ON A FORAGING TRIP

Having already discussed how to get started with foraging, taking advantage (once again) of the unusually warm weather we had, CG organized two foraging outings in North London at the end of November, as an introduction for beginners. We went foraging along a wild path that goes over a railway tunnel, still within London and easily accessible. I had initially expected that we might be able to identify four or five edible plants and actually be able to pick one or two of them. Turns out I had underestimated what nature can offer, as well as what the warm weather had kept going in season. Here is a list of what we found, although not all were in season. The items marked with a (P) require special preparation before consuming.

Out of season
Lime tree leaves
Beech nuts
Apple tree
Plum tree
Acorns (P)
Hawthorn leaves
Wild rose flower

Still in season
Clover flowers (P)
Blackberries
Raspberries
Hawthorn berries (P)
Rowan berries (P)
Rosehip (P)
Sloe berries (P)
Nettles
Dandelion
Goosegrass

This was all done leisurely in the space of a couple of hours, including taking the time to pick sloes and hawthorns. Given a little more time and searching we probably would have found some mallow, dock leaves, fat hen, sorrel and comfrey, as well as some jew’s ear (a type of mushroom). A little further afield we may have even found some sweet chestnuts, wild strawberries and hazelnuts (if all out of season). Those who came on the outing with me may notice I have omitted one plant from the list. There was indeed another plant we found that is extremely poisonous but has one edible part, but for safety I won’t mention it by name.

Just a year ago I would probably only been able to identify about eight of these plants and only known about the edible qualities of five of them (no prizes for guessing which ones). It goes to show that a little bit of knowledge and practice goes a very long way, all the better for getting to enjoy the outdoors in the process. Bushcraft skills are there for all to learn and enjoy, the key is realising just how easy it is to do so. It sounds corny, I know, but it’s true.

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