Archive for July, 2010

Tiny Cornucopia of Colorado Wild Edibles

colorado cornucopia 350x262 Tiny Cornucopia of Colorado Wild Edibles

A cornucopia of Colorado wild edibles. From left to right, mustard, peppergrass, red clover, pennycress, white clover, wild strawberry peeking through, yarrow, and dandelions.

It’s a treat to be home to the quiet of the mountains again. I awoke today to the sweet, silent obscurity of the early morning dark followed by a sunrise of pale yellow behind bulbous, deep purple clouds left over from last night’s rainstorm. It must have rained hard while we were gone because the rains near washed out the driveway again. In exchange, however, they left us a cornucopia of lush wild edibles among all the other beautiful weeds, a warm welcome back to the house and to writing about wild edible plants after my long hiatus.  

Our wild discoveries started yesterday evening with tiny wild strawberries—not hanging from the strawberry plants in our yard (which in two years have yet to fruit), but from plants on the dirt roadside lining a short stroll around the neighborhood that we enjoyed in the dimming light in a misty rain under the shelter of Gregg’s Pop-pop’s red two-person umbrella. We picked 18 strawberries the size of my pinky nail (and I bite my nails) while ruminating on the decimation of the bird feeders during our absence by what we can only imagine is an errant bear in the neighborhood.  Read the rest of this entry

Thistle Snack Sticks

thistle spiny2 Thistle Snack Sticks

This thistle is too spiny for me to eat. I think this is a Cirsium but am not certain.

Thistles are a great trail snack. If you’re thirsty, just start chewing on one. After you prick yourself in the mouth, it’ll hurt so much you’ll forget all about being thirsty.       

Just kidding, of course. When enjoying thistles as a trail snack, the first thing you need to do is select one that’s not so extraordinarily spiny. The thistle pictured at right, for example, might be a poor choice. Once you have a good one, what you want to do next is to peel the thistle so it’s not spiny anymore. Then, consume.

Kinds of Thistles       

The common name thistle refers to several genera of plants:        

  1. Cirsium: So-called “true thistles” belong to the genus Cirsium. In Best-Tasting Wild Plants of Colorado & the Rocky Mountains, Cattail Bob’s thistle entry pertains to any and all species of Cirsium, which he describes as having “spine-tipped leaves… rosettes the first year; flowering stalks after the first year. Flowers are round, spiny, and red, pink, or white.” In The Foragers Harvest (2006), Samuel Thayer has a detailed section on Cirsium + Carduus nutans, including information on regional variations, of which there are dozens of species in the U.S. and Canada, both native and introduced, and varying in palatability.  Read the rest of this entry