Going back through my pictures from this spring I see that I never posted this picture. Sometimes when I pull the pictures off from my camera and go through them I am shocked by them. Walking around the island on the Chagrin River where I took this picture, there were bluebells everywhere, at one point I walked through a field of them, it was truly stunning.
Normally I only take 2-3 pictures of each plant as I go by, but I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of the different bluebells as I ran across them, and I am glad I did take so many pictures. The picture featured in the post today was one of the last ones I took while I was out.
Of course I would choose to post a picture of BLUEbells and have it be one of the few pictures where the flowers were mostly pink 🙂
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 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.
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!
I have been very busy the last couple weeks trying to get out and find as many wild edibles as I can. Last Thursday I headed out on my Kayak and went down to one of the islands on the Chagrin river to explore it and see what I could find there. Wow, I found so much. I am still working to identify a bunch of what I found last week. One plant that I just learned about this year is the Trout Lily, I have been finding Trout Lily’s all over the place now that I know what to look for, and they have made a nice snack while I am out, the bulb root is edible on these and it tastes a bit like cucumbers. However from reading Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, you only want to eat a few of them as Trout Lily’s can have the effect of being a mild emetic (A substance that induces vomiting, like syrup of ipecac), however you would only run into that if you were to feast on the plant from my reading.
Also of interest, all of the greens in the background of this picture are wild onions. Almost the entire island was covered in them!
As I was driving past one of the small parks on Lake Erie last evening, I saw a beautiful sunset in progress, though I missed the best part of the sunset by about a minute. I didn’t have my regular camera with me, so I had to use my iPhone, but I got some great pictures anyways. We had quite the windstorm over the weekend (We didn’t have power at our house for about 9 hours on Sunday!), a constant wind like that always makes some really nice waves out on the lake.
I got this picture while I was out scouting for wild edibles last week, I loved the way the head of this marsh grass looked against the sky. In this area, you will find this particular grass growing almost anywhere there is water, I have been out trying to find a place where I can pick cattails, but everywhere I go is just packed solid with this marsh grass. I decided to do some research on this and found out its technical name is Phragmites, and it appears that it is an invasive species (Which doesn’t surprise me with how prevalent it is here).
I was a bit surprised to find out however that this is a wild edible, I haven’t taken the time yet to try it, but I will in the near future. From my research it appears the new shoots are edible in the spring (you peel off the hard outer layer, and the inner part is edible), and the roots of it are edible as well.
If you didn’t recognize it from the shot above, here is a picture that shows the full plant. Looking back, this marsh grass has made it into a picture of the day before, it is the tall grass you can see in the background on my very first picture of the week I did on the blog here (http://www.kd8itx.com/blog/2010/05/picture-of-the-week/).
I hope everyone isn’t getting tired of animal pictures from my walks at the Chagrin River Park. I am out there quite a bit, so as you would expect I get a fair amount of pictures from there. It is always funny when I am walking Madison through the park, so many times we will walk within 10 feet of a deer and she will never notice them. Sometimes when we are walking past one of the deer with snort and Madison will jump right to attention and try to figure out where that deer appeared from!
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On Saturday, I spent the afternoon walking around the different parks in Mentor. I am out scouting where I am going to take my wild edibles group that I am starting. It is still a bit early to find much of anything, but I probably found at least a dozen edibles and I have a couple of places that I think I can use for taking the wild edibles group.
While I was out walking, this was the first spring shoot I ran across, I am not sure what it is yet, I will probably stop back by in a couple weeks to see if I can tell then. I think things will be turning green pretty soon, just from when I was out in the woods Saturday until I went back again on Sunday to try and confirm one of the plants I found, there were several more things coming up.
I was just back to check on these shoots tonight and I can now identify these as Grape Hyacinth’s. These particular shoots have been pretty well eaten by the local wildlife, however there are plenty more in the immediate area that still had flowers, and they were pretty easy to identify from there.
Interestingly enough, the flowers on the Grape Hyacinth are edible, I picked about a dozen of the flowers and I ate a couple of them, they do not have a lot of taste, but they were pleasant enough. In reading they say it should taste a bit like sour grapes with a bitter aftertaste. I noticed the sour taste, but they were not bitter at all, and they didn’t really have much in the way of a grape taste. I would munch on them though next time I run into them.