Monday, July 4, 2016

Northeast Summer Events

I am pleased to announce that the botanical adventures will be continuing through the Summer months! The greens are abundant and the flowers are in full bloom with new faces appearing daily, so what better place to be but in the woods and on the trail! I will be traveling throughout Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, so take a look below to see if there is an event in your area. I am continuing to add new events, so please do check back at my Facebook page, for updates. If you would like to schedule an event with me, please shoot me a message there. I hope to see you on the trail!

WHPC 90.3 FM - Natural Nurse Ellen Kamhi, an interview with the Botanical Hiker
July 6th 12:00 pm and July 10th at 11:00 pm

Plant Walkin' and Cider Drinkin' 
July 17, 1- 4 pm
Join me at Cider Creek Hard Cider for a walk along the Finger Lakes Trail where we will identify wild edible and medicinal plants. This easy 1 - 2 mile hike begins and more importantly...ends at the tasting room where you can enjoy a cold cider and wild edible refreshments. Pre-registration is required and group is limited to 25 people, visit the Facebook link below for more details and to register.
 Location: Cider Creek Hard Cider in Canisteo, NY
Cost: $20 per person

Susquehanna Sierra Club and Triple Cities Hiking Club Outing
July 24, 1:30 pm
Become a member of the Susquehanna Sierra Club or Triple Cities Hiking Club and join in the fun! I'll be leading a plant walk at 1:30 on the nearby Finger Lakes Trail. At 4:00 reconvene in Greenwood Park for a vegetarian potlock.
 Message me at Facebook if you are interested in joining.
Location: Greenwood Park in Lisle, NY
Cost: Membership fee

Festival of Wood
August 6 and 7, 10 am - 5 pm
Find me at the Delaware Highland Conservancy table. This organization does incredible work for our regional wild lands! Learn more about our protected lands, how you can get involved and pick up a signed copy of my book, "A Guide to the Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Finger Lakes Trail"
Location: Grey Towers in Milford PA
Cost: Free

Plant Walk with Skylands Sierra Club
August 13th, 10 am - 1pm
Join me for a walk inside one of New Jersey's state parks where we'll identify our local edible and/or medicinal plants. An inside scoop...this hike will include a waterfall and the water-side loving plants!
Group is limited to 20 people and pre-registration is required
Contact David Alcock to register: to register
Cost: $20 per person

Delaware Highlands Conservancy Picnic
August 27, 12 - 4:00 pm
Here I will be leading an hour-long easy hike along a woodland trail on the 119 acre Lemons Brook Farm. There will be a community potluck, live music, and activities for children of all ages. Come join in the fun!
Pre-registration is required
Visit this link to register:
Location: Lemons Brook Farm in Bethel, NY
Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Adirondack Mountain Club Monthly Meeting
September 15, evening (time to be determined)
Join me for a presentation about my hike along the Finger Lakes Trail and N NJew York's edible and medicinal plants
Contact me at my email or on Facebook if you would like to attend.
Location: Binghamton, NY
Cost: Membership fee to Adirondack Mountain Club

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Lackawaxen Foraging

It has been a busy Spring to say the least. I've done a good job of filling my days with plant walks, vending at various herbal and trail fests, and sharing in your love for the plants and your enthusiasm for our long distance trails. In my downtime, I have been galavanting through the woods, along the rivers, and over the mountains with my love's hand in mine. This is all such good good that I give my gratitude daily for the joy that is my life these days. does leave little time for blogging...but there is so much to blog about...where do I begin?

The Delaware River along the Finger Lakes Trail - if you were to follow this river south, you would eventually reach where the Lackawaxen River joins with the Delaware and where the tiny town of Lackawaxen sits.
Let's begin with Lackawaxen. 

This is where you say..."Lacka-what?" Lackawaxen is as little known as it is small. It's a friggin' speck of sand on a map, or rather a cluster of civilization in the northeastern mountains of Pennsylvania. We have three businesses on the main drag and they are all owned by the same person, these consist of a sports shop (and I don't mean tennis rackets and basketballs) with lots of stuffed heads mounted on the walls, a cafe with a beautiful view of the river, and a convenience store providing bread, eggs, milk, and well what else do you need? I didn't let my cat outside for the first month we lived here because I was scared she would get picked off by the bald eagle that nested on the cliffside outside our front door. I got over that when the trees leafed out but she still doesn't go out at night due to the pack of coyotes we opened the door to one evening. 

So we don't have much of the sophisticated here in Lackawaxen...but what Lackawaxen does have besides bald eagles and coyotes, is...plants. Okay, that's an understatement...a botanical wonderland divided only by the confluence of the Delalaware and Lackawaxen rivers and the occasional winding road.

Gooseberries (Ribes spp.)
Just two weeks ago, the Gooseberries (Ribes spp.) appeared, which mind you, if you don't know just where a bush is and when it's going to fruit, it's likely you may never spot an actual Gooseberry bush bearing gooseberries. The woodland creatures enjoy them so much that they are gone long before they are ripe enough for our picking. There are numerous species, some native and some non-native, and are quick to hybridize, therefore offering a wide spectrum of flavor, from disgusting to delicious. These here were sweet and flavorful but with high astringency. 

Mayapple leaf (Podophyllum peltatum)
The Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) with their large umbrella-like leaves have already put out their waxy white flowers and are on their way to sporting small egg-sized fruits. Mayapple has two forms. The first is that with a single leaf atop a single tall stalk, the other is that with two leaves atop a forked stalk. Look for those with forked stalks to find a juicy fruit that is edible when ripe. Be certain the fruit is yellow, then slice in half, scoop out the seeds and discard, then scoop out the edible flesh of the fruit from the inedible skin. Eat only the seedless flesh of the Mayapple fruit, as other parts are mildly cathartic to potentially deadly.

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) fruits

In this sunny, dry spot against the rockface, Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) is already beginning to fruit, relatively early for this small tree. Staghorn begins with cones of yellowish-green flowers that give way to these fuzzy fruits that taste sour as lemons. Harvest a single cone and submerge in a pitcher of cold water, mashing the fruits with a large spoon or spatula once in water. Allow the cone to steep for 2-4 hours and remove. Strain the pink liquid through a clean bandana (that you don't mind dying) to remove the tiny hairs, sweeten to your taste, and sip. Sumac is loaded with Vitamin C, an important vitamin to replenish during the hot summer months.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) underside of leaf
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), as a non-native invasive often gets a bad rap, but we should remember that it is a highly medicinal plant with a lesser known spiritual side. This plant begins small, bearing just a leaf or two, but by summer's end, will be a tall arching cane over four feet tall bearing these alternately arranged, deeply lobed leaves with silvery undersides. The aromatic leaves are highly effective in aiding digestion when steeped in a tea and consumed before or after dinner. Pagan practitioners also enjoy a cup before ritual to encourage astral projection. Why not try a cup before bed to enliven your dreams? Use just a few leaves to one cup.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

These Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) leaves quickly landed in a pot, going to feed a host of plant people, perhaps a few of you reading this blog! This particular community of Stinging Nettle resides along the Lackawaxen River and was so prolific that it may as well have been a forest unto itself. Stinging Nettle is actually a non-native nettle that has naturalized here in the states. This Nettle has opposite leaves as opposed to our native nettle (Laportea Canadensis) which has alternate leaves. However it matters not which nettle you have as both of these are edible. Harvest the leaves before the plant has flowered then steam, simmer, or saute to eat as you would a green vegetable or puree into a hummus or pesto. 

Besides the plants found throughout the area, I have been enjoying discovering a host of nearby trails such as the Tusten Mountain Trail, Indian Lookout, and various trails with names unknown to me. I will save tales of these treks for another blog post as I don't want to keep you gazing at this computer screen any longer. Get outside and breathe it in, soak it up, feel it through and the through, and give thanks for these long days of Summer while they are here. Also, be sure to check back for details on my guided hikes that I'll be leading on some of these area trails!

Atop the cliff behind my house (yes, the one with the bald eagles and coyotes...and of course many, many plants!)