Nature Awareness: Adventures in Foraging

I’m one of those people who reads multiple books at a time, and you can bet that at least one title I’m working through is about herbalism or foraging.  I just started Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal.  It’s a beautifully photographed guide featuring tips for identification, a bit of folklore, and recipes.  With the forest and hedges springing back to life, a book like this makes me very excited!

On Saturday I decided to do some scouting.  I visited the forest and made offerings, then I observed, taking plenty of time to stop and soak up the sunniest spots as it was a very chilly, breezy day!  Surprisingly, the trout lilies have yet to bud, and the red trillium has yet to make an appearance.  Is it the chill in the air?  The very wet start to the season?

I was hoping to find chickweed and stinging nettled.  I have yet to identify the former and may have found the later but I need to do more research and closer observation (with thick gloves).

Foraging photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014
Foraging photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

In my search for chickweed, I found some plants that I had hoped would match my field guides once I got in.  No such luck, but I did find some other very interesting plant allies.  On the far left is what I believe to be sweet woodruff (galium odoratum).  At first, I thought they were cleavers but their leaves and stems are smooth.  According to Wikipedia, their name in German is Waldmeister which translates to “master of the woods.”  Very cool name, right?  Another English folk name is “wild baby’s breath,” so I’ll have to keep an eye on it to confirm my ID.  There’s some interesting info about it here.  On the right (hardly visible in the photo), I believe, may be a related plant called bedstraw.  If true, that is a very interesting find because it was apparently used to curdle milk as a type of vegetarian rennet.  And in the middle?  That guy remains a mystery…

I also saw some other lovely plants, some that I need to identify and keep my eye on.  Others I knew right away and delighted in their appearance, such as this lovely white oak seedling.  What a great omen for a Druid-in-training!

Baby Oak - photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.
Baby Oak – photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

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