Sunday, May 24, 2009

Special Sunday Edition

Yesterday Hubby and I participated in a class offered through our local rec centre where we were introduced to edible native plants. We spent the morning in the classroom learning the do's and don'ts of harvesting, identifying and eating plants that grow in the wild. Most of the afternoon was spent outside checking out what was growing in the parks around the rec centre and enjoying the fabulous spring weather.

Fireweed. Close-up I think it looks like Cleopatra the man-eating plant from the Addams Family. Fortunately, this plant isn't quite so deadly. The young leaves are edible, and the instructors served it to us in a salad at lunch.

Fireweed certainly looks like a weed from a distance.

Red elderberry. This is one I think I'll avoid. Though our instructors assured us that the cooked fruit is safe, there were several other warnings regarding this plant.

Salal. The berries are edible, though they don't appear until the fall. The leaves are often found in flower arrangements.

Lady fern. The shoots are edible if they are steamed. We were warned not to eat them raw.

Nootka rose. We have this growing wild beside our driveway. I would have never considered eating it, but apparently the flowers and the hips are edible.

Labrador tea. It's hard to see in this photo, and apparently it can be tricky to identify in person too, as it can be confused with other inedible plants. The instructors served us tea from the leaves. It was quite tasty, but I think I'll limit my consumption to those occasions where the tea is made by people who know what they're doing.

Grand fir. This one isn't so grand. It's just a baby. The new, light green needles are edible. We tried them in class served right off the twig.

Bigleaf maple. All kinds of good eating here. The young stem, flowers, sap and the seed part of the helicopter are all edible. Maple, not just for syrup any more. We did taste syrup made from bigleaf maple. Good stuff, though wildly expensive. We only got a drop or two on a teaspoon to try. Yum. It's not quite as sweet as syrup from the sugar maple, but it's good enough that I'd be tempted to learn how to make it myself. I wonder if my neighbours would notice if I tapped their tree?

We talked about a dozen different kinds of native berries in the classroom portion of our course, but the only one we found on our walk was the thimbleberry. The young stems, flowers and fruits are edible, and the leaves are so soft they are called nature's toilet paper. Good to know!

Another example of thimbleberry. The plant in the lower right corner of this photo is an example of an inedible berry. It's a snowberry (I think), and its berries are poisonous. Also good to know.


  1. What fun! I'll have to see if I can find something like that around here. I always look at plants when I am out walking and think they look like plants I have studied but am never brave enough to put it to the test.

  2. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to put my knowledge to the test yet either, but it was a great day out. I think I'll do some more learning before I do any experimenting!

  3. I agree with Meghan: what fun! I like walking in the woods, but I always bring my own snacks ;-)

    Also, the baby grand fir is adorable. You got a great picture of it!

  4. I think I'll continue to bring my own snacks too Rosiecat; at least until I learn more. And I'm already looking into ways to learn more.

  5. From the 4 carolinians with da sista trans"plant". Now we have proof you can't cook. We knew it. It's no wonder you have to eat trees and plants. :)
    Sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe we can try this down south and share some recipes since we really don't cook either, except Patty Pate our resident chef.

  6. We knew you couldn't cook and now we have proof, eating trees and plants. Blech. We should try one of those classes down south here and compare notes, since no one in our house cooks either. Except for the amazing, resident chef Patty Pate ;)

  7. Yes, I've heard of Patty's specialty "Silly Pate" all the way out here. Lucky you to have such a multi-talented gal in the house. I hear she acts and models too!

  8. RANW...I'm glad you FINALLY found me. What took you so long? Hope to hear lots from you in the future.


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