This past Saturday I went hiking with a friend. We looked for morels, but didn’t find any. We did find plenty of other wonderful woodland delights.
There were flowers blooming on pawpaw trees both along the main trail, and in many of the more open areas of the woods. I had only ever seen pictures of their flowers before, and was surprised at how many there were. If you are ever in the woods and see these, take a minute and take a closer look.
The pawpaw flowers will in turn develop into large fragrant fruits. I hope to make it back to this area right at the peak of their season. If I collect more than can be used fresh, Teresa Marrone has directions for drying pawpaw slices in her book Abundantly Wild.
My neighbors have some wild ginger plants in one of their partially shaded flowerbeds, but these were the first wild wild ginger plants that I have ever found. Apparently the rhizomes taste like a milder version of commercial ginger. They could make a nice addition to a woodland forage garden, especially since they tend to associate with lots of other useful native plants like honewort, aniseroot, violet, solomon’s seal, spring beauty, etc.
Wild ginger flowers are hidden away at the base of the stems, and very beautiful in their own way. It is well worth the effort to find them even if you don’t plan on harvesting the root.
At one point while we were hiking we had to jump over a small fast moving creek. My friend spotted this crayfish. While at some point I would like to start including crayfish in my diet, we just watched this one until it slipped back into the water.
On Sunday my wife and son and I went for a walk in the woods at the park near here. I was glad to see that the sassafras trees were blooming and the leaves were opening up. I love sassafras tea, and while many people prefer to dig the roots, I think the leaves are every bit as good.
I went back Tuesday and picked a small bag of leaves. Now we have sassafras iced tea in the fridge, and a decent amount of leaves dried for the winter.
Thanks for reading and sharing in the little treasures that the woods have hidden around every corner.
* any pictures or descriptions of plants (or fungi) or information about them is provided for your information and inspiration. I highly recommend foraging, but buy yourself a reliable guide like either of Samuel Thayer’s books from Forager’s Harvest Press.
** I rely heavily on Nature’s Garden and The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer, and to a lesser extent Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by Steve Brill, as well as Abundantly Wild by Theresa Marrone. All of these books are quite good, however I find Thayer’s work to be the most reliable and detailed.