Today’s FB/IG Post Link: Identifying "Puffball" Mushrooms

Yesterday’s FB/IG Post Link: Persimmons

 

Upcoming Classes:


Recommended Foraging Books & Gear from Amazon:
Step 1. Beginning Foragers
Step 2. Digging Deeper
Step 3. Building Strong Roots
Step 4. Foraging Mushrooms
Step 5. Returning Home
Step 6. The Healer Awakens

Other recommended stuff available from my Amazon store:
    Getting Kids into Nature
    Wilderness Survival Gear
    Urban Survival Gear
    Hurricane/Grid Down Gear
    Vehicle Survival Gear
    Ham Radio & Scanner Gear

    Sponsors of Foraging Texas

    Merriwether on YouTube
    Foraging Texas on Facebook
    MerriwetherForager on Instagram



    Buy My Book Idiot's Guide Foraging












    Buy My Foraging Bandana

     

    Foraging Texas t-shirts and other gear available at the CafePress shop!

    To Become A Forager...


    How will you learn? On the left you'll find details posts on over 200 edible and medicinal plants, each with multiple, big pictures and information you need for proper identification. To the right side of this page are upcoming live classes where we actually will walk side by side as I show you the useful plants around you. You'll be able to hold them in your hand as you learn the structural features you need to recognize the plants on your own...before popping them into your mouth!

    Follow the Foraging Texas Facebook page and/or Instagram account for daily introductions to the edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants of Texas (and other, equally important places!)

    Check out the books and gear from the Foraging Texas Amazon Shop specially picked out to help you progress from scared novice to master forager, able to take care of yourself and your loved ones from the bounty of nature.

    Watch the YouTube videos of my live show and from many plant-walks, great for bing-watching!

    Email your questions to Merriwether@ForagingTexas.com and I'll answer them in a day or so (okay, maybe three days).

    In the end, the secret is to identify the most common plants around you then look up if those plants are edible, medicinal, or toxic. The resources I'm sharing with you will simplify that process down to one plant at a time rather than drowning you in a sea of green. Trust me, you can do this. Humans have been doing it for 200,000 years!



    Wazoo Survival Bandana now available!

    On Oct. 1st, 2018 the Wazoo Survival Foraging Bandana, a collaborative effort between Alone star Dr. Nicole Apelion, foraging author Samual Thayer, and I was released!
    Learn all about it and the 12 common edible/medicinal North American plants it contains HERE!

    How to Use This Website

    There are three ways to find a plant on this blog.
    1. By common name as listed in the sidebar to the left.

    2. On the right sidebar you can look for the plant based on the environment it grows, season, plant type, flower color, fruit or seedpod color, use, and Geographic Location in North America. Note in that last one plants tagged "All USA" won't show up under the individual USA regions.

    3. The blog search box at the top of the page can be used to search for key words such as scientific names.

    Foods edible raw have been marked with the Raw label to make them easier to focus on by raw foodists. Please read the plant details to identify which parts of the plant can safely be eaten raw and thoroughly wash any plants, especially if collected from ponds, streams, marshes, or swamps.

    As to where to start when trying to identify a mystery plant, please check out Identifying Unknown Plants & Mushrooms. This will lead you to a number of great resources that I use when trying to identify a new plant.

    Finally, please read and take to heart the Foraging Ethics. This is to insure that the joy of wild foods remains available to all.

    Foraging Ethics

    1. Respect the law. You must have permission from the property owner to collect plant matter. To forage without permission is considered stealing and you can be arrested. Most state and federal land prohibit gathering plants except in survival situations.

    2. Respect the land. Leave no trace. Fill your holes, pack out your garbage (and garbage left by others), don't hack/slash/smash/burn your way through nature. Don't harvest a plant if there are just a few around.

    3. Respect the plant. Please harvest sustainably so that there will be plenty of plants year after year. I've coded each plant with an Abundance tag which are defined as follows:
    Plentiful - harvest up to 50% of this plant from the location
    Common - harvest up to 30% of this plant from the location
    Uncommon - harvest up to 10% of this plant from the location
    Rare - harvest only in an emergency or one small bit to taste
    Very Rare - harvest only in a dire emergency

    Also, don't strip all the leaves from one plant, just take 1 shoot or 2-3 leaves from many plants. Minimize damage to the plants by cutting leaves off the plant with a sharp knife or shears rather than tearing them off. Harvest inner bark using long, thin vertical strips on one side of the tree, do not cut a ring all around the tree which will kill it. Sterilize your cutting tools with alcohol or bleach to prevent transfer of diseases.

    4. Respect yourself. Please positively identify any plant before eating it. Eating the wrong plant can lead to illness or in rare circumstances, even death. Also be aware of any environmental hazards in your foraging location such as snakes, bears, or chemical hazards from old oil fields, roadways, lead paint around old buildings or areas subject to flooding from sewers.

    Benefits of Foraging

    Solvitur ambulando, St. Jerome was fond of saying. "To solve a problem, walk around."
    ~Gregory McNamee


    I forage, which means I walk. It means I bend, stretch, and dig. It means I constantly have access fresh, vitamin packed foods that cost no money. It means I bond with my family, friends, neighbors and complete strangers. This bonding expands past my community and into the heart of nature, whose rhythms I must follow to find the foods I seek.

    Foraging requires walking. Often lots of walking, usually while carrying stuff. It also requires bending (usually lots of bending!) digging stuff, climbing stuff, shaking stuff, and occasionally running from stuff. In Texas summers, foraging means carrying lots of heavy water with me as I hunt the wild edibles. The physical labor of foraging greatly surpasses that of pushing a shopping cart down a grocery store aisle! Because of this and also due to the nature of plants themselves, I often burn more calories than I gather when foraging...which isn't a bad thing.

    The domestication of plants changed them at a genetic level. They have been bred to remain fresh-looking, resistant to shipping damage, and have a mild flavor, as well as be convenient to harvest and store. In return, these well-trained plants gave up much of their best nutritional compounds. Meanwhile, wild plants have to fight every minute of every day to stay alive. To help them in these battles they load themselves up with a huge selection of chemical warfare agents...agents that we refer to as vitamins, minerals, flavanoids, lycopenes, anti-oxidants and many other beneficial compounds. As I usually harvest and eat the plants within a few hours, they are much, much fresher than any store-bought and even farmer's market-bought foods.

    Foragers are the only ones who truly can get a free lunch. My backyard, with nothing more than removing the grass beneath a few pruned branches on which birds perch, has brought forth amaranth, lamb's quarter, dollarweed, chickweed, dandelions, cat's ear, purslane, sow thistle, dwarf palmetto, scarlet pimpernel, pony's foot, and many other edible "weeds". I bought no seed. No water, fertilizer, or pesticides are needed. These plants thrive on neglect, as any gardener could tell you. And at mealtime they are ready and waiting for me and my family. Is there any better food security than this?

    But my yard is not big enough to supply all my family's needs. Every evening my two daughters and I walk around the neighborhood and we see lots of wild edibles. Texas law forbids harvesting any plant material from property you do not own without the owner's permission. To be a ethical forager here in Texas means you need to talk to people. It's easy to talk to other family members or friends to ask if you can harvest the spiderwort in their flower beds. It takes much more effort (and charm!) to knock on a stranger's door to ask if you and your children may have the white clover heads from their yard. Over time, we've talked with just about everyone in the surrounding five blocks and while some think I'm crazy, most welcome me and the knowledge I bring. Inadvertently through constant talking with everyone, I became the neighborhood "connector". When Rick needed to a particular tool I knew Bob had, I got the two of them together. When a new family on the block had to leave town for an unexpected emergency, I hooked them up with a trustworthy pet sitter. By the time hurricane Ike hit our neighborhood, most people already knew each other and happily worked together to clean up the wreckage.

    Gardeners often talk about their joy of bonding with "nature" but I just smile at that statement. To me, gardeners seem more often at war with nature than bonding with Her. They plant plants that couldn't possibly survive in the wild. They tear up the plants nature gives them. They spread both poisons and fertilizers. They rely on a faucet rather than rain. The main contacts they have with nature is sunburn and mosquito bites.

    Without looking at an iPhone app can you tell me what phase the moon will be tonight? With foraging, as the seasons pass new plants become available on nature's schedule, not mine. I needed to learn nature's cycles to find the plants I wanted. But not just the seasonal cycles, but also the relationships between nature and Her plant gifts. Sun, shade, woods, fields, river banks, sandy soil, clay soils...all these influenced what plants would grow in a particular location. As I wrapped myself deeper in this web I saw more and more relationships...for instance, up in the Sam Houston National Forest I discovered that wherever there was sassafras one would also find bull nettle. No plant book has ever mentioned these two plants grow together, yet they do.

    And deeper still. The secret to learning edible wild plants is to first identify the plant then search the literature to see if it is edible. In the way you eventually learn most of the plants in your environment, edible or not. As you are out looking at plants you will also find bugs, tracks, and scat. Natural curiosity will drive you to identify these discoveries. Being outside as much as foragers are leads to a heightened weather-sense over time, too. Clouds, wind, and the actions of some insects, animals and plants can all be used to tell what sort of weather is close at hand.

    As a forager, eventually you stop getting your entertainment from tv but rather from the sky, the ground, and the people around you. Your physical health improves due to getting exercise and better nutrition. Your mental health improves because you are surrounded by friends, laughter, and having a sense of belonging. Your finances improve because your foods are free. Your sense of security improves because you no longer are completely dependent on others (farmers, shippers, stores) for all your food. What's not to love?

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