Category Archives: Foraging

Winter chantarelles / Traktkantareller

Earlier in October, we found a place with a large amount of chantarelles (kantarell); see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=23655). We noticed that there were also a lot of winter chantarelles (traktkantarell; Cantherellus tubaeformis) growing in the same place, but we decided to wait a couple of weeks as many were still small and return before the first hard frosts (forecasted in the next few days).  Here is the haul:

Foraging Alpine Bistort Bulbils

On Sunday, we went for a walk up to a mountain farm (seter) near to the lake Foldsjøen in Malvik with the main aim to gather alpine bistort (harerug) bulbils (Polygonum viviparum / Persicaria vivipara) to dry for the winter. This is one of the 80 plants in my book and I grow various accessions of this plant also in my garden! See also my post on 25th June: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=22680
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ou can often find large quantities of this plant in open sheep pasture and dampish meadows.  I hadn’t been to this “seter” before and right enough there were large amounts of this plant, although the bulbils were still not fully grown.  We walked from Verket, an outdoor museum on the site of Mostadmark Jernverk, the site of an old iron furnace (see https://www.malvik.kommune.no/mostadmark-jernverk.6168342-478994.html) up through the forest past Hulåsen to the seter, returning via Slåttdalen and returning along the side of the lake. We didn’t meet a single person or car all the way! At the end you can also see a number of pictures and films of nature and some fungi we found along the way!

Here’s a short film showing thousands of flowerheads in a damp meadow (the flowers are sterile, the plant almost only multiplying vegetatively by bulbils):

 

Holmboe’s Gratis mat av ville planter

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Jens Holmboe’s book “Gratis mat av ville planter” (Free food from wild plants) from 1941 is still my favourite Norwegian book on wild food as it is well researched and includes a number of interesting anecdotes. I’ve had a photocopy of the whole book for many years (I think I borrowed it from my friend Jan Erik Kofoed and copied it at work in the 1980s). I finally own a copy of the book from the 2016 reprint!  It had somehow passed me by that it was available! Thanks to Hanne Edvardsen from Trondheim Nyttevekstforening who gave me a copy at the recent Ringve Botanical Garden Open Day!

Interestingly, it does include the hogweeds / bjørnekjeks (Heracleum) including giant Tromsøpalme (Heracleum persicum, source of the spice golpar and a vegetable in Iran). However, I don’t think he could have tasted the latter when he wrote: “….skal være så besk at den neppe er å anbefale til folkemat” (…is apparently so bitter that it can hardly be recommended as food). Similarly, he mentions that Heracleum sibiricum is sometimes recommended for soups , together with other herbs….and it is likely to be too strong tasting for most people.

He writes about kvann (Angelica archangelica) as a wel known food plant in Norway right back to the time of the Vikings. He talks about it still being cultivated in Voss (and perhaps other places in western Norway). He encourages the use of roots as a nutritous food and indicates that some people like their bitter taste, others not. Unlike some books he also says that the subspecies litoralis (found on the coast of Norway) can also be used. He also says that Angelica sylvestris is much used in northern Norway and that it is less bitter!

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Foraging the Viviparous Bistort

There are two colour phases that almost always grow together…these bulbils are not fully grown. They are not seed, rooting themselves quickly into damp soil when they fall.

It’s a rare event that I forage outside the garden at this time of year and almost never for leafy greens. I’m trying to find time at least once a week for a walk in the woods and at the weekend I did just that and I was surprised to find that the alpine bistort (viviparous knotweed / harerug) bulbils were ready to harvest. It often grows in large quantities along tracks in sunny spots on the edge of the forest.

We had a perennial veggie quiche for dinner and these were used as as a tasty nutty topping. The vegetables we used included sorrel (Rumex acetosa / engsyre), musk mallow (Malva moschata / moskuskattost), day lily flowers (Hemerocallis / daglilje), various onions (løk), Hablitzia leaves and Hosta.

 

Dandelion harvest

Dandelions are one of my favourite winter perennial vegetables. During the summer, wild dandelions sow themselves on my cultivated beds….one of the advantages of having too much open soil! I deliberately let them grow on until late autumn when I dig up some of the roots, others left to grow on to the next year, and plant them in large pots ready to force later in the winter like witloof chicory. I usually force them by moving from storage in my cellar to a cool room in the house where I force them in the dark!

In search of the wild asparagus at Bombeira do Guadiana

On the morning of my permaveggies course in Mértola, we did a wild walk into the Bombeira do Guadiana Biodiversity Station where information signs have been put up along a 1km trail informing about the rich local flora and fauna. There were many knowledgeable people in the group so that we managed to identify most of the plants we saw. Following recent rains there were many new shoots but few flowers….but we were lucky to see two species of Asparagus in flower!

Edible plants of the Sintra Natural Park

In the morning of the masterclass on permaveggies on 1st November 2018 organised by the Janas Ecovillage, we visited Jardim da Condessa D’Edla in collaboration with the Sintra Natural Parks! Fernanda Botelho​ and myself lead the tour of this amazing place seeking out a large diversity of edible plants, both wild and cultivated :)