Tag Archives: ancient foods

Corn Lily

18 May


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.



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.


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.


Here is a Corn Lily in flower in early June, the leaves are much to bitter to eat at this stage. ciao


White Matsutake grounds

20 Sep


Yes it’s that time of the year, time to check my favorite White Matsutake grounds. I noticed some newly emerging Suillus cavipes as I started onto the path which made me suspect I was a little to early especially since it was dry this week, but there they were a few nice smaller Matsutakes and at least one group of the larger ones.


Most of the mushrooms were in needle duff very close to conifer tree  trunks.


Here is the above mushroom lifted from the duff, they were more difficult to remove intact today due to the dryness.


Another one deep in the duff.


This one’s stem is thicker and still it needed lots of wiggling to lift it without snapping the stem.


Large mushrooms with wetter caps and stems in moss.


This was a nice start to the White Matsutake season in my area. I’m going to do a couple small post on some other mushroom I found in these woods as well tonight as they were at their best. 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.


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


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.


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.

Yellow Goatsbeard is set to jump

26 Jun


Yellow goatsbeard open seed-heads look like giant dandelion.


This one is Tragopogon pratensis


Here is Tragopogon dubius, I am collecting the seeds from both of these forms of Yellow Goatsbeard before most of the seeds blow away.


I’ll be sprouting many of these though a few will be left to produce young roots and leaves to be eaten in the late fall.


In the Maritime provinces of Canada usually you will find a wild member of the pea family growing beside Yellow Goatsbeard and the photos today show no exception.

Large-leaved Aster (Eurybia macrophylla)

16 Jun


Approaching someone’s home garden of Large-leaved Aster.


The best time to notice Large-leaved Aster is the month of June in eastern Canada. The best time to eat the cooked leaves of Large-leaved Aster is in the month of May.  So today I’m locating large beds of this perennial plant in areas close to where I live or frequently travel in preparation for observing the plant through its different stages as it grows and then returning in late April to start gathering the young tender leaves while they are still shiny and around 4 inches long. I may also gather  the seed heads after flowering in the fall to see how this plant grows from seed inside the house or in the spring outdoors in my garden.


A look at a young plant as this aster bed seems to be expanding outward in this area.


The 3 leaves on the left are acceptable for cooking, but the 3 leaves on the right though of similar size would be leathery to eat.


Here is another local animal who is fond of Large-leaved Aster and the Ojibwa hunters were well aware of this and dried Large-leaved Aster leaves and smoked them as a deer charm.