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.