This Week’s Woodland Grocery Specials
I did a series of plant walks this past weekend, and we found well over 50 different plants and mushrooms that are in season right now. Normally when I post a “grocery list” I limit it to about half a dozen plants, provide a pic of each, and talk about them a little bit. Today I’m not going to do that. I want everyone to appreciate the true bounty that is out there right now, and so I am going to give you a complete list of the plants we found over the weekend. Punctuated with a few pics, because I know you guys like pics. If you are east of the Mississippi in zones 5 or 6, these plants are all available, right now. I know it’s hot, I know the mosquitoes are crazy, but these things won’t last. So put on your bug spray and sunhat, fill a couple of water bottles, and get out there!
If you have questions about any of the things we found, go ahead and post them to wherever you found this link. I will monitor the social media sites for the next week or so to discuss what interests you.
Ok. The list.
We found a huge variety of plants that are used as culinary herbs and/or in teas: garlic (seed heads), bergamot, Queen Anne’s lace (flowers and seeds), staghorn sumac, sassafras, white pine, goldenrod, ox-eye daisy, juniper berries, and 4 different kinds of mint.
And we found a ton of fruits: elderberry, grapes, autumn olive, hawthorn, black cherry, plums (American and feral), feral pears, apples, and crabapples. We also found buckthorn, poison ivy, Virginia creeper, and dogwood fruits, all of which will make you unhappy to various degrees if you eat them. So don’t let them distract you from the good stuff.
There were several plants that are still in season for greens and vegetables, although that is quickly coming to an end in this heat: grape leaves, wood sorrel, sheep sorrel, violet greens, burdock, common mallow, purslane, chickweed, nettle, goosefoot, and amaranth. Those last three were found around the fields at a farm, where they have been disturbed, and so they are late going to seed.
In addition to the mints, elderberry, mallow, and goldenrod already listed above, there was an entire medicine cabinet full of medicinals: willow, yarrow, plantain, boneset, raspberry (leaf), St. John’s wort, mullein, red clover, ghost pipe, jewelweed, and soapwort (ok, not really a medicine, but clean hands are important to staying healthy).
We found a few mushrooms: chicken of the woods, puffballs (giant and a couple of smaller species), and quite a variety of boletes.
And a couple of early season seeds: curly dock, sheep sorrel, and hazel nuts.
And finally, there were a whole bunch of things that aren’t quite in season but will be as soon as temps drop. As well as a few things that are harvested in spring but are easiest to find now. These are things to look for while you are harvesting everything above, so you know where to come back to when it is time: chicory, sun chokes, Solomon’s seal, false Solomon’s seal, burdock root, walnuts, acorns, hickories, pawpaws, poke, Japanese knotweed, and asparagus.
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