Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Forage walk in the wild woods

Spicebush - Lindera benzoin

Despite my late return from South Africa, this Saturday's edible botanical walk in Inwood will take place. There are a couple of spaces left. Weather Underground promises that it will be a lovely, sunny, 60' day.

25 April 2015, 12pm - 3pm
Inwood Hill Park

In the valley of the shadow of the spicebush, some yellow blossoms will probably still be on the trees as they begin to leaf out. We will scratch and sniff the twigs and talk about how to use them in the kitchen. Violets and squirrel corn will have opened, and jewelweed seedlings will have appeared like green confetti on the forest floor (I planted a couple on my terrace last year, and a hummingbird visited the flowers in August). They are an excellent nettle sting antidote.

 Day lilies - Hemerocallis fulva

There are edible and invasive day lilies here.

Confit of day lily bulbs with aromatics

We'll see the notorious but strongly delicious garlic mustard. I'll show you how to recognize the milder second year plants. Field garlic, one of the earliest spring edibles to appear, is one of the most versatile of all wild plants and weeds. Cook it, pickle it, make oil from its leaves.

Garlic mustard pesto, field garlic butter and field garlic bread

Tart Japanese knotweed should still be collectable. 

Japanese knotweed - Polygonum cuspidatum: one of the worst plant invaders on the planet

It's one of my favorite spring walks; it's hardly a city, up here: On one side, the Spuyten Duyvil, separating Manhattan island from the mainland, and on the other, the mighty Hudson, separating us from Governor Christie (if he's home - does anyone know?).

Early spring in Inwood

Pack a lunch for a forest picnic. Bathroom at start and end of walk (my mother thinks this is very funny - why would anyone want a BATH on a walk? South Africans call a toilet a toilet).

Early spring forages

We meet at 12pm sharp at the entrance at Seaman Avenue and Isham, returning there by 3pm or a little later. The closest subway is the A to 207th. More information will be emailed to confirmed walkers closer to the time.


  1. Oh my gosh. Thank you! For more years than I will admit to I could not name the small tree close to my wash line. This morning, thanks to you I now know the 'tree' I've tried to identify is indeed a Spicebush. In fact I have many growing here and there. It also dawned on me that knowing its name has ramped up my appreciation of it, call it the 'CHEERS' effect.

    1. That's great! Have you scratched the twigs and do they smell citrussy-piney? (Another tree looks similar, superficially: Cornus mas aka cornelian cherry.) Stick some twigs into sugar to scent the sugar, for baking...


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