I was thinking the other day, and it dawned on me that I should
give a few rules for foraging among all the wild plants on this earth.
There is the other side of the coin in every subject in existence. Good and bad, Light and dark battling against each other for top billing! So is your glass half full or half empty? I prefer picking neither… mine is plumb full with an occasional spill. Oh I have days when I’m dehydrated but for the most part all my days are full. I’m going to talk to you about exercising caution as you forage and try new things from the wild. You are now going to see an aspect of my personality. ~~~~~
Simple things delight me! It can make me go on a tangent of major proportions.
Like the picture on the right… my brother in WV, Ramie was mowing grass, and
came across these boots thrown over a limb. The birds thought it looked like a nice
condo. I love seeing things like this. Look at the construction of the nest.
How superb. Hope he gets to see when the eggs hatch~
OK…OK…I’m back to the subject!
The first thing is to research the plant you are thinking of eating. Is there a plant that is so similar that you could confuse the two plants? You ever hear the saying that carpenters have, “Measure twice, cut once!”. It’s kind of that way with plant foraging. You have to check your facts twice or more. If you are uncertain then don’t eat it.
Here is a check list I found on Wikihow:
Please go and check it out. Make sure of what you are doing. There are skin tests and taste tests. There is so much information in books and on the internet that it should be fairly easy to check things out. One thing you can do is find things that don’t have a copy cat. I found out that Wild carrots (Queen Anne’s Lace) has a plant that’s similar called Hemlock. Socrates, let’s see…he died from drinking something with Hemlock in it?… I think. Extremely poisonous but I thought it seems there are some pretty obvious differences. Wild Carrot has hairy stem that’s plain and one color where as Hemlock has purple flecks in the stems. The groups of flower heads of the QAL are more tightly grouped together while the Hemlock has small groups that make up a larger whole flower head and are more loosely grouped together.
Even though this isn’t from the Northeastern US, the simple straightforward description from Washington State @ http://www.co.stevens.wa.us/weedboard/other%20weeds/HTM%20pages/poison%20hemlock.htm is the easiest one to follow and doesn’t seem to have any differences from this area.
Key identifying traits (more in a second year plant). First year plants are harder to distinguish. Much shorter first year.
- A big plant normally 6 to 8 feet tall
- Flowers are small and white consisting of 5 petals and borne in numerous umbrella like clusters
- Stems are erect, stout, and purple spotted with distinct ridges and extensively branched
- Leaves are fern like and have a musty odor
- Has a large white fleshy tap-root
- Seeds are paired, 1/8 inch long, brown, ribbed and concave
- Musty Smelling Plant
- NO BENEFICIAL USE
Queen Anne’s Lace
(Daucus carota ~ Carrot Family)
- A medium size plant normally 4 feet at its tallest
- Stems are hairy and solid green
- The leaves of the wild carrot can cause phyto-photodermatitis, so caution should also be used when handling the plant.
- Flowers are similar to the hemlock but are packed together tighter and there is a red dot right in the middle of the entire umbrella of blossom clusters which attracts wasps
- The root is edible when it’s young but grow extremely woody as it ages
- INTERESTING BENEFITS: This species is also documented to boost tomato plant production when kept nearby, and it can provide a microclimate of cooler, moister air for lettuce, when inter-cropped with it.
- Distinct Carrot smell in the leaves and in the root
So you can see by this one example that it is important to do your homework. When in doubt…. don’t. That is the best practice for a foragers.
I love sharing nature with you and I hope you will become excited about the things that have been provided for our benefit. Let me know if you go foraging and what you find. I would be so excited to hear about your adventures. Thanks for coming for a visit. Be Careful and See you soon. Jan