Wild Arkansas

September 29, 2010

Wild Wednesday at Murphy Park

Filed under: allium, dandelion, Edible plants, foraging, fruit, nuts, Pinus, taraxacum — Tags: , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 7:20 pm

Unfortunately, my camera broke so I don’t have photos of the edibles at the local park. Fortunately however, one of the groundskeepers aided our quest by pointing out several edibles we probably would not have known about.

At Murphy Park today:

Allium or Crow Garlic. It never gets above the ankle because of the weekly mowing so we’ll never get to see the flowers, but it still tastes and smells like onion. The groundskeeper said he would be quite happy if someone were to come along and dig it all up.

Plantagos- Both, the narrow and broad-leaf varieties.

Dandelion- ah the old standby.

Lepidium or pepper grass. It’s spread out in the grassy areas and around trees.

Black Walnut, crabapples, pine, oak, clover, wild strawberry (for some odd reason they are fruiting in shady spots) and yellow wood sorrel.

September 25, 2010

Veteran’s Memorial Park/Lake Fayetteville

Filed under: allium, dandelion, Edible plants, Pinus, sumac — Tags: , , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 11:33 pm

common mullein

If you’re a wild food enthusiast, this is a good time to visit Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Here are a  few finds from spending just a little more than an hour.

Chinkapin/Ozark Chestnut

Hickory

Black Walnut

Persimmon (fruit)

Acorn (Red & White)

Dandelion (leaf & flower)

Allium (aerial parts/leaf)

Dwarf Sumac (berries)

Evening Primrose (flower)

Pine (and juniper berries)

Plantago (leaf and root)

Mullein (flower and leaf)

September 6, 2010

Five common edibles anyone can find

duck potato

Fall is here, and some of us who forage regularly begin looking less at the herbaceous leafy stuff and more to the branches of trees (nuts) and roots. The following five edibles are ready right now.

Good luck and have fun.

1. Despite lack of a first frost, chicory root can be dug early. Though related to dandelion, the whole plant is much less noxious than its bitter cousin.

Try digging some of the root and test for taste. If it’s too bitter, wait another month. Chances are, it’s going to be sweet tasting.

All parts of the chicory can be consumed, but at this time of year it’s best to just use the root.

2. Maypops can be found on disturbed ground. The egg-shaped yellow-green fruit is sweet when ripe, but very seedy. People of the Appalachians reserved the fruit almost exclusively for creating a maypop drink by pouring boiling water of the fruit and straining, but the fruit is a good trailside nibble despite the seeds.

3. The duck potato or Sagitaria latifolia was early this year, but in ponds throughout NW Arkansas there is an abundance of the plant.

Get your shovel out, because these babies are not coming out without a fight. I’ve tried repeatedly stomping for the prize with no results. This is one you’ll have to work for.

4. Ahhhh…the sweet smell of chamomile. Sweet dreams come with this bouquet. Not only is chamomile great for soothing the worried mind, but it tastes great and smells even better.

If you’re not going to make tea with it, pick for just the sweet smell or use for pouporri.

Find this near lakes, ponds, rivers growing on the drier ground. Moist environment without being soggy. The herb has been spotted in several public parks from Rogers through Fayetteville.

5. Oh nuts!

Yes dear readers, it’s time to look up. Those wonderful, protein-packed nuggets of nutrition are here once again.

Black walnut, hickory, pecan and acorns too. They are all here for the picking (up).

The black walnut you want to husk yourself. Do not wait for it to dry, because by that time the worms have gotten into the meat.

In some areas the acorns are falling, in others they are still green. Just take a look around and see what you can find.

I gathered red oak acorns in Springdale that were green and had to boil several times before they were palatable. Be sure to leach the tannins from these babies, because they have a very acrid taste without the proper preparation.

If you travel further west toward Siloam Springs, you may find more white oak that has a less bitter acorn. I’ve been told the white oak acorn is sweet, but have yet to experience it myself.

August 6, 2010

Ready, ripe for picking

Picking Passionflower

Several patches of passionflower caught our attention last week. The vine is literally growing everywhere in Northwest Arkansas and we harvested a couple of pounds, dried it and have put it aside for tea.

Prunus serotina or the wild black cherry is also ready. We found several trees in Rogers and Siloam Springs, the fruit falling to the ground.

Prunus serotina - Black Cherry

Fruit can be used for jelly, as trail nibble or for juice.

We harvested some for snacks–it can also be dried and eaten like raisins.

August 4, 2010

Re-post: summer edibles w/parts

Filed under: Edible plants, foraging, fruit, herbs, summer — Tags: , , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 5:37 pm

Cattails

A couple of readers expressed an interest in viewing the list with the information on which plant parts should be harvested. Here it is.

A Short list of common edibles currently in season (summer) for Northwest Arkansas, though some can be found throughout the year.

Common name                         Binomial                                What’s Edible?

American Elder             Sambucus canadensis        Berries (prepared)

Asparagus                       Asparagus officianalis        Tips

Black Cherry                 Prunus serotina                   Berries

Cattail                            Typha latifolia                      Root, stem, flower, pollen

Chicory                        Cichorium intybus             Every part of plant is edible

Chufa                            Cyperus esculentus            Tubers; raw or cooked

Dandelion                  Taraxacum officianale        Every part of plant is edible

Docks                          Rumex (acetosa,longifolia…)    Leaves; raw or cooked

(There are several varieties of dock/sorrel in the area; including curly, spinach, broad leaved and the dooryard. All are edible.)

Ground Cherry       Physalis pubescens                    Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Ground Nut              Apios americana                          Tubers; cooked

Lambs quarters      Chenopodium album                  Leaves; raw or cooked

May apple                 Podophyllum peltatum             Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Mulberry (red, white) Morus rubra/alba               Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Oak (Red, White)    Quercus rubra/alba                  Fruit; raw (alba) or prepared (rubra)

Passionflower          Passiflora incarnata                All parts are edible; raw or cooked

Pawpaw              Asimina triloba        Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Peppermint          Mentha piperita        Leaves; raw or cooked

Pickeral weed       Pontederia cordata        Leaf stalks/fruit; raw and cooked

Plantain/Plantago   Plantago major, asiatica…    Leaf; raw and cooked

Purslane            Portulaca oleracea        Leaf/leaf stalk; raw and cooked

Quickweed           Galinsoga parviflora        Green tops; cooked

Smilax              Smilax rotundifolia        Vine tips/berries; raw and cooked

Smooth Sumac        Rhus glabra            Fruit; cooked

Spearmint           Mentha spicata        Leaf; raw or cooked

Sweet Flag          Acorus calamus        Young stalks; raw or cooked

August 1, 2010

So many plants, so little time

Patrick investigating

Lactuca nine feet tall. The vibrant lavendar of the bull thistle, smart weed, jewel weed, flea bane, dog bane, sumac and few delights for the wildcrafters among us: chamomile, evening primrose and vervain among them.

Roaming the perimeter of Lake Fayetteville with Mr. Ethnobotany we only managed to traverse half a mile per hour–stopping every few feet to take photos and investigate our finds.

Though quite a few of the specimen we stopped for had already went to seed, there were just as many in full bloom or headed that way.

Patrick dug the root of a first year bull thistle as I looked on. It took a bit of work, because the thistle has a tap root much like the dandelion. This one happened to be a youngster, but I imagine if it had been older, it would have been next to impossible to uproot completely.

Bull thistle

The taste and smell of the raw root is quite distinct and brings to mind a time when we grew our own artichokes. The thistle is a relative of the artichoke, afterall.

The chamomile (Matricaria) we found grew close to the marina. Though I’ve seen plenty of photos of the plant, it was my first up close and personal encounter. You can tell a nerd by how excited they get over their first encounter with a much loved plant.

[Yes the heart leaps into the throat and there is a brief moment of wide-eyed wonder, corresponding to a sharp intake of breath.]

Toward the end of our walk, I realized I had stepped into a patch of Rhus radicans (poison ivy) and felt the stinging sensation creeping up my ankle. Patrick spotted some jewel weed, grabbed a handful and instructed me to crush it and use the juice on the infected area.

Voila! It worked. The pain immediately subsided, as did the itching and two hours later I had no rash.

Alas, the quick rise of temperature into the nineties dictated we stop early, though with the promise of another visit soon.

July 28, 2010

Lake Wedington

Filed under: Edible plants, foraging, Sagittaria latifolia — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 4:37 pm

Mid-Summer photos of some edibles at Lake Wedington

Sagitaria and Cress

The year before last, I found a small patch of Sagitaria and attempted to harvest. This year, Lake Wedington is offering another challenge.  The waterscape is abundant with the plant, so there’s plenty of opportunity.

Red-Belted Polypore?

I’m not a shroomer , but this looked a lot like the artist conk or the red-belted polypore. We left it where it grew, because we didn’t want to harvest what we felt unsure about.

Butterfly on fruit

Though I’m good with berry fruits, I was at a loss when I ran across this fruit. A reader identified the species as ‘Buttonbush’ or Cephalanthus occidentalis.

July 10, 2010

Filed under: Edible plants, foraging, herbs, trails — Tags: , , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 1:48 am

Along a one-mile stretch on JBU trail (NW) we found:

Acacia, black walnut, chicory, wild grape, pokeweed, sour dock, broad-leaved dock, lambs quarters.

Sourdock has gone to seed, but the broad-leaved variety is ready to pick.

Chicory is ready for anyone wanting flowers. Lambs quarters should be available throughout the season.

July 9, 2010

List of summer edibles – NW Arkansas

Filed under: collecting, Edible plants, foraging, herbs, summer — Tags: , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 12:36 am

A Short list of common edibles currently in season (summer) for Northwest Arkansas, though some can be found throughout the year. There are a few missing, but I’ll add to the list as I run across them.

Common name                   Binomial

American Elder             Sambucus canadensis

Asparagus                      Asparagus officianalis

Black Cherry                 Prunus serotina

Cattail                              Typha latifolia

Chicory                           Cichorium intybus

Chufa                               Cyperus esculentus

Dandelion                     Taraxacum officianale

Docks                            Rumex (acetosa,longifolia…)

(There are several varieties of dock/sorrel in the area; including curly, spinach, broad leaved and the dooryard. All are edible.)

Ground Cherry         Physalis pubescens

Ground Nut               Apios americana

Lambs quarters      Chenopodium album

May apple                Podophyllum peltatum

Mulberry (red/white) Morus rubra/alba

Oak (red/white)     Quercus rubra/alba

Passionflower        Passiflora incarnata

Pawpaw                   Asimina triloba

Peppermint            Mentha piperita

Pickeral weed       Pontederia cordata

Plantago                 Plantago major, asiatica…

Purslane                 Portulaca oleracea

Quickweed           Galinsoga parviflora

Smilax                    Smilax rotundifolia

Smooth Sumac   Rhus glabra

Spearmint            Mentha spicata

Sweet Flag           Acorus calamus

July 1, 2010

Forager’s herbarium

Though I’ve been around Lake Fayetteville several times, last night I participated in my first field class with a tracker and former Alaskan ethnobotany teacher, Patrick Monroney.

The lesson included learning how to build an herbarium.

This particular preservation method is not the same used by botanists who collect, label, dry and press the plant material before mounting.
[read Wikipedia article about how to build a formal herbarium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbarium]

It is meant to build identification and collecting skills in the field.

For newbies to plant identification techniques, the herbarium consists of collected samples placed on plain index or card stock and held in place with clear contact paper. Once mounted, the plant data is entered on the card.

Despite fading daylight, we managed to put a couple of hours into collecting.

Lake Fayetteville is one of the best botanical classrooms in the area, because of the diversity available. In the two hours collecting, I came away with ten mounted samples.

Following is a project on how to start your first herbarium for identification purposes.

If you are going to mount in the field, you may want to prepare your contact paper beforehand, cutting pieces down to size.

What you need:

Scissors or an exacto knife
5×8 index cards (preferably white, unless you collect white flowers. In that case, Patrick uses colored stock.)
Contact paper cut into 4×7 pieces. (Comes in rolls that can be found in the housewares section at Wal-Mart.)

Method:

1. Cut your collected sample/parts down to size. Make sure all parts are clean and dry. (If moist, pat with paper towel).

2. Peel contact paper from backing, place sticky side UP on an index card and center it.

3. Lay plant (parts) as flat as possible on contact paper. Some are impossible to flatten, just do your best to flatten enough to mount.

4. Place another index card, white side down (white side facing plant)

6. Turn it around to inspect. You may have to clip or cut, but now you can label the card. 

Voila!

If you need additional help putting together your herbarium, shoot me an email. I can send photos. The photos I tried to use in the post didn’t work very well. :)

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