Foraging Fails, Week Ending 5/20/2108

It’s late May and irises and peonies are coloring the landscape. The early spring foraging season has drawn to a close, and to celebrate, here are a few things I failed to find this year.

First and foremost: morels (Morchella spp.).  While yellow morels grow in this area of Maryland, I was unable to locate any. Which is not so surprising. People go entire lifetimes hunting, and not finding, morels.  I don’t often forage for fungi since I’m less confident in identification, but hey. If you’re in the woods in spring you might as well look for them.

Next: ramps (Allium tricoccum), also known as wild leeks. Another of the delights of early spring woodlands. Like spring beauties, ramps are “spring ephemerals” which means they flourish until the leafy canopy fills in, eclipsing the plants on the forest floor below.

Last on my list: fiddleheads from the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Well that’s not 100% true. I did find a few at the perfect age. Unfortunately they were part of our landscaping, and I was informed (in no uncertain terms) they were off limits. I took a picture to show the papery covering that helps identify the fiddlehead of the edible ostrich fern. Other ferns have edible baby fronds as well, but this is the one I’m most familiar with.

Fiddleheads (osterich fern)
Fiddleheads – do not eat the landscaping

If you find fiddleheads, do not endanger the ferns by taking too many from any one plant. They get by with a little help from their fronds.

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