Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
May 21, 2002
Written by Sarah Coulber
Over 40 people of all ages came out to enjoy the sunshine for the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist’s (MVFN) Spring Nature Walk May 11th. Martha Webber, an expert botanist who specializes in edible wild plants and the folklore that surrounds them, shared her beautiful woods and extensive knowledge with the group.
Surrounded by singing birds, we sampled wild leek, day lilies, dandelion jam, violets, fiddleheads and teas! (See below – for some recipes). Much was learned that day, including that these wild plants, often called weeds , are packed with valuable vitamins and minerals – such as violets having lots of vitamin C and dandelions having iron, vitamin A and calcium and more!
Martha also pointed out that the speckled alder twigs were once used as a toothbrush, keeping teeth and gums clean and that the prickly ash twigs were invaluable in numbing toothaches. Another neat tidbit was that after the famous Boston Tea Party, where the supply of tea was destroyed, people turned to the spirea plant “Meadowsweet” as a substitute.
Many thanks, Martha! (Martha conducts outings, classes for adults and a Nature Camp for kids. Call her at 613-839-5217 for details).
The next MVFN event is June 2 where all are welcome to bring a lunch and meet at Union Hall (where Tatlock Road/County Road 9 and County Road 16 meet) at 8:30am to carpool out to some Lanark Community Forests where we’ll be joined by forest and ecology experts to help us identify and observe its unique features. Also on June 2, as part of Arts Fusion in Almonte, join Mike Yee of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority who will be conducting streamside studies for all ages at the Mill of Kintail in Almonte at 10:00am, 1:00pm or 2:00pm (call the Mill at 256-3610 for directions to the Mill). Call Sarah Coulber at 256-2162 or visit our website for more information.
Martha Webber’s Wild Edible Plant Recipes
Please remember to harvest wisely…take only 1/3 of the plant or less (can’t always do this with roots, though!) and leave enough plants in the area you are harvesting from so that it will continue to thrive in that area and ensure there will be enough for other humans and animals!
Marinade (used for jerusalem artichokes)
All amounts are approximate…adjust to taste
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
chopped wild leeks
Let sit overnight
2 cups packed dandelion florets (remove green bracts)
the juice of 2 lemons (~1/2 cup)
2 tsp wild ginger or the equivalent of the commercial type
1 package of Sirto
3 cups water
4-5 cups sugar
Mix all ingredients except sugar. Bring to a boil and once boiling, add sugar. Let boil for 1 minute. Leave it to cool and then bottle.