I have a bumper sticker on my car that reads: “I’d rather be lost in the Sods than found in the city.” A friend introduced me to the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area in West Virginia back when I was in college (and back when few people ever ventured that far outside of Washington, DC), and I have been hiking in the West Virginia mountains ever since. They are truly special in so many respects.
One of the main reasons I consider the WV mountains so special is because of the abundant, and often unique, native plants found on the mountain tops and down in the hollers. I am one of those plant nerds that can’t stop hunting for plants, even while on vacation. (What can I say? It becomes an obsession after a while.) Identifying plants in the wild is entertaining enough, but as an herb gardener…
I’d also like to mention that today is the last day to receive $100 off your purchase of Foraging Wild Mushrooms. This online course is designed to help you safely and successfully harvest wild mushrooms from the forest, from the field, and from your own backyard — even during the winter season!
Winter might not seem like an ideal time to find wild edible mushrooms, but let me assure you: edible mushrooms can be found during the coldest months of the year.
Many fungi are psychrophilic (“cold” + “loving”). They require cold temperatures to grow. Examples of habitats that support psychrophilic fungi include permafrost, glacial ice, and off-shore polar waters.
Fortunately, local forests also support cold-loving mushrooms, so while it might be fun to look for fungi on icebergs this winter season, we can simply hunt our local woods instead.
To help you find more edible mushrooms this winter season, I created a video in which I share 6 tips that will greatly improve your harvest. (The 6th tip in particular sounds counterintuitive but is quite effective when you implement it.)
From quince, medlar to barberry, I love to forage for the odd fruits which abound this time of year. The following recipe for this intensely moist almost pudding-like bundt, however, is filled with two strange-looking fruits I’ve not cooked much with before. It’s adapted from the Chocolate Cherry Samhain Bundt I just posted on Gather…
Years ago, I didn’t have much of an appreciation for the months of October and November.
Becoming a devout student of trees changed that.
In my early days of tree identification, I placed too much emphasis on the spring and summer seasons. Everything was lively and green, I reasoned. What more did I need?
As time went on, I inevitably ran into problems whose solutions would only be found in the autumn season.
I remember seeing an oak in the summer season whose leaves contained deep sinuses. Scarlet oak and pin oak were two candidates, but my beginner’s mind required more information. Once autumn arrived, I easily identified the tree based on its acorns. (Scarlet oak acorns contain concentric rings.)
I also remember seeing an ash tree but being unable to determine its exact identity. Once autumn arrived, I easily identified the tree based on its color. (White ash foliage turns yellow to purplish; green ash foliage turns yellowish-brown.)
I could share more examples of how the autumn season provided answers to my most pressing questions. Suffice to say, I now rank the months of October and November as among the most important for honing tree identification skills.
To help you hone your tree identification skills this autumn season, I am opening up registration for my online course next week.
Trees In All Seasons is a four-season online video course designed to help you successfully identify over 100 trees in every season — spring, summer, fall, and winter.
This course is presented entirely online and it features over 75 exclusive videos that lay the groundwork for successful tree identification. If you are interested in identifying trees but are finding it difficult to learn through field guides and apps, consider enrolling as a student in Trees In All Seasons.
Please note: Trees In All Seasons will be open for registration for one week only from Monday, October 17th to Monday, October 24th. Upon registration, you have immediate access to all course content and you can watch the videos at your own pace.
To register for Trees In All Seasons, mark your calendar for Monday, October 17th and visit this link.
All additional information (including course structure, outline, and cost) will be posted on Monday.
In 1992, a 23-year-old man and his 39-year-old brother were foraging for wild ginseng in Maine. The younger brother harvested several plants from a swampy area and took three bites from the root of one plant. The older brother took one bite from the same root.
Within three hours, the younger brother died. The older brother lived, though not without experiencing seizures and delirium.
The offending plant, of course, was not wild ginseng. It was water hemlock (Cicuta maculata).
Water hemlock is considered the most toxic plant in North America. Some sources even consider water hemlock to be the most toxic plant in the Northern Hemisphere.
As it turns out, water hemlock is not a single species. Water hemlock represents multiple species that all contain a potent toxin. This toxin disrupts the central nervous system and can lead to death if prompt treatment isn’t given.
I recently spent some time in the presence of two water hemlock species. If you’re interested in learning how to identify these deadly plants, check out the new video!
Thanks for reading and watching, and thank you for your continued support!
Tropical fruit flavors are not commonly detected in my neck of the woods. When they are, the experience is unforgettable.
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is an eastern North American plant whose ripe fruit tastes like a mix between pineapple and Starburst candy. All other parts of the plant (e.g., rhizomes, leaves, stems, and unripe fruits) are considered toxic.
My first encounter with a ripe mayapple fruit was unforgettable. I actually smelled the fruit before I saw it. Within seconds of harvesting, I indulged in what little edible material was available. The taste was ambrosial — almost too good to be true — and from that day forward I became a devout seeker of ripe mayapple fruits.
As it turns out, conditions this year have been very good for mayapple fruits. Foragers in many locations have been reporting bountiful harvests. Because conditions have been fruitful, I decided to film a video in which I discuss key tips for improving your yield.
Foraging Wild Mushrooms is an online course that is currently open for enrollment until September 2nd. This go-at-your-own-pace video course is perfect for beginners who are looking to develop their skills. If you are eager to harvest wild mushrooms but don’t know where to start or where to go, Foraging Wild Mushrooms will equip you with the necessary skills to ensure that your harvests are safe and rewarding. You can learn more by clicking this link.
Thanks for reading and watching, and thank you for your continued support!
What would summer be without a trip to the local berry patch?
In my neck of the woods and fields, it wouldn’t be summer at all.
Some of nature’s tastiest fruits — black raspberries, red raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries — ripen during the warmest days of the year. A perfectly timed visit to a prime location can yield a berry bonanza.
One such prime location includes sunny openings within rich woods. It is here where a particular kind of raspberry grows. Known as wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius), this semi-recent newcomer to the North American continent produces delicious edible fruits that taste like tangy red raspberries.
During my latest visit to a local wineberry patch, I filmed a video in which I discuss the factors that contribute to the success of wineberry in North America, as well as tips for locating wild populations.
I was a recent guest on the WildFed Podcast hosted by Daniel Vitalis. In this conversation, we chat about my favorite topic as of late: trees. You can listen to the interview through one of the following links:
OH, MY GODDESS – you’ve got to make these Wild Chamomile/ Pineapple Weed muffins! Their unique aromatic flavor ( a cross between zingy pineapple and soothing chamomile) just permeates these moist fragrant muffins which are made doubly scrumptious by the cream cheese filling. These are one of my favorite summer treats and my poor pre-diabetic…
This is especially true when we consider what it takes to harvest pawpaws.
Pawpaws are incredibly delicious fruits that are produced by pawpaw trees (Asimina triloba). Green and kidney-shaped, these tropical-tasting berries are considered to be the largest edible fruits produced by any native North American tree.
Many people are interested in finding pawpaws for the first time this year. Some people will wait until the fruits are ripe in September to begin their search.
I would suggest another approach: begin your search right now.
Scouting the land in advance is an essential part of harvesting wild food. When preparatory work has been done ahead of time, successful harvests are much more likely to occur. Such is the case when we understand what it takes to find pawpaws.
What does preparatory work look like? How do we begin our search for pawpaws? What kinds of habitats are worth exploring?
I answer all those questions in a brand new video. If you are interested in harvesting pawpaws this year, check it out!
I was a recent guest on the Silvercore Podcast hosted by Travis Bader. In this conversation, we chat about foraging, the importance of learning trees, and why money is necessary to protect land. You can listen to the interview here.