Archive | May, 2014

Goutweed finally dawned on me

30 May

 

DSC06747Been in a bit of a fog like the sky this morning over Goutweed as I often wondered if I just haven’t notice this plant around as it is well known for being an edible and medicinal, invasive plant. A recent wordpress post on (62nd Parallel North) really woke me up to what this plant looks like in its spring growth and since that post I’ve noticed Goutweed (Aegopodium  podagraria) in 2 recreational areas a short walk from my home. Unfortunately these locations were close to roads within the city and not a wise place to gather food.

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It is -2 degrees C this morning at 6.00 am and the Goutweed in this area has been touched by frost, though the good news is I pass by close to this country area most week days, so I’ve found a good source to gather later today and also in the future if I like this plant.

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Goutweed is a member of the Carrot family which has some of the most poisonous plants on the planet, so unless you are really familiar with the poisonous ones like Water Hemlock and others, you best have an expert verify this plant before trying it.

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I stopped by this guy’s place figuring he would know his carrots even better than me, but he wasn’t talking so I looked around the net some more to get as much info on this plant as possible and I ended up arriving at another wordpress blog along the way which was (Of Plums and Pignuts) where I received some valuable tips on harvesting and cooking.

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Work is over now and it is 19 degrees C at 5.00 pm, quite a change and the Goutweed has made a nice recovery.

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Here is a look at the young shiny growth I gathered for my initial encounter with Goutweed, tasting the young stems raw I found them better tasting than raw caraway and sweet cicely greens, 2 other members of the carrot family, so Goutweed’s first impression is good. Cooked in the frying pan this plant is very good and it appears new young shoots will keep rising for several months during the year, this hardy invasive has a lot of potential. No wonder this plant has a long history of usage throughout Europe and Asia for thousands of years. ciao

 

 

Springing up stream side

26 May

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An early evening walk looking for Morel mushrooms and again I’m not noticing any which makes for another opportunity to focus on some of the other things going on. Here is a small plant that caught my eye and at first I suspected it to be a Twisted Stalk (Streptopus amplexifolius), but after comparing my photo to other google images of that plant it seemed I better look at a few more images of other wild lily family members and the one which seemed the most probable match is called Little Merrybells (Uvularia sessilifolia). I must admit the long hanging flowers do appear quite joyous but that is not enough to say with certainty the identity of this little one.

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This one I do know well and I needed to place my camera on the ground for you to see the open flower under the large umbrella-like leaves of this Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum).

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Orpine this evening is starting to show why a few of us on the east coast consider it a prime wild lettuce.

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Here is a plant I decided to eat soon after this photo was taken as I couldn’t recall the taste of Blackberry shoots and I rarely see them at this stage, less than a foot tall. The outer stem surface needs to be peeled before sampling, the interior is light green, firm with a nice tart crunch.

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These 2 False Solomon Seal plants with their heads bend over and chewed up leaves looks like they just went toe to toe for 15 rounds, not a pretty sight, hopefully they will recover soon. ciao

After the fire Large-Leaf Aster

24 May

DSC06712 Today seemed like a good day to find out if any Morel mushrooms were going to appear in an area where a forest fire occurred  last summer and was within a reasonably close distance to travel from my home. Since Large-leaf Aster is known to expand with vigor after a forest fire I was somewhat certain I would at least arrive home with a nice bag of greens. DSC06700 Yes, the Large-leaf Aster greens were growing very well with plenty of young shiny leaves in excellent shape for gathering. DSC06718 The Morel mushroom part of the adventure was a bit of  false alarm though as the Black Morel mushroom was no where to be found, just some inedible False Morels which are considered potentially fatal to consume. DSC06721 These way to dangerous to eat False Morels were still an impressive sight to behold on the forest floor and were out in large numbers. DSC06724 Back home with a few medicinal plants which I’ll post on later and my collection of Large-leaf Aster leaves which you can see I am now preparing to boil, these mild tasting greens are rarely foraged for in my area, so I probably shouldn’t let the cat out of the bag and tell how easy to gather and tasty this post fire invader’s young greens are. ciao

Unkept Yard Juice

19 May

DSC06690 Time to gather a few weeds and garden escapees growing near my shed. Starting at (1) o’clock and continuing spinning clockwise we have (1) wild prickly lettuce (2) plantain (3) wild mint (4) caraway (5) stinging nettle (6) evening primrose (7) burdock (8) dandelion (9) ground-ivy (10) sheep sorrel (11) sweet cicely (12) yellow goatsbeard.  These spring greens placed in a blender with some water made a wildly powerful dark green drink. DSC06692   Another much simpler tasty drink I’ve been enjoying lately is to mix 4 ozs of orange juice and 3 spring sprigs of raw stinging nettle, blitz well in a blender and there you have it, a nice foamy drink . All solid traces of the nettles disappear in the blender along with the plants stinging ability. DSC06694 I don’t know if I’m being influenced by the color of the drink or not as this stinging nettle and orange combination seems to have a tangy lime flavour. cheers

Fiddleheads, fireweed and wintercress

18 May

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Back to a small stream I noticed some nice Chaga mushrooms near a few weeks ago and today the ostrich fern fiddleheads on the stream bank were  a good size for gathering.

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Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) is another plant which may be at its tastiest when it is just barely visible. If you are interested in this plant’s shoots and live in the Maritimes note the location of the large beds of showy flowers in July and much later return for the spring shoots usually in early May.

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In grassy areas these small Fireweed shoots are a good challenge to see.

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Here are a couple of Wintercress plants (Barbarea vulgaris), these leaves are a bit chewed up and probably survived under the snow from Dec to May. These plants look like they could bolt any second now and should be showing some yellow flowers on foot long stalks by early June. Some consider the stalk and unopened buds of wintercress its best edible parts.

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More healthy looking birch trees with prime chaga mushrooms around this small stream, another hot spot. ciao

Bear in mind Bigleaf Aster

17 May

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Here is the early growth of  Bigleaf or if you like Large-leaved Aster (Eurybia macrophylla)

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This is one of the edible plants I’ve been hoping to find much earlier this month, but today is the day.

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(click on the photo to bearly see her.)  It’s kind of funny I also planned on adding a link to view a video which features Black Bears in spring eating Bigleaf Aster and today I also sighted my first Black Bear of the year. The bear is the tiny black dot about 800 feet down the road on the right, a little out of the range of my Sony Cyber-shot. You’ll get a much closer look in the Bear video, as  you will see some Black Bear family life and around 3 minutes in the Bears will start mowing down a lot of Bigleaf Asters as this seems to be a early spring favorite of theirs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoQC-XHPtIM

Maritime early risers

10 May

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I often show orpine here on the blog, it is one of the first edibles available in my area and seems very common around fresh water streams, fields and thickets.DSC06658

 

Lots of snow and rain this year made for some flooding and in fact the road I travelled here on is washed out a mile south and closed for repair for several weeks now. Here we see why Orpine is aka Live Forever as the soil usually around its tubers is completely gone, yet the green growth on these plants looks as good as the ones in soil, the tubers are softening and drying out though.

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This seems like a good opportunity to reach down and pick up a few more young Orpine plants to bring home to my garden as it is a great salad plant and I would like to try Orpine tubers in the fall and winter in a few different ways this year, this collection will help me recall the tubers later on. Orpine is a survivor and will grow a new plant even from a small piece of stem placed in soil and this is the usual way I move these plants to new areas, today the tubers were presented to me in a way I most generously accept.

 

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Here below the blackberry canes we see one of our first spring wild flowering plants the Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum), I haven’t eaten this plant very often over the decades due mainly to my believe I maybe harming the population by digging the well buried bulbs which is considered by many to be the best edible part.

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Trout Lily is also very common along streams and in some hard wood areas. This year I’ve decided like most other years to leave the bulbs and leaves be, though I will gather some of the flower buds, flowers with stems to eat raw, cooked and also try fermented. Click on the photo to noticed patterns on the leaves which do resemble a trout’s sides.

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Lastly, here is a little Maritime beaver art for you, another resemblance this freshly chomped piece looks somewhat similar to the large conifer burl not far away, nicely done beaver. ciao for now

Maritime spring colors

4 May

DSC06606orache sprouts out on the salt marsh

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small round leafed salicornia sprouts and a few other salt marsh annuals under last year’s salicornia stems. You will need to click on the photo to notice the tiny salicornia sprouts

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Not much greenery around the Phragmites though tan and light brown look good as well.

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Way over my head in last summer’s Phragmites stems, some of these are 10 ft plus, this plant is one I  will be visiting a few times this spring and summer to explore its edible parts.

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Leaving the marsh for higher ground a groundhog appears cooperative for a photo.

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Inland a few miles along a small stream we see a few ostrich fern fiddleheads taking off their copper colored spring coats on this warm day.

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Orpine is also popping up on the stream’s floodplain.

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A small trip to remember especially with this huge chaga mushroom and pleasant view on the way back through the forest.  This chaga looks to be around 8 lbs and the birch tree it is on is still in good shape with plenty of new buds on its branches, this mushroom is one I may return for in a winter or 2. ciao