Browsing the archives for the st. john’s wort tag.

  • Summer - Fall 2015 Intensive

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Return To The Blueberry Bog

General Posts

The Bog At Black Moshannon State Park

The Bog At Black Moshannon State Park

Remember last year when we went to the Blueberry Bash at Black Moshannon State Park? We went again this year!

Blueberries (Last Year's Picture...My Camera Stopped Working This Year.)

Wild Blueberries From The Bog (Last Year's Picture...My Camera Stopped Working This Year.)

Unfortunately my camera stopped working after only a few shots. But here is our experience in a nutshell, and a few tips:

  1. Make sure you have a good camera.
  2. Bring binoculars for spectacular birdwatching.
  3. Bring bug repellent! It was a nice sunny day this year and the biting flies were literally out in swarms! It drove us from the bog, we barely got any berries this year.
  4. The environmental center was full of blueberry treats but also…sugar overload. I came home exhausted and with a pounding headache.
  5. If you are in Western Pa, you still have at least a couple weeks to go harvest berries here! Because of the long cold winter the berries are late in ripening and there were loads of unripe berries on the bushes.

Today I made some bug repellent. I wish I had it yesterday! To make add strong essential oils (I used eucalyptus, peppermint, orange and rosemary because that is what we had on hand) to olive oil. I also added some St. John’s Wort oil which I had made by steeping wild St. John’s Wort flowers and buds in olive oil.


We hope you are enjoying this gorgeous summer! What are you harvesting these days?

Happy Foraging!

Melissa Sokulski from Food Under Foot


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


Seasons Change To Summer…

General Posts, Herb, Identification, Look-Alikes, Medicinal, Poisonous or Toxic, Tincture

I just love watching what happens to the plants around me as the seasons change!

Here in Pittsburgh, it is getting HOT, summer is here.

With it bring a whole new crop of wild edibles, herbal remedies, and poisonous plants to watch:

Here is the St. John’s Wort, (Hypericum perforatum) now if full bloom. In the picture I am demonstrating that if you crush a bud in your fingers, you get a dark red pigment, which is the Hypericin - one of the active ingredients in St. John’s Wort.

st. john's wort

st. john's wort

Now is the time to harvest St. John’s Wort to make oils or tinctures. The oil is great to soothe sore muscles, ease jangled nerves, and treat sunburns. The tincture of St. John’s wort is used as an anti-viral, and also an anti-depressant. In fact, in European countries like Germany, St. John’s wort is used to treat depression more commonly than the prescribed medications like Prosac, which are used more in this country.

Here is Queen Anne’s Lace, or Wild Carrot:

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne's Lace

Even though the greens of carrots are full of nutrition, and the root of this plant has a distinctly carrot-like smell, we do not eat this plant at all! That is because it so closely resembles the deadly poisonous Water Hemlock and Poison Hemlock, that we do not feel it is worth the risk of making a mistake. We tell everyone who comes on our walks that it is our policy NOT TO EAT wild carrot, and we strongly suggest they do the same.

Here is a poison plant: Pokeweed. It’s berries are not fully ripe yet, they will get dark purple/black when ripe. Pokeweed is eaten (mostly down south) when it is just shooting from the ground in early spring. Now it is TOXIC, and the berries are highly poisonous. It is used, however, as a dye:



Here is one of our favorites, yummy plantain (Plantago major). We love to use the green leaves of this plant in smoothies, chopped in salads, and marinated and dehydrated into yummy crisps. Here you see the stalks. In the fall (once they turn brown) we will collect the seeds of plantain and use them just like psyllium seeds (which is from another Plantago: Plantago psyllium and Plantago ovata, both of which grown in the middle east.)



We’ll use these seeds just as we would use psyllium seeds: as a thickener for puddings and sauces, and also added to oatmeals and breads. In Chinese medicine, the seeds are used to treat urinary tract infections.

We’ll have more on our virtual summer wild edible walk tomorrow…please stay tuned!!

~ Melissa