Wild Edible Plants
Nuts and Seeds
Shagbark Hickory, Carya ovata, above, attaining enormous size and beauty, is easily recognized by its long shaggy strips of bark. If still not sure, look on the ground under the tree for the dark brown or black hulls of the hickory nuts, (below.)
This majestic old white oak, Quercus alba, left photo, was cut down to clear the land for condominiums. There are few examples of beautiful mature trees left standing in this constantly changing modern world. White oak acorns are occasionally sweet enough that they can be eaten raw.
These are red oak acorns. The kernals are edible, but very bitter raw. They must be boiled in repeated changes of water until the water no longer turns brown, then they can be roasted and eaten as nuts.
For thousands of years the First Peoples of the Americas harvested and ate a variety of wild nuts. High in protein, carbohydrates essential fats, vitamins, and deep soil minerals, nuts were a valuable contribution to their diet, and because they could be dried or roasted and stored for months, they were a valuable survival food through the winter months. Once accounting for much of the forest canopy of eastern North America, the last three centuries have seen the demise of most of the wild nuts in this country.
Acorns, beech nuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, hickory nuts, and walnuts, can still be found in out of the way places and in city, state, and national parks. Please harvest sparingly! Better yet, order seedlings or young trees from your local nursery and start your own orchard in your backyard.
Worldwide, even in the most remote corners of the globe, the activities of humankind are having a detrimental effect upon the natural world. The link below contains sobering information concerning fruit and nut trees...
A mature Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra, is a beautiful sight to behold, like this one planted during George Washington's lifetime at his River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia.
While still in its husk, the black walnut, right photo, looks nothing like the familiar walnuts one buys at the store. On the tree, and for a time after they fall to the ground they are wrapped in a fleshy, green covering that smells strongly like turpentine!
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