Foraging Fun: Flammulina velutipes

Judging from the featured photo above you probably wouldn’t believe me if I were to tell you that these are ekokitake mushrooms, the exact same species as can be found in a wide variety of traditional east Asian dishes. However, I am most certainly not in any position here as an educator of sorts to be misleading anyone, especially when it comes to wild mushrooms, as there is a very good reason for that. The above photo depicts that average habit of wild enokitake and not the cultivated form. Allow me to explain.. Continue reading “Foraging Fun: Flammulina velutipes”

Wild Ethnobotany – March 29th

The first Wild Ethnobotany guided hike was, despite the -30 degree windchill, an absolute success with a dozen brave souls venturing out to join me as we walked the snowy, windswept trails of Princess Point along Cootes Paradise. We sampled highbush cranberries, European black alder catkins and staghorn sumac berries, learned about the life cycles and medicinal properties of burdock and motherwort as well as received a lecture on the significance of oak savannah (one of the most endangered culturally modified ecosystems in the world) and how the historical land use practices of North America’s first people provide examples in ecology and community planning and for building sustainable and human-friendly landscapes in the future. Continue reading “Wild Ethnobotany – March 29th”

Wild Ethnobotany Workshop Series

This has been a long, long time coming and I am beyond excited to start developing and organizing the return of my outdoor guided hikes. I have directed more outdoor public nature walks than I can remember, both on my own and affiliated with research institutions such as the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington or non-for-profit organizations including the Burlington Green Youth Network, Earth Day Hamilton and the Halton Conservation Authority. It all began with the highly informal tree identification hikes that I conducted in high school that were almost exclusively attended by just my closest friends. This time around I want to make the program accessible to everyone and much more consistent, operating each event under a regular schedule that has been throughly planned and most importantly, adequately advertised and supported.

In the coming days after this post I will make an official write-up on my Events Page for the 2014 Wild Ethnobotany series of workshops, but I’ll give you all a sneak peak as to what it is all about right now.  These workshops will be delivered as a 2-part series each month comprised of an indoor presentation followed by an outdoor component. The indoor presentation will be 1-1.5 hour in length (1 hour presentation followed by half an hour of questions & answers and wrap-up) and introduce several native or exotic/naturalized ornamental plant species that can be utilized for food, medicine or some other practical application found in the current particular season in which the workshop is held (greens and leaves in spring, fruit and flowers available in summer, nuts/seed/roots in autumn, etc.) . I will also discuss the ways in which one can identify each species, briefly describe its botanical nomenclature and showcase any other interesting information pertaining to each plant.

The outdoor component, which will follow the indoor presentation by 1 or 2 weeks, will involve an outdoor hike in the field to observe and identify the same species outlined in the indoor presentation. Experiencing the plants in their natural context and in person is crucial to learning to distinguish them from any potentially poisonous or otherwise dangerous look-alikes and to grasp the physical changes that one species undergoes throughout the growing season as it matures, flowers and sets seed. Many plants have a variety of different uses that occur at different seasons, so learning to identify the changes that the same species undergoes throughout the year is crucial. It is also very likely that we will encounter different plant species that can also be used that I won’t have time to mention in the indoor presentations, so if you cannot make the indoor presentation, you definitely do not want to miss the outdoor hikes!

Please let me know what you think of this workshop idea. I would appreciate any questions, concerns or suggestions that you may have in order to make this series more informative and/or desirable. Or, if you are interested in signing up for one of the workshops or the entire summer long series, please do not hesitate to get into contact with me (click on my picture to the upper right of this page and It will direct you to my e-mail address listed on my profile). Thank you so much for hearing me out and for your support, and stay tuned for the official write-up coming soon to the Events page!