The theme this week is going to be Milkweed, it is fast becoming a favorite plant of mine, easy to identify, very edible, and has pretty flowers to boot. I will have some info up later this week on how to prepare young milkweed pods to eat.
Besides being human edible, milkweed is the primary food for the caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly, it also provides them with a natural defense since every part of the milkweed plant is extremely bitter, and in turn the caterpillars and the resulting butterflies are so bitter that other animals do not want to eat them.
I took this picture a couple of weekends ago at Paul & Jess’ new farm.
So I am getting quite the collection of plants I have taken pictures of that I haven’t identified yet, so I think I am going to start posting some of them up as I get a chance. The last couple I have posted people seemed to really enjoy trying to figure out what they were (And I got answers to all of them I have posted so far!).
I took pictures of this plant on November 6th while hiking out at the Allegheny National Forest with Paul and Jess. This looked like a plant that should be edible, and I figured it would be an easy find because it was a fairly unique leaf. I had figured something in the clover or sorrel families, however I made two passed through my wild edibles books and some sites I use online and came up with nothing.
This plant was unique because it had such large leaves for what seemed like a grass like plant, also the fact it had the three distinct lobes on each leaf.
Anyone know what this one is? Unfortunately I haven’t run into it again this year to see if it flowers or anything else distinct, all I have are the three pictures I took last year.
Update 7/14/2011: That was quick, I got an answer on Facebook that this was Hepatica (Also known as liverleaf or liverwort). After doing a quick search I can easily confirm that is correct. From looking at pictures online it appears that Hepatica has beautiful flowers very early in the spring, I will have to keep an eye out for them. Also as I always am looking for wild edibles, I checked up on this one, historically it was used for liver issues, but that is more to do with early medicine using plants that look like the part that was sick, and since the leaf on this plant has three parts, the same as our livers, it was used to treat liver issues. Thanks Beth for correctly identifying this plant for me!
To see a nice writeup about Hepatic, please check out the following link: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/hepatica_nobilis.shtml
So once again, its been awhile since I have posted, same reason as before, summers are very busy for me 🙂
This weeks picture is of a honeysuckle bush that is loaded down with berries. I found this at Paul & Jess’ new farm when I went out for a walk before anyone else was up on Sunday. It took me awhile to identify it, all the matches on the fruit led to pin cherries or choke cherries or some kind of cherries. However all cherries have a toothed leaf which this one does not. It seemed that all the matches I found for the leaf was not close to the fruit it is bearing. I ended up just searching Google for “Trees with red berries” and an hour or so later I had a pretty solid idea this was a honeysuckle.
So the big question, is it edible? Depending on the source you range from delicious to deadly. There is a LOT of misinformation out there on honeysuckles from my research, and it seems to come down to the fact that there are quite a few species of honeysuckle. The general consensus on sites I trust say that the berry is mildly toxic, it won’t kill you, but it will probably upset your stomach and maybe give you diarrhea. There are a couple of the honeysuckle species that are edible, most notably Lonicera Caerulea (Blue-berried or Sweetberry honeysuckle), this appeared to be one of the only ones with blue fruit, but I did not research that much since the ones I found had red fruit.
If you do want a treat, from my reading, when the tree is flowering you can pick the flower and there will be a dot of nectar at the base of the flower that tastes like honey, it seems that you can eat this from any of the honeysuckle family.
So in summary, very pretty, bright fruit, but for the most part inedible.
I love finding and getting pictures of flowers in the wild. Finding cool flowers in the wild means more to me than a huge manicured garden, because this happened all on its own, and its up to you to discover it. Also flowers are one of my best indicators on both identifying a wild edible and also as markers for me to know where we are in the season. Since I take so many pictures each year, and many times of the same flowering plants, I can compare the dates on a particular flower between years to see if we are having an early or late spring, etc. When I am having problems identifying a particular plant, if I can catch it while it is flowering, I can almost always positively identify it, then the next year I should know it much better even before it flowers for the year.
The trillium has wonderful flowers as well as being a wild edible, the leaves when it first comes up can be used as a cooked salad green, however by the time the trillium flowers the leaves are too bitter to consume. I missed trying the trillium this year because I was not totally sure of my identification of it (and I had mistaken a Jack-In-The-Pulpit as a trillium anyways which would have been a shocking mistake!). From my reading you do not want to pick trilliums as an edible most times anyways as they are not that abundant, so you should only pick them if there is a large amount in the area already.
This is quickly becoming one of my favorite edibles to run across. I am a huge fan of horseradish on things, and when you process the root of toothwort, I can barely tell the difference between the two! I have found toothwort basically everywhere I am currently out at, but this picture was taken on the Zimmerman trail.
I am collecting a bunch of toothwort right now to make up some of my own horseradish sauce, just need some more time to dig up some more of it.
Whatever this is, it has me bugged. I keep seeing it while I am walking through the woods on the Zimmerman trail in Mentor. I have been out looking for wild mushrooms, and every time I see one of these from a distance I get excited only to find out its yet some more of whatever these are.
I have looked through my books and I don’t see anything that looks like this (Of course they normally show full grown stuff, so no surprise there). I would really like to know what it is. It isn’t a tree coming up, the shoots are easily broken off, the inside of them have a texture that remind my of ginger, but it doesn’t have much of a smell. It is not a pine cone as someone else mentioned. I think it might be edible in some way as it seems like the deer are pawing at it to eat them.
So any idea’s on what this might be, please let me know in the comments!
For the last couple weeks I have been watching some shoots coming out of the ground, I haven’t been sure what they were so I have been keeping a pretty close watch, when I started to see the leaves develop I thought they might be Trillium’s as a single leaf stalk has a resemblance, however on my last trip out it was unmistakable that these were Jack-In-Pulpit’s. They went from a shoot with a little leaf to the full plant you see here in a week or less.
These are a bit of a tricky wild edible from what I read, you can only eat the roots, and ONLY after they are totally dried. The suggestion is to cut the roots into paper thin slices and then leave them out for upwards to three months before consuming, you can either eat them like potato chips, or grind them into a flour (which the Indians did).
The reason you must dry them so much is because they contain calcium oxalate crystals (Same as in skunk cabbage). This will cause intense burning when you eat it, one of my wild edibles books compared it to eating liquid fire, while another of my books compared it to having a mouth full of glass shards mixed with cayenne pepper. Boiling will not remove the calcium oxalate, only completely drying it will.
That being said, I do plan to harvest a small amount to try, but it will be sitting here until it is “gunpowder dry” to quote one of my wild edibles books!
I found this while I was out on one of my walks this last weekend on one of the islands on the Chagrin river. I was just walking out and this plant caught my eye, I had taken over a hundred pictures already, but I knew I recognized this plant from somewhere and that I hadn’t run into it in the wild yet. As per my usual when I got home and downloaded all my pictures, I flipped through my 3 wild edibles books and a couple websites I use and I found this one in the first pass.
Now that I know what it is, I am going to try and go back and collect some to actually try. From reading you can use this as a replacement for the commercial (Asian) ginger you would buy in the store, it is most likely not quite as potent as the Asian Ginger, but that just means you use a bit more of it. I am quite excited to have found this!
Wow its been a busy few weeks lately. I haven’t posted on the blog, but I have tons to put up on here, in the last couple weeks I have taken several hundred pictures while I have been out searching for wild edibles. I am learning more and more plants each time I go out, and I have been bringing some of them home to try.
When I was out this last Saturday, I was on one of my favorite islands in the Chagrin River when I ran across these geese and their babies. The picture turned out perfect! I didn’t want to get very close as they were very protective of their little ones, you can tell by how they have their necks that they were not happy with me being there!
Yesterday I posted a picture of the sunset of Lake Erie, however I couldn’t just post one picture, I took about 40 pictures while I was there. Today I thought I would post up one of the pictures I got with a large spray coming over the breakwall there. I hope you enjoy the picture, I have many more I would love to post, but they tend to start looking the same after a bit :-).