Wild on the Roadside: Foraging Fridays

Short post this morning, as I am heading out to do some of the best foraging that San Francisco summer has to offer…blackberry picking! There are microclimates in the city where the berries ripen much earlier than in other parts of the Bay Area, and my sources (Hi Shane!) tell me that The Time Is Now. And the time is DEFINITELY now, since I’m supposed to be leaving for Shane’s house and I’m still in my robe writing to you. Let’s get a move on!

Jeff said I had to put this on my blog and title it: “Driving with Mary”.

Indeed, no opportunity to forage is too small! While we were in Shasta County last weekend, we had stopped the car to get something out of the back for Fern, when I grabbed the camera and skipped down the road. There was an irrigation canal running alongside the road, along with lots of berries, jimson weed, and this…

Chicory! (Chicorium intybus)

Chicory is one of the last flowers in June in hot and dry Nor Cal. They were in peak, and to be found growing along every roadside.

You’ve heard of Chicory…it’s that bitter brew you’ve undoubtedly gagged down if you have ever needed a coffee substitute. Actually, I don’t think it’s that bad, but lets not insult coffee nor chicory by comparing the two.

All parts of the plant are edible, the leaves best picked in early spring. It’s the root that is used for a beverage, where it is dry roasted, ground and then used just as you would coffee.

I was excited to pick some in a location where they have always grown, down a sweet little farm road. But when we went there, the cupboard was bare…somebody had mowed! Sad. I don’t mind really. Since I am not foraging for survival, the satisfaction is in the finding….not always in the ingesting.

Here is a video showing all parts of the plant. And a soundtrack by the Jackson 5. Your guess is as good as mine.

Here is a bloke telling you all about how to identify the leaves without the flowers (which you need for early spring)

And a video on the flower essence. Bach Flowers has a whole video series…who knew?

The Disclaimer

Think with your stomach! Do not ingest wild plants unless you are sure you have identified them correctly and are willing to take responsibility for using yourself as a guinea pig. It is SO not my responsibility if you eat the wrong thing and get poopy pants, or die. You’re an adult. you can make your own choices.

Have a great weekend! We hope to make it to the county fair today…won’t that be a story to tell!


3 thoughts on “Wild on the Roadside: Foraging Fridays

  1. You can also use dandelion root as a coffee substitute. I can’t really speak for it though, as I’ve never tried it! I would LOVE to be picking berries right now! Hopefully at the end of summer I can mosey on up the mountain to pick huckleberries…

  2. i think chicory is my very fave roadside flower….even since before i knew anything about its herbal properties….when i was a kid. i love the shy light blue blooms — a special color. it’s got this simple splendor i just fell in love with.

  3. hi mary. driving with mary sounds fun. it’s probably similar to driving with heather. i like that old looking dirt road there. with those saggy wire lines and your high socks or boots…the thought of blackberries just really made my mouth water. yumm. i’ll go settle for some caramel.

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