Today we went on our first forage of spring. Although we came back empty-handed, we had some great finds. Garlic mustard and wild onions are already in great abundance. I forgot my camera at home so I had to use my phone to take pictures, although I must say I am extremely impressed with the quality of my phone’s built-in camera.
My favorite discovery of the day were these lovely little trout lilies. Trout lily bulbs are edible, but they were just too beautiful to eat and I couldn’t bear to extinguish them just yet.
We also came across a patch of Toadshade (Trillium sessile). The entire plant is edible and has medicinal properties. I will go into more detail on the medicinal uses of Trillium, but that is another topic for another day.
We discovered two rare orchids, both of which were entirely unfamiliar to us.
The first is called an “Adam and Eve” Orchid (Aplectrum Hyemale). They are sometimes referred to as “Putty Root” because they were once used by Native Americans to produce a glue like putty adhesive. The bulbs are edible but because they are quite rare in some states, it’s best not to harvest unless you do some research beforehand to make sure they are not protected in your area. They will eventually flower and have lovely purple and yellow blossoms.
The second is the “Crane-fly Orchid” (Tipularia Discolor). Another native woodland orchid, the Crane-fly orchid also has edible bulbs, but is threatened or endangered in several states as well, so do your research before harvesting. The bulbs and roots are starchy and said to taste like potatoes. It will eventually flower and have a gorgeous cluster of blooms. You can identify the Crane-fly orchid by a single green leaf with a deep purple back.
The single leaf will appear in fall and last through winter. The leaf with then disappear in spring to make way for tall slender shafts topped with clusters of blooms.
Overall it was a great day with some great surprises. It was just the kind of day I needed to get past these long winter blues. (Although another winter storm is in the forecast for tomorrow.) When I took my dog out earlier tonight I heard the little frogs chirping and it reminded me that spring is right around the corner. I will be posting more in depth on each of these plants individually at a later date.