FORAGED & WILD EDIBLES

The foothills of the Applachian mountians have long been a rich source of everything humans need to live, if you know what you are looking for. Each area on our farm and areas surrounding our farm present a wide and varying range of micro-climates which produce a wide and varying group of plants and shrubs.

As with our cultivated crops, we follow biodiverse and natural methods in keeping the environments where these plants grow healthy. We we follow Forest Stewardship Council Practices(FSC) which encourages the efficient use of the forest’s multiple products; Conserves biological diversity and its associated water resources, soils, and unique, fragile ecosystems and landscapes; Monitors the condition of the forest & maintains the health of the the forest. You can read more about how we take care of our forest here.

Though our forest is home to many culinary and medicinal plants, listed here are the wild edibles we collect for use in market products. This page lists the plants and information about each, you can read here about the products we take to market using these plants.

This page describes the native plants, berries, fruit and roots we harvest for markets. Read about our mushrooms here.

FORAGED: NATIVE PLANTS • BERRIES & FRUIT • ROOTS

All of the land we harvest on is private and if it is not our farmland, we have permission to harvest. We harvest responsibly and we take care to not over harvest. If the the forest does not produce something one year, we simply do without. We do not over harvest in years of plenty either. We know what we need and we harvest only those quantities. When we run out, we run out.


NATIVE PLANTS

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
The Dandelion Plant is an incredible and versatile wild edible. From flower to root, the entire plant is edible. Dandelions are perennial. They are short plants that usually don't grow larger than 2 feet high. They green stalks and leaves and yellow flowers. They grow wild in the spring and all season. Leaves have a sharp, tangy flavor similar to endive or chicory. Good source of iron, vitamin C and A. A mild diuretic.  We harvest fresh flowers for use in our teas, syrups and jam.
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Sassafras is very common in Adams County, it can be a shrub or a tree. Sassafras has three differently shaped leaves: 3 lobed, mitten-shaped, and no lobes. The roots were once used in root beer and the leaves are used in making filè. We harvest the young leaves in early summer and dry them for use in several of our products.

The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes
Wild violet (Viola papilionacea)
One of the stars of Spring in the raspberry field, easy to find especially mixed with the dandelions! Used in a variety of applications from fresh to preserved.
Midwest Foraging: 115 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Burdock to Wild Peach (Timber Press Field Guide)

Hickory Nuts (Carya ovata)
The Hickory trees were the first thing I noticed when we walked the farm originally. We keep all of our Hickory information here.

Mushrooms
There are hundreds of varieties of mushrooms that grow in the woods at our farm. We keep all of our mushroom informationhere.


WILD BERRIES & FRUIT
We harvest responsibly and we take care to not over harvest. If the the forest does not produce something one year, we simply do without. Berries and fruit have seasons and we harvest in season.

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
Staghorn sumac has a spreading, open form growing up to 15 feet tall. It has tiny green flowers in the springwhich are later replaced by large cones of crimson berries that remain throughout the winter. Leaves are distinctive, compound and turn a beautiful scarlet red in the fall.

Staghorn sumac is typically used to make a nice summertime lemonade type beverage, but Native Amricans used it for a variety of medicinal uses, mostly could be classified as general wellness. We harvest the berries in the autumn and use it in several of our products.

   
   
   
American Allspice (Lindera benzoin,)
Also called wild allspice, spicebush berry, common spicebush, northern spicebush, Benjamin bush.

The berries from the spicebush were used by American patriots during the revolutionary war when cinnamon and allspice were not available from British held Caribbean islands. The dried berry was used as a substitute for allspice and the bark of the tree was used as a substitute for cinnamon. Spicebush tea was also a welcome substitute for coffee during the American Civil war.

Spicebush is a small shrub that found under the pawpaw trees in the marshy, wet areas pawpaws thrive and becomes available in the Autumn. The leaves are oval shaped with smooth edges. They bloom in the spring and is sometimes called early forsythia. The fruits of spicebush are shiny red berries called drupes. The drupes are dried before using in culinary applications.

They are harvested by picking the individual berry, much like harvesting coffee beans, as they are similar in size. When dried, they are a deep plum to dark black in color and have a strong scent when rubbed between your fingers.

 

Rose Hips (Rosa Rugosa)

There are two varieties of wild rose that produce a hip; both are members of the Rosacea family. Rosa Canina (the common rose, dog rose, briar rose, hip tree, itchy backs) and Rosa Rugosa (the Japanese rose). The hips of both types are edible and can be used to make jellies, preserves, sauces and wine. When we acquired the farm, there was a nice grove of wild roses near the pond. We collect the the hips from these which we have identified as Rugosa.

Rosa Rugosa has abundant leaves, arranged without a leader and in about 4-6 pairs. The flowers are large for a wild roseand their colour is a pinkish-purple. The hips are large and squat, with a little tuft of the base of the flower on the top. When we enlarged the pond we had to relocate some of these around the farm, instead of a tangle near the pond, they have become speciman plants.

Rosehips contain twenty times more vitamin C than you find in oranges. We use rosehips in some of our teas.


Autumn Olive - (Elaeagnus umbellata)
Commonly called Autumn Berry, Silver berry, oleaster or wild olive

A deciduous Shrub growing to 23ft at a medium rate. It is hardy to zone 2 and is not frost tender. Flowers in June, and the fruit ripens from mid-August to October. During their first few years, autumnberries have sharp thorns, but older bushes are not nearly so thorny. The autumnberry is typically found in dense, even impenetrable stands sometimes forming autumn-olive thickets as large as several acres. Autumn olive was introduced into the United States in 1830 and widely planted as an ornamental, for wildlife habitat, as windbreaks and to restore deforested and degraded lands. It is considerd a noxious weed tree in many states as it threatens native ecosystems by out-competing and displacing native plant species. It aggressively spreads by birds eating the berries and then dropping the seeds mainly along fence lines and power lines.

The berries are small and long, are red and almost completely covered by densely silver scales. The fruits are edible and are sweet and very tart. The juice of the flowers has been used in the treatment of fevers. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer as it is high in lycopene. The fruit is also a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E.

We harvest these starting at the end of August when the berries are ripe. It takes a lot of berries to do anything with them so patience is a must! We generally harvest these to make sauces for sale, but sometimes bring them in half pint containers as well .

 


Wild Blackberry - (Rubus species)
Wild blackberries are similar to the blackberries we cultivate, but better. I don't have to take care of them. They just grow.

They have the sharpest thorns and produce some of the nastiest scratches on my legs as they ripen in the summer, when it's really hot, so wearing long pants is not something I am doing when I think to harvest wild blackberries!. They grow in thickets, which make them very difficult to harvest, but worth it!

In the spring, they have sweet-smelling, white, flowers about as wide as a quarter. Wild blackberries need good spring rain, warm sunny days to ripen. When we have them, we have a lot, but I only harvest enough to make jams. I don't bring wild black berries to market as they are much smaller than the cultivated varieties you see at markets and it takes a lot of them to fill a pint basket!

People sometimes confuse black raspberries with blackberries. A raspberry is hollow. When you pick it, it leaves a cone-shaped receptacle behind.
The receptacle comes off along with the blackberry, so a blackberry is never hollow. Blackberry branches’ edges are flattened, not round like raspberries. Along with the very sharp thorns, this makes them easy to recognize out of season.

 


American elder (Sambucus nigra)

Also known as elderberry and common elder.
Elderberry is a deciduous multi-stemmed shrub which can reach 6 feet. Has large opposite compound leaves contain from 5 to 11 leaflets. In early to mid-summer, elderberry blooms with clusters of showy white flowers. the berry can be harvested in late August

Elderberry fruits are an excellent source of anthocyanins, vitamins A and C and a good source of calcium, iron and vitamin B6. They also contain sterols, tannins, and essential oils and can is considered a very healthy food. The sweet and juicy fruit can be used to make jelly, pies, and wine. It is also eaten by many species of songbirds, including robins, mockingbirds, and gray catbirds. Other birds such as wild turkey, ruffed grouse, and mourning doves also eat the fruit. White-tailed deer sometimes feed on the leaves of elderberry.

We make Elderberry jam and an Elderberry sauce called Pontack an old English sauce that has been around for at least 300 years.


Ohio Pawpaws (Asimina triloba)

Ripe pawpaws have an aroma that is fruity and floral. The flavor is sweet. When ripe, the fruits are soft, like a ripe avocado or peach. In the late stages of ripeness the skin develops brown blotches, streaks, and freckles like a banana. The flesh of a ripe pawpaw will be yellow, soft, and smooth. Fruit can vary considerably in size, but normally weighs between 5 ounces and 1 pound.

Paw paws are very perishable. When completely ripe, paw paws will last for only about two days at room temperature. Refrigerated at 40-45°F, the same fruits may last a week. If the fruits are not quite ripe, they may be refrigerated for about two weeks and then ripened at room temperature for several days. Storing paw paws at less than 40°F is not recommended, since it often changes the flavor, producing undesirable flavors.

The best use of paw paws is for fresh eating, though they can be like a laxative for some people this way! The easiest way to eat them is to cut them in half and scoop the flesh out with a spoon. The large seeds, scatterd throughout the fruit, are easily separated from the flesh. Pawpaw works well in ice cream, sorbet, chiffon pie, and mousse, and combines well with mint. Because of its flavor resemblance to banana, it may be substituted in recipes for such things as banana bread. It is also used in delicious cooked fruit butter, jam and sauce.

Information above was adapted from the document Fruit HO-220-W: "Growing Pawpaws Tree Fruit"
PURDUE UNIVERSITY COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE. DEPARTMENT OF HORTICULTURE. WEST LAFAYETTE, IN. (Download the .pdf here.)

Download information from the Ohio Pawpaw Growers Association here[.pdf]


Pawpaw blossoms in the spring

Late summer progress

How to tell when it is almost time to harvest. Critters begin their feast!

Pawpaw collection system


WILD ROOTS

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

The Dandelion Plant is an incredible and versatile wild edible. From flower to root, the entire plant is edible. Dandelions are perennial. They are short plants that usually don't grow larger than 2 feet high. They green stalks and leaves and yellow flowers. They grow wild in the spring and all season. Leaves have a sharp, tangy flavor similar to endive or chicory. Good source of iron, vitamin C and A. A mild diuretic.  We harvest and dry our dandelion roots for use in our teas.

 


Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Wild ginger grows 6 to 10 inches tall and spread 12 to 24 inches wide and is a vigorous groundcovers that spread by rhizomes, or underground root structures. The distinctive heart-shaped leaves grow on 4 to 12 inch-long stems that rise in pairs from the rhizome. Reddish brown flower with no petals appears between the two leaf stalks at ground level; Ants pollinate the wild ginger plant.

It’s roots can be used as a ginger substitute and leaves brewed into a tea. Leaves and roots are used as flavoring. Roots, fresh or dried, can be a ginger substitute. They can be candied and the syrup can be used on desserts and ice cream. Can also be made into a beverage to settle the tummy.

The United States Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada warn against consuming Wild Ginger as it contains trace amounts of aristolochic acid. Significant amounts of aristolochic acid can damage kidneys. So wild ginger eaten in moderation as a flavoring and spice it is safe and delicious!

We carefully manage our ginger in the wild on our own property. We do not harvest large quantities, when we do harvest, it is because we are splitting plants to relocate them or to thin an over crowded area.


Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
(Yellow Root, Yellowroot, Orange-Root, Orangeroot)

Is a perennial herb in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae.

The plant is a native of Canada and the eastern United States, the chief States producing it being Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, New York and in Canada, Ontario. Most of the commercial supplies are obtained from the Ohio Valley. It is scarce east of the Alleghany Mountains, having become quite rare in New York State, where it has been almost exterminated by collectors.

Goldenseal, traditionally was used as a folk or traditional remedy for infections. Today, goldenseal is sold to help with digestion, soothe an upset stomach, and to kill bacteria. It is considered a natural antibiotic and is often combined with echinacea and promoted as strengthening the immune system.

Goldenseal derives its value from berberine, hydrastinine and canadine contained in its rootstock. These compounds have proven antibiotic properties and are extracted by pharmaceutical companies for a variety of uses. Goldenseal has been found to be effective against a number of disease-causing organisms, including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Chlamydia species, E. coli, Salmonella typhi, Entamoeba histolytica and others

The berberine provides the bright golden yellow color to the herb. Other compounds found in goldenseal are albumin, b-complex vitamins, biotin, calcium, candine, chlorine, choline, chlorogenic acid, inositol, iron, lignin, manganese, PABA, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, C & E. Goldenseal is considered a bitter herb, which is said to assist with stimulating digestion.

We carefully manage our Goldenseal in the wild on our own property. We do not harvest large quantities for export or sell the fresh roots for any reason. The number of plants we have grows each year. When we do harvest, it is in the fall. We dig mature roots and replant bits of the roots so they continue to re establish in our woods. We dry the roots and sell the dried roots at local markets only.

Avoid During Pregnancy. Goldenseal should not be given to children or infants.


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