Foraging in early April

Wood anemone carpet

Beautiful Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa) carpet but not much to eat

Earlier in the year, when we agreed to hold a forage walk here with friends, we had no idea that spring was going to be so late. I have to admit to being a little nervous as I looked around our land a week before the walk. I was struggling to find more than hairy bittercress, nettles, pennywort and sorrel to eat. Even the chickweed and goosegrass hadn’t dare show their leaves.

Time to check the books and increase my knowledge. We bought “Wild Food” by Roger Philips many years ago from a second-hand book shop (I’m not sure that it’s even in print now). It quickly gave a few more ideas for things to look out for and I kept the pocket-sized Collins gem “Food for Free” on me at all times.

Foraged additions to our salad

Foraged additions to our salad

As always with gatherings my understanding about what can be eaten from the wild grew enormously on the day as everyone added their knowledge. By the end of the morning we had added to base salad with:

  • (very young) bramble leaves (Rubus fruticosa),
  • dandelion leaves (Taraxacum officinale) – some people added,
  • gorse flowers (Ulex europaeus),
  • hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta),
  • hawthorn leaves (Crataegus monogyna),
  • Navelwort (Umbilicus rupestris)

    Navelwort (Umbilicus rupestris)

  • navelwort (Umbilicus rupestris) – it’s abundant in the woods, and
  • sorrel leaves (Rumex acetosa),

and experimented with making gorse flower tea and cleaver (Galium aparine) tea. So, maybe not up to Fergus the Forager standards yet but it’s a step. We were very lucky that Alison had made wild garlic quiche and nettle soup to further set our wild taste buds racing.

Although one of our group had heard that celandine flowers could be eaten, none of our books covered Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), so we didn’t pick it. However is in “Culpeper’s Complete Herbal” as a cure for the eyes, piles and many other things… I’ll do a little more research before I try it …