Botany Unbound Part 4: Edibles in the Forest

Giant Puffball Mushroom (Calvatia Gigantea)800px-Puffball_Mushrooms_On_Sale

547084_256421097794768_113949131_nThe immature puffballs are all edible but after the spores are created, they are harder to digest. One can tell by slicing open the mushrooms flesh and observing the color. It must be white, not yellow faded. You can fry them or cook them, or bread them and they have the consistency of melted cheese afterwards. It can be frozen afterwards. They are sold regularly in England, but shouldn’t be confused with the (Earthball mushrooms Scleroderma citrinum). It has no stem, but rooted down with mycelial strands, and has a dark gleba and ochre skin. I have found these on two different occasions when hiking. The first one I seen was larger than my head yet hardly weighed more than a couple handfuls of soil.

Canada Buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis)13

The plant gets its name from Chinook language. A desert is made 399721_263005003803044_960930049_nfrom the crushed berries which have saponin inside them. An equal amount of water is added to the liquid that is extracted and whipped into a foam. It is consumed by natives of the Pacific Northwest in large gatherings, and called Sxusem or Indian Ice Cream. Camas or Fireweed are added to balance the bitter taste. It grows in North America but not beyond the Arctic circle. Early next spring, I am going to collect some of the berries and make a recipe with them.

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Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)

This one is a pioneer species, and tends towards being replenished in the land before other plants after fire or felling. The stems can be peeled and eaten raw, and have some essential vitamins. It thrives best in the Alpine regions. In Alaska, the Dena’ina tribes add it to the dog food. Syrups and jams are made from the flowers,  and spicey honey from the nectar. The leaves are the ingredient in Kapor Tea in the west.

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