Wild Plant Scout Trip 17JAN17

I set out earlier today on a scout of one of my favorite local haunts. It’s an area I frequently conduct classes at. The area is a riparian zone and very rich with a diverse flora.

I entered the dirt parking lot and noticed three other vehicles parked, but no one around. I gathered they were on a hike along the trail that parallels the creek.

Exiting the vehicle I heard a sound I’ve never heard there before, the sound of a roaring river. No way, I thought, as I walked over to what was supposed to be a creek. The creek was a roaring river. The area in the photo is typically a dribble, very easily crossed by stepping on small stones to get across; not today, however. Today the area was roaring under three to four feet of water and the crossing was completely washed out, totally impassable. You can’t tell from the picture, but underneath all that water lies concrete and rebar waiting to ambush you if you try and cross.

Then it struck me; the dam a couple of miles up the trail must have opened it’s flood control doors to relieve build up on the lake. There is no other explanation considering the owners of those vehicles were not present. They must have crossed the creek when it was a dribble, but are now stuck on the other side of the river and not able to get back to their cars. At this point, they would have to hike up to the surrounding neighborhood and walk around to get back into the dirt parking lot.

I hung around for sometime and explored the area. Really I was just checking out all the new flora coming out ahead of scheduling a new wild plants hike. Aside from what I saw there the day after New Year, I wanted to see what else was coming out.

First edible I came across was Fennel. It tastes like black licorice and is very refreshing.

Chickweed was carpeting great swaths of land. It’s always a pleasant-tasting plant and usually one of the first to come up after a good rain.

It was also a delight to see lambsquarter coming up. It’s not entirely unusual to see it come up so early, but it’s not too common either. Lamsquarter is easily one of the most nutritious wild edibles in the area

This area is also one of the few places I frequent that hosts another delicious wild edible, Birdsrape mustard, identified by the leaves clasping the stem. This mustard can be mild to spicy depending on the area. It’s a nice addition to a wild salad.

another nice little plant I happened on is Shepherd’s Purse. Also edible, this plant is identified by the little heart-shaped seed pods that grow off of the stem.

Of course, others were present—sow thistle, black mustard, henbit and others. These were the ones I took time to take photos of, however.

All in all, the scout trip was fun. I look forward to getting a class out there soon for some wild salad greens.