Gardens, Plants, Wild Foodism

Medicinal and Culinary Uses for the Shy Violet

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

While violets’ delicate blossoms are a treat only for the observant, the plant has enjoyed a long history of medicinal and culinary use.

Leigh Hunt, an English Romantic essayist, and poet is the first known author of the phrase “shrinking violet.” In 1820, he published a passage describing a bit of woodland in The Indicator, a poetry magazine: “There was the buttercup, struggling from a white to a dirty yellow; and a faint-colored poppy; and here and there by the thorny underwood a shrinking violet.”

Hunt was almost certainly referring to the native English, or sweet, violet (Viola odorata). This shy plant can often go unremarked underfoot, and it carries its small, slightly recurved flowers level with or just below its leaves. The phrase “shrinking violet” took a few decades to catch on — but when it did, it spread rapidly, much as its parent plant does…

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Herbals, Wild Foodism

Manzanita Tree Medicine

I love this tree. It’s an all purpose tree with beautiful wood for woodworking and fragrant in campfires and bar-b-ques.

Elder Mountain Dreaming

Arctostaphylos Manzanita is in the family of the Ericaceae. Various names are Greenleaf manzanita; Big berry plant (Navajo); Big Manzanita, Mariposa Manzanita, Whiteleaf Manzanita; Madroño Borracho, Pinguica. They grow along in California, Nevada and Oregon up to the west slopes of the Sierras into the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains. In some areas they are large trees and some are like shrubs, all have a beautiful smooth, matte-finished red bark and a light to medium sage colored evergreen leaves.

Leaves are smooth, wide, dull green and thick as leather. The flowers bloom in little nodding clusters and are pinkish and urn shaped, maturing into red, tart, mealy berries with from 4-10 seeds. It is hardy to zone 8 and has green leaves all year. Flowers from late February to April. The flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by bees. The
plant is self-fertile.

Harvest the berries when just ripened and…

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Food, Plants, Wild Foodism

Do You Recognize This Poisonous Plant?

Greetings!

Before I share this week’s video with you, I wanted to provide a quick update regarding the online mushroom foraging video course.  If you’re unaware, I’ve been very busy creating an extensive course designed to teach the necessary skills involved in confidently and successfully foraging wild mushrooms through every season.  The entire course will be available online, and it will feature over 60 brand new instructional videos with guided lessons on:

  • Mushroom ecology
  • Mushroom biology
  • Fungal taxonomy
  • Edible mushrooms
  • Poisonous mushrooms
  • Medicinal mushrooms and extraction techniques
  • Cooking wild mushrooms
  • Mushroom hunting resources

… and lots more.

This project has been a labor of intense love for the past two years and I’m really excited to share it with you!  Registration is set to be open early May, and the best way to stay up-to-date with the release of this course is to continue checking these emails.  Updates will also be posted to the Learn Your Land website shortly.

And now on to this week’s video!

During a recent walk through the woods, I was happy to unexpectedly see a particular medicinal plant whose winter buds and twigs I enjoy.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that not all the buds and twigs in front of me belonged to this medicinal species.

Instead, many shoots around my desired plant actually belonged to a poisonous species.

Luckily, I left the woods unscathed, though I thought I’d film the situation for anyone interested in safely foraging wild medicinal plants.

Do you recognize this poisonous plant?  Check out the brand new video to learn more!

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Sam Sycamore from the Good Life Revival Podcast.  In this interview, we talk about the intersection of health and nature connection, the benefits of knowing how to read the land, and lots more!  You can listen and download the interview here.

Thanks for reading, watching, and/or listening… and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

See more of Adam’s videos at: Learn You Land

Food, Wild Foodism

Can This Wild Edible Mushroom Cause Cancer? Here’s What I Discovered

Greetings!

Classifying wild mushrooms as edible or not edible isn’t as straightforward as one may think.  Confusing matters even more, the labels edible and poisonous aren’t always clearly defined either.

Take the mushroom pictured above, for example.

Its name is the Late Fall Oyster, and this wild mushroom is listed in many field guides as edible.  It’s no surprise, then, that countless hungry mushroom enthusiasts forage and eat the Late Fall Oyster every year.

However, if you do a little digging around online, you’ll eventually encounter the warning that the Late Fall Oyster is potentially carcinogenic.  Consequently, many people recommend against eating this fungus due to the possibility that it may contain cancer-causing compounds.

I’ve heard both sides of the story, and having eaten the Late Fall Oyster in the past, I was recently inspired to discover any “truth” to this issue.  After a little bit of work and research, I received some answers.

If you’d like to learn more about the controversial status regarding the Late Fall Oyster’s edibility, check out the brand new video!

If you love Eastern Skunk Cabbage, thank a fungus!  It may not seem obvious, though fungi contribute immensely to the health and success of wetland habitats.  To learn more about this intimate relationship between two very different organisms, check out the recent Instagram post!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Food, Wild Foodism

Looking For Something To Forage This Weekend? Check Out These Jelly Mushrooms!

Greetings, and Happy New Year!

In my neck of the woods, January is certainly not the most prolific month in terms of wild edible mushrooms.  Snow-covered soil and freezing temperatures aren’t very conducive to ample mushroom activity.

Lately, however, conditions around here have been quite different.

The ground is devoid of snow and temperatures have been mild.  As a result, our wild woody decomposers — in particular, the fungi that feed on trees — continue to thrive.

Chief among these winter woody decomposers are our jelly fungi.  These mushrooms are unique in that their fruiting bodies can persist for months on a stick, log, or stump in a dehydrated or frozen state… only to rebound during a winter rain or warm spell.

Two fascinating jelly fungi that flourish during the winter season include the world-famous Wood Ear (popular in soup recipes) and the Amber Jelly Roll (a close look-alike).  Both mushrooms are edible and both are often found in abundance… even amongst snow and freezing temperatures.

If you’re interested in foraging these two enticing jelly fungi this weekend (and perhaps all winter long), check out the brand new video!

Speaking of edible gelatinous mushrooms, the Orange Jelly Fungus is another common component of the winter forest.  Though I don’t feature this species in the aforementioned video, I do discuss its key features in a recent Instagram post.  Check it out!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Plants, Wild Foodism

This Wild Edible Winter Mushroom Has A Deadly Look-Alike

Greetings!

First, I want to say “thank you!” to everyone who purchased a medicinal mushroom tincture last week during the online sale.  I didn’t expect this to happen so quickly, though I sold out of my entire inventory and no longer have any products in stock.  If you’re interested in purchasing medicinal mushroom tinctures, I will have more available toward the end of January.

Second, let’s talk about Enoki — a wild edible mushroom you can forage during the coldest months of the year.  This fungus, also known as Enokitake and Velvet Foot, is often overlooked in the wild due to its smaller size.  Interestingly, Enoki is cultivated on a commercial scale and can also be purchased in many grocery stores.

Before you begin your search for wild Enoki mushrooms, however, there’s one thing you should know.

Enoki is not the easiest mushroom to positively identify.  It resembles several other LBMs (little brown mushrooms) that grow in similar habitats during similar seasons.  To make matters a bit riskier, some of these LBMs are very toxic.

In this new video, I share some tips on positively identifying the wild Enoki mushroom.  I also compare and contrast this species to the Deadly Galerina — a poisonous LBM that could be confused for the edible Enoki mushroom.

If you’re interested in safely and confidently harvesting wild edible mushrooms this winter season, check out the brand new video!

Have you seen any brightly colored fungi recently?  Plenty, including Mock Oysters, can be found even during the remaining days of autumn.  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more!Click to view post

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Gardens, Health, Wild Foodism

Nature’s Solution To Staying Healthy This Winter Season

Greetings!

It’s no surprise that I love finding, researching, and discussing medicinal mushrooms.  Plenty of research suggests that these wild fungi demonstrate powerful anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral effects, and many experts consider them to be top candidates for immune-system support. 

Here’s what the research says:     

  • A 2012 study from ISRN Oncology found that the Turkey Tail mushroom significantly improved the immune systems of breast cancer patients following conventional treatment.    
  • The Chaga fungus is one of the richest sources of betulinic acid, a compound that has been shown to exhibit anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-HIV, anti-malaria, and antioxidant effects (Current Medical Chemistry, 2005).    
  • A Maitake mushroom extract has been shown to demonstrate protection against diabetes by slowing glucose absorption in the body (Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry, 2013).

And the list goes on and on.

In addition to sharing the videos I film, another passion of mine is creating high-quality wild food supplements using the finest ingredients, including wild harvested mushrooms and locally gathered Pennsylvania spring water. These are all medicines I consume on a routine basis to optimize my health and maintain a robust immune system.

For the next two weeks, I am offering a sale on all medicinal mushroom extracts from the online store.  All products are discounted, and all orders placed in the United States will receive free shipping!

Because I create extractions in small batches to ensure quality, I only have a limited amount available.  Once these tinctures are sold out, I won’t have another batch ready for about 8 weeks.

If you’re seeking new ways to optimize your health, especially for the new year, check out the online store!

And as always, thanks for your support!  I truly appreciate it!
-Adam Haritan

Wild Foodism

Here’s An Easy (And Delicious!) Way To Consume More Wild Plants & Mushrooms

Greetings!

The leaves have fallen from most of the deciduous trees in my neck of the woods (save for a few Norway maples and persistent oaks), and even though the year is dwindling with predictable haste, wild edible plants and mushrooms can still be found.

During a recent walk through a local floodplain, I was excited to find several fresh greens sprouting amongst the leaf litter.  Many of these plants were herbaceous members of the celery family, and a few others were aromatic species related to mints and chives. 

Rather than treating them as trailside nibbles, I decided to harvest these tasty plants and incorporate them into a wild, homemade vegetable broth.  With the addition of wild edible mushrooms, the broth was incredibly easy to make and quite delicious. 

If you’re interested in learning how to forage local plants and mushrooms so that you too can create a homemade vegetable broth, check out the brand new video!

Have you seen this waxcap mushroom?  Few fungi resemble this species, and if you’re in the right habitat, perhaps you’ll encounter a specimen or two!  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more about the violet-colored waxcap.Click to view post

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Gardens, Ritual tools, Spiritual Toolbox, Wild Foodism

Sacred Tree Profile: Oak’s Medicine, Magic, Mythology, and Meanings

The Druid's Garden

A glorious oak tree in fall colors! A glorious oak tree in fall colors!

There is nothing quite as majestic as an oak, which is likely why ancient druids met in groves of them to perform their ceremonies.   As I write this, I look at my glorious black oaks, white oaks, and burr oaks in the surrounding landscape and their incredible mantle of gold, tan, crimson and oranges.  Where I live, the oaks keep the green on their leaves through most of the fall season, and begin their transition into color just before Samhain. The oaks and beeches, here, are the very last to lose their leaves–if they lose them at all.  Many of the oaks, especially the younger ones, keep their leaves all winter, dry and crackling, and only drop them before they bud out again in the spring.   Their behavior in the fall and winter months is certainly a testament to their energy and…

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Wild Foodism

This Wild Mushroom Is No Longer Recommended For Eating

Greetings!

With only a handful of weeks left in 2018, I’m hitting the road one last time this year to offer a few exciting events.  During these programs, I’ll be discussing the bounty of mushrooms and other foods associated with one of my favorite groups of trees:  oaks!  Here’s the current schedule:

November 5, Clemson, SC: South Carolina Upstate Mycological Society
November 7, Atlanta, GA: Mushroom Club of Georgia
November 12, Slippery Rock, PA: Bartramian Audubon Society

For more information on these events, check out the Learn Your Land event calendar.

Moving forward, let’s talk about the Angel Wing (Pleurocybella porrigens).

In older field guides, this fungus — which looks a lot like a small oyster mushroom — is listed as edible and good.  In more recent guides, this mushroom is accompanied by the warning:  not recommended for eating.  And according to many credible sources today, the Angel Wing is considered poisonous.

And not just mildly toxic, but deadly poisonous.

So how did it happen?  How does a mushroom go from being “edible and good” to “poisonous?”

Well, that’s the topic of today’s brand new video.  In it, I discuss the controversy associated with a species once widely touted as an edible mushroom.  Check it out!

 

I missed the opportunity to photograph this tiny green mushroom back in June, hoping that it would reappear during a more favorable moment in the future. Fortunately, it did… and I was able to spend a few precious minutes with this little green slimer last week.  Check out this recent Instagram post to hear more of the story!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan