Foraging in My Mind

wild persimmons

Wild persimmons

Today it has rained all day, and it’s predicted to rain all night.  So it’s been a grey, cold day, and the yard is getting mushy.  I’m not complaining, though.  Hopefully this will go a long way toward breaking our persistent drought.

There seems to be some interest in one of the forums I post on in wild edibles.  So I was going through my files tonight to find pictures to share with them.  It was fun remembering the days I found the different plants, how much I enjoyed discovering them, and remembering how alive and happy I felt.

Black cherries

Black cherries

Since I have no camping or Casita news to share with you, I’ll let you go along with me as I recall happy foraging days in the past.

If there is interest, I’ll keep going through my files and posting more of these photos.  If not, then this is a one-day trip!  🙂

Wild strawberries.  My favorite!

Wild strawberries. My favorite!

Baby oyster mushrooms

Baby oyster mushrooms

Wild violet leaves

Wild violet leaves

Wild violet flowers

Wild violet flowers

Poke salad shoot (poke salat up north)  :)

Poke salad shoot (poke salat up north) 🙂

Bracken fiddleheads

Bracken fiddleheads

Bull thistle flower stalk. Cut the stalk and hold it in a gloved hand. I use Leatherman pliers to peel the bristly skin off the stalk. What is left tastes like celery and can be eaten raw or cooked. The stalk becomes woody and inedible once the flower starts blooming.

Indian putty root.  This plant is too rare to use for food.  I did once, just to see what it was like.  The raw bulbs taste like a starchy, crunchy water chestnut.  Cooked, it will stick your teeth together, and is best used as a glue.

Indian putty root. This plant is too rare to use for food. I did once, just to see what it was like. The raw bulbs taste like a starchy, crunchy water chestnut. Cooked, it will stick your teeth together, and is best used as a glue, which is what the Indians did.

Daylily corms

Daylily corms

Mild, oniony-tasting daylily shoots

Mild, oniony-tasting daylily shoots

Pipsissewa.  This is a medicinal plant, not an edible.  But I just loved this picture, so am posting it, too.  The Native Americans used to make a lung tonic tea with it.

Pipsissewa. This is a medicinal plant, not an edible. But I just loved this picture, so am posting it, too. The Native Americans used to make a lung tonic tea with it.

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16 Comments

  1. Camilla

     /  January 1, 2013

    I’m enjoying the edible plant posts myself. I’m learning a lot. Any kind of day lilies are edible?

    • Yes, Camilla, they are all edible. But, as with many wild edibles, there is a caution. About 15% of the population is allergic to them and it will make them nauseous. The rest of us can enjoy them. You can also use the flowers in cooking. The orientals cut the flowers into strips and dry them and use them as an attractive addition to soups. It also helps thicken the broth.

  2. Camilla

     /  January 1, 2013

    What do you do with the wild violet leaves and flowers? Recipes!!!! :c)

    • I am a make-it-up-as-I-go-along cook, so don’t do recipes. However, violet leaves are so vitamin packed that they were historically used as a spring tonic. I’ve heard of making tea with them, but I have never done it. The only way I use them is in salads. Some people dip the flowers in beaten egg white and sugar, let them dry, then use them as cake decorations. You can also freeze the flowers in ice cubes for party drinks. 🙂

  3. love the violets … what was that guy’s name that was always on Johnny Carson… you old? lol…. aw… jeeez Grape Nuts… he did their advertising. He … jeeez I can just see him … well? I gotta google… oh, my lord! I just put in … grape nuts spokesman on Johnny Carson… hah… dang! I’m a genius… anyway… it’s Euell Gibbons … you remember him? He wrote, Stalking the Wild Asparagus …. and foraged for wild edible plants …

    I have seen some of the plants you have shown but would have never considered eating them. amazing

    • Carolyn, Euell Gibbons was my hero. He originally started my interest back when I was a teenager! I loved his books. Interestingly enough, he made a couple of errors in Stalking the Wild Asparagus. He apparently mistook poisonous dogbane for milkweed pods, which is why he said you had to parboil them because they were bitter. Common milkweed pods are actually mild and sweet without a hint of bitterness, and taste like broccoli!

  4. Knowing these plants can be a live saver if one is lost for a period of time. Being able to use these for sustaining life. Thank you

    • Jo, that’s how Euell Gibbons started. In the Depression his dad went away to find work, and the family almost starved. Euell, a young teenager, strapped a backpack on and set out on foraging trips. He saved his family’s life. His mom got so sick of wild asparagus that she was secretly giving it to the neighbors. 🙂

  5. cozygirl

     /  January 2, 2013

    WOW you can eat thistle….we put salt on them in the yard to kill them. But maybe there are something else up here. Sticky little buggers. I love learning about all the alternative eating in the environment….and know more about their beauty. PS I was cleaning up WordPress subscriptions and unfollowed you…so I’m following you again if you get an email XXOO

    • You can also eat the roots — if you can find young first-year plants whose roots aren’t woody yet. They get woody fast. They taste like turnips — but they will give you a terrible case of gas!

      Usually anytime I post about a different subject, a few will unfollow and a few more will follow. Then when I get back to posting about camping, the same thing happens. I used to be sad when people unfollow, but now it’s just part of the cycle.

      Glad you’re back! 🙂

  6. Love plants…but already said that!
    I am enjoying the education….but hope I never need to use it.
    Are the corms from the common daylily…(also called ditch lily) that grows on the side of the road. I have a yard full of them..would love to do something to do with them.

    • Hi, Lynne, good to hear from you. I was a little worried, since the last I heard was that you were freezing in Ft. Pickens. 🙂

      Yes, those are the common daylily. But see the caution above in my reply to Camilla about some people not being able to eat them.

      I also hope I never HAVE to use it. It would not be fun then. But I really love playing around with them when I have a pantry and freezer full of good things from the supermarket. 🙂

  7. kathi

     /  January 2, 2013

    Love the info and a beautiful quote from Mark Twain…..”Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

    • Kathi, I had never heard that quote before. It’s beautiful. Makes me want to run through a mental list and see if I can think of anyone I am harboring any unforgiveness toward.

      Do politicians count? 😀

      Thanks for posting it!

  8. Sunny

     /  January 3, 2013

    My grandson and wife’s yard is loaded with wild violets in the summer. She made violet jelly this past year. Got the recipe off the net. It was awesome, delicate flavor and so pretty! Keep posting your wild foods! Good to know

    • Sunny, I had been an avid forager until a few years back, then I started burning out on it. But I’m starting to catch the fever again. I’m really looking forward to the new season!

      I have never made violet jelly, but it sounds like it would be a very special treat!

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