Wild Plums will be ripening soon

Late August is the time when our local plums – both Canada Plum and Wild Plum – ripen.  The quarter-sized fruit of each species may range in color from red to orange to yellow when fully ripened.  It’s best to test each for firmness and flavor when picking them to determine whether or not they are truly ripe.

Ripening fruit of Canada Plum

Each species can be found in our local forests, but Wild Plum is the more common.  Both species produce more fruit when they receive more direct sunshine.  Therefore, forest edges or within thickets with few taller trees are your best bets to find these fruiting tall shrubs.

Growing up in east central Wisconsin, I enjoyed these tasty fruit during my country road bike rides of my youth – sort of a last “taste of summer” before heading back to school.

Whether raw or cooked or baked, I highly recommend these sweetly tart fruit.  If you find enough to tempt your culinary skills, consider these recipes –

Happy trails!

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Sunday Stroll at Hawkwood

While continuing my wildflower inventory at Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood in the Town of Ballston, I was pleased to discover that the Stonewall Trail is now fully open once again, thanks to the installation of two new bridges near its east end.

THANK YOU volunteers and trail stewards – ALL of your many improvements to ALL of the trails are greatly appreciated!

In celebration of all this “newness,” I am pleased to add this destination to my list of places on my Area Nature Preserves, Parks and Trails page.  Please check it out.

During my visit today, I observed the following blooms –

White Wood Aster

Pilewort

Bulb-bearing Water Hemlock

Bulb-bearing Water Hemlock – close-up of blooms

Common Dodder (white blooms on yellow vine attached to the green plant, which is Spotted Jewelweed) – read more about this parasitic plant.

Happy trails!

Nearly time to pick Mayapple fruit

If you’ve ever sampled a truly ripened Mayapple, you know you want to taste that delicious flavor again.  The fruit is aromatic…juicy…tropical.  Yet, it likely can be found in the nearest woodland!  Soon it will be time to harvest them; do so only if the skin of the fruit is yellow, particularly translucent yellow.

Mayapple (also called Mandrake) bears fruit only on two-leaved plants.  The single-leaved plants did not flower; a bloom only appears during the second year when the plant produces two leaves.

Mayapple bloom

However you choose to consume them, please remove the seeds and do NOT ingest them – they are poisonous.

If you are fortunate enough to find sufficient ripened fruit to test a recipe, consider these:

For a few additional Mayapple recipes, obtain a copy of each of these books:

Billy Joe Tatum’s Wild Foods Field Guide and Cookbook

  • Mandrake Magic Punch (page 221)
  • Mayapple Jam (page 231)
  • Mayapple Jelly (page 238)

Feasting Free on Wild Edibles by Bradford Angier

  • Mayapple Jam (cooked) (page 36)
  • Mayapple Jam (uncooked) page 37) – this method intends to retain natural flavor of the fruit and will keep several months in the refrigerator

Enjoy your harvest.

Happy trails!

Chokecherries will be ripening soon!

While conducting my weekly wildflower inventory at Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood today, I spied these ripening chokecherries.

Unripened fruit of Chokecherry

However, those pictured are not ripe yet – fully ripened chokecherries are more purple-black in color, not red.  You’ll want to pick them – like any fruit – at peak ripeness for the best flavor.  Don’t forego tasting these cherries because of their name, but also don’t sample them raw.  They are rather aptly named when eaten raw because of their pucker power.  But, when cooked, their unique flavor comes forth.  It is my favorite wild cherry.

If you find enough ripe cherries to give them a taste test, I would suggest making a syrup or simple sauce to have over vanilla ice cream or pancakes or waffles.  If you are lucky enough to find a sufficient quantity to try a few culinary experiments, then consider these:

Bon appetit!

While strolling along the woodland trails at this park, I viewed this sampler of wildflowers:

Fruit of White Baneberry

Wild Cucumber

Boneset

Purple-leaved Willow Herb

Mad-dog Skullcap

Happy trails!