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Canadian Wood Nettle

3 Jun

Out on the flood plain gathering some Laportea canadensis (Canadian wood nettle) as you can see in the basket with these scattered plants of wood nettles, are some tiny sprouting jewelweed and a few beginning strings of groundnuts and then your eyes will reach the green line of no longer fiddlehead stage ostrich ferns. Lots of energetic plants a glow here today.

Closer look at Canadian wood nettle.

Back at home and in the pot are the young solid stems of the wood nettles which are a healthy & tasty food. I should mention at this time you can actually snap the tender stems of (YOUNG) Canadian wood nettle with your bare hands without receiving any nasty stings but quite soon that will all change so beware if you’re out there.The wood nettle leaves I gathered were boiled separately and after dried and powder and will later be used as flour or added to soups, smoothies, etc

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.

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

Charcoal burner, nice to eat you

1 Aug

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Started out looking for some new Black Trumpet areas though it quickly became perfectly clear this was the night of the Charcoal burner (Russula cyanoxantha).

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Rolling along, the German Association of Mycology’s 1997 mushroom of the year, yes the Charcoal burner is a very popular mushroom in most of Europe and appears in markets there.

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Often you will see some like this from a distance and as you approach look for humps under the leaves, usually there will be many small fresh mushrooms around. Slugs and other insects love these mushrooms so you will only be able to gather one good one for every 5 or so you find.

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Again you only see one though there are many under the leaves here, walk gently.

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Here in Canada very few people are gathering Charcoal burner for food as this one is tricky to identify until you have it verified by a mycologist or expert, which took me 30 plus years to finally have this occur. Once you get your verification then the field characteristics need to be studied to nail things down as the Charcoal burner is quite different from the many other Russulas you are liable to meet up with.  These mushrooms tonight where growing near beech, poplar and eastern white pine trees and there were 3 other russula varieties also here though there was no close look alike.  This large red colored Russula in the center of the Charcoal burners I can’t  identify though you will find 10s of Russula varieties ranging in shades between these 2, so initially you will need expert help.

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Some of the characteristics I find helpful to know after verification are the way the cap peels back, texture of the cap, gills do not break to the touch as most other Russulas do, the multi colors, near beech trees, size, center of cap is indented, gills have some forking , faint red under peeled cuticle. In the photo above we see mostly the  Charcoal burner with Banana boletes and a few yellowfoot chanterelles on the left. ciao

Ostrich ferns on the floodplain

17 May

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Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) at this stage in its growth this fern is considered unsafe to eat. Usually there will still be some younger plants suitable for eating as you move away from the water’s edge into shader areas often covered by last years layer of tall grass.

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Here are some young edible (when cooked) Ostrich fern fiddleheads which  actually were the first wild plant I started to gather back in the late 70s as it was the only wild food local grocery stores in the surrounding small towns in my area were very eager to buy. In those days I would usually gather around 500 lbs of fiddleheads starting around mid May and ending a few days before June.

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Another patch of almost full grown Ostrich ferns which again are now inedible but the green plants under the ferns are an interesting edible plant known as Trout-lily.

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A closer look  at Trout-lily (Erythronium americanum), these plants have already lost their early blooming yellow flowers and a seed head has formed as you can see. Here is some more info on the Trout-lily from White Wolf’s  YouTube video if you are interested. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kgO-k-P26A

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Lastly here is the plant I actually came to this area to find today, as I’m looking for some seeds from some of last years stems to grow some tender young leaves. You’ve all seen this plant or its smaller relative around, below is a photo of one of the old last year stems, you may need to click on the photo to enlarge to notice the seed heads, it is a bit of an eye test. I’ll do a post on this plant a little later on..

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Spruce bolete amongst the white matsutake woods

6 Oct

Here are a few photos of Spruce boletes (Leccinum piceinum). I usually can not ID orange/red cap scaber-caps with many different staining colors and cap and stem scabers, but these were in a strictly conifer only woods where I was gathering white matsutake, these boletes are considered to be a good edible that is especially flavorful in dried form.

Click on photo to notice the spruce bolete on the rolling mossy terrain.

Off in the back section of this photo are 5  or so white mutsutake mushrooms in dark conifer forest these mushroom can be noticed hundreds of feet away. Actually any mushroom can be seen well in the moss or needle duff with the absence of fallen hardwood leaves.

The 2 orange colored mushrooms picked  up in mixed woods of birch, poplar and conifers are quite noticeable at the back of this tray of mushrooms and are a different variety of Leccinum then the spruce bolete (Leccinum piceinum) and the stem texture, cap cuticle and mushroom flesh staining was very different then the other mushrooms when preparing them for the drier, but if I had 4 or 5 different varieties on this tray these differences would not have been noticed.  Orange/red capped Leccinum are a very common Northern Hemisphere & Atlantic Canadian  mushroom with some very good edibles in the group though IDing them is difficult with 6 to 10 varieties with a couple of possible rogues in the group, there have been some GI illnesses reported in the mid and western USA. Conifer forest narrows down your possible Leccinum species considerably and is a good place to start exploring orange/red cap Leccinums as a possible forageable food source. ciao

The hopniss places

1 Aug

The blossoms are still not fully expanded but you get the picture and naturally this is the last day of  daylily flowers in our yard, starting July 1st and ending August 1st, so here are some hopniss blossoms which I introduced to the garden from the St John River which have danced over the daylily stalks  and some blue sky for your enjoyment to ring in the new month.

Some more blossoms and some communities which take their names from this plant Apios americana,—– Shubenacadie and the Shubenacadie river, NS Canada (Mi’kmaq)—–Sag Harbor and Sagaponack NY, USA   (Algonquin)—– Penecook River NH, USA.   I would be surprised if there are not many other areas throughout central and eastern N.A. having places named for this plant which provided a very edible tuber for folks for over 10,000 years in Canada and thousands more years as you head south. I recall finding this plant for the first time along a river in my home county where it wasn’t known to grow and being amazed at the sight of these large richly  colored and finely shaped blossoms. I definitely sat in their company for a while that day.

Click on to get a closer look at the softer colors on the top side of the blossoms.  As you can see they mingled quite naturally here to, only a handful of folks have seen or heard of this plant in this city, but I suspect we may get a street named after them before I leave these parts. ciao

To daylily is yester daylily’s tomorrow

7 Jul

Rain or shine the longer flower buds in this picture numbering around 50 of them will look a lot like the open flowers in the basket below by tomorrow morning.

Here is a photo of today’s flowers before they were placed in the basket. I gathered these in a few minutes in between the many thunder showers today.

More flower sections for drying tonight. A few more days of 50 flowers per day in this patch and then by next week the flowering should be completed. The dried flower aroma reminds me of dried rugosa rose hips, should be fun to compare the 2 in September. ciao

Cool local produce

25 Feb

Initially my thought was to collect some Jerusalem artichokes and also to bring a few hopniss tubers inside to grow as house plants.

This area is a section in our yard I devote to some of my favorite wild plants and also a few hardy self-sufficient others which inter-be in this location. Below is a summer view of this area.

Since the ground was still frozen on the snow-covered areas, I decided to check out some of the plants located near the edge of the surrounding buildings.

Here is the biennial, evening primrose.

Some sweet cicely under icy water.

Lastly near the foundation of the house some Jerusalem artichokes were obtained for supper.

You can click on the photos to get a closer look, also in coming months I will revisit this wild garden area to share and possibly introduce many of the plants which were not visible in the summer photo above, this will include mints, woundwort, hopniss, caraway, sweet cicely, orpine, chives, stinging nettle, yellow goatsbeard, sea rocket, orache, seaside plantain, mustards, smartweeds, sorrels and surprisingly quite a few more.

If your a wild food gatherer, a little indicator garden like this one can be helpful in choosing where and when to plan some of your wildcrafting excursions, especially if you are travelling some distance to your collecting grounds, this one has been most helpful to me, I can assure you. cheers for here