Backyard Wilderness Blog
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April 2012
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Agrimony is popping up everywhere in my backyard this year! Is nature trying to tell me something?
Knowing how to identify wild edible and medicinal plants at all times of year is extremely important to harvesting them when they are in their prime.
The plant to the left is Agrimony, (Agrimonia gryposepala,) indigenous to North America, but possessing medicinal properties similar to a European variety appreciated for its medicinal properties there since the Roman naturalist and author Pliny the Elder in the first century A.D. There are a number of varieties of this plant in the New World long known to early First Peoples as a fever reducer and treatment for diarrhea and urinary problems.
As nature reawakens from its long winter sleep, April is one of the best months to harvest wild greens and the roots and tubers of a few plants for those experienced enough to properly identify shoots and early leaves. Daylily and Trout Lily tubers are delicious boiled for 10 to 15 minutes. Burdock root, sliced and sauteed with other vegetables adds a unique flavor and lots of vitamins and minerals. Dandelion, Wintercress and Jewelweed
leaves are less bitter when harvested early.
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Sometimes, just immersing oneself in the beauty of nature is medicine enough. Surprisingly, this photo was taken in the midst of a retail/industrial/commercial park in Williston, VT. Hats off to the town planners and developer who left room for a little backyard wilderness in this busy area!
Notice the new yellow spring growth of Witch's Butter, (Tramella mesenterica,) on the remains of last year's fruiting body, (left photo.) Fairly common, easy to identify, and found throughout the year on decaying wood in damp forests, this fungi is safe to eat, but it's like chewing a flavorless gummie bear!
Nevertheless, stay safe and always use a reliable field guide for proper identification.
This photo was taken 04-11-12. When I went back to photograph it two days later, it was gone - probably eaten by a deer.
The tubers shown in the photo above are from two different plants. The small ones are from Trout Lily, (see the attached leaf,) and the large ones are daylily.
There are many references to Burdock throughout this website. Both Greater Burdock, (Arctium lappa,) and Common Burdock, (Arctium minus,) have large taproots that are edible and highly nutritious. In Scottish folklore, soup made by boiling these roots with other vegetables possessed the power to revive someone close to death.
Caution! Never eat Burdock leaves. They closely resemble those of Rhubarb, which are poisonous!
Young Burdock leaves as they appeared 04-07-12.
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