February in the Wood

Today I was very lucky. I went on my first foraging trip of the year today with Martin Bailey of Go Foraging in Bristol . So far this month it has rained – a lot! So I was expecting my first foraging trip to be in the rain, with a bit of sleet and hail thrown in. But, it was sunny, and we only had one small rain shower.  What a surprise.

In February there is not that much out, but there are lots of things emerging from their slumbers and poking through the ground or starting to bud. The first plant we looked at was wild garlic.

Wild garlic with flowers coming up

Lords and Ladies leaves

This plant is one of the first we can forage and enjoy. The leaves can be eaten in salads, omelettes or pasta and when the flowers bloom they can be scattered over food to add a lovely garlicky taste as well as looking great. Martin told us that we need to make sure that it isn’t mixed up with  Lords and Ladies whose leaves look similar when they start to grow as these plants are poisonous.

Another plant of interest was cleavers or sticky buds. You will probably know this plant as its seeds have sticky spikes that stick to jumpers or pet’s fur and great fun can be had sticking them on friend’s clothes! These are a used in herbal medicine as a cleansing herb and can be drunk in a tea along with nettles as a spring tonic.

There were other plants coming up including cow parsley, stinging nettles and dock leaves. All these were only just emerging so I expect Martin will tell us more about these on the next outing in March. We also found a clump of wild chives which look just like the ones you grow in the garden.

Probably the most interesting thing for me were wood ear mushrooms growing on an elder tree. They were amazing looking just like ears and they are edible.

Just before we arrived back I came across the amazing willow tree which had fallen down but was still alive as its leaves were coming out and pussy willows were sprouting out from it which you can see at the top of this post..

What a fantastic morning, especially the wonderful soup and herbal tea Martin brought with him.

Can’t wait for next time.