Wyming Brook Challenge

Here’s a challenge.  A recee of Wyming Brook yesterday afternoon in preparation for ourForage and Feast event next Tuesday evening revealed a total of 27 edible plants.  These are listed below.  The challenge is to weave as many as possible into the menu for the wild food BBQ which will feature later that evening.  This will keep me busy but all suggestions are welcome.

Belinda Wiggs from Sheffield Wildlife Trust

I was privileged to be guided around the reserve by Belinda Wiggs an ecologist from Sheffield Wildlife Trust.  This was a case of accelerated learning with my knowledge of plants increasing rapidly, as I was able to quiz Belinda virtually at each step!  The trust look after this reserve which is part of the Eastern Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest.  There is loads of wildlife at the reserve, including bizarrely named moths – the Dusky Slug, Common Lutestring and Northern Spinach; and the dozens of bird species benefitting from the variety of food,  from pine seed eating crossbills to black and white dippers which forage for aquatic insects along the fast flowing streams.  The trust over the last 2 or 3 months have been carrying out an extensive survey of the bird life and it will be interesting to see the results.  In autumn, a variety of fungi can be found, with Jew’s Ear, Plums and Custard and Amethyst Deceiver, just a few of the species to be found.

Common Spotted-orchid – not everything is edible!

We found that this year things  seem to be progressing quite early with not only signs of fungi (see the Orange Bay Bolete being held by Belinda above) but also bushes such as the bilberries already being in full fruit.  As we wandered around the reserve we nibbled selected plants.  New to me was the taste of Pink Purslane (very spinachy, with denser more robust leaves but still tender with a slight bitter/pepper finish), Sweet Cicerly (lovely initial hay like sweetness followed by aniseed), Pineappleweed (we didn’t eat this one but the flowers crushed between fingers gave a heady scent like a roomful of pineapples – although a good tea can be made from the leaves and flowers), ground elder (a little like parsley crossed with celery) and finally chickweed (a little stringy with a mild spinach taste).

I am looking forward to devising some interesting dishes with these sort of taste sensations in mind – a really helpful web resource in this regard is Plants for a Future.  Heres some information about them: “Plants For A Future (PFAF) is a charitable company, originally set up to support the work of Ken and Addy Fern on their experimental site in Cornwall, where they carried out research and provided information on edible and otherwise useful plants suitable for growing outdoors in a temperate climate. Over time they planted 1500 species of edible plants on ‘The Field’ in Cornwall, which was their base since 1989. Over ten years ago, Ken began compiling a database, which currently consists of approximately 7000 species of plants.”

Marsh Thistle – the core of the flowering shoot is edible

The plants found on Tuesday 28 June which could be used in some form in food and drink recipes (please remember that you should not consume any wild plant unless you able to identify it with 100% accuracy):

  1. Pineappleweed – Matricaria discoidea
  2. Marsh Thistle – Cirsium palustre
  3. Greater Plantain – Plantago major
  4. Marsh Pennywort – Hydrocotyle vulgaris
  5. Hairy Bittercress – Cardamine hirsute
  6. Wood Sorrel – Oxalis acetosella
  7. Common Sorrel -  Rumex acetosa
  8. Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale
  9. Pink Purslane – Claytonia sibirica
  10. Bilberry – Vaccinium myrtillus
  11. Scots Pine – Pinus sylvestris
  12. Beech Mast – Fagus sylvatica
  13. Sweet chestnut – Castanea sativa
  14. Common Chickweed – Stellaria media
  15. Burdock – Arctium minus
  16. Wood Avens Herb Bennet – Geum urbanus
  17. Nipplewort – Lapsana Communis
  18. Sweet Cicerly – Myrrhis odorata
  19. Garlic Mustard – Alliaria petiolata
  20. Coltsfoot – Tussilago farfara
  21. Orange bay bolete
  22. Tawny Grisette
  23. Jews ear fungus
  24. Ground Elder – Aegopodium podagraria
  25. Nettles – Urtica dioica
  26. Cow Parsley – Anthriscus sylvestris
  27. Hogweed – Heraculum Sphondylium