03 September 2008

foraging find: spicebush berries

My friend Anne and I went for a nice walk in the park yesterday and I couldn't help but point out all of the plants I learned about during my recent foraging class. Sassafras, lady's thumb, pokeweed, bishop's elder, hawthorne, rosehips, jewelweed, and mugwort -- we stopped to observe them all. We sampled some clover-leafed wood sorrel (see below), so bright and lemony delicious.

And we happened upon a spicebush. I was so excited to be able to identify the plant by its appearance and the scent of the berry (a sweet, spicy aroma). So we collected a few berries. I'm going to dry them out and grind them up for seasoning. You can also use the leaves, twigs, and bark for tea.

Spicebush, the berries not all quite ripe yet

I later rubbed some plantain (plantago) on the mosquito bites I acquired at our friends' barbecue. It just so happens we ate purslane salad at that shindig -- they bought theirs at the market, but we could have found some in the park, to make a Brooklyn salad as they called it.

I've been bitten by the foraging bug (I'm not talking mosquitos anymore). In a couple of weeks my boyfriend, some friends, and I are heading out with Wildman Steve Brill to get our hands dirty in Prospect Park.

It's so great to be able to identify plants, and whether they're edible, medicinal, or neither. It just gives you a different perspective on the world around you. About a month ago I couldn't tell you what any of these things were, save clover. And I can't wait to learn more.


Leda Meredith said...

So glad you've been bitten by the foraging bug, and congrats on spotting so many of the plants we identified on our tour of Prospect!

Liz said...

I was really excited to show off my new-found knowledge. I've recruited a few friends to join me and my boyfriend on a tour with Steve Brill in a couple of weeks.

Thanks for showing me the way!

Hope your knee is healing up well.