I apologize in advance if this post doesn't have the same flavor as it did when I first wrote it. I had written this diary entry for half an hour and was about to add some tags to the post when I got logged out of the system. All those words describing my encounters with beautiful plant beings were lost....Alas, while the experiences are still there in my heart, I write now to recount to you as best I can what happened when I returned to Bellefield....
My purpose on going to Bellefield was to collect some Nettles for a future pesto. So, when I arrived at Bellefield, I immediately crossed the bridge and turned left (instead of right, towards the field). I walked down the path, hoping that there would be still be some Nettles, as I noticed that the patch growing close to the water had been mowed.
Ah yes, and it would seem that another patch growing along here had also gotten mowed...
Was it random or had someone pointed out that a crazy lady was coming along picking weeds?
Nah, while unusual, no one really cared about that kind of stuff!
I arrived at the Nettle patch and oh, what delight! I was able to harvest 3 large paper bags full of Nettle, 2 viable for tea and 1 with seeds that was good to add to the pot for a mean green pesto.
I was so appreciative, I kept thanking the plants, so happy that I was able to find good medicine and superfood! Indeed, turning around and walking a bit further along the path, I spotted some Sumac trees growing along a small hill. They invited me to come and take some of their berries.
I licked my finger, then licked a bunch of berries, then re-licked my finger again. Some of the berries were still a bit green, but the taste was pleasantly mildly sour.
They assured me that the berries were fine and I collected several drupes.
It seemed they were telling me which ones to pick, and I laughed, telling them I couldn't possibly collect them all as I wasn't that tall!
Smiling and glowing from their interaction and generosity, I skipped along the trail to visit the field. There, I spent the next little while collecting and talking to Red Clover.
You must be so happy that it has rained, I told them, seeing how many of the blossoms were now back to the usual purpley-pink hue, unlike last time when most were pink-colored and full of slugs.
Don't be silly, they chided me. We accept what Mother Earth has to offer us and she is always kind and knowing in her ways.
I was beaming with all the bounty of the flowers around me and did indeed collect a good bunch (about 4 dehydrator trays worth!).
I then spotted some pink Yarrow, and the color of these flowers were a darker hue than the usual pale ones I'd seen before. I got out my clippers and collected several heads of white, pale pink and dark pink flowers, smelling some as I went along. Aaah, Yarrow, such a looker, but not so sweet tasting (nope, definitely more antiseptic-like, yech!).
I stopped and looked briefly at the Milkweed plants, but they did not call me. I noticed some Mugwort and said hullo, then went to visit the patch of Plantain that had been so generous in the past. Interesting how this time everything had changed, they were silent in their energy, and so I didn't interact with them or take any of their leaves.
I noticed the Grape vines, now trailing over the fence, but they too did not call to me.
Getting out my camera to snap a few pics, who did I suddenly encounter but Tansy! Oh my, this was the first time I had ever seen her growing in the wild, and she seemed so happy to be growing where she was. I was happy to see her too, and gave her an energetic hug.
I snapped a few pics of Yarrow and Bull Thistle, the latter being taller than me (must've been around 5'7 or 8!).
I also noticed some other plants that I hadn't previously. In fact, in my last post I had mentioned that there were about 2 dozen plants growing in this one field, but I underestimated: 3 dozen is more like it!
Indeed, I took pics of Yellow Vetchling (I had mentioned her last post but didn't take a pic), Wild Parsnip, Blue Vervain, White Vervain, Queen Anne's Lace, Dock (now in seed), Green Coneflower, Jewelweed, Mugwort, Burdock and a plant that I have yet to identify. I also took a pic of a bee that came to inspect some pollen on my shorts :)
Returning home, I felt a pull by some plant growing beside the shed. No name came on the wind, but I was suddenly led to discover her name online with some writings by Susun Weed: Groundsel! I collected several plants beside the shed, then went and discovered more hiding behind the Tomato plants growing in my neighbor's yard.
Growing beside the Groundsel, there was also 2 Lady's Thumb plants, which I transplanted to one of my planters before divesting them of a few large leaves for a future pesto.
Groundsel is related to Ragweed, yet a taste of the leaves ensured me that it was fine to add to the pot for a pesto (meaning: steam greens, including those Nettles I collected earlier, first before pureeing in the food processor). Also means: nope, no allergies to Ragweed here!!
With the flowering tops, I made a tincture of Groundsel to use during period time to help with cramps:
---> Chop 1/3 off the flowering top of plants, then further chop into small pieces. Add to mason jar, cover with 100 proof alcohol, cap and let sit 6 weeks before straining into amber bottles. Usage and dosage: 5-10 drops 1x daily for PMS and cramps; 5-10 drops daily for 3 months to tonify the uterus so that you no longer get cramps/PMS. Not suitable for those with allergies to Ragweed.
I also made Sumac-ade, which is easy-peasy to make and tastes just like lemonade!
---> Simply take the berries off the stem and place in a bowl (you can toss in the stems if you like). Add enough tepid or room temperature water to cover the berries. Let sit 15-30 minutes, then place a coffee filter in a sieve and strain out the liquid. Ta-da, Sumac-ade that tastes just like Lemonade! Add stevia (or other sweetener) for a touch of sweetness.
I've posted this recipe in the recipes section with some variations Here :)
Finally, I put the Red Clover and Nettle onto mesh sheets in the dehydrator to air dry, then had a brilliant idea to dry Yarrow as cut flowers in a vase. No water needed, because the flowers will be used for future infusions and/or other wildcrafting recipes.
Keep that light burnin' now, sunshine, cuz there'll be more foraging adventures before ya know it :)
PS. Took a look-see and enjoy the pics :)
Well, it's almost official: they're going to be building condos on Bellefield. Most of the plants are gone, hacked away. In the center of the field there's a wooden stake with a painted orange circle. That's what gave it away. That, and that a person walking his dog I had met before had mentioned the idea.
This time around, I didn't feel sad. I didn't feel anything at all. I just walked along where tall plants used too be: white vervain, blue vervain, cow parsnip, wild parsnip, yarrow, sow thistle, red clover, milkweed, mugwort, plantain and thistle.
Interestingly, today was the first time I went foraging all week. Not that I didn't have the opportunity, oh no the weather has been great. Just busy doing my other love...
Wait. Would that be cooking, exercising, writing, reading, gardening...or...?
Yes, they've been having some back to school sales and so I've been enjoying looking and buying :) Although it is also true that I've been busy exercising, gardening and writing/experimenting with chokecherry and crabapple recipes, including making jelly, jello, gummy candies and pie! :)
Bike riding yesterday from one mall to the next, I passed by Bellefield and was invited to come for a visit. I saw the plants and thought to come right then, but it just wasn't the right timing. Then, this morning, I started writing an article about the uses for Burdock. It got me thinking about making a pesto with the leaves and how the petioles are edible (kinda like celery), so that got me thinking about going to Bellefield.
Walking along the path from the street, I went close to the plants growing along the water. Lots of Burdock, first year and second year. I collected some stems and leaves and, lo and behold, tons of Dandelion! Strange that I should be finding her now when all summer I've been collecting Sow Thistles, not Dandelion! But I'm more than happy to be finding her, as her leaves are an excellent diuretic. I dry her leaves and use her as a green in my soups.
There was one plant that I thought might be Wild Chervil. I just wanted to pull up the root, so I was thinking it might be a carrot plant. The leaves didn't seem like that of Wild Carrot, aka Queen Anne's Lace, but I'd like to go back with my spade and dig her up. I'd also like to collect some Burdock roots and Dandelion roots. At work, there's Bellflower growing and the roots are edible; they taste like parsnip! Indeed, I just wrote an article for the [Grow] Network about edible ornamentals, so I'll be posting that soon in Chitter-Chatter for ya'll to read about :)
Walking up the bridge to get to the actual Bellefield, there was tons of Jewelweed, all in flower. I'd hoped to try a Jewelweed pod, trailside nibble apparently, but no luck this time around!
Walking in the remains of Bellefield, I collected more Dandelion leaves, some Sow Thistles and yes, who should be there, but Motherwort!
It's amazing how plants get hacked down, but they still continue growing. They don't just give up and die. No, they continue to regrow their leaves and put forth their flowers, only now they are much smaller, much closer to the ground. I was reading about that in my reference books of plants in my area, that so-called "weeds" have adaptive strategies for "survival" since they are often pulled. Such survival techniques include producing a multitude of seeds (yes, well, Dandelion is found the world-'round), reproducing by runners (like Violet) and having roots where even just one bit left in the ground will spawn a new plant (that'd be Mugwort, she's a keeper, all right). Some plants even grow faster with a good stomping!
Motherwort was looking really good, with nice green leaves. She's in the mint family, you know, and just like Mint, she can spread! I collected her leaves to put in----yes, yes, my SOUP! I dry her leaves and then come soup time, I go looking for what greens I can add to it. No need to go buying leafy greens in winter if you can collect enough during the summer and fall months! Sigh. Besides that garden I'd like to have one day, I'd probably like a root cellar, large freezer and conservatory/solarium to enjoy plants year 'round. Oh no, no big dreams here. Just a mad love affair with plants :)
I actually decided to walk all the way to the end of the pathway this time. Saw more Sow Thistles and Sumac. Took a berry in my mouth, but eh, it had rained a bit the other day and she tasted washed out. Yes, if you want to harvest Sumac, you should do the taste test: you can lick your finger and then swipe it on the Sumac and back in your mouth for a taste, or just pop a berry in and check. You're looking for a sweet-tart taste. If it's rained, she loses her taste, but then the rule of collecting herbs anyway is to wait at least 2 days after a rainfall.
My fave part about this walk was that the sun was shining through the leaves and I was enjoying the dancing rays as they fell on my face. I absorbed the light with my eyes, and took in the plants with serenity and joy. I stopped to have a nibble of Vetch. Yes, she's in the pea family and you can munch on her flowers as a trailside delight. I did! And while I did, I was watching this fantastic-looking black spider that had a white dot on her bum trying in this comedic act to climb up a web to reach what appeared to be old food. The web was all wrinkled up and the insect seemed large but dead. I found it so funny and entertaining at the same time. And what I loved most about that moment was that i was there, i was present. i was just watching the moment.
I spotted some New England Asters and put just a few petals in my mouth. I know her root is known to be useful for lung ailments, but don't remember if any of her bits are edible.
That concluded my rather short foraging trek. Not much action, it would seem, because all the action is happening in the kitchen. The creative spin has turned to cooking, oh yes indeedy! Besides making pesto with Burdock, I was writing today some recipes ideas for Yellow/Curly Dock seed. Yep, her seeds have all gone brown (they start off green and then change to brown when ready to use) and I still have tons from last year because I found the "chaff" a bit too rough for my intestines. Fine if you need the fiber, but with my high veggie diet, I'm good :) Planning on taking off the chaff and baking up lotsa goodies!
Busy, busy, busy. Experimenting with recipes, retesting, writing them up, and then...ebooks time!
That's it for this time, sunshine :)
Ps. Discovered a new friend at Bellefield! There was only one of her, but her smiley yellow flowers have her away as Evening Primrose. great herb for inflammation of all sorts, great tonic for the female reproductive system. She also has edible bits, including a root that tastes like parsnip and edible EFA-rich seeds! You can read more HERE by Kiva Rose :)
There's good news and there's bad news. I know you want to hear the bad news first, so here goes: it ain't time to make rose hip oil yet. I know, I know, I thought I'd be making some oil for my face too, but the hips just ain't ready! Some are still green, some are reddish and a few are red, but -just-not-yet. The good news is that after a spell of some serious rain, I finally made it to Dandyfield. Yahoo! Good finds, too, so gather 'round and let me share.
Staghorn Sumac. Oh yeah, baby, she's ready now. I licked her drupes to make sure and she's sweet 'n' sour. They grow in colonies and there's a whole family, lemme tell ya! Yeah, there's also a few loner Sumacs in this same field, and I visited them too :) Got Sumac on my table drying as I write, but gonna make some fresh Sumac-ade tomorrow probably.
Why yes, dearie, she makes a nice lemony-ade! Real simple, too.
Take the berries off the stem, add to a bowl, and then add finger hot to tepid water, enough to cover the berries. Let them sit 15-30 minutes, then pour through a nut milk bag (or sieve lined with a coffee filter). The berries have fine hairs, just like those tiny flowers when you make chamomile tea, so you want to make sure you've got a good method to filter them out. I like using a nut milk bag for...well, multiple uses!! Next, add sweetener to taste. Mine of choice: stevia! And, that's it :)
Sumac has a tangy, lemony taste and she is rich in tannins. Some have made a tea using hot water and enjoyed the taste while others haven't. I have dried Sumac in my pantry right now from the same family of Sumacs from last year (those generous gals, I know!!).
Here are a few other ideas from Leda Meredith you can check out.
To Dry Sumac:
Take the berries off the stems. Let the berries dry on solid sheets in the dehydrator. I let mine air dry for several days before using the dehydrator on the lowest setting, but you can choose to dry them using the dehydrator right away. Once dry, crush them to a powder in a high speed blender. If you read my recipes on the site, you know I recommend using the Vitamix, but a Blendtec or other high quality one will do. If you find the powdered Sumac is humid/damp from being processed in the blender, then re-dry the Sumac in the dehydrator. Store in a glass container in a cool dry place and use in recipes.
Rowan or Mountain Ash Berries. I like how my new reference/field manual says they are ready at the end of summer. Uh, no. They are tart by nature, but they are VERY tart right now. I've read that their taste mellows in winter and some have frozen the berries before use. I did that with last year's batch which I harvested in September (froze them) and they still have quite the toot-toot-tart-tart taste! Maybe I'll wait 'til October this year and see how they taste. October puts us into fall, so that reference book needs a-tweaking ;)
Wild Apples or Crabapples. They taste sweet and just slightly sour, but they are small and immature at this stage. I asked one of the trees if I could have some and the apples were so good! They are tiny things, 4 bites and you're done, but let me tell ya, I was high on apple love all afternoon and evening! She was such a sweetie, this one tree. I guess she shared her sweet, loving nature with me and I was most grateful! Actually, I was grateful for all the goodies I collected and for all trees and plants and bugs sharing their energy with me!
Which reminds me, take a peek-see at the bottom of this post of these two furry creatures. Neat-o, huh? I'm thinking, sleeping caterpillars, perhaps?
While the first wild apple tree had greenish-yellow with some reddish-pink baby apples, there was another type of apple tree. These looked more like wild crabapples. They were tiny, smaller than the first type of apples and their coloring showed a darker red. They were sour, too :P
And yes, there was a third type of apple tree! And yes, yes, there was more than just 1 tree of each type!! I know, I called this Dandyfield but I think it should be renamed Apple Blossom or Apple Heaven or Appley Love ;)
This third type of tree had me stumped because her apples are small and look like tiny cherries but when you bite into them, they are dark purpley, like plums. I was looking into all my books to see what I could find and getting frustrated at no identification. In a sudden bout of insight, I took a bite into one of the fruits to see her seeds. Was this a wild currant? A wild plum? Nope, an apple. Seeds of an apple, my dear. Leaves, too. All the other berries just didn't fit with her because the leaves or the shape of the fruit were all wrong. Nope, apple! Just another variety :) Makes sense because Dandyfield is actually an abandoned lot. There's a dumpy building in the middle and tons of large cement blocks, which make it great to reach up and get to the fruit :)
I spotted at least 3 trees of the last variety. I was munching on the 1st tree's bounty when I spotted another.
"Hullo, hullo," I said.
I proceeded to take a sampling of the bounty of this second tree, but no sooner had I chomped down on the fruit when I spat it out.
"Ack!" I exclaimed.
I compared the leaves of the trees and the fruits. Yep, they were the same, all right. I asked the tree why her fruits were still so sour, still unripe. Silence. I looked around and figured it might be the location. I thanked the tree anyway and continued foraging around. It was when I encountered yet another tree of the same variety that I understood. I was hesitant to try her fruits with my unpleasant taste experience with the last tree. This tree stood shining, waiting for me to decide.
I reached out and tore a plum-looking apple from the tree. I bit in.
Yep, she was ripe just like the first tree. I collected some of her fruits and munched on several at the same time. It came to me why the second tree wasn't "in her prime" yet: the leaves of the 1st and 3rd trees had changed color. Not only were many of them reddish, but many were yellowed and signified their death.
"Aaaaah," I said.
It was nice to be able to understand.
I collected several apples but told the trees I would come back later when their fruits had more fully matured, perhaps in 2 weeks. Yes, now I feel that there are many plants to be explored in the woods, which I haven't frequented much this summer. Flipping through my reference books to identify that apple tree, I saw all these pictures of plants that I'd like to be able to meet plant-to-person! I remember seeing a bush last year that I didn't know what she was. She had dark berries and her fruits were bitter. I asked her if they were edible or not, but she remained silent. I didn't get a feeling that she was a hostile or poisonous plant, but all the same, because of my lack of knowledge (and field guide), I didn't disturb her further. But this year I will because I'm baaaaaaaacccckkkk!
Which reminds me that there was another tree that bore dark fruits that I'm still not sure who she is yet. I thought she might be Elderberry. I've only seen Elderberry once before, but her fruits are not arranged in the same dangling manner as Elderberries are. She had green berries and dark purple ones, bitter tasting, but arranged in a cluster like the other apples were. Hm, and I think she had one tiny seed, come to think of it...Anyway, that's my homework for today. I took pics of her, so time to figure out her identity! Ooh, on seeing her pics, she looks like another kind of apple, not elderberry at all (see below).
It's so much fun, I find, meeting new friends and discovering their unique gifts and properties :) And by friends, yes, I mean plant friends! And so much fun getting creative in the kitchen and coming up with healthy recipes!
Who else was in Dandyfield? You know, I should really call it Appley Love, it really is much more suiting. Appley Love it is then :)))
Goldenrod. Oh my god, tons and tons of Goldenrod! Some in small baby stage, some with yellow buds, some with yellow flowers, some that had progressed to having red flowers, some with gall balls, some with different kinds of insects on them (a great mating place, no doubt about it!), and some that were taller than me (see pic below). I collected some, I did, I did!
Wild Grape. Yep, she was here, too. I dropped some Sumac at one point and lo and behold, what was this creeping vine on the ground and growing around the cement blocks but wild grape. I took a sampling of some of her berries, mmm good, but I wasn't attracted to her berries or leaves at that point in time. I was getting tired and was hoping to head back home soon. I did thank her, however, for showing herself to me. No worries, I'll be revisting Appley Love soon enough :)
On that high love note, time to sign off. Work tomorrow and good news: there's a ladder apparently and I can collect the apples and chokecherries from on high! Yippee! Can't wait to go collecting!
I cooked the chokecherries from last time with some cranberries, then mashed, strained and turned the liquid into a jello. I must say, I was a bit disappointed, because the high live vibe that I had experienced when eating them raw and right off the tree, was nowhere to be found in this cooked recipe! Which is why this time, I'm gonna crush her raw fruits with water, strain the liquid and use that high vibe into yummy recipes!!
Stay high vibin' on love, sunshine :)
Motherwort, Bladder Campion, Vervain, Turtlehead, Toadflax, Green Coneflower, Wild Carrot, Goldenrod & More
Buckle your seat belt, ladies and gents, because it's gonna be a bit of a long one! Pics too, scroll down to see now!!
I've been back-to-back foraging for several days now! First it was all rain, and now it's just all sun! While that's good news for foraging, after a while the plants start gettin' dried out---no good for anyone!
Let's start with The Day Before: I collected some Sow Thistles growing around my shed and snapped some pics of the plants on my balcony garden. Then, a return to Bellefield. I took some pics of some new plants, as well as some insect friends: Shy, Sleepy and Spritely. Ladybug was the shy one, Japanese Beetle was the sleepy one and Cricket was the lively, spritely one. Oh yes, indeedy!
He hopped onto the paper bag I was using to collect Red Clover, and stood there waiting for me to take his picture.
His whole energy kept saying, "Well, are you going to take a picture of me? Me?! C'mon now!"
He was giving me his side angle. Then he turned to look at the camera squarely, to give me his front view. Through the camera lens it seemed we were face-to-face! Hm, a zen master in disguise, perhaps?!
I was feeling tired, detoxing from being on the juice fast. The energy of the field had shifted as well, it wasn't like the other day when I had come. The sky was overcast and I encountered a young boy walking his dog.
I didn't get any Yarrow or more St John's wort (as I had last time around), but I did find a few Prunella (Self-Heal) plants, as well some Motherwort. This time when I left, I took the path that led to the street, and growing at the edge of the field, there she was: Motherwort! I had brought my clippers with me, although I wished I had a better pair of gloves because Motherwort has prickly bits!
Yep, and that was the first thing I did after leaving Bellefield: get a thick pair of gloves ;)
I then went behind the mall, just to pass by, and---what a find! Someone's crabapple tree had a branch that had bent and there were apples right there for the pickin'! I was sure the people who owned the tree had noticed and would be cutting down the branch soon enough. Or not. Not everyone is into the sourness of crabapples, but I tell ya, even green crabapples can be turned into jelly. Or juiced. They kind of remind me of Granny Smith apples. Low in sugar, and that sourness helps to destagnate the liver.
Meantime, I bit into an apple and it was so good, because I needed a lil boost from fastin'! Nope, just chewed the apple and got the juice, then spit out (gross, yes I know), the pulp. Yep, they were green, tart crabapples all right. Yummy to my taste buds :)
I was able to collect 3 shopping bags full of apples!!
It was so much fun, too, that I thought I might go and ring the neighbor and ask if I could pick some apples from their tree, even offer them some money if need be. Heck, it was just part of the branch, and I was loaded with fruit! Made me envy all those who have fruit trees! Why, just one fruit, if she produced well, and a family could be set with apples for quite a while. Mmm, all the recipes one can do with apples. Apple juice, apple cider, applesauce, apple pie, dried apple bits to put into cereal and oatmeal, apple muffins, apple cake...
And on to Yesterday: I went to a new field, Dandyfield. I'm calling it Dandyfield because there are NO DANDELIONS growing in this field. Just like we think Iceland is cold or Greenland is hot, the reverse is actually true!
This field is actually an abandoned lot, but there are plenty plants 'round, that's for sure. The earth is rather gravelly, which might explain why there aren't any dandelions, although I did spot a few Wild Lettuce plants.
There were many Milkweed plants growing, many were starting to form their pods. I took several small ones and even some follicles (or seed pods).
I could feel the Jing, the essence, in those little guys!
More Mugwort. I see her growing everywhere, even in my pot on my balcony. She's a keeper, what can I say :)
Mullein, growing right in the pavement. Small baby ones, too. I think there were only 3 plants so I didn't bother them.
Sumac. LOTS of Sumac! They grow in colonies, apparently. Oh yeah, there was a whole family of them. I licked the Sumac to see if they were ready to harvest, but no, not just yet. They are a dark wine color, but they need to mature just a little bit more. Then it'll be lemonade time ;) Yes, she's one of the spices used in Za'atar.
Goldenrod. Bright yellow-colored flowers, they are just starting to flower. The time to get them is NOW, because soon the bugs will be all over 'em. Many uses: infused in oil as a muscle reliever; in tea she's helpful for urinary issues.
New England Aster. Pretty flower, the root is used in TCM for lung issues.
Chicory. A couple of plants, and their flowers were almost spent. Root roasted and ground as a coffee substitute.
Tons of this white plant, which I think might be Sweet White Clover.
If she is Clover Honey, she has a vanilla-esque taste, so she can be dried for tea or her seeds can be ground and used for flavoring, and young leaves before she flowers can be used as a pot herb, according to Green Deane. I bet she'd make a nice potpourri, too. Guess I'll be going back to check her out. And there were tons and tons of her in this dandelion-less field!
Bladder Campion. Interesting flower because of her balloon-shaped calyx. Root used in TCM for lung issues. Leaves also edible as a pot herb (boil for 10 minutes, then eat).
Queen Anne's Lace or Wild Carrot. Big white lacey flowers having a black center dot means that she's in her 2nd year, as Queen A is a biennial. You can eat her leaves, tempura her flowers, and get her root in the first year in the fall. Tastes like: wild carrot! Seeds taste like caraway. A sweetie, for sure :)
There were several trees, all of which have ripening fruits that will be up for the picking come August and September: Mountain Ash/Rowan Berries, Crabapples and I think a wild plum, no, a wild currant tree (to verify). I know the fruit tasted like a plum, although the tree told me, "The fruit ain't ready yet, sweetie." She was right :0
I then went to explore the woods nearby. Yep, I knew there were mosquitoes, so I was wearing pants, a long sleeved sweater and had brought my homemade insect repellent along: equal parts mugwort tea and apple cider vinegar (2 cups each I used) + 10 drops each essential oils of lemon, fir, eucalyptus, lavender, spearmint, rosemary and a few drops of cedar.
I spotted Chicory right away (leaves and flowers are edible, but bitter, known as I said as a coffee substitute) and took a few snapshots, but that was it.
The mosquitoes were fierce; they were out for blood, my blood! My insect repellent worked to ward them off for maybe 5 minutes and I had to keep moving. There was no way I was going to be staying here for long!
I managed to collect some Plantain leaves and some Red Clover leaves. As I had come here a few times last year, I was looking for Prunella and found but a few flowers. Looking around, I spotted a Crabapple tree and I think there was an Elderberry bush. Elderberry is great to make elderberry syrup for coughs, colds and sore throats. But she tastes so great, you can use "just because" :)
I quickly hurried along another path where, I remembered, Prunella had been growing last year. Sure enough, there were many violet sweeties growing there. I followed them to the point where I was almost alongside the road, and am happy to say that I collected quite a few! Once dried, she makes a very nice tea. Just add some stevia and some milk and you're set. Great to move the lymph in the body and help with weight loss. WIN!
I saw some familiar faces: Wild Parsnip, Cow Parsnip and eek---Baneberries, aka, Doll's Eye.
I still remember my encounter with her last year. There I was, all innocent-like, romping around with my field manual looking for "gold" in the forest. All seemed so inspiring, and friendly (except the mosquitoes). And then, there she was. And this feeling came over me. A shiver running up my spine, a cold feeling suddenly. Creepy energy oozed from those white berries with the dots that look like doll's eyes. Just look at that blood red stem that makes you think of blood...Blood and porcelain doll eyes in haunted movies. Stay away, stay far away!
Yes, she is poisonous. And yep, I left her well, well alone, all right!
Plants in the woods are not the same as those that grow in fields. I mean, they can be, but even the Red Clover and Prunella I found were growing more in clearings than in the denser, shadier areas created by the trees. So you have to watch out. Be mindful, know what you're doing. But then, you're only supposed to forage what you know for sure what is, is @ 100%. Wordy sentence? Eck, you get my meaning ;)
Before heading back home, I went behind the mall and guess what new plant I found? Toadflax! Also called Butter-and-Eggs. Pretty flower, good for dropsy (old word for edema). I collected several plants to repot and study them more at home! Got some Sow Thistle leaves and some rose petals, even a few buds. So rare I take buds, but the flowers have all made way to rose hips now. Yep, they are all in their green-colored stage, but I spotted one or two starting to turn red. You know what that means? Between the golden yellow of Goldenrod and the red of the Rose Hip, fall is on its way!
I know, I can't believe it's already mid-summer either :)
And on to Today: Back to Bellefield. Collected more Red Clover, lots of sweet-smelling White and Pink (yes, pink!) Yarrow in flower, bitter Motherwort in flower, and a bit of muggie (Mugwort).
NEW plants: Blue Vervain! She is flowering now, so it's the right time to get her special medicine :) She grows where there's water, which explains why I've never encountered her before. Her seeds can be ground like four and leaves (or the flowering tops) used for tea. I also got White Vervain. Here's what Susan Weed had to say about Blue Vervain:
"Use the tincture of fresh vervain flowers, 20-40 drops in water, before bed and as needed, to strengthen the nerves, relieve insomnia, dispel depression, treat nervous exhaustion, and moderate headaches, including migraines. (Vervain was a favored plant for the Maiden's altar and the moon lodge, where she was used to promote the onset of the menstrual flow, ease cramps, reduce flooding, and quicken desire.)"
A keeper for sure :)
Turtlehead. Very unique and pretty plant! She makes a bitter tea, but bitter = good for gallbladder and liver issues.
Green-headed Coneflower. Very tall, she was growing beside the creek. Pretty yellow flowers on a GREEN cone in the center with 3-parted leaves. So lovely.
Well, I think all plants are lovely :)
I go around telling each plant how beautiful she is, but then, as I've confessed on more than once occasion to many plants, I think each and every one of them is unique. And not just every "species," but every single plant is special. Even though all red clover plants or dandelion look the same, for example, each plant, every single of them, is...for lack of a better word, unique.
Finally, also identified 2 plants that were growing at work that I had brought home to study better: one is Loosestrife, helpful for IBS apparently, and another is Bellflower. Bellflower has edible flowers and her root tastes like parsnip, would you believe!
Oh, yes. All this foraging has made me rethink what I think of food. We have food that is sold in the grocery stores and farmer's markets, but who has gone and deemed such food as edible. For example, tomatoes were grown as ornamentals because people were wary of their solanine content. Now tomato sauce in pasta and pizza is so commonplace. No tomatoes in your household? You've got to be kidding me!
Foraging has made me realize that there is a whole world of other plants that we can be eating! It has made me rethink what we think of as food and what we don't. It has made me more conscious of the food that I put on my plate, and the food that I put in my mouth and feed my body. And my soul.
With all the talk of toxins in the environment and plant-strong nutrition, I see more and more that what is needed is to return to the land, to our roots. What is needed to counteract the damage that has been done and continues to assault our bodies is to grow our own food and herbs, and to eat "superfoods" which are right below our feet and in our gardens as "wild edibles." Indeed, we should relabel them as Wild Superfoods. They'll be the kinds and queens ruling in my garden, I can tell ya ;)
On that note, I'll be signing off and seeing ya next time, sunshine :)
Ps. Hover mouse over pics to view description.
Curiosity Got The Cat: