Transformational Gardening

Disclaimer: Foraging can be fun, rewarding and provide health benefits. As a novice forager, I will be sharing my foraging experiences. However, in order to be safe, always consult with local foraging experts and guidebooks before beginning foraging. Children should learn to forage safely by being guided by experienced adults. Never ingest anything unless you are certain of the identification and safety of the plant. Some plant species are inedible and some are poisonous.

August 2011 Foraging Experiences

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August 3, 2011

Allegheny Hawkweed (Panicled Hawkweed) (Hieracium paniculatum)

The flowers of this plant looked just like Hawkweed flowers. There are a handful of Hawkweeds in New Hampshire that have leaves growing up the stem:

Narrowleaf Hawkweed has a thinner leaf width (up to 1-1/2 inches wide) and the penduncles (flower stems) and plant stem have significant hairs. Rough Hawkweed has a very bristly/hairy leaf margin, hairy stems and long black hairs on the stem below the flowers. Robinson’s Hawkweed has leaves with slightly larger and more regular teeth that make is look a bit like a wide-leaved Fall Dandelion (Leontodon autumnalis). In addition, Robinson’s Hawkweed has a hairy penduncle (not black hairs like Rough Hawkweed). Maryland Hawkweed has mostly basal leaves with two to several stem leaves.

Kalm’s Hawkweed has a lower stem and underside of leaves with long hairs. In most pictures, it appears that the flower stem grows a foot or more above the stem leaves and the flower stems do not droop much. The Kalm’s Hawkweed leaves look a bit like my pictures except they are shorter and wider (proportionally).

Common Hawkweed has mostly larger basal leaves with 4-7 sessile stem leaves. The 2-1/2 foot tall stem is topped by 4-12 yellow flowers in a round-topped cluster. Flower heads have white hairs around the base (like Robinson’s Hawkweed). The leaves of Common Hawkweed have larger teeth than this plant.

This left me with a description of Allegheny Hawkweed that closely matched the pictures and an online image from florafinder.com that looks just like this plant:

Largely solitary stems (up to 3 feet tall) with stem leaves up into the inflorescene and few to no basal leaves. The stem is mostly hairless (ocassional hairs). The leaves are papery thin and have an irregularly-tooth margin (few teeth). The underside of the leaves are slightly whitened. The inflorescense at the top contains up to 20 flowers on thin, flexible and mostly hairless peduncles (flower stalks). The flowers are up to 1.5 cm (3/5 inches) wide, while those of other hawkweeds can be up to 1 inch wide. The smaller flowering heads, slender and flexible flower stalks and papery thin and mostly hairless leaves are distinguishing characteristics.



Nakedflower Ticktrefoil (Desmodium nudiflorum)





White Vervain (Verbena urticifolia)





August 4, 2011

Cardinalflower (Lobelia cardinalis)

In September, 2010 I found and took pictures of Cardinalflower. But it was not a real “find” of the plant since it was located at the Audobon Society and I believe it had been planted by the staff. Today, however, I found it in the wild by going slightly off-trail over some rocks next to a creek.

Cardinalflower is in the genus, Lobelia. Lobelia has been used for many years by naturopaths to treat asthma, smoking addiction and externally to treat muscle spasm. An overdose can cause nausea and vomiting, so it is best to rely on the help of a professional herbalist or become knowledgable about proper dosing when using Lobelia.



American Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Right across the main path from the Cardinalflower (Lobelia cardinalis) I spotted American Witchhazel, a shrub I learned about in the recent Healing with Plants, Fungi and Lichen class.

It is a shrub with simple, alternate leaves that have crenate (rounded-tooth) margins and an asymetrical leaf base (as can be seen from the pictures). It has a dense cluster of stems at its base. The bark is light brown. The flowers are usually yellow (sometimes orange or redish) and have four ribbon-shaped petals.

Tea can be made with the leaves (infusion) or the branchlets and inner bark (decoction). It is valuable astringent. An ointment can be applied externally to treat hemorrhoids. The tincture can be applied on sprains, bruises, wounds and the powder mixed with honey and water can be applied to burns, abrasions and crushed toes and fingers. The tea can be applied externally as well to treat sore muscles/backs, bruises, swellings, cuts, insect bites, poison ivy, sunburn and varicose veins. Steam derived from decocting stems can be used to treat sore muscles.

The tea can be used as a gargle for sore throat and taken internally for diarrhea, hemorrhages, mucus discharge, prolapsed internal organs and excessive menses. I’ll be collecting Witchhazel for tea, tincture and powder next time I go out.



August 5, 2011

European Mountain Ash (Rowan) (Sorbus aucuparia)




One of the ways to tell the difference between European Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia), American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana) and Northern Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora) is that the winter buds of the European Mountain Ash are densely hairy (long white-gray hairs). The other two species have hairless or nearly hairless sticky buds that are red or dark purplish-red. You can see very hairy buds in the images below.





August 6, 2011

Walked quite a bit along swamp, pond, creek and river areas today. Took some pictures of a large stand of Common Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) plants at the edge and partially in a pond. On the way back I took some pictures of Purple Chokeberry (Aronia prunifolia) which I have only found once before (and made juice from the berries last year).

American White Water-Lily (Nymphaea odorata)

Maybe I’ll wade out into the water next time to get a better picture. There are two subspecies of White Water-Lily:


Tatarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)

I may not ever be able to easily differentiate the honeysuckles. I will call this Tatarian Honeysuckle even though I’m not 100% certain. The pictures fit most of the description of Tatarian Honeysuckle such as glaborous (hairless) underside of leaves and branchlets. The peduncles (flower/fruit stalks) are 15-25mm long. Dense and twiggy shrub. Pith is white. The only problem is that the field guides say the leaves are up to 6.5cm long, but some of these leaves are 7.5cm long. Still it does not seem to even come close to fitting the description of any other Honeysuckles in the area. The following are the Honeysuckles that grow in New Hampshire and the reason (if any) that this plant is different:

I even expanded the search to all Honeysuckles listed in the Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts area:



August 8, 2011

Bristly Locust (Rose Acacia) (Robinia hispida)

Look at the very long red hairs on the branches and even on the seed pods! I did not find any thorns on the branches as I often do for the more hairless and somewhat similar Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia).

There are two other Robinia species in New Hampshire:
  1. Clammy Locust (Rose Acacia) (Robinia viscosa): Similar to Bristly Locust but has the braches are covered with numerous, sticky short-stalked red glands and has a pink-colored, pea-like flower.
  2. Black Locust (False Acacia) (Robinia pseudoacacia): Similar to Bristly Locust but has no hairs or sticky red glands on the branches. White, pea-like flowers.




Narrowleaf Cow Wheat (Melampyrum lineare)





Here are some better quality pictures of the Narrowleaf Cow Wheat flower:



August 9, 2011

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)





August 11-17, 2011

Visiting friends and family. Plant-related information: Travelled to Eastern Washington State which is a desert region with sage, tumbleweed, Russian thistle and an amazing amount of prickly lettuce. Then it was on to Minneapolis where the plants are very similar to what is in Southern New Hampshire.


August 19, 2011

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)





August 23, 2011

Bear Oak (Scrub Oak) (Quercus ilicifolia)





August 24, 2011

European Cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus var. opulus) (Synonym: Viburnum roseum)

In New Hampshire, there are only a small number of Viburnums with lobed leaves:
One of the most obvious differences is that Mapleleaf Viburnum and Squashberry do not have the large, showy sterile flowers. They only have the smaller white flowers. Also, Mapleleaf Viburnum does not have swollen glands on the leaf petioles. The margins of Squashberry leaves have many teeth compared to the few teeth on the leaf margins of Cranberrybush.

The Peterson Field Guide for Edible Plants says, ‘A European ornamental occasionally escaped from cultivation, V. opulus [Viburnum opulus var. opulus], is almost a double for Highbush-cranberry, but with bitter fruit.” For this reason, it is important to tell the two apart.

The following web page shows how to tell the two apart (using a table and two links for pictures): http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/vitr.htm. The American Cranberrybush (var. americanum) has a wide and shallow groove on the leaf petiole, small glands on the petiole and hairs only the leaf veins of the underside of the leaf. The European Cranberrybush (var. opulus) has a thin groove on the leaf petiole, larger, disk-shaped glands on the petiole and often has hairs on the underside of the leaf in addition to the leaf vein hairs.

The book, Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada points out that the glands on the petiole of American Cranberrybush (var. americanum) are stalked, round-topped and mostly higher than wide. The glands of the petiole of European Cranberrybush (var. opulus) are mostly sessile, concave-topped and wider than high. Based on the third set of images from the top where the one on the left is this plant and the one on the right is American Cranberrybush (taken on May 30, 2011), this plant is clearly European Cranberrybush (var. opulus).



Speckled Alder (Swamp Alder, Mountain Alder) (Alnus incana ssp. rugosa) (Synonyms: Alnus rugosa, Alnus rugosa var. americana)

There are three alders in New Hampshire:
Green Alder has leaf buds that are pointed and have no stalk (sessile). As you can see from the pictures in the table (below), these buds have a round top and have a short, stubby stalk.

Hazel Alder does not have distinct whitish lenticels (pore-like aggregation of cells) on the bark. As you can see from the pictures below, there are long whitish lenticels on the bark.

This leaves only Speckled Alder. Other features include the double-serrated leaf margin, net-like venation on the back of the leaves, winged seeds in the cones, orange colored pith, grows near swamps and streams.




August 25, 2011

I had some difficulty with plant identification today. Some of the species are so similar that it can be difficult to decide which is the right species.

Thinleaf Sunflower (Pale Sunflower, Forest Sunflower) (Helianthus decapetalus)

After nearly eight hours trying to identify this plant and thinking that it was Smooth Beggarticks (Bidens laevis) for the first two hours, I’ve settled on Thinleaf Sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus). Beggarticks species have a prominent main vein in the leaf and no other prominent veins. Sunflower leaves are “three-nerved,” meaning that they have three prominent veins (especially near the base of the leaf).

I went to the Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, but this plant does not perfectly match any of the descriptions. In the book, each plant genus has a flowchart to help you decide on the species, but I discovered that the flowcharts are not always accurate and that reading the species description is more important. For example, the flowchart eventually gets to this species (Helianthus decapetalus) as long as you decide that the disk in the center of the flower is more than 1.5 cm wide. In many cases, however, the disk of this plant is between 1 and 1.5 cm wide. Reading the description of helianthus decapetalus leads one to discover that the disk can be 1-2 cm wide.

Below is a list of the other sunflowers found in New Hampshire and why they are not the plant pictured:
If you look closely at the flower head in the left most picture of the second row and click on that picture to expand it (and click on it again to expand it more) you will see that the flower head is actually made up of tiny 5-petal flowers! Each floret in the flower head has a tiny bract (or chaff) called a receptacular bract as can be seen in this drawing: receptacular bracts. If you click on the very last image in the table below, you will see that the bracts are yellowish-tipped, a fact which was important when I thought this plant was Smooth Beggarticks and trying to differentiate it from Nodding Beggarticks.

Thinleaf Sunflower grows up to 54 inches tall. It has yellow flowers with 8-15 petals (1.5-3.5 cm long) and the central part of the flower is made up of numerous tiny flowers each with five petals. Flowers are 4.5-9 cm wide and the central disk is 1-2 cm wide. The leaves are opposite (but upper leaves can be alternate), have 1.5-6 cm petioles, broadly lanceolate or ovate, serrated, 8-20 cm long by 3-8 cm wide, thin, scabrous (rough to touch), pale green beneath and come to a sharp point (accuminate). Leaf base abruptly contracted and decurrent (extends downwards to the petiole.



Rough Hawkweed (Hieracium scabrum)

This Hawkweed was not as hard to identify as some plants. If you click on the rightmost picture of the first row, you will notice long, spreading hairs on the plant stem. The rightmost picture of the second row shows straight black hairs on the flower stem. Also, notice in the last picture in the table below, you can see a close-up of the gland-tipped hairs on the flower stem.

The flowers of this plant looked just like Hawkweed flowers. There are a handful of Hawkweeds in New Hampshire that have leaves growing up the stem. Below is a list and the reasons why this plant does not match a different Hawkweed:



Tall Rattlesnakeroot (Tall White Lettuce) (Prenanthes altissima)

It is very difficult for me to tell the difference between Tall Rattlesnakeroot (Prenanthes altissima) (this plant) and Gall of the Earth (Prenanthes trifoliolata). The way that some tell the difference is to count the number of primary bracts outside of the flower. If there are only five (5) primary bracts, then it is Tall Rattlesnakeroot (Prenanthes altissima). Gall of the Earth (Prenanthes trifoliolata) will have eight (8) or more primary bracts. But here is the problem, what the %@!*!*@*(! is a primary bract?! There are very short bracts at the base of the flower, but there are also bracts that run along the whole length of the flower. In addition, some of these bracts overlap and some appear to be partially or mostly beneath the other bracts. So I do not know how to tell exactly which are primary bracts.

The book, Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada calls these bracts, principal bracts and states that Gall of the Earth (Prenanthes trifoliolata) will have 7-9 (usually 8) bracts and Tall Rattlesnakeroot (Prenanthes altissima) will have 4-6 (usually 5) bracts. In addition, Gall of the Earth will average 9-13 flowers in a loose panicle clusters while Tall Rattlesnakeroot will have 5-6 flowers in a cluster (usually having some axillary clusters).

Update (9/5/2011): I was able to find Gall of the Earth (Prenanthes trifoliolata) and pull apart an unopened flower to show that it had nine primary/principal bracts and nine achenes with attached pappi. See the first image on the September 5th entry for Gall of the Earth for more information on differentiating these two Prenanthes species.

Update 2 (9/14/2011): I took some pictures of a Tall Rattlesnakeroot (Tall White Lettuce) (Prenanthes altissima) and was able to confirm that it was identified correctly by counting the primary bracts. See the 2nd set of pictures dated 9/14/2011 at: http://www.transformationalgardening.com/forage/plants/prenanthes-altissima-images.html#20110914.



August 26, 2011

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) (Also known as: Swida sericea)

The other white fruited dogwood that looks similar is Gray Dogwood (Northern Swamp Dogwood) (Cornus racemosa). It has 3-5 veins on each side of the midrib while Red Osier Dogwood has 5-7 veins. Gray Dogwood has tan twigs and Red Osier Dogwood has bright red twigs. Gray Dogwood leaves are cuneate (tapering to a point) at the base and Red Osier Dogwood leaves are broadly-rounded or sometimes acute at the base.




August 27, 2011

Paleleaf Woodland Sunflower (Rough-Leaved Sunflower) (Helianthus strumosus)

Below is a list of the other sunflowers found in New Hampshire and why they are not the plant pictured:

Paleleaf Woodland Sunflower grows 36-72 inches tall. It has yellow flowers with 8-15 petals (1.5-4 cm long) and the central part of the flower is made up of numerous tiny flowers each with five petals. Flowers are 5-9 cm wide and the central disk is 1.2-2.5 cm wide. The leaves are opposite (but uppermost leaves can be alternate), have 0.5-3 cm petioles, broadly lanceolate or ovate, serrated margin teeth, 8-20 cm long by 2.5-10 cm wide, thin, scabrous (rough to touch) or hispid (short stiff hairs) on upper side and moderately short-hairy and pale green below and leaf comes to a sharp point (accuminate). Leaf base abruptly contracted and decurrent (extends downwards to the petiole. Green bract leaves are conspicuously ciliate, having long hairs on the margins.



Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

A perfect-looking specimen of Indian Pipe. I learned this Summer that Indian Pipe is edible and if you get it early, the taste is more mild. Indian Pipe has a folk use as an analgesic. Just be sure to that it is the white, single-flower Monotropa uniflora and do not confused it with one with multiple colored flowers, Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys).



Oneseed Bur-Cucumber (Sicyos angulatus)





August 28, 2011

Ditch Stonecrop (Penthorum sedoides)

Fat-looking pale yellow flowers with five petals. I added a close-up of the flower to the last picture in the table below. Leaves are alternate, sharply-toothed, narrowly oval or narrowly elliptical. Plant can grow up to 28 inches tall. Notice how the lower stem curves around for almost 12 inches before going underground.




August 29, 2011

Whorled Wood Aster (Sharp-Toothed Nodding Aster) (Oclemena acuminata) (Synonym: Aster acuminatus)





Gall of the Earth (Tall Rattlesnake Root) (Prenanthes trifoliolata)

Update: I was able to find Gall of the Earth (Prenanthes trifoliolata) and pull apart an unopened flower to show that it had nine primary/principal bracts and nine achenes with attached pappi. See the first image on the September 5th entry for Gall of the Earth for more information on differentiating Gall of the Earth and Tall Rattlesnakeroot (Prenanthes altissima).




Slender Threeseed Mercury (Acalypha gracilens)





American Burnweed (Pilewort, Fireweed) (Erechtites hieraciifolia) (Synonyms: Erechtites hieraciifolius, Erechtites hieracifolia)