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Wild Edible Plants

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  • jgk3
    Re: Wild Edible Plants

    Black Walnuts (Native to Eastern North America):

    Fruits, inedible. But they contain a prized edible seed, the walnut.

    The fruits ripen and fall off the tree. No longer attached to the tree, the green flesh turns black.
    Break this open and crack the shell during fall (october is when walnuts are fully mature), and you'll get at the walnut!

    The shell needs to be broken in several places to release the nut. It is considerably harder than the common walnut shell we're familiar with.

    It is easy to stain your hands with its strong dye when processing. It leaves a blackish/greening stain on your skin.

    To minimize staining, place the fruit on a rigid surface, such as a cement floor or a rock surface, and smash the fruit hard with a stone or a hammer. This will release the walnut (with its shell) from the fruit.

    Next, to release the nut from the shell, repeat the process, smashing the walnut itself this time. Experiment with your strikes (I still am), so that you'll eventually break the shell in a way that releases the most nutmeat in one piece (instead of shattering it into many tiny pieces).

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  • jgk3
    Re: Wild Edible Plants

    Vlita (Amaranth leaves):

    Common "weed" growing on fertile soil. Cook and eat like spinach
    Attached Files

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  • jgk3
    Re: Wild Edible Plants

    June Salad: burdock stalk, sow thistle leaves, second-year horseradish leaves, first-year horseradish leaves

    The main ingredients (minus the cat and the catfood)

    Simmer together for 5-7 minutes

    Add the mint and some olive oil
    Attached Files

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  • Vahram
    Re: Wild Edible Plants

    Not only can you eat this plant, you can boil it in a tea and even make rope out of it. Some even say you can smoke it, I hear it can bake you, I mean you can bake it too.

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  • jgk3
    Re: Wild Edible Plants

    Young spruce tips in May, edible and pleasantly tasty!

    These soft clusters of new evergreen leaves are growing off the ends of spruce trees, along with fir trees. Next time you're walking around one, celebrate spring by eating tree!

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  • jgk3
    Re: Wild Edible Plants

    (cont'd from previous post)

    False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) 1

    Left: Stinging Nettle,
    Right: False Nettle (in flower)

    Here are the stems of Stinging nettle and False nettle. Looking at the right image, perhaps you'll notice and say "Hmmm I can`t really see any stinging hairs... maybe the image is too dark?"

    Actually no, it`s not because it`s dark, false nettle is called false because it looks like stinging nettle, but lacks stinging hairs!

    False Nettle 2

    It's handy to have learned a bit about phyllotaxis from earlier, now we can see another helpful feature to note: an opposite leaf structure. This, together with the plant's height, make it look a lot like stinging nettle.

    Clearweed (Pilea pumila)
    Here's a 1-2 minute segment with excellent closeups to this plant.

    Note how the leaves have deeper ridges on the central vein and the 2 side veins.

    I like how the video mentions that clearweed likes to grow in clusters and that they are wind pollinated, both characteristics being typical of the plants discussed so far. But I started wondering, "well why does Dave in the video say it grows in clusters because it's wind pollinated?" So I did a bit more research... It readily self-sows by producing a very large number of seeds, and can spread slowly in fertile soil through its creeping rhizomes (root system). These two traits are typical of the perennial nettle species, which includes all the species discussed so far. So next time you see a patch of nettles, think: "Self-seeding + rhizomes = great strategy!".

    Pennsylvania Pellitory (Parietaria Pensylvanica) 1

    Perhaps the family member most dissimilar to the others shown thus far, this is Pennsylvania Pellitory. It likes partial shade, and can tolerate rocky soils, so it can be found growing along walls. With long, thin toothless leaves, and a total absence of stinging hairs, what visual cue does it share in common with nettles?

    Pennsylvania Pellitory 2

    Its fruit. Growing along the stem where there used to be female flowers, these grow in clusters and are dispersed by wind. This feature can be observed for all the species seen in this article.

    Before the fruiting stage, when it is still in flower, pellitory releases its pollen to be dispersed by wind, which causes severe allergic reactions to many people. If you`re a sensitive individual, you can at least be glad to have identified the face of your nemesis (which reminds me of how I showed my dad last summer what ragweed, his summertime nemesis, looks like). If you`re not sensitive though, you can enjoy this plant as a raw nibble or in salads!

    Before concluding there are a few other plant species with the name nettle in them, so far I`ve come across `spurge nettle` and `horsenettle`. These are not part of the family Urticaceae.

    What's edible? If you have no allergies to these plants, then everything except False nettle.
    What's allergenic? Pellitory pollen is a severe allergen, and the pollen of other nettle family members are mild allergens.
    How do they spread? All these plants depend on wind dispersed seeds and creeping rhizomes.
    Do they all sting? Clearweed, False Nettle and Pellitory lack stinging hairs.

    For more reading online on the subject, I recommend Illinois Wildflowers, USDA plants profile and Pollen Library. If videos are your fancy, Greene Deane and Dave Epstein are awesome sources for detailed information on a wide variety of plants!

    The images included in this article are not my own, they can be found on Google by searching the individual plant names.

    Happy nettle finding
    Last edited by jgk3; 02-01-2013, 04:47 AM.

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  • jgk3
    Re: Wild Edible Plants

    Urticaceae (The Nettle Family) (taken from my blog: http://montrealwilderness.blogspot.c...le-family.html)

    Hairs of Stinging Nettle

    I happen to be a big fan of some of nettles, enjoying them as a trailside nibble and as a way to sting the unwitting! Crazy of me you might think, but unless you have allergies to it, varieties local to us really are nowhere near as devastating as the Heart-leafed nettle from Greene Deane's video below. For an excellent introduction to some of the plant's characteristics, have a look:

    Lucky for us, we won't run into these in Quebec, we're located just north of its range [1]. What we will run into, are Stinging (or Common) nettle, Dog nettle, Wood nettle, False nettle, Clearweed and Pennsylvania pellitory. Only the first 3 of these have stinging hairs that can cause contact dermatitis, all except for Wood Nettle are associated with pollen allergies, and all except for False Nettle are edible, though in case you have a pollen allergy to the plant, you should sample only small quantities first to see how you handle it.

    Alright! With that said, lets have a look at them, one by one:

    Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) 1

    Leaves are spear-shaped, with stinging hairs on leaves and stem. It likes growing in thick, tall colonies in fertile soil.

    To collect (preferably young) leaves using your bare hand without getting stung, grasp the foliage firmly, not gently, and briskly roll it into a ball. This will deactivate the stinging hairs and make it ready to eat. Boiling the leaves also deactivates them, and some will argue it is a superior substitute to cooked spinach. Save the boiled water though, as you've just made vitamin-rich nettle tea.

    Stinging Nettle 2

    When Carl Linnaeus gave this species its name: "Dioica" (Latin borrowing from Greek 'di-oikia', or 'two houses'), he thought the plant was dioecious, which means that male and female reproductive organs don't appear together on the same individual.

    But in this image, we see male and female flowers on the same plant, thus being monoecious (from the Greek "of one house"). This means that Stinging nettle, though most of the time it is dioecious, also has a monoecious form that appears in a population.

    Dog Nettle (Urtica Urens) 1

    Also known as dwarf nettle, this species does not reach the height of stinging nettle. Its leaves aren't lance shaped, being more oval with deep serration (teeth).

    Urtica Urens 2

    Here's the more mature plant, in flower along its stem.

    The name Urtica urens is a repetition of the Latin root 'ur-' from the verb 'urere', which means 'to burn', referring to its sting. It literally reads something like: the burning burning plant, haha.

    When I was in the excavations of Pompeii, I found this plant growing in abundance in the lawns that used to be floors of ancient houses. Desperate for healthy greens (as we hadn't cooked our own meals the whole trip and were always just eating out), I would grab them, crush them and put them in my mouth!

    Wood Nettle (Laportea Canadensis) 1

    Now we've left the Urtica genus, but still in the Urticaceae family. Comparing it to its cousins, Wood nettle has much broader leaves, but has similar looking flowers growing along the stem, (compare with picture: Stinging nettle 2). It likes to grow in moist woodland soils, so look for it along streams or rivers.

    It's just as edible as the other plants we've seen thus far, and it still stings!

    Wood Nettle 2

    Note the asymmetrical arrangement of the Wood nettle leaves. Unlike the Urtica species, it has an alternate leaf pattern, whereby the leaf stems of two leaves will never meet together at the same place on the main stem. The Urtica species on the other hand, have an opposite leaf pattern.

    Compare the two leaf patterns (known as the phyllotaxis) in the following diagram, then come back to observe Wood nettle 2 (left) with alternate leaves. Next, review back to Stinging nettle 2 and observe its opposite leaves.

    Alternate vs. Opposite leaves

    (cont'd in next post)
    Attached Files
    Last edited by jgk3; 02-01-2013, 04:47 AM.

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  • jgk3
    Re: Wild Edible Plants

    Taken from: Apiaceae/Umbelliferae page, url:""

    Meet the family

    Garden Angelica (Angelica Archangelica)

    After discussing wild carrots with a friend of mine (he seemed impressed to hear that they are
    quite easy to find, as you may too if you're hearing this for the first time), I decided tonight to
    write (with an emphasis on its flowering patterns) about the Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae) family,
    under which Wikipedia lists the well known plants: angelica, anise, arracacha, asafoetida, caraway,
    carrot, celery, Centella asiatica, chervil, cicely, coriander/cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, hemlock, lovage,
    Queen Anne's lace, parsley, parsnip, sea holly, and the now extinct silphium.”

    To help with the understanding of these plants, I’ll first elaborate briefly on the two different names
    for this family:

    The first, Apiaceae, comes from the root Apis, which in Latin means "(of) bees", referring to its
    flowers which attract them along with many other pollinators. Apium, a word of the same origin,
    is the Latin word for celery.

    The second, Umbelliferae, in Latin again, meaning "bearing umbrellas", refers to the umbrel-type
    flowering pattern of these plants, which are actually several flowers supported on a single
    head, of which there are two varieties:

    Most plants in the family are of type b), called compound inflorescence, where a series of flowers meet
    together at a sub-node prior to attaching to the main steam, whereas in type a), each flower itself is
    directly connected to the main steam, called simple inflorescence. Within the type b) category, there
    are some flowers which, to the untrained eye (such as mine before today's research) can be wrongly
    interpreted as type a). Lets have a look with wild carrot (Daucus Carota):

    Wild Carrot 1

    At first guess, I'd think that all those short curving flower stems are each holding up their own individual flower.
    This is what type a), simple inflorescence, describes.

    Wild Carrot 2

    Upon further investigation... I notice tiny 5 petalled flowers growing together in clusters of about 8 or 9.
    These clusters must be growing from a sub-node. This is what type b), compound inflorescence, describes.

    This flower is in fact, of type b), not only for the Wild Carrot, but for all its familiar cousins, including Anise,
    Angelica, Dill, Cumin, Fennel, Coriander, Parsley, Celery, Caraway, Chervil and Parsnip flowers too.
    Lets have a look.

    Parsnip (Pastinaca sativum)

    Tiny yellow flowers easily seen meeting together first before leading down to the stem...

    Dill ((Anethum graveolens)

    Sure looks a lot like Parsnip, but the stems are skimpier and have a whitish hue to them.

    Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)

    Nice side view of the right-hand flower gone to seed. This is perhaps the easiest time
    to notice the compound inflorescence pattern of several species in the family.

    Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)

    Yikes! This one can kill you. It did just fine on Socrates. Notice (for the last time, I promise!)
    again the individual tiny white flowers gathering in clusters before leading down to the main
    stem (not seen, beyond the bottom border of the image).

    As you may have noticed, Poison Hemlock and Wild Carrot look sort of similar, with their white flowers forming
    these compound umbrels... My intention was to help you notice their similarities, so that their differences which
    we shall see in my next post, will become more obvious.

    Thanks for reading,

    Last edited by jgk3; 01-04-2013, 07:09 AM.

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  • jgk3
    Re: Wild Edible Plants

    Originally posted by Artashes View Post
    Yet another highly informative post.
    I would have never guessed(or known) from a single plant(mustard) that broccoli,brussel sprouts etc., we're all derived. Very interesting. Makes me wonder about the people before us that did such things.
    Personally I feel it is important for --- all --- of us to know and understand where our food comes from and exactly what we are putting in our mouths.
    Great posts Jeff, thanks again.
    Art ashes
    Thank you Artashes, you know it always motivates me when I get feedback, and I strongly agree that we must know where our food comes from. Our ancestors from not so long ago surely did.

    I'll post more soon!

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  • Artashes
    Re: Wild Edible Plants

    Yet another highly informative post.
    I would have never guessed(or known) from a single plant(mustard) that broccoli,brussel sprouts etc., we're all derived. Very interesting. Makes me wonder about the people before us that did such things.
    Personally I feel it is important for --- all --- of us to know and understand where our food comes from and exactly what we are putting in our mouths.
    Great posts Jeff, thanks again.
    Art ashes

    Leave a comment: