Black Locust, Burdock, and Wild Strawberries.

It has been a while since I last posted anything. I kind of ran into a mental block, but mostly with it staying light later in the evenings, most of the time I had been writing has been spent outside. I guess that is a good thing.

Close up photo of black locust flowers.
Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) flowers.

Anyway since I last posted the season for black locust flowers has come and gone. For about a week I could just wander around the edge of the woods and stuff my face with wonderful tasting clusters of flowers. At the very peak of the season I picked a very large salad bowl full in well under fifteen minutes. I would long for next year’s harvest, but there are too many other wonderful treats around to even bother. Maybe over the winter.

Photo of me holding a bowl of black locust flowers.
Bowl of black locust flowers.

Like black locust, I learned most of what I know about burdock from Samuel Thayer’s book The Forager’s Harvest. His DVD, also called The Forager’s Harvest, shows proper techniques for efficiently collecting both plants as well.

Photo of me holding a common burdock stalk.
Common burdock (Arctium minus) stalk.

Last week I gathered seven or eight burdock stalks. We peeled, chopped, rinsed, and sauteed them with onions. Honestly peeling them was fairly labor intensive, but well worth it for a mostly free dish. I plan on collecting a lot this weekend, since they are very abundant and right at the height of their availability.

Photo of a pan of sauteed burdock stalk and onion.
Sauteed burdock stalk and onion.

Wild strawberries. What can I say about wild strawberries?

Photo of one of the very first wild strawberries of the season.
One of the very first wild strawberries (Fragraria virginiana) of the season.

Wild strawberries are second only to morels in terms of wild foods that seem to me to have been placed here solely for the purpose of reminding us how amazingly wonderful life on this planet can be. I can hardly wrap my head around the fact that people would mow a patch of them right as they were starting to ripen. Fortunately the patch in question must be used to such treatment because it seems to have a very large proportion of its fruit hugging the ground. These were the first berries to ripen last week. The picture above was taken hours before the mowing. Right now the really lush patches at the edge of the woods are ripe, and they have much nicer fruit that averages somewhat larger too.

I have picked strawberries almost every day for the last week, but have eaten remarkably few. Why? Because I have a two and a half year old son who is a wild fruit fiend. His ability to devour berries is almost limitless.

Photo of a nice handful of ripe wild strawberries.
A nice handful of ripe wild strawberries.

There are several varieties of wild strawberries around the country. The strawberries I have been picking a common wild strawberries (Fragraria virginiana). They taste like someone condensed all of the flavor from the best large commercial strawberry into a tiny little package. I also know of one decent patch of woodland wild strawberries (Fragraria vesca) that should be ripening soon. They apparently aren’t as flavorful, but still quite good.

For more information about wild strawberries check out Euell Gibbons’ Stalking the Wild Asparagus, and Samuel Thayer’s Nature’s Garden.

Thanks for reading, get out and discover what is just waiting to be picked.

Nate

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2 thoughts on “Black Locust, Burdock, and Wild Strawberries.

  1. I think wild burdock has sprouted all over our property. I’ve never seen this plant before, but we recently had a wildfire ravage our entire community. We are in the mist of rebuilding and replanting native shrubs and trees. These odd stalk like plants started coming up near the places where we dug up the volcanic soil, added fertilizer, and planted native plants like redbud and toyon. The leaves are huge and cabbage or kale like on a thick tall stalk. Now there is a light green star like thing in the center. Could this be burdock?

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