Browsing the archives for the lambs quarters tag.

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Successful May Morel Forage!

General Posts, Identification

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us for our May Morel Forage today! And my sincerest heartfelt apologies to those who tried to come out and got stuck in marathon traffic. (And congratulations to all the runners out there who ran the Pittsburgh marathon and half marathon!!)

Happy Morel Hunters with Morels

Happy Morel Hunters with Morels

We had an awesome day, everyone found morels (Morchella semilibera). We also found some very young tender Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus squamosus) which should also be very tasty!

Half-free Morel, Morchella semilibera

Half-free Morel, Morchella semilibera

The inside of the half-free, just like that of other true morels (black, gray and yellow) will be hollow:

You can see how this half-free morel stem is completely hollow. Also, the top of the morel is attached almost at its bottom, not at the tip top.

You can see how this half-free morel stem is completely hollow. Also, the top of the morel is attached partway down, leaving a "skirt" and giving it its common name: "half-free."

The stalk of this morel is much more tender and delicate than that of the other morels (which can be tough and rubbery), and is great chopped up and sauteed along with the cap, making for quite a meaty meal.

We identified lots of other wild edibles on our way to the morels, including our first sighting of Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) of the year.

Lambsquarters, Chenopodium album

Lambsquarters, Chenopodium album

In addition to the Lambsquarters, Morels and Dryad’s Saddle, other edibles we saw and discussed included:

  • Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata
  • Onion Grass
  • Burdock, Arctium
  • Broad-Leaf Dock, Rumex obtusifolius
  • Plantain, Plantago major
  • Deadnettles, Lamium purpureum
  • Chickweed, Stellari media
  • Purple Violet, Viola
  • Yellow Wood Violet, Viola biflora
  • Mayapples, Podophyllum peltatum
  • Dandelion, Taraxacum officinalis

Thanks so much to everyone who came! Get out there and look for morels…they are just coming up in Western Pa! The yellow morels follow the half-free, so we should have at least 3 more weeks of happy hunting!

yellow morel mushroom

yellow morel mushroom

More local information about mushrooms can be found with the Western PA Mushroom Club. You can attend a monthly meeting or go on one of their weekly hikes…if you are interested in learning more about mushrooms this is a great place!

And make sure to do a thorough “tick check” when you come out of the woods…there seem to be an abundance of ticks this year!

Happy hunting, stay safe,

~ Melissa Sokulski


Wild Edibles Walk at Schenley Oval

General Posts

Wild Edibles Walk Schenley Park, August, 2014. Photo credit: Jennifer Verala

Wild Edibles Walk Schenley Park, August, 2014. Photo credit: Jennifer Verala

Our first evening wild edibles walk was a great success! Thank you to everyone who came. We took our time walking the one kilometer loop, stopping to discuss nearly 20 edible, medicinal and poisonous plants. We also discussed how to make tinctures, vinegars, oils and salves, how to identify, harvest and use the plants and some of our favorite ways to prepare them to eat.  Our next walks are planned for the end of Sept and into October. The dates haven’t been announced yet but stay tuned!

Some of the plants we discussed this evening included:

  • plantain - both wide leaf plantain (Plantago major) and narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata.) We talked about using plantain as an edible and medicinally, and how to gather the seeds.
  • dandelion
  • burdock - plenty of old burdock with lots of sticky burs, and an abundance of young first year plants whose roots and leaf stalks are great to harvest right now.
  • Pokeberry - This dark poison berry is also abundant now. It can be used as an ink or dye.
  • photo127Oak Tree/Acorn
  • Mulberry Tree
  • Hawthorn berries/haws
  • Motherwort
  • Golden Rod (what people often think they’re allergic to, but the pollen travels by insect, not wind. It is used medicinally to combat allergies.)
  • Ragweed (what people are actually allergic to - this inconspicuous plant with green flowers has wind-born pollen and is what many people with fall allergies are allergic to.)
  • Wild Carrot/Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Dryad’s Saddle Mushroom - usually thought of as a spring mushroom, makes a reappearance again in late summer and fall.
  • Lamb’s Quarters
  • Broad Leaf Dock, leaves and seeds
  • Red Clover
  • White Clover
  • Wood Sorrel

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us tonight, and to Jen Verala for snapping some great photos of the walk! (If anyone else has photos they want to share with me and the Food Under Foot family, send them to I will credit you! Dave forgot to take photos.)


Melissa Sokulski

Food Under Foot


Great Walks This Weekend!

CSF Newsletters

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



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


CSF Week 14

CSF Newsletters, Recipes

Amaranth, lambs quarters and purslane abound this time of year! Take a walk and look around: they’re even coming up through the concrete sidewalks! These plants are strong and when you eat them you take in all that strength and resilience. (”You are what you eat” after all!) More than just the tremendous amounts of vitamins and minerals these plants have, they have an energy about them, and that energy is imparted to you! These are the freshest, most local, hardy veggies you will find. Enjoy!

This week’s share:

  • wild grape leaves *NEW
  • wild apples *NEW
  • lambs quarters
  • amaranth greens
  • peppergrass
  • purslane
  • sumac
  • wood sorrel (*New-ish…it was in your greens mix in week 9.)

We have included wild grape leaves this week! There are actually two kinds of grape leaf in your share this week: our planted ones (which are white on the back) and wild ones. We wanted to give you both so you could sample each.

pan fried stuffed wild grape leaves

pan fried stuffed wild grape leaves (recipe below)

Grape leaves are delicious…you may know them from eating stuffed grape leaves you find in Mediterranean markets and restaurants.  I have made them before and I love them. You can look up recipes online…some are very simple, stuffing with rice, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt and some have more elaborate stuffing. Here is an easy to follow recipe for delicious vegetarian dolmas (stuffed grape leaves.)

If you plan to boil the grape leaves after stuffing, you actually do not need to cook the rice first. The rice will cook as you boil the grape leaves. Just add uncooked rice as you saute onions, mint, salt, pepper, pine nuts and lemon juice. Then stuff and roll the grape leaves. Place them in a pan or pot and cover with water plus another inch. Then put a heat proof lid on top of the grape leaves and weight it down with a clean rock so they don’t float around and open up as they cook. Cook 45 minutes to an hour.

To avoid having to do that, stuff with cooked rice which is sauteed with onions, mint, salt, pepper, etc. Then you can either pan fry or lightly steam the grape leaves instead of needing to cook them for so long.

Here is a site I found last night that has a lot to say about grape leaves, and gives a recipe for stuffing and a how to on making the grape leaves. She also tells you how to brine them if you don’t want to use them right away.

To brine: store them in very salty water (brine) and put them away for later use. The website I mentioned recommends at least 4 Tbsp salt per quart of water.

Pan Fried Stuffed Grape Leaves

Boil the grape leaves until soft (about 5 minutes).

I let them cool in the water, then I removed them and cut off the stems.


I recommend cooked brown rice, onions, pine nuts, mint, salt and pepper - saute in olive oil and add lots of lemon juice when done.

What I used (because I had no onions or pine nuts): cooked brown rice, jalepeno pepper (chopped), chives (cut into small pieces), mint (chopped), salt - sauteed in olive oil and then I added lots of lemon juice.

* salt, olive oil and lemon juice seem to be the key to yummy grape leaves! *

** if you are going to boil the stuffed grape leaves instead of sauteing, you do not have to cook the rice first. Stuff and roll grape leave and place in pot, cover with water plus an inch, place something on top of the grape leaves (like an overturned heat-resistant lid weighted down with a clean rock) and gently boil/simmer for 45 minutes.

Here is how to stuff/roll grape leaves:

boil grape leaves. The planted ones are on bottom and turned olive green right away. The wild grape leaves on top stayed a more vibrant green.

boil grape leaves. The planted ones are on bottom and turned olive green right away. The wild grape leaves on top stayed a more vibrant green.

Lay the grape leaf out top down (underside with veins up):

100_4121Add a little filling to bottom of leaf:

100_4122Fold bottom up, then sides in:

100_4123Continue rolling:

100_4124Continue until all grape leaves are stuffed, seam down:

100_4125Saute in olive oil for a few minutes, then flip to saute other side.

100_4127Drizzle with extra lemon juice and ENJOY!!!

Other ways to use grape leaves:

  • try them and see if you like them! You may want to use them (raw or cooked) as wraps for all kinds of food
  • saute them into dishes
  • chop and add to soup
  • when pickling other things like cucumbers - especially if fermenting/pickling the cukes raw in salt water -  adding grape leaves on top will keep the cukes/pickles crunchier.

Have you seen the book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Katz? I love this book! A great way to use some of these greens is to add them to ferments like sauerkraut, or perhaps even pickle as is. I think pickled purslane would be awesome. I will try some and get back to you. When I make pickles I do it the raw way…I will fill a jar with some wide stemmed large leaved purslane, put some garlic cloves in and maybe some dill seeds, fill the jar with water and add lots of salt (4 Tbsp per quart of water.) Add a grape leaf or two to keep the veggies nice and crunchy.

Wild Apples!

Wild apples

Wild apples

Yes, the have some blemishes. But they are delicious! Cut off the messy parts and cut the apple first (looking for worms.) Discard wormy areas if any and enjoy! If you want you can juice them or cook them into apple sauce.

I have been adding lambs quarters and amaranth greens to all sorts of dishes: lasagna, stir fry rice, stuffing (for zucchini), soup. I also enjoy lambs quarters as a fresh green on a sandwich. They both are great tossed in salads.

The wood sorrel is sort of new…you had it briefly in a salad mix back in week 9. This is a delicious and very sour green. It’s fun to eat by itself or add to salads. It’s best raw because it’s so zesty! Cooked is ok too, but it loses some flavor (and turns from a bright green to a sort of dull olive green.)

One word of warning: wood sorrel, lambs quarters and amaranth greens all contain oxalic acid, which is not good for people with or prone to kidney stones (similar to spinach.) Please eat these greens in moderation if at all if you are someone who is prone to kidney stones.

If you haven’t tried the sumac lemonade yet, please do! It is so delicious and refreshing on these hot days! If you have tried it you know what I mean and I’m sure you appreciate getting the sumac in the share again.

Enjoy this week’s share!

wood sorrel leaf

wood sorrel leaf

Love and wood sorrel leaves,



Lucky Number 13 CSF Share

CSF Newsletters, General Posts, Recipes

Lucky Number 13 with garlic flowers

Lucky Number 13 with garlic flowers

With the heat comes hot and spicy and that’s what we have for you with this week’s share: peppergrass and garlic flowers! Hotcha!! Also a green from south and central America that tends to appear when the land is hot and dry: amaranth. A bit more bitter than lambs quarters, but used similarly. You may know amaranth for it’s seeds but today we will enjoy its nutritious green leaves.

We were out there for many hours over many days in many parks hunting for mushrooms but it was so dry that we came up dry. :-( But with the past couple days of rain we are hoping to be luckier next week! We do have a great share for you this week, though, which includes:

  • Wild Garlic Flowers (or maybe they were volunteers, either way they are delicious!) *NEW
  • Amaranth Greens *NEW
  • Peppergrass *NEW
  • Lambs Quarters
  • Purslane
  • Staghorn Sumac
  • Yellow Dock Seed

It has been HOT and DRY in Western PA! Amaranth Greens are a wonderful little plant from Central and South America which offers vibrant greens during desert drought…a time when most spring greens are done and the heat has turned what’s left tough and bitter, that’s when to find Amaranth.

Amaranth Greens

Amaranth Greens

You may recognize Amaranth as a grain (gluten-free grain) which is known for having lots of nutrition and protein. Indeed this is true and hopefully in a few weeks we’ll be able to collect enough seeds to add those to your share. Right now though the green is what you want, bright and green while most other greens are wilted and gone. (Gone are the days of too many nettles, too much chickweed, an overflow of garlic mustard…*sigh*).

Some people call this wild edible “pigweed” (though some refer to Lambs quarters as “pigweed”, so that can be tricky. Use it just as you would use Lambs Quarters, though, which is to say just as you would use spinach, kale, chard, or any green like that.

Garlic Flowers

Garlic Flowers

What a find these garlic flowers were! On my friend’s property in Gibsonia, out back behind her compost heap, there we were, Dave and I, hungrily surveying her field of garlic. “You can have them,” she said from behind us, and we couldn’t have been more pleased! Cutting the garlic flower off at this point actually helps the bulb (root) get bigger, so maybe in a few weeks we’ll go back for those! But for now you can use these garlic flowers (which look a lot like garlic bulbs) in soups or stir-fries. They are very garlicky! Enjoy!



The peppergrass is very spicy, give it a little nibble. I usually eat the seed pods but you can also eat the leaves. You probably just want to use a little of this to season/add zing to a soup or salad. You can also dry it and use it as a dried spice.

Sumac tree in bloom with foliage - not how it looks right now!

Staghorn sumac

The staghorn sumac has been awesome! We’ve been filling a pitcher (or large jar) with water, putting the sumac blossoms in (just as is…we’ll give them a quick rinse and pop them in the water), cover, put the water in the fridge and you’ll have tart delicious water that is full of vitamin C and refreshment (especially on a hot hot day). Make sure not to let these gorgeous red clusters go unused…they really are great. I haven’t been sweetening my drink, but Ella has been putting a dash of maple syrup into hers. You can keep adding water to top it off and in the fridge it will keep for quite a few days.

To make a stronger/faster brew: cover sumac with cold water in a large jar, put the cap on, place in the sun for a couple hours (making “sun tea”), then refrigerate. Enjoy when nice and cold. Yum!

Your share still contains plenty of the succulent, omega-3-rich purslane, which of course is awesome. The stalks are getting somewhat thick and tough on some of these, though, so if you are using for salad you may want to pull the leaves off and compost the stalks. Or maybe they make a great grilled veg, stalks and all - experiment! (and let me know - we have no grill!)

Lambs Quarters is still and will always be delicious. Again, the stalk is getting thick, I have been using the leaves only at this point. I’ve been putting them in smoothies, salads, and chopping them into just about every cooked thing I make. The other day I made this gluten-free zucchini lasagna.  For the filling I crumbled tofu (in place of ricotta), added chopped onions, chopped lambs quarters, dried rosemary, dried thyme, dried basil and salt. See? It goes everywhere!

Gluten-free zucchini lasagne, which has lambs quarters because I like to add it to everything.

Gluten-free zucchini lasagne, which has lambs quarters in it because I like to add LQ to everything.

If you are a bread baker I hope you are adding at least a little yellow dock seed to your bread, just because. (Because you have it and it’s full of protein and nutrients!) I add it to biscuits. I made some zucchini bread and I forgot to add it but when I make it again I will add some so the mish mash of gluten-free flours in the batter: I grind buckwheat, millet, g-f oats, chickpeas, etc. all into flour in place of wheat flour. I do this in my vitamix, but you can also use a coffee grinder. And remember to try the delicious onion and cheese biscuits!

You can also put it into oatmeal. Here’s a great recipe for gluten-free whole grain oatmeal: (amounts vary by how much you want to make/how many people you have eating!)

Overnight: Soak 1/4 cup Quinoa and 1/4 cup Millet (and/or brown rice or forbidden black rice - yum!)

In the morning:

Add rinsed soaked quinoa, millet and rice to 1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats.

Add any wild seeds such as plantain, yellow dock, amaranth.

Optional: Add sweet fruits and dried fruits like banana, raisins, goji berries. I like to cook these right in. After it’s done cooking I add fresh fruit like grated apple or chopped peaches.

Cover with water plus about 2 inches more water.

Bring to boil, turn to simmer and stir so bottom does not burn. You may add more water as necessary when cooking. I like mine with lots of water cooked a long time (the grains will thicken even if you add lots of water, just be patient and cook it long enough.) It should be done in 20 minutes but I will cook mine longer.

Serve with maple syrup and milk (can use vegan milk like cashew milk.) If I’ve added bananas, raisins and goji berries I usually do NOT add maple syrup because it will taste very sweet to me already.

We got the idea for this recipe after eating a very delicious whole grain oatmeal at The Teahouse in Santa Fe. Here is their recipe…they have since replaced the wheat berries with millet to make it gluten-free. You’ll see that we have adapted the recipe a bit. But I can’t wait to get my hands on some forbidden rice to try it with that! It was so good in Santa Fe.

Enjoy your share, stay cool, and I hope you are doing fun and amazing things with all your fun and amazing new foods!!




Save Money and Enhance Health with Wild Foods

General Posts

Organic greens like spinach or kale can be pricey at the grocery store or farmers market. Add a pint of fresh berries and an omega 3 supplement like flax or fish oil, and your grocery bill rises further still. Throw in some fresh tropical fruit, organic nuts and wild mushrooms and it’s difficult to afford to eat healthy whole foods these days. Yet all of these foods are available at your doorstep for free, even if you live in the city.

Wild foods are abundant all around us now, in summer and fall. Wild greens like lambs quarters (Chenopodium alba) can be substituted for spinach in any recipe or salad, eaten cooked or raw. This green has a mild flavor all season, never turning bitter like dandelion greens. It is high in protein and has more calcium than kale. A good field guide such as Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods by Thomas Elias and Peter Dykeman, can help with positive identification.

Lambs Quarters

Lambs Quarters

Growing through the cracks of city sidewalks and popping up in empty planters is another green which is in abundance now: purslane (Portulaca oleracea). This succulent green has appreciable amounts of omega 3
fatty acid, which is the same beneficial oil as in fish and flax oil supplements. Add wild purslane to a salad or smoothie daily to get your dose of omega threes.

Wild Purslane


In many places of the country blackberry brambles are considered an invasive weed. Right now their thorny branches are covered with large juicy berries. American Paw paw trees contain tropical fruit native to this country,
and grow as far north as Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. These fruits look like champagne mangoes yet their flesh tastes like banana custard and is closely related to the cherimoya.

Paw Paw Tree and Fruit

Paw Paw Tree and Fruit

In the midwest and northeast black walnuts and hickory nuts are getting ready to fall from the trees in great abundance. These can be gathered, hulled and dried to be cracked and eaten year round. All across the country
acorns are falling from oak trees yet few people realize that acorns are edible. Many of them are bitter from the high concentration of tanins, but these can be easily boiled away. Crack the shell to remove the acorn meat, then boil, changing the water as it turns brown until it no longer does. The nuts can be dried in the oven and ground into flour as the Native Americans did. If one has access to a creek or spring, simply tie the acorns in a cloth and set in the running water. In a day or two the bitter tanins will have washed away and the nuts can then be dried in a dehydrator.

Acorns in White Oak Tree

Acorns in White Oak Tree

While gathering acorns check the base of the oak tree for a wild mushroom called Hen of the Woods. This delicious edible mushroom is sold in specialty stores. It is also known by its Japanese name Maitake and is used to treat cancer and enhance health. Tea and supplement from this mushroom is also sold at stores. Growing on the ground are the yellow chanterelle mushrooms, another expensive find at specialty stores. These mushrooms are distinguished from the poisonous Jack O’Lantern because chanterelle grow singly from the ground and found in larger groups, while the Jack O’Lantern grows in clusters on wood. Before eating any wild mushroom, identification should be verified in person rather than from a field guide. Check the North American Mycological Society for a mushroom group near you. If you are in Western Pennsylvania, definitely check out The Western PA Mushroom Club.
Chanterelle mushroom growing in grassy lawn

Chanterelle mushroom growing in grassy lawn

This is only a sampling of the delicious healthy food that grows wild all around. Wild food is high in nutrition and cannot be priced out of reach or otherwise restricted. It is worthwhile to learn to identify these and other plants to take control of our budgets and health.

Be Well!

Melissa Sokulski, Acupuncturist, Herbalist
Food Under Foot
Birch Center for Health


Backyard Edibles: The Food Under My Feet

General Posts



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!


Birch Center for Health
Food Under Foot


Great Walk Today!

General Posts

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us on our wild edibles walk today on Pittsburgh’s south side! We couldn’t find the camera before we left for the walk (we have since found it and I put some great photos of the St. John’s Wort - which I knew I saw growing out of the rocks on the way to the walk - on facebook!) However, I will embellish this post with pictures of the plants we saw today that I have taken before. You’ll find the St. John’s Wort at the end…and also check it out on facebook if you’re on there.

Mulberries (Morus)

Mulberries (Morus)

We had a great time collecting mulberries! White ones, purple ones, red ones! I wish I had a picture of the girls sitting on the sheet filling their containers with berries and eating as many (or more!) than they dropped in their cups! Here’s an old picture of Dave and Ella collecting mulberries from a great tree on Polish Hill.

Dave and Ella collecting mulberries 4 years ago on Polish Hill.

Dave and Ella collecting mulberries 4 years ago on Polish Hill.

We also saw:

  • Burdock (Arctium lappa) The root is known as Gobo in Japan. Eat the root raw, cooked or juiced. Can also eat the flower stalks and leaf stalks like celery. (See our Burdock page for picture and full description)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) All parts of this plant are edible: roots, leaves, flower. Flower petals go nicely into batters (like pancake batter or cookie batter.) Roasted root makes a good coffee substitute, along with roasted chicory root and roasted burdock root. (See our Dandelion page for pictures and full description)
  • White Clover (Trifolium repens) A mild but nutritious green, add to smoothies or salads. Can also use red clover (which is often dried and used as tea), we didn’t see red clover today.
  • Thin Leafed Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) - Fairy bandaids! Chew and place on bee stings (and other stings/bites) to take the pain away. Can eat as a green, mild tasting can be blended into smoothies or juices. I recently made a salve which worked wonders on a poison oak rash.
  • Plantago Lanceolate (Thin Leaf Plantain)

    Plantago Lanceolate (Thin Leaf Plantain)

  • Broad Leafed Plantain (Plantago major) Same uses as above. This also has seeds in the fall which can be collected and used in oatmeal, breads, flours, and as a substitute for psyllium seeds, which are also a Plantago.
  • Japanese Knotwood (Polygonum cuspidatum) Eaten in early spring when shoots are tender, but the stalks can probably still be juiced. Lemony. Very good source of Resveratrol (especially the roots) and has been used to treat Lyme Disease.
  • Lambs quarters (Chenopodium alba) High in protein, high in calcium, one of my favorite edibles. “Wild Spinach”, is closely related to quinoa. I use it in smoothies and any place I would use spinach.
  • Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) Garlicky tasting invasive weed, makes a great pesto!
  • Garlic Mustard

    Garlic Mustard

  • Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) Recently the root has been used as a cure for Lyme Disease
  • Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) Used in Chinese Medicine, can make moxa from this dried herb. Also used in dream pillows to enhance dreams.
  • mugwort1

  • Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) When fruit turns red in fall, use dried as a lemon-tasting spice, or steep in cold water for a lemon-water or sweeten for a lemonade-like drink. High in vitamin C.
  • Mulberries (Morus species)
  • Wild Carrot/Queen Anne’s Lace(Daucus carota) Root smells like carrot, and there is a red petal in the middle of a lacy white flower, which distinguishes it from its deadly relatives Poison Hemlock and Water Hemlock. Still, we make it a rule not to eat wild carrots (though edible) to avoid a deadly mistake.

We also saw two poisonous plants and a common allergen:

  • Crown vetch (Securigera varia, or Coronilla varia,) Contains nitroglycerides and is dangerous for horses and other non-ruminants, such as people
  • A wild foxglove Also dangerous to the heart
  • Ragweed - A common allergen

Don’t forget: if you sign up for our newsletter (right, green box) you’ll get FIVE FREE EBOOKS about 5 common wild edibles! They are full of color pictures and great recipes.

And now…here are the pics of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum):

St. John's Wort growing out of a rock wall on Pittsburgh's South Side

St. John's Wort growing out of a rock wall on Pittsburgh's South Side

The flower buds of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) stain maroon when squeezed.

The flower buds of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) stain maroon when squeezed.

Thanks so much to everyone for coming!

Please make sure you sign up for our newsletter so we can let you know when our next walk will be.

~ Melissa Sokulski

Food Under Foot

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