Foraging books and plans for action!


#1

I just got Peterson’s Field Guides for Edible Wild Plants & Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern/Central North America, and the Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer. These are the first field guides I own and am really excited to have them. Since I don’t have any people to go around foraging with and learning from yet, these books will have to be my starting point. What are some suggestions on getting started? I have already been browsing through the books (yes, on a Friday night, yes, at the bar with friends- they think I am slightly odd, but that’s great! I told them to stick with me when the collapse comes and they will be fine. Which they also thought was crazy. I told them I am learning these things to be able to survive. They said they would be ones to not survive… haha) and looked up some plants that I recognize and have known all my life. Like Mayapple (which my parents always told me was poisonous, but the fruit can be eaten once fully ripe) and Yellow Wood Sorrel (which we have always just called “Sour Grass”!! It was our favorite when kids). I am excited for spring and summer when I will be spending most my time at my parents’ in the woods or garden. I still wish I had someone else to share this with though! Eek! Unfortunately that person that I would like to share the experience with is in Portland! A lot of plants also looked really familiar to me, that I never knew the names of or just saw on the sides of the road and didn’t pay much attention to, so that’s exciting to get to know who they are and what they do. I am really looking forward to learning and meeting all the plants that can help me, too! I intend to include as many as possible into my foraging gardening! Yay!

-emily


#2

Pick one plant and learn it well, then another and then another. The quest is as satisfying as the accomplishment. Start with a nut this time of year, like hickory or acorn. What’s your latitude and altitude?


#3

well, since I am also looking for similar advice, I might as well include it in this thread. I am reasonably experianced at this but in India. I used to live in a very wilderness type place, so it was natural for me to know what plants did what. Not good, but I can survive if left there. The problem: I am now in Canada. A COMPELETELY different eco-system and bioregion. I shuttle between Waterloo and toronto, Ontario. Any suggestions on books etc?

-Tj


#4

Hello TJ! The Peterson’s guides for Eastern/Central North America I have include Ontario and Quebec. I haven’t been able to really use them yet though, so no real personal advice on how easy they are to use, but I do know that they are probably the most popular choice that I have encountered for field guides…hope this helps!

-emily


#5

Tj: Scroll down to the bottom of this website. It has some good info, and book recommendations. Hope that helps.


#6

you can try this site as well Steve Brill. Steve also has a book out that, while not comprehensive, is still pretty good.

also, you may want to check out the Longhouse Bioregion page. it’s still not especially developed, but it has a little bit and i belive that Ontario & Quebec fall into that area.


#7

The peterson guide is good except for the range descriptions. There’s no maps (which would be perfect) and you only get something like ‘Florida to Canada’. Cause of course Canada doesn’t really matter so they don’t need to explain which region or at least which province or territory. ‘Edible Wild Plants’ has maps, but it also sucks more and seems like something for creepy plant and canning fetishists. You might be able to find something better that’s Ontario or Eastern Canada specific.


#8

Oooh, does it have little yellow flowers and heart-shaped, shamrock-like leaves?

We used to call it “lemon grass” (long before any of us had been to a Thai restaurant - otherwise we might have thought of a name that wasn’t already taken). :slight_smile:


#9

[quote=“SilverArrow, post:8, topic:506”]Oooh, does it have little yellow flowers and heart-shaped, shamrock-like leaves?

We used to call it “lemon grass” (long before any of us had been to a Thai restaurant - otherwise we might have thought of a name that wasn’t already taken). :)[/quote]

That’s it! I love that stuff!!! I gave my friend a leaf the other day and he was afraid to eat it, said he didn’t want to get poisoned! haha! I was like, we’ve been eating it since we were kids! Some people… sheesh… hehe!

-emily


#10

[quote=“SilverArrow, post:8, topic:506”][quote author=Dream of Stars link=topic=543.msg5893#msg5893 date=1194710960]
Yellow Wood Sorrel (which we have always just called “Sour Grass”!! It was our favorite when kids).
[/quote]

Oooh, does it have little yellow flowers and heart-shaped, shamrock-like leaves?

We used to call it “lemon grass” (long before any of us had been to a Thai restaurant - otherwise we might have thought of a name that wasn’t already taken). :)[/quote]

I also find white and violet and hybrid white/violet varieties here in Arkansas (though yellow abounds the most).

Congratulations on starting your foraging, Emily. I started out with just Billy Joe Tatum’s field guide (now out of print, sadly) and kept building my library from there. I’m glad you have found plants that you already recognized so that you have a starting repertoire of edibles that you can build on.

Have fun!


#11

Does anyone know of any good guides for the Great Dividing Range [aka Blue Mountains] and eastern seaboard of NSW, Australia?

Or any forums like this that can help with that? I keep looking up sites for AU but they keep on 404 and that majorly sucks.

Wouldn’t know where to start. All I’m seeing in the stores is gardening. :stuck_out_tongue: [Not surprised though, the myth continues, in spite of it all]

Appreciate what ya’ll doing here. Cheers big ears!


#12

What if you found some library books on permaculture? It wouldn’t tell you how to forage for native plants but you would get acquainted with some species and their uses. Also, a good permaculture book might have an index, possibly with some titles that match what you are looking for.


#13

Autumn Lox,
Two good ways to look for local plant books that I know of;

For identification, if there is logging or any kind of forestry in your area, find out what the people who work in the bush (foresters, surveyors, etc.) use for their field guides. They are usually the best ones available and they are specifically for that area. Also they tend to focus on wild plants rather than a bunch of domesticated non-native species. I’m sure the people at the Forest Service (or whatever they call those people in Australia) could recommend a guide. If you live in an agricultural area there is usually some kind of gov’t agency that oversees weed control or grazing. Those people use field guides as well.

If there is a University with a forestry school or an agriculture school in your general area they would be using field guides in their programs for teaching the up and coming foresters and farmers.

For uses of local plants. Look for Ethnobotany of whoever the local aboriginal people are. Usually there has been some anthropologist or botanist who has studied that and published their work. Particularly if there are aboriginal people still living in the area. It may be only as a scholarly publication but it may still be available.


#14

Field guide to the native plants of Sydney, by Les Robinson
Excellent book, Ive found it helpful even though I’m all the way up in sunny qld

Magic and medicine of plants by reader’s digest
Good pictures, had many ‘didnt know you could eat THAT’ moments, not specific to your area but still very useful as it has alot of “weeds”

Wild food plants of Australia, by Tim Low
Awesome book. Wish I never lent it out cos I never got it back. Has lots of natives found all over Australia, good pics too.

http://www.eatthatweed.com/edible-weeds/ and their book is awesome, though they’re centred in Melbourne I have found their info is relevant up here too and probably everywhere where the weeds grow lol

Hopefully this isn’t too irrelevant slash late lol
Learning new wild(or supposedly ornamental) edible slash medicinal plants is a bit of a passion for me. I cry inside when work makes me spray the weeds. Now that I know that I could be eating them lol