Wild Arkansas

October 7, 2010

Arkansas Harvesting Law

Filed under: foraging, law, legal, Wildcrafting — Tags: , , — WildArkansas @ 8:50 pm

For Lake Wedington & Ozark National Forest Area

No harvesting in recreational areas. [If traveling from Fayetteville, anywhere along the left side of the road is off limits once you get into Wedington area.]

In general forest areas – for personal use only. That is, if they find you with five gallons or fifty pounds of a particular specimen you’ll probably be cited.

For more information on Benton and Washington County forestry permissions/law contact the Arkansas Forestry Commission.

Harvesting Wild American Ginseng in Arkansas (PDF)

If you have any further information about Arkansas law on harvesting or foraging on public lands please email wildarkansas1 at yahoo.com


For laws on hunting refer to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website season and bag limits.


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.

January 8, 2009

Wild Arkansas: Common Mullein

Filed under: mullein, Verbascum, Wildcrafting — Tags: , , — WildArkansas @ 11:03 pm


Verbascum thapsus or common wild mullein is growing everywhere right now. The plant can be found in most pasture land and along dirt roads.

The velvety leaves, though beautiful are considered an invasive, because it is so prolific.

I’ve found several plants in my yard and intend to let them stay, not only because of their ornamental characteristics, but they also tend to have medicinal benefits.

Common mullein was introduced to North America in the early 18th century for its medicinal properties and has since spread to every part of the continent.

Common names of the plant include candlewick, great mullein, and old man’s blanket, though here in the states it is most often referred to as common mullein.

The Verbascum genus includes approximately 250 different species of mullein that range from extremely pilose (hairy) to glabrous (bald).

The mullein growing in NW Arkansas that I’ve found is a pilose specimen with light green velvety leaves arranged in a rosette. During the second year the rosette will shoot up a large stem topped with several small yellow flowers and tiny seeds that are dispersed by the local birds and wind.

The whole plant has narcotic and slightly sedative properties and has been used for centuries to relieve respiratory and lung ailments.

An infusion of the herb can also be used for inflammation.

Drying mullein leaves

To dry mullein leaves, pick from the base, but do not take the whole crown if you want the plant to continue its growth. Wash thoroughly and damp dry with a cloth or paper towel, then set on a screen and cover with newsprint or bind with string and hang in a cool dark place. If screen drying, turn about twice a week.

The leaves should be completely dry in three weeks time and can be smoked for respiratory ailments.

The fresh leaves can be used as an emollient or an astringent after being seeped in olive oil for approximately four weeks. Shake daily and leave on a shady counter or out of direct sunlight.

For more information on how to use mullein:

At Botanica.com

Article at Natural Standard


October 12, 2008

Plant Profiles

Filed under: foraging, Wildcrafting — Tags: , — WildArkansas @ 7:20 am

I can’t remember what site I downloaded this plant-profile-sheet from, but I do believe it was from a university horticulture department. If you happen to recognize it, please email me so proper credit can be given to the author.

For beginning wildcrafters, this is a good starter sheet, but you may also want to make additional notes and take a look at the leaf morphology chart (above)  while filling out the sheet. Any and all information you record will help identify the plant later if identification cannot be made on site.

To download the leaf morphology chart, if you are using a PC, right click and select ‘save image as’. Print it out and take it into the field with you.

October 10, 2008

Wild Arkansas: Mushroom Season

Filed under: Edible plants, foraging, mushrooms, Wildcrafting — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 3:24 pm

Mushroom hunting lately?

It’s an exciting season in Arkansas and the Arkansas Mycological Society is almost always active during this season.

Here are a couple forays below:
Arkansas Mycological Society’s Jay Justice is leading a mushroom hunt at Woolly Hollow State Park, tomorrow (October 11 and again on Nov. 22), 10 am to 3 pm.

In the newsletter I receive the event will be cancelled if it rains.

Another foray will be at Lake Sylvia Rec area, Perry County on November 1st, 10 am to 3 pm. Weather permitting.

For all forays it is suggested that you bring a sack lunch.

If you choose to go mushroom hunting without an expert, remember that there are at least 100,000 species of fungi out there and approximately one percent are poisonous. Arkansas happens to have species from nearly every poisonous class.

Know without question the type of mushroom you have before taking a bite. Your first nibble could be your last.

October 1, 2008

Wild Arkansas: Maitake

Grifola frondosa, commonly called Maitake is one of the more popular and tasty wild mushrooms found today.

On a recent forage, Jack and I ran across a large bunch of the fungus and took a bit home. Though I’ve seen the mushroom in the produce sections of specialty stores and plenty of photos, I’ve never tried it.

Maitake in Japanese, literally means dancing mushroom. At one time the mushroom was so prized (for its medicinal properties) that those who found it would dance with joy.

After cleaning, I decided to cook a bit of it in butter and garlic and found this to be the most excellent mushrooms I’ve tasted. It’s light, crisp with a unique taste, not really comparable to anything else.

The research shows that Maitake is used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine for lowering cholesterol, blood glucose and as an immune booster in addition to a few other things and has been used as far back as the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.).

Those who use Maitake tea, made with the dried mushroom and say it tastes and smells brothy. Though I haven’t tried it, that’s next on the ‘To Do’ list.

Researchers believe the mushroom may have constituents that promote programmed cell death and for cancer patients this is good news, as it would reduce tumor growth.

There have been several reported cases in Japanese studies in which subjects have experienced “…partial or complete remission in most cases.” Read more…

Though the research is inconclusive there is some talk of new trials and more extensive research into the mushroom and its medicinal benefits.

Regardless, I’m going to enjoy the culinary aspect.



The specimen I found was found at the base of red oak and most foragers do usually find it somewhere near oak trees.

Though I don’t see that this mushroom resembles others, some think it resembles Berkley’s Polypore (Bondarzewia berkeleyi).

If you do harvest your own Maitake, be sure to correctly identify and only collect healthy specimens. Cut away any damaged areas before preparing.

How to prepare Maitake

Maitake can be used in a variety of dishes and is excellent stir-fried or sautéed on its own.

Wash thoroughly before cooking.

Maitake Pesto

Pasta with Maitake and Camembert Cheese

Maitake and Eggplant Cheese fry and a few other Maitake recipes.


August 25, 2008

Wild Arkansas: Lake Atlanta

Filed under: herbs, Wildcrafting — Tags: , , , , — WildArkansas @ 3:10 pm

As a novice wild crafter, I still have problems identifying some plants I run across. Even with book in hand, more often than not I ask for a second opinion or jump online and make comparisons.

I believe until I become familiar with (identifying in the wild, correctly) a particular plant, there may be doubt to its identity. Blooms make identification easier unless the blooms are similar in appearance, such as fennel and dill, or coriander, caraway and chervil. Both sets of these plants have blooms and foliage that are similar in appearance, but they are structurally different and contain different constituents that may be apparent in the aroma.

A recent trip to Lake Atlanta in Rogers, sans identification materials, I attempted to name a few of the many herbs available and failed miserably. The area is lush with vegetation and many of the plants appear to be medicinal or culinary herbs.

After collecting several samples and a wildflower bouquet, I took the plants home and attempted to identify them. There are a few still sitting on my table.

The second trip was more fruitful. After identifying a few trees, with identification materials, notebook and camera in hand I felt confident I would be able to label every plant I ran across. That was a bad assumption.

Though I did succeed in getting a few into my notebook, there are literally thousands of species of different plants that will probably forever remain nameless.

Despite this, the vegetation that is readily identifiable is abundant and the lake is beautiful at this time of the year. Runners enjoy the dense canopy at various spots and I know more than a few plant enthusiasts have come out to take a look at the varieties of rare flora that are available.

A short list of herbs (this includes some trees) that are open for novice wildcrafters to practice identification skills:

Acacia, agrimony, black cohosh, black-eyed susan, goldenrod, pale purple coneflower, sumac, walnut, wild comfrey and willow.

Pale Purple Coneflower aka Echinacea pallida

The photos aren’t very good because I’m using a cheap digital camera that has no zoom. I’ll borrow one in the future and get some better shots.

There is so much more and I’ll list them as I learn about them.

This is an unknown for now. Very aromatic.

Another great website to help identify plants in Arkansas is ID Arkansas, produced by Kirk Jordan.

Wild Arkansas is a weekly column by Carla R. Herrera.

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