Monday, January 25, 2016

Ethnobotany Walk and Grubbing on Good Greens

I had the honor of leading an ethnobotany walk a few days ago. The workshop was designed to introduce students to edible, medicinal, and useful plants that grow along our local riparian corridors.

We encountered many delicious species such as the minors' lettuce pictured above and the mallow pictured below.

Edible thistle greens were found in great abundance, ready for harvest as well.

Students learned about useful species such as this osage orange (well protected by numerous thorns) as well. Special attention was paid to how indigenous peoples made use of such this case as the world's best wood for carving bows.

And soon after we found a world class arrow-making material: Arundo.

Students patiently listened and took copious notes and pictures while I yammered on about specific details of our local flora and what they meant, and continue to mean, to foragers past and present.

Of course, I also emphasized species to avoid consuming including this beautiful mushroom that was not to be found in my go-to mushroom identification book...

And this beautiful yet deadly poison hemlock!

We concluded the hike by an in-depth look at an easily identifiable and often abundant fungi, the puff ball...

And a group photo.

It was a heck of a good time!

When I got home I decided to finally make up a batch of saag paneer and aloo matar. The saag was made Punjabi style with wild mustard greens, while the aloo matar had additional spices such as my homemade sea salt and wild harvested mustard seeds from last summer. I even got some nice roti cooking over an open flame.

Try as I might, I can never seem to make my saag look pretty. There's just something about a greenish-brown curry that just doesn't look appetizing. But all I can say is this, try it once, and your eyes will never fool you again! This was absolutely incredible!
Well, we had a heck of a rain all last week and now it is clear and crisp which is a sure fire recipe for mushrooms to start popping up everywhere. I can't wait! Hope to see you out there.
Keep the old ways alive!

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