Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wild Edibles of July

We're looking forward to foraging with Steve Brill on Friday -- come join us!

We went out a few weeks ago in the Ft. Totten area and were impressed by the number of unripe blackberries and blueberries there, along with a decent share of wineberries. What a great spot to show off wild edibles, we thought. Everybody loves berries!

So do the birds.

As soon as the catbirds catch on that a patch of berries is ripening up, forget about it. We should have known home we have to put netting over our blueberries and blackberries to get any. But there were so many, a city block practically lined with blackberry canes. It seemed reasonable to think there would be some to eat...

Ah, well.

Here's what we did find:

Photo credit: I'm Not That Girl
We've written before about milkweed and its role in the monarch life cycle. Milkweed pods are edible when small (1" long) but must be boiled. Just be sure to leave enough behind that the plants can reproduce and keep feeding those monarchs.

Black locusts are one of our favorite wild edibles when they're in flower. You can gorge on handfuls of white flowers. But now they have made their seeds...which you can also eat.

They're in the legume family, can you tell?

The roots of sassafras have been used for centuries to make tea and root beer. Did you know you can also eat the tender leaves? They are the original gumbo filé -- the dried leaves were used to thicken soups in Louisiana long before there were Cajuns.

Please never, ever eat something if you're not 100% confident what it is. The information in this post isn't enough unless you already know these plants...I'm just hoping to whet your appetite! Get a good identification book or come out on one of our walks. Maybe we'll see you tomorrow with Steve Brill!