If you have read the other wildcrafting pieces then I think you deserve to be upgraded to forager. Crafting is a hobby. What we are doing now is a little more than a hobby so that is the reason for the upgrade. Congratulations. Now on with the show.
As a kid I always munched the stems of these little yellow flowers.
It was sour tasting but surprisingly refreshing. I thought I was brilliant calling it sour grass. Come to find out that is what everyone calls it. Hence, common name sour grass. If I knew then what I know now I would have eaten the whole thing. Sour grass’ real name is wood sorrel even though it is not a sorrel or a grass. Its genus is Oxalis, the binomial name is Oxalis acetosella. Acetosella is Greek for sour. Confused? Nevermind. All you need to know is that you can eat the leaves, flowers, seeds and roots, and call it whatever you want. It has true heart shaped leaves
look like clover but isn’t – clover does not have heart shaped leaves.
Wood sorrel is an edible wild plant that has been consumed by humans around the world for millennia. In Dr. James Duke’s “Handbook of Edible Weeds,” he notes that the Kiowa Indian tribe chewed wood sorrel to alleviate thirst on long trips, that the Potawatomi Indians cooked it with sugar to make a dessert, the Algonquin Indians considered it an aphrodisiac, the Cherokee ate wood sorrel to alleviate mouth sores and a sore throat, and the Iroquois ate wood sorrel to help with cramps, fever and nausea.
The plant is mildly diuretic, so it is also good for those with water retention problems, when eaten raw or in a simple infusion or tea.
It does contain oxalic salts and as is the case with most everything, too much of a good thing is still too much. So, don’t plan on surviving on it alone. A handful a day is good for you. Two handfuls is one too many.
Next is Mallow
This is a very common plant that grows just about everywhere. Likes moist best. The whole plant is edible. Even the seeds which you can just eat as a snack. It is akin to the hibiscus and hollyhock and all are in the Family: Malvaceae so the leaves and flowers can look similar. And if you mistake a hollyhock for a marshmallow no worries. All parts of the hollyhock are safe to eat too. And everyone knows what a hibiscus looks like and the flower of the Hibiscus makes an excellent tea very high in Vit. C. So this is a great little family to get to know.
The whole plant, particularly the root, abounds with a mild mucilage and can be whipped up into a confectionary akin to the marshmallow. French druggists and English sweetmeat-makers prepare a confectionary paste (Pâét‚ de Guimauve) from the roots of Marsh Mallow, which is emollient and soothing to a sore chest, and valuable in coughs and hoarseness. A confection made from the root since ancient Egyptian time evolved into today’s marshmallow treat. The ‘Marsh Mallows’ usually sold by confectioners here, however are a mixture of flour, gum, egg-albumin, etc., and contain no mallow.
Eat the greens raw. Cook the roots. Make a syrup with the roots or leaves and it is very good for the Kidneys. Here’s a nice little video on Mallow.
Now foragers it’s tea time. Pine needle tea time.
How do you tell the difference between a pine, a fir, cedar, juniper or spruce they all have needles? Easy. Pine needles are the only needles that come bundled. They bundle up with 2-5 needles in a bundle. The White pine has 5 needles.
Pine needles are rich in Vitamin C and also bring relief to conditions such as heart disease, varicose veins, fatigue, kidney aliments, sclerosis. Pine needle tea also gives you better eyesight. Pine needle tea has five times the amount of vitamin C found in one lemon. The white pine is the best for pine needle tea. It has 5 needles. They are all good so any pine tree will do.
The smaller needles tend to be sweeter but its not that much of a difference.
Pine needle tea brings you clarity and mental clearness when you drink it.
The tea has many benefits; cleans the veins, increases your strength and vitality and helps in reversing or slowing the aging process. Pine needle tea was used by Taoist priests to promote longevity
Gotta love it! Put a handful of needles in a pot of boiling water and boil for about 5 mintues. it’s the oil in the needles that has all the benefits and boiling removes the oil. Then let it steep. Drink it hot. You can sweeten with honey. You should feel an almost immediate effect. I think I will do that right now. Toast.
More Wildcrafting #5 Lambs quarters and chickweed