Browsing the archives for the chickweed tag.


Great Walks This Weekend!

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We had wonderful walks this past Saturday and Sunday at Frick Park in Pittsburgh - thanks to everyone who attended!

Although we did not find morels, we found plenty of Dryad Saddle (also called Pheasant Back):

Dryad Saddle Mushroom, An Edible Polypore

Dryad Saddle Mushroom, An Edible Polypore

We also identified and discussed many wild edible and medicinal plants over the past two days including:

  • Wild Carrot/Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota
  • Mugwort, Artemesia vulgaris
  • Motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca
  • Mulberry, Morus
  • Lamb’s Quarters, Chenopodium alba
  • Garlic Mustard, Alliaria pettiolata
  • Onion Grass
  • Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis
  • Violet, Viola
  • Chickweed, Stellaria media
  • Nettles, Urtica dioica
  • Deadnettles, Lamium purpurea
  • Cleavers, Galium aparine
  • Plantain, Plantago major
  • Burdock, Arctium lappa
  • Broad-leaf Dock, Rumex obtusifolius
  • Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum biflorum

chickweed

chickweed

We identified some poisonous plants:

  • Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  • Poison Ivy, Rhus radicans

We also discussed how to find and identify elm and tulip poplar trees (which helps in searching for morels.)

We are working on the dates for more 2014 walks and workshops…they will be posted soon.

Hope to see you!

~ Melissa and David Sokulski

Food Under Foot

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The Dandelion-A-Day Project

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I am convinced that I can find a dandelion flowering every day of the calender year. Even in my northern climate of Pittsburgh, PA, even when it’s snowing. Last year I challenged myself to find a dandelion in flower every month of the year: that was so easy as to be ridiculous.

Yesterday I was out walking in Frick park, trees mostly bare, landscape brown, and still I found this:

November 20 Dandelion, Frick Park

November 20 Dandelion, Frick Park

And today on the south side trail along the Monongahela river:

November 21 Dandelion, South Side River Trail

November 21 Dandelion, South Side River Trail

And dandelions aren’t the only flowers you’ll find blooming in winter: you’ll see chickweed (Stellaria media) in flower and deadnettles (Lamium purpurea) flowers, even in January and February: they LOVE cold weather and snow does not stop them!

deadnettles blooming in mid-winter

deadnettles blooming in mid-winter

More winter foraging tips to come!!

~ Melissa

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Frick Park Walk

General Posts, Herb, Identification, Poisonous or Toxic, Raw, Tincture
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Our first walk of the year was so much fun! We had great weather and lots of enthusiastic people. We identified at least 12 wild edibles (including Dryad’s Saddle, an edible mushroom that everyone got to take home.) Unfortunately we didn’t find morels…but join us on Saturday for our Earth Day walks and who knows what we’ll find!

discussing wild edibles at a wild edibles walk in Frick Park

discussing wild edibles at a wild edibles walk in Frick Park

We found and discussed:

Dandelion

dandelion flowers

dandelion flowers

Plantain

Plantain

Plantain

Chickweed

close up of chickweed

close up of chickweed

Japanese knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Dryad’s Saddle

Dryad's Saddle

Dryad's Saddle

Purple Archangel (Purple deadnettle)

Lamium purpureum, purple deadnettle

Lamium purpureum, purple deadnettle

Violet

violet

violet

Broad Leaf Dock
Burdock

Burdock

Burdock

Nettles

stinging nettles

stinging nettles

Cleavers
Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

May Apple

We discussed making:

Our next walks are this Saturday at the Frick Park Environmental Center for their family-friendly, free, Earth Day Celebration! The festival is Saturday April 21, 2012  from 11:30 to 4, and we will lead two walks at 1 pm and 2 pm.

Hope to see you there!

~ Melissa

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CSF Newsletter 2

CSF Newsletters, General Posts
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Welcome to week 2!

New this week: Morel mushrooms, Cattail shoots, curly dock and chickweed.

morels

morels

In this week’s share you will find:

  • morel mushrooms
  • cattail shoots
  • Japanese knotweed shoots
  • nettles
  • curly dock
  • deadnettles
  • garlic mustard
  • chickweed
  • cleavers
  • mint

Morels

As with all wild mushrooms, you must cook morels before eating. They can be sauteed, grilled, boiled in soup or sauces, or cooked just about any way you can imagine!

Morels are a prized mushroom: they can not be cultivated and are only found for a few weeks in the spring. They can be dried and eaten throughout the year (they reconstitute beautifully.) I love sauteing the morels in butter with onions, and eating them over rice or with eggs (or tofu.) I like to top (gluten free) toast and/or pizza with sauteed morels and onions. I have made quiche with morels. The more complex the dish the more you may lose the flavor of morels, especially if you are unfamiliar, so I recommend starting simply and getting to know the wonderful flavor of these mushrooms.

Chickweed

chickweed

chickweed

Chickweed is a wonderful green: fresh and delicious. I love to use it as the base for my salads, but it can be simply added to lettuce-based salads as well. Whatever kind of dressing you love will go wonderfully on chickweed. It also tastes divine as is…not bitter in the least.

Chickweed can also be cooked (similar to spinach) and can be added to soups or served alongside a main dish as a cooked green.

Chickweed can be found year round even up north, even in the snow. If you know where your patch is just check under snow in December and you’ll find it. In the hot summer months it keeps its fresh non-bitter taste. This is truly one of my favorite wild greens.

Curly Dock, or Yellow Dock

Similar to broad dock which you had last week, curly dock can be used topically as an antidote to nettle stings (crush and apply fresh leaves). Curly dock is also a tasty green itself. Slightly sour and a bit bitter, it can be eaten raw but it is more often used as a cooked green.

This green - along with other docks and sour wild greens such as sorrel and wood sorrel, and greens such as spinach, lambs quarters and amaranth (wild and cultivated) - have a bit more oxalic acid in them than others so they should not be eaten in excess by people prone to kidney stones (in the same way spinach should not be eaten in excess in that situation.)

Cattail shoots

cat tails

cattails

In this field of cattails the main thing you can see are last years cattails, the heads covered with fluff (which can be used as excellent insulation in survival situations, as well as stuffing for pillows, etc.) But when you get up close and look down, you’ll see new shoots coming up. These shoots are referred to by some as “Cossack asparagus.” Peel back the tough green outer leaves until the white inside remains. This can eaten raw or steamed or sauteed.

steaming cattail shoots

steaming cattail shoots

Nettles

I posted the recipe for Nettle Broccoli Quinoa Quiche, and I also made a delicious Cream of Nettle Potato Soup, based on CSF-er Michelle’s description of her “Cat Pee Soup.”

Cream of Nettle Potato Soup

  • 2 potatoes, peeled, chopped (they don’t have to be peeled if organic, but my potatoes were sprouting, so…)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Nettles, chopped
  • 6 cups water or vegetable (or mushroom) stock
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dash of organic whole milk or cream (for vegan cream soup, simply remove and blend some potatoes and soup, this will give the soup a white creamy texture.)
  1. Saute onion and garlic with salt in oil until onion is translucent, 5 minutes.
  2. Add water or broth and chopped potatoes.
  3. Cook until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add nettles, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook 10 minutes more until nettles are wilted.
  6. Turn off heat and add a dash of cream or milk. To keep soup vegan, remove about half of the potatoes and some stock and blend until creamy, return to soup.

Enjoy!

Deadnettles/Purple Archangel

I’m still loving deadnettles (purple archangel) in smoothies and as a steamed green. How have you been enjoying it? Another week of fun and creativity with purple archangel!

Japanese Knotweed

Ticks love me. It is not pleasant. Being out in the woods a lot I’ve found many crawling on me and have already had to pull a couple off. I am hoping that Japanese knotweed is as good for you and effective against Lyme disease as I hear it is. My favorite drink this spring is my Japanese knotweed, cucumber, apple juice. If you have a juicer I urge you to try it.

Raw, steamed or sauteed, this shoot is edible, tart and juicy. Add it to stir-fries or salads, made a sweet sauce with it or add it to baked goods. And send me your wonderful recipes and I’ll pass them along!

Garlic Mustard

Did you make pesto last week? Maybe a vinegar? If you tried one then try the other this week! Or add it to salads (it is so good in salads). The leaves and flowers are edible and taste like garlic/mustard. And though they are not as durable cooked as other greens, they can still be cooked lightly and enjoyed. I added them to potato pancakes last week (with nettles) and it was a true treat.

Cleavers

Melissa making green smoothies at a workshop in Chalk Hill, PA

Melissa making green smoothies at a workshop in Chalk Hill, PA

What did you do with your cleavers last week? I had mine in smoothies and I loved it! That’s why I’m including it again…I just can’t get enough of it in smoothies! It totally kicked out nettles for top green in smoothies (as much as I love nettles, I can’t take them in my smoothies lately…especially not after having the clean green taste of the cleavers.) Just add cleavers to your favorite fruit smoothie. Start with just a little, this green is hardly detectable (except for its color) and you’ll soon find yourself adding more and more. Here is a smoothie I’ve been making lately:

Cleavers Smoothie

Blend together:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 orange
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • handful (or two) cleavers
  • ice
  • water (you can add juice or sweetener such as dates, agave or maple syrup as well, but I find it unnecessary, especially with ripe bananas.)

Mint

I’m not sure if your mint this week will be Creeping Charlie again, or peppermint, catnip or lemon balm! It depends where I forage tomorrow. But I love to include something herby and flavorful in the share. I will update this section as soon as I know.

Have fun and enjoy your wonderful, flavorful, nutritious and lovingly foraged food!!!

Love,

Melissa

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Winter Foraging

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It was December 26 when I took these pictures around my neighborhood here in Pittsburgh PA. The ground is still not frozen and plants like dandelion, chickweed and purple dead nettle are actually flowering! Goldenrod, too…you’ll see the pictures below.

It would be easy to make green salads from all these edibles…a survivalist certainly would not starve! Greens are loaded with vitamins and minerals, and even have good amounts of protein.

Here are some of the edibles we found walking around today:

Deliciously mustardy bitter cress. This was all around the neighborhood. It is great in salads or even in stir-fries, and there is plenty.

Bittercress...deliciously mustardy, great in salads and growing abundantly!

Bittercress...deliciously mustardy, great in salads and growing abundantly!

Below is purple dead nettle, Lamium purpureum. An edible plant not related to nettle, it gets its common name because the leaves look a bit like nettle but the plant does not sting (hence “dead”.)

Purple dead nettle - with flowers! In December! Not related to nettles, but sort of looks like it. Does not sting, hence the name.

Purple dead nettle - with flowers! In December! Not related to nettles, but sort of looks like it. Does not sting, hence the name.

Here you will find a flowering dandelion! There were a bunch around the neighborhood, along with lots of gorgeous green leaves. This one next to another basal rosette of bittercress.

Flowering dandelion plant, next to a flowering bittercress.

Flowering dandelion plant, next to a flowering bittercress.

Garlic mustard…you’ll find this throughout winter, along with the onion grass, below.

Garlic mustard

Garlic mustard

Onion grass

Onion grass

Looking for something heartier? You can still dig burdock root as long as the ground isn’t frozen and you can find basal rosettes of burdock leaves:

Burdock leaves...the ground is still not frozen so the root can be dug.

Burdock leaves...the ground is still not frozen so the root can be dug.

Add the flowers of these goldenrod - along with the yellow dandelion flowers, purple red clover and dead nettle flowers, white chickweed and bitter cress flowers that we saw today - to your salad and your family will think you’ve traveled to spring and back!

Goldenrod, flowering!

Goldenrod, flowering!

There was more…should I overwhelm you or save it for tomorrow’s post? Mallow, clover, plantain, chickweed…

‘Til tomorrow…happy foraging!

Melissa Sokulski from Food Under Foot

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Backyard Edibles: The Food Under My Feet

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Peaches

Peaches

In my small urban backyard which is only twenty feet by sixty feet, I am able to identify and collect over 80 edible plants, especially if I walk down my street and make use of other plants in the neighborhood.

Most of these plants are literally wild and grow there by chance. Others I have transplanted to the yard, and they now return year after year. Some, like Japanese Knotweed, are quite invasive and I am happy they are not in my yard, but I can easily harvest them around the neighborhood. And some food, fruit bushes and trees like peach, fig, blueberry and blackberry, I have planted.

The following is a list of wild plants, separated into categories, of what grows in my tiny yard (and these are only the things I identify and use! There are plenty of other plants which I don’t know or do not know how to use hanging out as well.)

Totally Wild in My Yarddandelionflowers

1. Dandelion
2. Yellow Dock
3. Chickweed
4. Lambs Quarters
5. Amaranth
6. Quickweed
7. Lady’s Thumbprint
8. Garlic Mustard
9. Broad Leaved Plantain
10. Narrow Leaved Plantain
11. Red Clover
12. White Clover
13. Sorrel
14. Wood Sorrel
15. Shephard’s Purse
16. Cress (Peppercress)
17. Purslane
18. Wild Carrot/Queen Anne’s Lace (though we don’t use this as a rule, because of its resemblance to hemlock)

Transplanted to my yard, but considered a wild plant

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster Mushrooms

1. Nettles
2. Comfrey
3. Blackberries
4. Black Raspberry
5. Oyster Mushrooms
6. Lemon Balm
7. Violets

In my neighborhood, an easy walk from my front door

1. Burdock
2. Black Walnut
3. Acorns
4. Japanese Knotweed
5. Chicory
6. Mulberries
7. Wild Cherries, Tart and Sweet
8. Maple (Maple Syrup, if I were to tap them)
9. Cleavers
10. Thistles
11. Sumac
12. Wild Grapes

Plants I use only as medicine (most of the plants above are medicinal as well as edible, but the following I use only as medicine or herbs)

Feverfew...This one's in a pot, there is more in the yard

Feverfew...This one's in a pot, there is more in the yard

1. Mugwort
2. Mullein
3. St. John’s Wort
4. Motherwort
5. Catnip
6. Feverfew

Food Plants Which I Have Added To My Yard

1. Grapes/Grape Leaves
2. Fig
3. Strawberries
4. Peach Tree
5. Plum Tree
6. Cherry Tree
7. Kale (3 Varieties)
8. Beets
9. Carrots
10. Radishes
11. Tomatoes
12. Arugula
13. Spinach
14. Zucchini
15. Broccoli
16. Collard Greens
17. Chard
18. Fennel
19. Cucumbers
20. Pepper
21. Asian Pear Trees…3 trees/varieties
22. Blueberries

Edible Flowers

Calendula Flowers

Calendula Flowers

1. Calendula
2. Nasturtiums
3. Borage
4. Day Lily
5. Squash Flowers
6. Violets
7. Pansy
8. Sunflowers (Seeds)

Cultivated Herbs (if not mentioned above)

1. Basil
2. Rosemary
3. Thyme
4. Lemon Thyme
5. Peppermint
6. Spearmint
7. Apple Mint
8. Oregano
9. Sage
10. Cilantro
11. Dill
12. Parsley
13. Chives

What do you have in your yard?

Enjoy the harvest!

Melissa

Birch Center for Health
Food Under Foot

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Camping and Wild Edibles

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Tree Spirit

Tree Spirit

We have lots of campers here at Food Under Foot! Hello to you all! Thanks so much for your emails. We love camping, too, and camping is a fantastic time to find and use wild edibles.

There are some things to be aware of: not all parks want you to pick plants, so find out the rules at each park. Some parks do not mind if you pick invasive weeds like garlic mustard, burdock, nettles, Japanese Knotweed (etc) and will even spray or pull these themselves, so it’s worthwhile to ask. We’ve come across parks where they don’t want you to pick any plants (but mushrooms were ok there), to others who will say weeds such as the ones mentioned above are ok.

We also never pick endangered or protected plants like Trillium, Ferns, or Goldenseal.

When we do harvest plants to eat we only pick what we will eat immediately, so as not to overpick or waste anything. When we are harvesting something like garlic mustard or burdock root from places where they tell you it’s ok (sometimes they’ll be thrilled!) we sometimes do pick more to dry or use later.

Lately we have found the best wild edibles camping! Chickweed, violets, lambs quarters and garlic mustard make wonderful salads. We usually bring a bottle of salad dressing, but really these wild edibles are so fresh and delicious you could eat them plain!

Salad of Violet and Garlic mustard leaves and flowers

Salad of Violet and Garlic mustard leaves and flowers

These flavorful edibles also make a good trailside nibble if you get hungry on a hike. Also wild berries will be in season soon…those are always fun to nibble while camping!

Other wild edibles such as morel and other edible mushrooms and nettles are excellent sauteed, and can be eaten over rice or pasta.

Melissa sauteing morels on a camp stove at a recent camping trip to Mingo Creek County Park, PA for Morel Madness

Melissa sauteing morels on a camp stove at a recent camping trip to Mingo Creek County Park, PA for Morel Madness

Roots such as burdock are excellent cooked into soups or with rice, giving a rich earthy flavor.

Some wild edibles you can find while camping are great as medicines, too. If you get stung by a bee look for plantain (some call it fairy bandaid) to chew and place on the sting.

If you get stung by nettles, you’ll likely find burdock or yellow dock leaves nearby…chew those and apply to the nettle sting.

Poison Ivy? Go back into the woods and look for jewelweed, crush and apply this plant to your itchy rash. Plantain will also work to take the itch away.

Wild edibles are full of nutrition and medicinal properties and are excellent to use while camping!

We’ll be sure to bring you more camping adventures as the season progresses (we’re going again later this week!) Make sure you let us know about your camping wild culinary adventures as well!

~ Melissa Sokulski

Food Under Foot
Birch Center for Health

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One Of My Favorites: Chickweed

General Posts, Herb, Identification, Medicinal
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Have I not done an entry on one of my very favorite wild edibles, chickweed?

close up of chickweed

close up of chickweed

This is such a delicious little plant. Like lambs quarters (another favorite of mine) chickweed stays tender and mild all season long (it doesn’t become bitter like dandelion, garlic mustard or chicory.)

I was so fortunate this year that a huge patch appeared under the peach tree in our yard! This was the first year we had this kind of delicate chickweed.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

In the past, we’ve been graced with the mouse-eared variety, which looks and tastes the same but is a bit bigger, the leaves slightly darker green, and covered with hair. The chickweed above (Stellaria media) is hairless and light green.

Both chickweeds have tiny white flowers with 5 deeply lobed petals (actually looks like 10 tiny petals.) Chickweed is usually a low-growing plant, with the delicate stems trailing along the ground before growing upright. The leaves are opposite, simple, oval shaped with a pointed tip.

This is an excellent plant to add to salads (can even be the base of salads, if you find a big enough patch) or smoothies. It can replace spinach in recipes without altering the flavor. The flowers, leaves and stems can all be eaten.

It is often found in yards and especially gardens, and can grow in parks. We find it likes people, growing in disturbed soils (rather than deep in the woods), in places that people frequent…though it can be found in woodlands as well.

It has been used medicinally: in Chinese medicine it is used as a Yin tonic, especially for the lungs (dry, unproductive cough) and the heart. It can also reduce swelling: swollen glands, boils and cysts. It also is known to reduce fat cells and promote weight loss. (Peter Holmes, The Energetics of Western Herbs, Volume II.)

Enjoy!

~ Melissa
Food Under Foot

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