Saturday, February 20, 2010

Plant Walk - Lafayette Community Center 2/13/10

Milk Thistle
Think you won’t learn much from a plant walk?  Here is what I learned on a recent guided walk through Trackers Bay with Feral Kevin at the Lafayette Community Center.  In a survival situation there are quite a few food and medicine sources right in our back yards.  One thing to note is that there are some areas of this park where it is not allowed to remove wild plants.

Western Red Bud
1 – Western Red Bud Trees (A type of Locust) – Can forage and eat young bean pods and edible flowers Aug – March.  Native Americans used shoots for basket making.

2 – Valley Oak trees – Every couple of years Acorns are produced en masse.  May be harvested and used for cooking after processing them with water to remove tannins.

3 – Live Oak trees– Evergreen trees.  Acorns may be harvested and eaten as mentioned with Valley Oaks.

4 – California Bay Trees – Edible buds may be eaten like capers.  Leaves resist insects.  Nuts may be roasted for a coffee like beverage and leaves may be used for cooking although they are much stronger than commercial bay leaves.  Use less when cooking.

5 – Elderberry Bush – Elderflowers and berries can be used to make teas, wines, cordials, meads, sodas.  They also may be used in cooking for jams, pies, elderflower fritters. (stems are toxic so remove before cooking).  Native Americans used the wood for bow making and fire drills.  Berries are medicinal.

Wild Lettuce

6 – Wild lettuce – Medicinal and very bitter.  Can eat young leaves as greens.  Milky sap runs from cut leaves.  Some have smoked the resin for a narcotic effect.  Could be used as a field medicine for pain.

7 – Sow Thistle – Too bitter to eat.  Similar to dandelion greens.

8 – Cleavers / Bed straw – edible – Seeds may be roasted like coffee but hard to get in quantity.  Clears lymphatic system.  Can be dried and made into a tea or tincture or juiced.  Get it early in the season when rains start.

9 – Miner’s Lettuce  - In the Purslane family.  Can eat like lettuce.  A winter succulent.  Rich in Vitamin C – good for scurvy.  Can also eat the flowers.  Thirst quenching on hikes.  Could cook like spinach but great fresh.

10 – Chickweed – Grows near minor’s lettuce.  Has poison look alike with purple flowers that grow in the summer.  Can tell chickweed by slowly pulling stem apart.  A flexible fiber is in the middle of the stem.

11 – Grasses – Okay to chew on in emergency.  All grasses are edible and very nutritious but don’t eat the solids.  Can be juiced.

12 – Wild oats – Up hill and all around park.

13 – Clover – medicinal

14 – Milk Thistle – has white variegated leaves.  Good edible if you remove spikes.  Can make Thistle pesto with stalk.  Seeds used medicinally to protect the liver.

15 – Wild Radish – Pink flowers – edible leaves may be steamed as greens,  Flowers also edible and radish tasting – good in salads

Field of Wild Oats, Mustard and Radish
16 – Wile Mustard – Yellow flowers - edible leaves may be steamed as greens,  Flowers also edible and mustard tasting – good in salads

17 - Wild Artichokes – Can make a friction fire with the seed fluff (Tinder).  Can eat the flower heads before flowering just as you would eat commercial artichokes.
Wild Artichoke

Wild Artichoke as Fire Starter

18 – Ursea Lichen – There was different types of lichen in this park.  To tell if you have edible Ursea Lichen vs. Wolf Lichen, pull a piece apart and you should see a thread.  Medicinal and edible, containing 80% carbohydrates.  May make an anti microbial tincture with it.  Soak in ash water or baking soda to cook.

19 – Wild Onion – on creek side – edible with a strong onion smell

20 – Nettles – grows near water – on creek side – edible and medicinal.  Pick young, less than 1 foot high,  May be dried for teas, etc.  Can dig up the root and grow on your balcony or in your garden.

21 – Horsetail – Grows near water on the creek side.  Can eat young shoots and make medicinal tea.  Harvest before the solstice, otherwise there will be too many minerals within the plant.  Source of silica – alkalizes the body.  May be mixed with nettles tea

23 – Stachey’s mint – grows near water on creek side – stinky – medicinal. 

Yellow Dock
Yellow Dock Seed Heads
24 – Yellow Dock – In the Buckwheat family – similar taste to oxalis.  Lemony.  Can be cooked in stews.   Like spinach.  Pick young as it gets tough when older.  Burgundy seeds may be eaten like buckwheat but it’s hard to get husks off.  Root is medicinal.

Soap Root
25 – Soap root – Bulb high in Saponin.  Cut it open and it will lather up. – can use as a soap.  Natives would eat  but it must be slow roasted a long time or it tastes like soap.  Soap can help to prevent poison oak outbreaks if you rub into your skin.  Fiber from plant can be used to make brushes.

26 – Toyan – Holly berry bush – edible but tastes bitter.  Can make a drink with the berries.

Other plants and critters to note:

Poison Hemlock – Toxic to humans.  Has fern like leaves.  Has look alkies but you can tell by purple stems.  Goats can eat.  It grows near water.

Vetch – Good nitrogen fixer

Buckeye trees – Drop buckeyes that resemble large round chestnuts.  Back up emergency food for Native Americans. Nuts must be leached much longer than acorns.  Not worth the bother unless it’s an emergency.

Wild Geranium – Toxic

Cocklebur – not edible

Gophers – everywhere – edible but gamey.  Natives used to eat them and use their pelts for pouches, fine crafts and socks.

Disclaimer - Forage at your own risk.  Plants were not collected on this walk and were not tested for edibility or medicinal use.

1 comment:

  1. RE: wild artichoke: Watch out for the 1 inch (25mm) spines on both the flower heads and the leaves...