Time to harvest the hazelnuts!

The nuts of both species of hazelnuts typically are ready for picking locally in late August or early September.

Your targets will look like these:

American Hazelnut

American Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Each is ripe when the shell has turned to a brown color, which occurs before the outer husk turns brown.  If you wait to pick them when the husk has turned brown, you will likely not find any – resident critters (mostly chipmunks and red squirrels) will have harvested them before you!  However, do not pick any nut if its shell is green, cream or whitish in color – it is simply not yet ripe.

When picking them, I recommend wearing leather gloves because of the tiny sticky hairs on the husks.  If you don’t, your fingertips can become quite painful to the touch – it may feel like you’ve been handling fiberglass insulation.Sticky hairs on husk of hazelnut

Photo Credit: http://arcadianabe.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-midwest-wild-harvest-festival.html

Let your harvest air dry for several days.  Doing do should enable you to peel the husk off of each nut more easily.  After you remove the outer husk, I suggest that you rinse the nuts (still in shell) with water.  Then, let your husked harvest air dry for at least a couple of weeks before cracking open – doing so will help ensure the nut separates easily from the shell when you crack them open.

I find use of this type of nutcracker works best –Nutcracker

View nutrition information regarding hazelnuts.  Unfortunately, some people have an allergic reaction when eating hazelnuts.

For all of us who can enjoy these tasty nuts, please view these recipes for ideas and inspirations of how to enjoy them.

For those of you interested in perhaps growing your own hazelnut shrubs, look to these planting guides for more information –

Happy trails!

 

Mayapples now ripening

The fruit of these native wildflowers are ripening now.  Mayapples are most often found in forests with good soils, also referred to as “rich woods.”  They are common woodland plants found throughout our area; I have inventoried them at virtually every property listed on my Area Nature Preserves, Parks and Trails page.

Earlier this year (by mid-May), Mayapples were in bloom.

Mayapple

Mayapple bloom

Now, however, this is what to look for:ripened Mayapple fruitPhoto Credit

But, like all fruit, it is important to pick them when fully ripened, so that you can enjoy its fullest and truly unique flavor.  Wait until the skin is a translucent yellow (as shown above); don’t pick them when they are a somewhat opaque yellow or when they are still greenish (as shown below).Mayapple fruit

Photo Credit:  http://src.sfasu.edu/~jvk/PineywoodsPlants/Eudicotyledons/Berberidaceae/lrPodophyllum_peltatum6.jpg

The flavor is delicious and seemingly tropical; I don’t believe it compares with anything.  If you concur and are now wondering what to do with your freshly-picked fruity treasure, consider this recipe:  Mayapple Marmalade.

The book shown below contains additional Mayapple recipes; one each for punch, jam and jelly.  This book also contains many other recipes using a wide variety of wild edible plants.Wild Foods Field Guide and Cookbook (book cover)

For a more technical reading about Mayapple, view a U.S. Forest Service research paper.

Happy trails!

Early Summer Sampler

During the first month of summer, I have observed the following blooms while conducting my ongoing wildflower inventories of area nature preserves, parks and trails.

Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic

Poison Sumac

Poison Sumac

Common St. Johnswort

Common St. Johnswort

Crown Vetch

Crown Vetch

Chicory

Chicory

White Sweet Clover

White Sweet Clover

Lesser Daisy Fleabane

Lesser Daisy Fleabane

Sulphur Cinquefoil

Sulphur Cinquefoil

Pointed-leaved Tick Trefoil

Pointed-leaved Tick Trefoil

Small-flowered Cranesbill

Small-flowered Cranesbill

Silvery Cinquefoil

Silvery Cinquefoil

Cowwheat

Cowwheat

Spotted Jewelweed

Spotted Jewelweed

Pale Umbrellawort

Pale Umbrellawort

Deptford Pink

Deptford Pink

Dilenius Tick Trefoil

Dilenius Tick Trefoil

Brown Knapweed-bloom

Brown Knapweed

Shinleaf

Shinleaf

Canada Lily

Canada Lily

New Jersey Tea

New Jersey Tea

Black Nightshade

Black Nightshade

Horse Nettle

Horse Nettle

Indian Pipe

Indian Pipe

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

Virginia Stickseed

Virginia Stickseed

Moth Mullein

Moth Mullein

Smooth Sumac

Smooth Sumac

Bouncing Bet

Bouncing Bet

Spotted St. Johnswort

Spotted St. Johnswort

Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet

Japanese Meadowsweet

Japanese Meadowsweet

Prostrate Vervain

Prostrate Vervain

Pale-leaved Sunflower

Pale-leaved Sunflower

Oxeye

Oxeye

Early Goldenrod

Early Goldenrod

Happy trails!

Dwaas Kill Miscellany

Today’s sunshine and cooler air following last night’s much-needed rains provided me sufficient excuse to visit the Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park.  My visit was rewarded with a wonderfully mixed bag of sights.

Some blooms –

Hedge Bindweed

Hedge Bindweed

Common Winterberry

Common Winterberry

Agrimony

Agrimony (Refer to next photo to learn how to identify this species.)

Agrimony leaflets are smooth on underside except for a few hairs along the veins. (That is how you distinguish the species from Woodland Agrimony whose leaflets are downy underneath.)

Agrimony leaflets are smooth on underside except for a few hairs along the veins. (That is how you distinguish the species from Woodland Agrimony whose leaflets are downy underneath.)

A few berries –

Red Baneberry

Red Baneberry

Mystery ‘shrooms –

Anyone know what mushroom this is? (I don't.)

Anyone know what mushroom this is? (I don’t.)

And a buck –

Young white-tailed buck with velvet-covered spike antlers

Young white-tailed buck with velvet-covered spike antlers

Happy trails!

Pre-Solstice Sampler of Trailside Blooms

Yesterday, I continued my wildflower inventories at Old Iron Spring Fitness Trail and along the Zim Smith Trail (that portion located within the Town of Ballston).  Here is a sampler of what I observed –

Purple-flowering Raspberry

Purple-flowering Raspberry

Common Milkweed

Common Milkweed

Sweetbrier

Sweetbrier

Staghorn Sumac

Staghorn Sumac

Hairy Cat's Ear

Hairy Cat’s Ear

Long-leaved Stitchwort

Long-leaved Stitchwort

Sulphur Cinquefoil

Sulphur Cinquefoil

Thimbleweed

Thimbleweed

Thyme-leaved Sandwort

Thyme-leaved Sandwort

Yarrow

Yarrow

Smooth Hawkweed

Smooth Hawkweed

Yellow Avens

Yellow Avens

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip

Intermediate Dogbane

Intermediate Dogbane

Low Hop Clover

Low Hop Clover

Viper's Bugloss

Viper’s Bugloss

Deptford Pink

Deptford Pink

Hedge Mustard

Hedge Mustard

Today, I similarly continued my wildflower inventory at Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve.  Here is a sampler of what I observed –

Bush Honeysuckle

Bush Honeysuckle

Common Cinquefoil

Common Cinquefoil

White Avens

White Avens

Moneywort

Moneywort

Water Hemlock

Water Hemlock

Bristly Dewberry

Bristly Dewberry

Eastern Blue-eyed Grass

Eastern Blue-eyed Grass

Maleberry

Maleberry

Whorled Loosestrife

Whorled Loosestrife

Tall Meadow Rue

Tall Meadow Rue

Common Elderberry

Common Elderberry

Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic

Enchanter's Nightshade

Enchanter’s Nightshade

Smaller Forget-me-not

Smaller Forget-me-not

Motherwort

Motherwort

Stout Blue-eyed Grass

Stout Blue-eyed Grass

Happy Summer Solstice Eve!

As always, happy trails.

Summer is upon us

The summer solstice will occur on June 20.  Its arrival will mark the longest day of the year and also when the sun appears highest in the sky.

Rock Garden - Dyken Pond Environmental Center

Rock Garden – Dyken Pond Environmental Center

To celebrate and enjoy all those hours of daylight, we all should consider the opportunity to observe nature in a variety of sunlit settings:  dawn, mid-day and twilight.  Each will offer unique lighting (great for photography) as well as contrasting opportunities to view wildlife.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Here is a list of summer outdoor activities to consider:

Happy trails!

 

A babe in the woods

During my latest visit to Peter Desrochers Country Knolls Memorial Trails in the Town of Clifton Park, I happened across this wonderful sight –

Fawn of white-tailed deer

Fawn of white-tailed deer

Not far from there, I then saw a lone doe to whom I presumed that little fawn belonged.  All of which reminded me about some helpful tips when you come upon a fawn; please read.

My visit was to continue my ongoing wildflower inventory at this destination and I was very pleased to tally more than a dozen additional species.  Next spring, I will post a wildflower field guide for this property, similar to those I’ve compiled for a number of area nature preserves, parks and trails.

I did observe these blooms today –

Common Mock-orange

Common Mock-orange

Smooth Hawkweed

Smooth Hawkweed

Spiderwort

Spiderwort

Happy trails!