Foraging D - F

I'm going to post this last thing here before the weekend, (for those of you that don't know I do not have internet access at my home) and I hope you all enjoy it. Please let me know in the comments if you found anything useful or have any tips to share!! Reminder again that improperly identifying certain plants can be toxic, and to please be careful and use at your own risk. Have a safe weekend and lets all make the day count! Thanks!

PS. Really quick update on my house construction, we have started doing the brick work for the hearth for our woodstove so we can used alternative heating methods and reduce our carbon footprint and get off the grid. I will post something next week along the lines of DIY mortar work (that is defiantly an adventure!!!!) and some photos with it. Please do not forget to share and comment on my blog!!! Thanks so much guys it really means a lot to me!!!!

Dame’s Rocket

Dame’s Rocket is a declared invasive species in several places. It’s your civic duty eat the weed. Originally from Eurasia some 400 years ago it’s a mustard that at first glance looks like Phlox. Dame’s Rocket has the typical mustard family four petals, Phlox, five. It’s found essentially everywhere in North America except the Old South. It is cultivated, escaped and is included in wild bird seed mix. Young leave collected before flowering are eaten like cress. Seed pods can be added stews and soups. Seeds are a source of oil and can be sprouted and eaten. The flowers are used to add spicy flavors to fruit dishes and salads.


Roots are bitter and make a good substitute for coffee.
Best harvested from late fall through early spring, when the plant is dormant and has stored energy in
the root. For medicinal use, fall is best, because inulin (insoluble fiber) levels are higher and fructose levels are lower. Freezing of winter coverts inulin to fructose. Spring roots are less bitter and chewy, higher in taraxacin, which stimulated bile production Dig roots using sturdy fork. Break/damage the root as little as possible so you don’t lose sap, which is where the medicinal properties lie. Select large, vigorous plants – small, spindly plants will have small roots and are not worth harvesting. Can be used fresh for cooking and medicine. For long term storage, drying works best. Roots should be well scrubbed before cutting. Spread on a screen and place in a cool, dry location with good air flow and dry for 3 to 14 days (until brittle). Will last about a year.  To make a tincture, place dandelion root in a jar and cover with 80 proof (40%) vodka.  Cover tightly and allow to steep 4-6 weeks, shaking daily.  Strain out plant material and store in a dark glass bottle. 
Label and date.  To make a decoction, place one ounce of dried roots or two ounces fresh roots (by weight) in a pan with one pint of water.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain and compost the spent roots. 
To make a strong herbal infusion tea, use 1/2 ounce by weight of dried leaves or one ounce by weight of fresh leaves per cup of water.  Place the ingredients in a glass canning jar.  Cover with freshly boiled water.  Put the lid on and steep overnight.  Strain and compost solids.  For medicinal purposes, drink 3-4 cups per day.  Alternatively, use a French press, or steep (covered) for at least 20 minutes before straining. I’m-Sick-of-Cellulite Tea: Help bodies metabolize fats and improve elimination of wastes with these cleansing herbs. Infuse: 1-part dandelion leaf and 1-part nettle leaf. Decoct:1-part dandelion root and 1-part burdock root. Decongestant Tea: This tea helps the body to clear phlegm and open the lungs and sinuses. Infuse: 1-part dandelion leaf, 1-part nettle leaf, and 1-part thyme herb. Decoct: 1-part dandelion root
Do not use if use have irritable stomach or bowel or if you have an acute inflammation


You can find this plant in many parts of the country, these are not tiger lilies or Easter lilies (which
are toxic), and a daylily is completely safe to eat. Daylilies have bright orange flowers that come straight out of the ground, their main stock/stem has no leaves so that’s your confirmation that it’s a day lily, if you see an orange six-petal flower like this one that has a bear stem (no leaves) it’s a daylily. You can eat them whole or cook them or put them in salads.
A foraging standby in all but the southwest desert and northwest Canada is the Daylily. Also go sparingly, they can be diuretic or laxative. That said day lilies are on the sweet side, vegetable-ish. Like squash and glad blossom, they’re used to hold tasty finger food but like other blossoms cut them away from the white bitter base.

Edible Nettles

Stinging Nettle
Boil or steam the younger plants like any fresh vegetable. Boiling/Steaming gets rid of the “sting”.
Note the fine hairs along the steam; these are what sting when you touch them.
Also known as: Devil’s Leaf, Devil’s Plaything, European Nettle, Slender Nettle, Stinging Nettle, Tall Nettle A well-known herbaceous perennial, 1.2 m (4 ft.) or higher, with tough yellow branching and spreading roots, it develops green flowers with yellow stamens in catkin-like arrangements from early to late summer. It appears throughout temperate regions of the world.
You’ll find it: in hedgerows, on grassy banks and wasteland, in woods and especially close to rubbish heaps and old abandoned buildings, where it forms near-impenetrable colonies. Leaves: upright stems, seldom branching, are covered with stinging hairs and bear green, somewhat heart-shaped, tooth-edged leaves that also impart a sting when touched (see an image of perennial stinging nettle).
Harvesting the leaves: wear gloves and cut off the top 15 cm (6 in) of young stems only to the end of early summer; after that the leaves become tough, have a bitter taste and laxative properties. Using the leaves: always wash the leaves under running water before preparing them for boiling or, preferably, steaming for about four minutes. These leaves, which are high in vitamins A and C, iron and protein, can be used as a green vegetable as well as made into a purée — this is particularly good served on toast with the addition of a poached egg. Nettle soup is a delicious summertime forager’s treat and nettles can be included in any recipe for which you would use spinach.
Nettle Soup
Collect enough nettle tops and leaves to half-fill a carrier bag, then wash carefully. Soften 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped celery sticks and a crushed garlic clove in a small knob of butter in a large saucepan. Then add 1-liter (34 fl. oz.) vegetable or chicken stock and all the nettles you can cram into your pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes or so until the nettles are tender. Purée the soup in a blender or food processor, return to the pan briefly and add 3-4 tablespoons crème fraiche or cream. Heat through, correct the seasonings and serve.
Young leaves are edible raw, though they will sting in the mouth for a short time. Young shoots and young plants are edible when steamed/cooked. Roots are edible when cooked. Roots are best when collected in spring/autumn. Grows in moist soil and disturbed areas in plains, foothills, and montane regions. Warning: wear gloves when collecting to avoid stings.
Wood Nettle
Also has stinging hairs along its stem, but they don’t seem to be as virulent as those of Stinging Nettles. Note that some flowers are above the top leaves and others are below.

False Nettle
This plant is easily confused with Stinging Nettle. However, it doesn’t have any stinging hairs along its stem. The flowers are different; they are in tight clumps instead of loosely spread out along arching thin steams like Stinging Nettle. Note the very long leaf stems.
Horse Balm
This plant is most often misidentified as Wood Nettle. The main difference is that it has no stinging hairs, and the flowers are all above the top leaves, and a very different from those of Wood Nettle. Note the long leaf stalk


An elderberry shrub can grow easily grow about 10 feet and yield tons of food, their leaf structure is
usually 7 main leaves on a long stretched out stem, the leaves are long and round and the leaves themselves have jagged edges. These are easiest to identify in the spring as they blossom white clustered flowers that resembles an umbrella. Mark the spot and harvest the berries when they’re ripe around September.
Elderberries are known for their flu and cold healing properties; you can make jelly from them and are very sweet and delicious.
Berries are tiny and powder-blue, growing in clusters.
Berries are edible if cooked or dried.
Plant is a large, tree-like shrub.
The variety in Manitoba is Common elderberry 
Warning: berries may cause nausea if eaten in quantity. Red varieties of the berry are poisonous.

Elephant head Lousewort 

Leaves were traditionally cooked. Leaves in moderate amounts are suitable as a potherb. Grows in low wet areas, meadows, and fields. Warning: plants are poisonous if eaten in large quantity.

False Roselle

Many a hibiscus flower can go into salads and the like, but the False Roselle has edible pink flowers and the leaves are edible as well, raw or cooked.  Use the young leaves for salads and stir fry. They keep their color. Also known as the “Florida Cranberry” or the “Cranberry Hibiscus.” A tart juice can be made from its fat calyxes. Its blossoms are edible as well.

False Solomon’s-seal

Berry is edible.

Berry transitions from green to mottled/dark red.
Berry was traditionally stored in cooled grease.
Berry is high in vitamin C.
Young shoots and green parts of young plants are edible, and best when cooked.
Rhizome is edible when cooked.
Varieties in Manitoba are False Solomon’s-seal and Star-flowered false Solomon’s-seal 
Grows in thickets, forests, and moist open areas.

Fairy Bell

Berries are bright red and large (~0.5 inches in diameter).
Berries occur at tips of branches in clusters.
Taste is blandish/sweet.
The variety in Manitoba is Rough-fruited fairy bell
Plant grows in moist forested areas.


Fennel’s blossom is an explosion of yellow and the flavor is of mild Fennel. It’s the hint of anise appreciated in cold soups and many desserts.

Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddleheads are a high source of antioxidants, source of omega-3, omega06, iron and fiber. Tastes like a cross
between artichokes and asparagus with the texture of string beans. After removing leaves from the stalks, both fiddleheads and their stalks can be prepared as asparagus can. Boiling, steaming, sautéing, and pickling are the most popular way to treat them. Can also be pureed. The stalk is good eaten fresh, but even better cooked. Eating too many raw fiddleheads can cause an upset stomach.
The term “fiddleheads” refers to the unfurling young sprouts of ferns. Although many species of ferns are edible as fiddleheads, Ostrich Ferns are the best. They are edible only in their early growth phase first thing in the spring

The young, tightly coiled tender tips of plant are called 'fiddleheads'.
The spring fiddleheads of all varieties of north temperate ferns are edible. Remove hair/wool from fiddleheads; soak in salt water to remove bitterness. Fiddleheads are best when boiled for half an hour in two changes of water. Fiddleheads can be dried for storage.
Rhizomes can be roasted/pit-steamed, peeled, and pounded to remove whitish edible part from fibers, or chewed to suck out starch. Dried rhizomes can be ground into flour.
Grows in wide range of areas, including foothills and montane region. Warning: avoid long term use, has carcinogenic properties.
Warning: avoid mature bracken, which destroys vitamin B and can cause a deadly blood condition.

Field Pennycress

Growing season is early spring to late winter. You can eat the seeds and leaves of field pennycress raw or boiled. The only warning with the field pennycress is not to eat it if it’s growing in contaminated soil. Pennycress will suck up all minerals around it. General rule is do not eat pennycress if it’s growing by the side of the road.


You can identify by its purple flower and unique structure of the leaves’ veins; the veins are circular rather than terminating on the edges of the leaves. Best eaten young when the leaves are tender. Mature plants have a tough and bitter tasting leaves. You can eat the stalk of the plants as well. The flowers and seeds have a peppery taste. Great source of vitamins A and C
Shoots are edible raw. Young leaves are edible raw. Flowers are edible raw.
Flower bud clusters can be cooked as vegetable. Stem pith can be added to soups as thickener. Varieties in Manitoba are Common fireweed and Dwarf fireweed. Grows in open, disturbed areas in foothill, montane, alpine and subalpine regions. Warning: may act as a laxative if eaten in quantity.


Young plants are edible when boiled. Young plants are suitable as a potherb. Varieties in Manitoba are Eastern daisy fleabane and Philadelphia fleabane. Grows in fields, disturbed areas, open woods, thickets and roadsides. Warning: may cause miscarriages and should not be consumed by pregnant women. Warning: may cause dermatitis.


Five petals, flat face, a yellow eye, usually blue but can be pink to white.  The blossoms are added to salads as a garnish and make excellent candied blossoms.


It’s easy to spot the Forsythia in the spring time. Just look for a naked shrub covered with yellow blossoms. You can find them in most urban areas and they escaped cultivation is several locations. The blossoms are spicy, minty, and slightly bitter. They add a cherry garnish to salads, particularly after a long winter. Very young leaves are edible raw. Better boiled.
The brilliant yellow forsythia bush can grow to 3 metres (10’) tall and can get as wide as 3.5 metres (12’). The flowers have four lobes and appear mostly in clusters of two to six. Forsythia bark is yellowish brown in colour and has raised lenticels (bumps).
Forsythia Properties
Forsythia fruit is used in Chinese medications as it contains several properties. It is a proven diuretic; skin tonic; emmenagogue (herbs which stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus); anti scrofulous (Scrofula is a tuberculosis infection of the skin on the neck); febrifuge (reduces fever); and it is a vermifuge (expels intestinal worms). It is most commonly used in Chinese medicine for colds, bronchitis, strep throat and it clears the body of toxic heat (sore throats, fever, chills, chronic skin eruptions, acne or dermatitis.
How to Use Forsythia Flowers
These beautiful flowers can be steamed and dried, used in decoctions and infusions, and made as a tea. In addition, tossing a few of these springtime beauties on a salad will impress any guest. If you collect 750 ml (three cups) of these flowers, you can transform them into syrup!  The forsythia, another reason for us all to enjoy springtime foraging! So next time you’re out there pruning the forsythia bush, save the flowers – you’ll be glad you did!

Fragrant Water Lily

The unopened flower buds can be collected and boiled as a vegetable. Once opened the raw blossom can be used as a garnish or nibble. Whether the plant’s rhizome is useful is something of a debate Flowers are edible raw. Flowerbeds can be cooked. Leaves are edible raw. Ripe seeds are edible raw. Rhizome can be boiled or roasted. Grows in lakes, ponds and slow-moving water in low and montane areas.

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