Nature is an amazing teacher. I’m often blown away by how perfectly things are designed to make sure we are well motivated to learn the appropriate amount of care and awareness. Just take a look at this picture here. Notice anything interesting about this wild salad bar?
Look carefully and you’ll see that in the middle of the yummy Miner’s Lettuce, and Oxalis there is a nice shiny piece of Poison Oak! While Poison Oak is actually not poisonous, but quite edible, I don’t know many non-natives who could manage eating it without a severe allergic reaction.
Once again nature has designed the perfect protection mechanism against unaware, fool-hardy foragers. This is a great way to make sure that we don’t just grab everything by it’s roots and go. So when you go out to harvest those yummy greens this spring, watch out, if it’s not poison oak it’ll be Poison Hemlock, which is a tiny little carrot top like plant that is impossible to see if you aren’t really looking.
But let that not discourage you from going out and making yourself a yummy salad, ’tis the season and the healthy greens are abundant. Let it be an invitation to learn some awareness instead. These little hazards are an ally to me on my walks when I try to emphasize the importance of treading lightly and respectfully in the places we forage from. Ah yes, much gratitude to the perfect designs of nature. I’m not even going to get started on Poison/Protector Oak and what an amazing plant it is. That’ll have to be a different Field Journal.
Anyhow, if you want to learn how to forage safely, I’ll be teaching several wild greens classes in the upcoming weeks. Please check out the wild foods section of this site for more info, or e-mail me and feel free to request a custom walk.
Hope to see you out there soon.