Wild parsnip , Not for the wary forager

This is probably the most difficult post I’ve made regarding wild edibles as I’ve been pondering on the ramifications of this plant as a foragable resource and if the promotion of its foragability alone is an act of irresponsibility in itself or is it more responsible to promote awareness of hazards within foraging ,
I think back to my first seasons of foraging and I can say it was without eating a single plant , mushroom or wild edible I made a pact with myself to be able to identify the dangers of foraging before I could find the prizes mainly rammed into me by my father who had a keen interest in the outdoors and in a time when foraging was less publicly deemed as an exciting skill .

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horseradish more than just a root ??

Horse-radish – Armoracia Rusticana

I’m no lover of hot foods like chilli or even curry but there is something quite different about the heat from mustard and horseradish that I enjoy it has a way of making me feel quite comfortable probably a strange description of horseradish but it’s mine anyways ,
Now everyone has probably at one time or another tasted horseradish sauce and it seems to have a marmite reaction with people and I find it astonishing that it’s the only common use of this great wild edible .
All parts of the horseradish are edible and have different degrees of use all of them carrying the underlying horseradish taste and heat , many of our wild greens that are available in quantity are relatively bland and left wanting in taste horseradish offers this in quantity , I’m not saying a nice big plate of blanched leaf is a good way forward but adding a few young sprouting leafs to a bigger quantity of bland greens such as lambs quarters is a big improvement , I’ve been experimenting with the leaf for some time now and I’ve had some results worth sharing .

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The edible nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

I’m writing this post as recently there was a post on twitter from a person I follow with a picture of a black nightshade plant found growing within her tomatoes and the majority of the comments were that the plant was a nightshade and so poisonous .
Nightshade is on its own a word that we recognise as a warning , not only in forager terms but most country living people regard the family in its entirety as a group of deadly poisonous plants and in all honesty I was of the same opinion until foraging became an interest .

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Hairy bittercress ( shot weed )

Hairy bittercress – or “shot weed “as I knew this plant as a child is a hardy annual plant known to many as a weed, but to foragers it is a resource found almost everywhere and at the time of year that our other salad plants aren’t available . It is easily distinguished from wavy bittercress ,cardamine flexuosa, as it grows in lovely rosettes, where as the wavy grows in groups of long protruding stems . Continue reading

Sweet Woodruff , Master of the wood ,Baby’s breath

Sweet Woodruff , Master of the wood ,baby’s breath
Galium odoratum

One of my favourite foraging spots in the spring was my destination for the last week or so . This time of year I tend to visit this site to take advantage of the partridge that live in the rocky outcrops of the former quarry.
Due to the great variety of woodland ranging from pioneer birch to ancient oak the foraging is always great and with every visit I always find a new plant/fungi to add to my knowledge base. Continue reading

Pilewort , lesser celandine

Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria,)

Is a low growing perennial plant that is one of the years first foraged greens to return with a vibrant star like yellow flower , now don’t get me wrong this is not a bulk item but more an added green to a mixed salad with a slightly acrid taste it goes well with ramsons along with the odd flower for a visual effect ,the thing to remember is the plant is still in the same family as the buttercup which is poisonous due to its concentration of Protoanemonin fortunately this is transformed upon heating into Anemonin which medically has importance it has both Antispasmodic and analgetic properties which means it can be used to treat muscle spasms and has importance within pain control .

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Winter-cress , winter rocket ,yellow rocket ,herb Barbara

Barbarea vulgaris

Another early foraged plant winter-cress is a medium sized biannual plant growing to 30-60cm in height . Coming from the same family as jack by the hedge ( Brassicaceae ) and although edible some knowledge about them is defiantly needed if you intend to use this in your diet , the plant is edible either cooked or uncooked and has a high quantity of both vitamins C and A and was used in scurvy prevention before modern alternatives were found . Continue reading