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Wild Springtime Edibles

Posted by remembrance Southern IN (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 21, 08 at 11:39

Complete nature newbie post proceeding:

I'm currently living in southern Indiana on the banks / valley / hills where the flat part of Indiana drops down into the valley of the big River. Just signed up for these forums today =).

Which guide books would you all reccommend are the best for the guy who wants to go out in the woods and become farmilar with plants local to this region? Also, specifically, what should I be looking out for right now? If I spend a day out in the boonies, which edible plants are popping up this time of year? Yesterday, I tried eating some wild type of one leaf looking herb... it was a very small, viney thing with little one tear shaped leaves branching off all over the main stem vines. Most of the plants were about 8 inches diameter and stayed very close to the ground and popped up mostly alone in the woods, but there were some areas around people's lawns where it had become evasive and taken over a whole areas next to some little streams. I guess it would be classified as a ground cover in that case. The actual leaves were very tiny, like 4x8mm and all very uniformely sized. The smaller shoots had an onion like taste that was much more mild in the full grown plants. It grew in high areas around the cliffs here, before you got down into the more humid valley, and on top of mossy rocks in the valley area. Apparentally it was alright, and very tasty =). I'm sure it is a very common plant, but this gives you an idea of how much I actually know about local vegetation. I guess what it comes down to is this: I need to find the most practical / effecient way to identify and get information, in the field, of all living things that may catch my interest. Right now, I feel like my pack is missing a few important books, lol. Also, for someone as enthuiastic as myself, would a cheap digi cam be a good investment for things I can't seem to identify myself or describe adequetly? I realize I have a LOT to learn, so please bear with me =).

(background info / my introduction following, feel feel to skip if busy, haha)

Recently I've been trying to get back to nature... you know, long, long walks in the woods, taking my shoes off feeling the grass / mud get between my toes and feet, camping out, and generally trying to think about my energy usage and how out of balance with nature it currently is.... I know I'm not alone, I feel like there are so many ways we are all out of balance, but I'm ready to get back my severely severed connection.

I eventually want to learn some trapping techniques, but for now I figure the best thing I can do is become farmilar with the different plants, trees, flowers, and wild herbs / mushrooms that grow all over this humid area. The problem is identifying everything quickly and, rather than knowing if it is merely edible, recognizing other practical uses for each individual plant and being able to realte these uses to people other than myself.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Wild Springtime Edibles

Hi Remembrance,

Welcome to Garden Web. I'm in Scott County, near Hardy Lake. Are you near here maybe?

One book I have found valuable in my 'return to nature' walks is Field Guide To Indiana Wildflowers., by Kay Yatskievych. In glancing through it, I see most everything is listed as herbs. It tells if it is native, or if has been introduced to the area.

Yes, a camera would sure be helpful. I bought Kodak Easy Share (WM) but haven't mastered doing close ups yet...sigh.

I discovered something just yesterday, and it was too little to get a good pic...sigh. I guess it is time to master picture taking, as there will soon be things popping up everywhere.

Have Fun!

Sue

Here is a link that might be useful: At Amazon


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RE: Wild Springtime Edibles

Hi Rememberance,
I have a Peterson Field Guide called Medicinal Plants and Herbs that you may find helpful. May I strongly suggest you identify the plant, before you eat it? Some parts of plants, or entire plants can be toxic/ poisonous (aconite), emetic (culver's root), or hallucinogenic (never mind), so I feel caution is in order. The same goes for mushrooms. In fact non-toxic mushrooms can become toxic if they grow near evergreens. Enjoy nature, but please be prudent.
K


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RE: Wild Springtime Edibles

Sue,

I'm living in downtown Madison on the riverfront... I have friends who visit Hardy Lake sometimes, but they mostly just go there to get wasted and toke up.

I've been hiking a LOT these past few days; I think I will get a camera... it seems like you come across so many more interesting things in nature. Yesterday, I was hiking around the Hanover Beach area and, besides a few close encounters with deer, a few turkeys, and a baby red-headed woodpecker, I noticed much more than normal all the little ones in their nooks and crannies. Tiny mushrooms growing in old pecker holes of rotting logs, pretty wild flowers peeking out of holes in stump bases towards light, and new trees poking their long fingers out of the hills towards their 6 o'clock sunshine =). Now is a great time to get out and see those "new things popping up everywhere". I also feel that it is a good time to laern where certain things grow because it is so easy to get around at this point. I feel like a giant walking around giving encouragement to the new babies.

K,

I will see if I can find your book, and the book Sue reccommended, at our local libraries. I kind of felt like a fool after reading the introduction of "Into the Wild" yesterday. I feel almost as niaeve as that kid must have been. I do share his enthuiasm for nature (and literature =) ), but I don't think I want to end up with regretting something I've eaten without much inspection / research. The only plant I've been eating is wild onion grass since my last post. I chop it up really fine and add it to my evening salad, or chew on a patch when I come to a clearing in the woods.

Thanks to both of you for the advice


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RE: Wild Springtime Edibles

Remembrance, welcome to Garden Web. Glad to hear you are getting out in nature more. Please make sure you know what plant you have before you eat it!! There are lots of great ones to try and but several that will keep you out of nature for a loooong time. Try checking for local nature centers, parks departments, Audubon groups, hiking groups, etc. and see if there are any knowlegeable people in them who you can join for a hike or two. Books are great, but a real live guide with good knowledge of the local area is golden.

Learn to identify poison ivy in all seasons and avoid it. It doesn't need leaves to cause trouble.

Garlic mustard is an invasive plant causing trouble most everywhere. It is edible and can often be collected in areas normally closed to collecting....ie parks and nature centers. Might even be someone who would love to show it to you in return for a bit of help removing it. It stays green all winter and starts growing early in the year. Should be going great by you about now.


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RE: Wild Springtime Edibles

Yeah, the garlic is everywhere. I actually live next to Clifty Falls State Park. There's a nature center run by DNR and volunteers as well as plenty of trail area. The main attraction in the park is the steeeeep drop the streams leading to the Ohio have to make down to the Ohio River. This is the main part of the park, but on the eastern end you can, although there are no marked trails, get a feel for what a high, woodland forrest area looks like in Indiana. One of my prominent thoughts yesterday was how nature and animals are connected and grow each other. "Animals like deer worship berries, nuts, and edible greens they can stoop down and reach, while humans, at least in these parts, worship the god of trees / sun (we are tree people, no?) and the hunt / moon as well". Light powers it all and works on so many levels of energy from humans down to tree moss.

One thing I was going to ask about was this crazy looking mushroom spawn. In a deer clearing on the hills I noticed a single tree that had these tiny, white toadstool mushrooms ALL OVER the trunk. Most of the other vegetation around that tree had, long ago, been cleared out or something. I was reminded of what Paul Stamets says about mushrooms and their programmed similarity to string theory, because these mushrooms singularity rule seemed to help this tree alone... instead of promoting a healthy ecosystem these mushrooms only let sunlight reach this particular tree and other infected trees in the area where the spore spread. Does anyone know what this fungi is?

Also, I noticed that wild strawberries seem even more evasive than the onion plants, but they are still a ways from bearing fruit. Are these berries edible? One final thing I noticed is the abundant ammount of raspberry / blackberry plants! These got me very excited. =)

Even if someone can talk about nature doesn't mean they are really interested in getting out and hiking. Basically, the few friends I have are Hanover College Philosophy majors who like to talk about buddha nature and reality but see actually getting out into the woods as a "duty" or "doing their time" rather than a pure enjoyment.
I'm sure I will, in good time, come across more people like myself spending time in nature....

For now, I have a few (peterson and others) guides coming in the mail that I think will be very helpful... I can write down dates I first see certain plants coming into bloom and when I start seeing them die off.

anyways, thanks for the welcome naturegirl =)
/ramble


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RE: Wild Springtime Edibles

Good god man dotn be eating things you cannot identify. Easy way to make a trip to the hospital or worse.

Although Moral season is just around the corner here in PA. Yummy.


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RE: Wild Springtime Edibles

A fellow herbalist shared this one with me,

"There are old mushroom hunters,
there are bold mushroom hunters,
but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters."

In other words, don't take silly chances whether it be plants or fungi. Teach yourself. Have others teach you. Take classes. Get books - many is good, they give you different views and note different identification features. Join clubs. Wherever you can find plant people to teach you or good high quality information to teach yourself. Only when you are sure of what something is should you even think of tasting it.

Have fun but stay safe.

FataMorgana


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RE: Wild Springtime Edibles

Yes, wild strawberries are edible. The leaves make a good tea, BUT they must be totally dried to do so.

Books--
"Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants" by Christopher Nyerges is a fun book with many plants not found in other guides.
Euell Gibbons' books are still a great and knowledgable read despite their age.
"Edible Wild Plants" by Elias and Dykeman is a useful guide with great photographs of the plants.
And the "mother," literally, of them all: "Wild Plant: Family Cookbook." By Patricia Armstrong this is a recipe and review book (reviews by her students of the plants). It is not an identification book but it does have a wonderful wealth of information. It's publisher can be reached at 630/ 983-8404 in Illinois.

There are other, more technical manuals, but the above will get you started.

Happy eating! And heed the warnings of the others. Learn plants slowly--one at a time--and learn them well. It is not just the food nature offers, it is the medicine, as well. They go hand-in-hand. The food is fun--the medicine is respect.

Kim


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RE: Wild Springtime Edibles

  • Posted by cacye Denver,CO (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 26, 08 at 2:12

I don't know what it s like where you are, but in Denver the local freeschool or Sierra club often has classes. You go out with someone who knows the plants and will show you how to tell them from other plants(a lot more helpful than the field guides, plus you can sometimes get recipes). You may have other organizations or local clubs that address this. Ask your county extension agent,sierra club,universities in your state if there are local chapters or well known individuals that have edible wild classes. Maybe you can ask a librarian the best way to look these up online. I learned a number of my wild plants from my grandpa; does your family have a someone that has this knowledge-ask around. You never know who will be of help if you don't ask. And believe me, it is better to see the plant in the wild and get to know it that way. I have seen books list plants as edible, but they don't usually tell you the best way to make them yummy. And I notice variations in taste from one area to the next; rose hip jam from Boulder Canyon is better than same from Deer Creek Canyon most times even though the hips are alike when picked. I tried book recipes for slippery jack mushrooms and didn't like the results until I tried drying them first. Most places spring is good for lamb's quarters, called calitas out here. I put them in anything you use spinach for. Wild asparagus grows here, but the best ones are now fenced off at the bulk mail center on Quebec street.


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