery store and restaurants. ciao

Summer salad arrangements

14 Jul

DSC05662Here are a few wildflowers blooming in my area today.  The first one above is Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) which is only considered by a few foragers to have edible flowers, so do plenty of research before trying this one. Our native to this area Impatiens capensis is smaller with different colored flowers, both are known to have edible seeds which have exploding seed capsules which are a fun challenge to gather.

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Himalayan balsam is kind of rare to see growing in the wild here in my area, but is considered an invasive in the UK.

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Fireweed with flower buds, (Epilobium angustifolium) is a common plant in the Tantramar marsh.

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Here is Fireweed with some open flowers.

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Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

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Here we see the Evening primrose growing along the train tracks for a mile or so running through the marsh with a young groundhog using the rail as support while watching the traffic on the highway.

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On the way home a stop to gather some elder flowers, (Sambucus Canadensis) Elderberry is not a very common plant in my area.

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A look at an Elderberry bush, if you’re from the east coast of Canada and are just starting up an interest in Elderberry flowers you should  become familiar with the plant shown below.

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Here is a wet field of approximately 20 acres which is covered with the very poisonous Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata). It often grows quite close to Elderberry bushes and can grow to 6 feet in some sites, so learn the differences between these 2 plants before gathering Elderberry flowers for the first time in the Maritime provinces.

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A closer look at the typical 3+ foot Water Hemlock with white flowers to the left and behind the pink wild roses. ciao

Close caw near the Silverweed

3 Jul

DSC05643You may find lots of Silverweed (Potentilla anserine) in the salt marsh but if you plan on gathering some of their roots for food you better turn around and head to a sandy shore or dune area in the fall where it is even more common and easier gathered. This is another member of the rose family which is a good edible plant best known for its roots though  the shoots and young leaves can also be eaten.

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Silverweed is common in most of the northern half of the northern hemisphere and has been a popular food over the last 10,000 years, most notably in Tibet, British Columbia in Canada and Scotland. It has been one of or the most important root crop for some coastal groups with their best beds considered important territory to lay claim to. Silverweed in this maritime salt marsh is a little different from the one found in maritime sandy areas with this one here known as var. Rolandii

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As I was admiring this ancient food out on the salt marsh I was unknowingly approached by a pair of crows who flew up beside me with one waiting till he was a few feet away from my ear before surprising me with a loud caw, I hoped they would circle and approach again once I had my camera ready though that of course wasn’t the case and I had to settle for this photo with them returning to the dyke where they sat and snickered for awhile,  it seems the birds and animals out here enjoy playing tricks as vision is amazing here being able to see great distances, though the wind is loud and occasional you will be surprised with a close encounter with fox, skunk, hawk, raven, coyote and today crow, luckily I haven’t cross paths with bear out here yet.

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Lastly, leaving the Tantramar marsh area today there are lots of Witherod  shrubs blooming (Viburnum cassinoides) AKA wild raisin which has very common and productive tasty fruit though they are hard to eat due to the large seed which works out well for small creatures and birds in winter with plenty left available.

Daylily buds

2 Jul

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Staying close to the nest today I decided to try some Day-lily buds as a cooked vegetable. Last year I dried a lot of flowers for use in tea and soups and have been very pleased with them, also the fresh flowers were very crunchy and good in salads last summer. This year I will explore the flower buds during their 25 days of development before flowering which from what I’ve read change quite a bit in taste and nutritional value with the buds being most beneficial to eat in the last 4 days before flowering.

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Day-lily bed

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These few buds here are a little  over 2 inches long and were delicious boiled in a small amount of water for 4 minutes. I honestly rate them as better than any cooked green beans I ever had which I also tend to enjoy, so. Here you also see my Stinging Nettle, Jerusalem Artichoke patch with Day-lilies behind them. Some Day-lilies varieties may not be totally safe to eat so I suggest you learn to recognize and stick with Hemerocallis fulva the (Tawny Day-lily) which has become a very common wild Day-lily on the east half of N.A.

Milkweed

1 Jul

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I’ve only become familiar with Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in the last 10 years as it didn’t grow in my home area and seems to only grow along railway tracks in the area I live now which is Moncton N.B.  With its large thick leaves and attractive flowers this plant you will take notice of right away once you see it.

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I’ve been rather slow in sampling Milkweed as a wild edible due to the location where it grows as I’m quite concerned with the potential toxins in the plants related to the sprays railways periodically receive which has been going on in these areas for over 100 years. This one is just 2 feet from the railway track.

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Today I’ve found a patch which has spread a few hundred feet into an open field which I suspect is a safe enough distance to try a few young flower buds which even in the most pristine environment would need to be boiled to be a safe edible, some even recommend changing the boiling water 3 times while cooking. Since I’m new to this plant this is the cooking process I followed.

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Here are the unopened flower buds. Milkweed comes by its name honestly as the amount of white latex the runs forth when a leaf breaks away from the stem is impressive to see and this latex has been used to make rubber, also some folks of long ago used the dried latex as a chewing gum.

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This is my collection of the uncooked buds which turn out to be very good vegetable when cooked in the 3 boiling water change process for total cooking time of 15 minutes. The flower buds turn a dark green once the are boiled. I’m also interested in trying the young seedpods as a wild edible when the time is right, the white seeds inside the young pods look to be an interesting food.