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Inland from the sea sand

4 Jul

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The ocean’s voice accompanied by shorebirds can still be heard as I leave the beach and head into a flat marshy area to forage where a wide variety of plants can be gathered for food and medicinal usage. Just in the above photo we see a few different mustards, peas and Goosefoot family members which are excellent tasting nutritional foods, some though need to be eaten in moderation and require special preparation. Today I’ll just mention a few of my favorites.

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Here is a view above the bank showing a large bed of Beach pea – Lathyrus japonicus.

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Not far away where there is visible sand we see some Silverweed – Potentilla anserina.

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Seabeach Sandwort – Honkenya peploides is a nice edible which can be eaten raw cut into bite size pieces and also stir fried with other veggies. This plant usually grounds close to shore or where there is bare sand often in small mounds 3 to 4 feet across, it belongs to the Pink Family which also includes Chickweed. If you are lucky enough to find the earliest stems you will taste a salty & juicy morsel which looks like giant bean sprouts, once the straight stem sections turn yellowish brown the stems will be to woody and dry to eat, the ones in photos haven’t flowered yet and with some rain would remain edible for several weeks.

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Sea Rocket – Cakile edentula also goes well in salads when cut in tiny pieces, larger pieces for stir fries, it is a bold salty mustard. This plant is often dominate in flat sandy areas along the coast.

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I’ll leave you with this photo which showcase the wide openness of this type of foraging area which are very pleasant to be in on a breezy summer day. ciao

 

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Marsh Woundwort

15 May

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Of course as the day began I had no intention of gathering a few of these very early to appear Stachys palustris (Marsh Woundwort) which I will transplant into my garden near some stinging nettle. The plants will produce plenty of tubers similar to what you see here by this Fall. These were gathered by just poking my fingers into the soil and feeling for the tubers if they were close by, I was actual looking for wild mushrooms today though these and a few other plants stole the show as I walked in the meadow and floodplain along the river including burdock, yellow nut-sedge and  the Maritime wild food favorite fiddleheads which I’ll also display in another short post today.

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Here is a plant growing from a small tuber running flat a 1/2 inch under the soil, also the tubers can run straight down. I planted one of these Marsh Woundwort tubers in a large pot a few years back and was pleasantly surprised with the numbers of long thin tubers and also rhizomes it produced.

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Come the fall the new tubers can be eaten raw or cooked in numerous ways, a very tasty food not often gathered in most of its range.

Not to very sunny flowers

2 Oct

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Usually I’m showing the Sunchoke’s tubers which grow below these plants, but now is the time to see up close their often not noticed fall flowers and to enter a pic in my wild flower page.

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Jerusalem Artichoke is a plant which stands between 5 to 9 feet tall in patches along many Maritime brooks and rivers in the early fall season. Here is a look at a few bend down stems with flowers where you may start to see them in a slightly different light.

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If you are fortunate enough to find a spot – even on an overcast day like this one where you can shine down on them at the same angle as the somewhat clouded sun behind you- then something like this will be seen.

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I like this one the most for my (wild flower page), but a few folks in the house chose one of the other pics, which would you choose?

 

Salt Marsh Flowers

10 Jul

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Glaux maritima – sea milkwort is not real common in this salt marsh and is quite well hidden in the taller grasses, I think I’ll add this one to my wild flower page as this little plant is a salt marsh favorite of mine.

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Actually dropped in here for some more male cattail flower heads in the fresh water marsh, but with a salt marsh this close a small walk in seemed a good idea and here we see some Plantago maritima – seaside plantain which I showed the long leaves of last week, now those plants have these newly emerging flower stems already starting to flower just at the bottom of the stem heads (click on for closer look), these unique little flowers are looking quite showy on this sunny afternoon. ciao

A couple of salt marsh edibles

2 Jul

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In the swamp this afternoon seeing how the cattails and a few others edibles are coming along and decided to continue over the dyke into the salt marsh. Here in the photo is a plant with tasty edible leaves known as Orache, this is the most common Atriplex in this marsh and its leaves will start to shrink as it stretches upwards in the warmer weather, so now is a good time to gather a few.

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Another look at its spear shaped leaf.

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Some other animal has been walking over the dyke and has found and nibbled on these nice tender seaside plantain (Plantago martima), known locally as goose-tongue and passé-pierre.

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In the marsh’s taller grass the seaside plantain had long slender succulent leaves over a foot long, harder to see and more difficult to graze as many other plants with similar leaves were well mixed in with them, I needed to check twice on some of them, here they are laying on some dried grass with a couple of orache sprouts in view. I think I’ll sit here for a bit and them home to steam some greens.

Ah, Wood Nettle a

20 Jun

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A typical foraging adventure where things just didn’t pan out as expected, a bit to early for the plant I had in mind though this new floodplain I’ve started exploring this year is turning up some interesting plants like this Wood Nettle – (Laportea canadensis).

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The greenery has grown a couple feet since my last visit, now there are many Wood Nettle peeking through the Sensitive Ferns and there are a few others like Poison Ivy I’m unfamiliar with and I’ve read it can give you a few different looks within a same area so I’ll have to be quite – rashional – in my approach so a few tools are in order like these gloves which I always carry with me anyway.

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This one I didn’t bring but it as a rule conveniently grows around plants which can irritate your skin so I’ll keep a few juicy stems of Jewelweed – (Impatiens capensis) around just in case things get uncomfortable. As it turned out I didn’t run into problems though I did place the stem juice on my skin just to stay familiar with the smell and feel of this jewel of a weed, quite refreshing.

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A few sunny light green Wood Nettles and lots of  sunny light green Sensitive Fern.

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Probably 75% of the plants in this view are tall healthy Sensitive Ferns.

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A slightly drier area and we have some large Wood Nettle plants, none have any flower parts opening up yet also in view are some Dryad Saddle mushrooms on an Elm tree straight ahead in the distance, you’ll need to click on the photo to see them.

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Now I’m a bit surprised that there a few areas on this floodplain with large colonies Wood Nettle covering several acres so I’ll gather a single leaf per plant and will have a year’s supply for tea, juices and soups in just a few hours. Back home the plant appears to have much milder stinging irritants as compared to the Stinging Nettles in the Urtica group I already know well.  The raw leaves de-activated of the stingers tasted better than the raw Urticas but raw and de-activated in fruit juice it didn’t have the same invigorating qualities as the Uriticas. There are a few medications which interact unfavorably with both Wood Nettle and Stinging Nettle so do your homework before using this food and medicinal. ciao

Water Avens (wild flower) beauty and beast

15 Jun

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Going to add 1 of the first 3 photos of Water Avens (Geum rivale) to my wild flower page soon, hoping maybe a few folks will enter a comment on their favorite pic of the 3.

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Another view from below. Water Avens are a member of the rose family.

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Above looking down at the leaves, pleasant to bee in this tiny wet meadow for a few moments.

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Now here is a look at a piece of a root which can be used as a beverage and medicinal ingredient. I actually tried this one last night mixed with milk and honey, anytime you try a new wild food it is a good idea to proceed very slowly, at least for the first few times you try it, so I drank less than a half cup of a diluted version of this beverage over a span of an hour, very nice flavour and pleasant in the tummy but eventually my lips began to slightly tingle for a time which can be a warning sign of an allergic reaction, my first thoughts went back to a much more intense reaction a had with a strong anti-inflammatory medication I received 15 years ago, this time only the tingling lips with no other issues arising, nevertheless this beauty isn’t going to be my cup of tea anymore. ciao

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

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

Golden trees and Sunchokes

26 Dec

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It was warm and wet the last few days so there was a small chance of some oyster mushrooms in a local sugar maple woods, but after a short look I was satisfied to move on, especially while seeing the early morning sun color these sturdy maples golden.

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Interesting to walk into a familiar place which suddenly looks so new, never suspected this was a golden forest during a certain sun.

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Back home it seemed a good time to unearth some Sunchoke tubers which is the variety I found in the early 90s from a vacant lot in a small town I was working in then, these ones have been in my indicator garden wherever I’m living ever since.  That town was bordering a large fresh water marsh and I was finding many different types of Sunchokes in that area, most varieties grow between 6 to 9 feet tall and flower in the fall, there was one large tan colored tuber variety growing out in the marsh on heavy clay which had a stem only 3 feet high and blown even lower in the grass by the strong marsh winds, I should go back and gather that one some day to try in the garden. In the marsh they were extremely hard to dig in the compact clay though they were large tubered and smooth skinned and may grow the same in more workable soils?

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Here is a closer look at these healthy tubers which people in the eastern part of Canada can harvest anytime during the winter that the ground isn’t frozen. This as many of you know is the one tuber bearing member of the Sunflower family Heliantus tuberosus, while the wild smaller tuber type is quite common on river floodplains and is native to North America, some of the other larger varieties like the ones in the photos which you will encounter at abandon farms, vacant lots and disturbed soils are possibly types developed in both Europe and NA. These ones in the photos I’ve moved to a few different areas as well, mostly places I know I may pass by in the fall to spring months, they don’t spread much and if I don’t harvest them the local voles or other rodents will have some good eating, I’ll try something different and lacto ferment a few of these ones I’ve collected today. ciao