Lucky for me, Bob Bruce rang my doorbell this afternoon to ask if he could harvest the mushrooms in my yard. I recognized Bob from the Wakarusa Valley Farm and the Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance. I readily agreed to his harvest, as I’m not much of a mushroom person. Besides, he offered to give me a forager’s tour of my yard.
I stepped outside, and he pointed out the yellow chanterelles. I’d seen them before but never thought much about them. Bob, clearly, thinks about mushrooms. He raises mushrooms at the farm, and he hunts mushrooms in the woods as president of the Kaw Valley Mycological Society. He noted that chanterelles are mycorrhizal, and pointed to the way the mushrooms seemed to radiate along the roots of the pin oak under which they grew.
Then he showed me the plentiful sorrel (at right) in my yard, which is not the cultivated lemony herb known as sorrel (Rumex acetosa) but wood sorrel, or Oxalis stricta (if I’m not mistaken; there appear to be a jillion varieties a member of the Oxalis family). It has a pleasing tart flavor, which I added to this evening’s salad. He also pointed out plantain (Plantago) which, like the wood sorrel, is no relation to its like-named, cultivated plant, in this case the banana plantain. Also, like Oxalis, Plantago includes a jillion species, but I’m not going to guess at the one in my yard. In any case, Bob recommended plantain’s pleasant taste and medicinal qualities. I may just try it on my next bug bite. (Plantain is at top in photo below.)
Alas, he didn’t find a lot of other good things to eat besides dandelions, but he recommended the unknown sedum I have (it’s one of the larger sedums, resembling Autumn Joy) for salads and sautes.
But the most exciting thing about his visit and our conversation is that he said he’s interested in coming up with a list or a guest blog post about edible shade plants. I can’t wait. He said he’d even look for things that I could plant this summer or fall. So look out, Baklava Queen. I may be out there foraging, too, even if I don’t stray farther than my neighborhood.
Note to regular readers: I’m behind in my blogging due to the unfortunate necessity of making a living. I hope to catch up a bit this week. Hope yours is a good one.