Archive | May, 2015

Painted Trillium (wild flower)

31 May

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Trillium undulatum is our most common Maritime Trillium.

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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.

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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.

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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 near a 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.