Wild Foods Newsletter
Wild Food Newsletter

No. 1 - November 2008


Welcome to the first edition of  foraging TIMES which it is hoped will be run on a monthly basis in the future by E-mail and will expand as time goes on and include things like wild food recipes, recent snippets of research data, and the like. If you'd like to go on the mailing list please drop an E-mail.


SPRING GROWTH of at least six edible wild greens has been upon us down here in Cornwall since the first couple of weeks in September... and that's an advance on last year.

The first indication that things were 'ahead' was when the reedmace (Typha) in the garden started to grow new shoots in September, then in October there appeared to be renewed growth on the bladder campion (Silene vulgaris). The common mallow (Malva sylvestris) had also done a second flourish of flowers after having produced some really spindly growth which had been diseased.

In the 'Outback' the first major noticeable growth were new seedlings of annual goosegrass / cleavers (Galium aparine) which appeared in the first couple of weeks. By the start of October the first few leaves of navelwort (Umbilicus rupestris) were also emerging. Normally I expect to see first growth of that edible in November. By the end of October some navelwort specimens were already showing signs of mature leaf growth although none have gone into flowering mode. The succulent young leaves make a quite good salad addition for their texture and may also be stir-fried.

And then we have the ubiquitous primrose...
Last year a handful of specimens were in flower by the end of October. Nothing yet on the flower front there but one or two plants have started new leaf growth [although young primrose leaves and flowers are edible CAUTION is the word as the primula family can produce marked allergenic responses in some people]. As for violets, three clumps had flowers on them in September, while the first shoots of alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) were pushing through the ground in early September.

The main early highlight from my foraging point of view is the emergence of the three-cornered leek (Allium triquetrum) a member of the garlic family with leaves that look a bit like grass and sporting bell shaped white flowers when it blooms. 3CL, as I call it, is one of my favourite spring nibbles and can be used in salads or cooked. Down here it also precedes the plant which everyone calls wild garlic - ramsons - (Allium ursinum) by several weeks. It will be interesting to see how the next months develop - particularly if there's a hard winter!

All the plants mentioned have edible parts but be sure you know which parts.

Lot's more information on foraging for edible wild greens via the main website:

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Pictures and text Copyright © 2008, Marcus Harrison.







foraging TIMES
Bladder Campion


foraging Times
Primrose leaves


foraging times
Three-Cornered Leek


Foraging TIMES
Early Alexanders leaves


SAFE FORAGING

THE GOLDEN RULE...
If you cannot identify a wild plant with 100% certainty as being one of the edible species NEVER use it as food. If you have the slightest hesitation over a plant's identity be safe and MOVE ON. Similarly, if you cannot remember which part of the plant is used leave it alone.

MOST IMPORTANT...
Check your personal tolerance to ANY new edible wild plant before consuming in quantity.
If you have a medical condition or are taking medication then you should seek professional medical advice before consuming edible wild plants as they may contain constituents that impair or amplify that medication.

AND DO...
Be 'aware' of the environment that you are gathering from.
Is there possible contamination from effluent, car exhaust emissions, sprays, dogs and so on?

LASTLY...
NEVER consume foliage which is dead or dying, or that which is discoloured (that COULD be just from bad soil nutrients it could also be an indicator of weedkillers at work!).

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