Forage Friday #75 Barberry

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Barberry In Spring” and was taken especially for Forage Friday. All of the photos found on my blog are my original work and are available for purchase through the contact page by clicking on the thumbnail image.

Tonight’s Forage Friday post is about plant that is considered edible, medical and toxic. It’s important to remember that my Forage Friday posts are presented as trivia and should not be mistaken for an endorsement of treatment of treatment. I’m only giving you an introduction to the plants and you should do farther research and/or a qualified mentor.

Last Spring I spotted something on my father’s land that I had never paid much attention to before. The compact shrub with maroon leaves stands out against the cool jade background. Had this plant been planted in the right place and groomed well it would make an attractive addition to the yard. This particular shrub is well known in urban and suburban areas. It’s a Japanese Barberry. While this an alien species in the Appalachian Mountains it has become naturalized along with a European variety. We do also have a native species in North America. As far as I can tell all of the species have similar qualities and can probably be used interchangeably.

First let’s look at berry itself. All sources agree that they are rich in Vitamin C like many wild edibles. A 1/4 cup of dried berries is said to contain %213 of a person’s daily value. With such a small quantity required for that value that means the dried fruit can be tossed into a trail mix or used in teas to provide an extra boost of nutrition. Additionally, the berries provide zinc, manganese, copper, and iron as well as some sugars, fiber and protein. Traditional uses include treatments for digestive problems and applied to skin problems. Part of those benefits probably come from the high concentrations of vitamin C. I remember reading several years ago that vitamin C can be applied directly to a minor cut in order to prevent infection.

Native Americans used the native species as part of kinnikinnick. In fact the world is both their name for Barberry and the name of an herbal tobacco preparation. Recipes vary depending on the tribe and individual tastes but in general the stuff in those pipes was not pure tobacco as it used today. It contained Barberry, Staghorn Sumac,tobacco, various mints and other herbs.

The main component found in Barberry is an alkaloid called Berberine. In addition to being a powerful antioxidant Berberine may have a positive impact on the cells ability to utilize insulin. Something that’s of particular interest to me since I’m a type 2 diabetic with insulin resistance. Anything that I can do to avoid artificial pharmaceuticals always piques my interest. ( please remember the disclaimer at the top of the article.) Especially in the age of Covid when the supply chain coming into remote areas could easily be disrupted.

The list of possible uses for this plant also included anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial mouthwash.

As I review the research for tonight’s article I’m seeing a lot of ads for Barberry based supplements and health products as well as nurseries selling the plants as landscape enhancements. I don’t have a figure to quote tonight but if the amount of advertising is any indication Barberry has the potential to become a plant for industrial production with the berries being sold to bulk suppliers of supplement industry and excess plants sold as landscaping. It’s one of the plants that can take us from a wilderness survival standpoint to a cash crop.

That’s about it for tonight. The only other factoid I have to share is that it’s found in urban areas which makes it a possibility for the urban forager but the caveat is that in urban areas the plants are likely to be contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals so extreme caution needs be used there.

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Forage Friday #74 Thistle

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled Thistle In Full Bloom 90120″ and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Please remember that Forage Friday is only intended to be a conversation starter and all of the information is presented as trivia.

The first time I read about Thistle as a wild edible was in one of Tom Brown Jr.’s books about wilderness survival. He describes how it was hot and thirsty and his mentor peeled the stem of a Thistle and bit into it. When he did it was so full of water that it sprayed out from the bite. The story goes on to describe how juicy and refreshing raw Thistle can be. My own experience was a little less satisfactory. First of all the Thistle that I tried was bitter and stringy. In those days there was no smartphones and the fledgling internet had little information. Blogging hadn’t really caught on and most websites were nothing more than an online business card with an address and a phone number. Fortunately for me the public library was the best place to access the internet and so it was just as convenient and quick to go to the card catalog and look up a book on the subject. That’s how I learned that not all Thistles are equal. All Thistles are technically edible but they differ in quality. What I had was what is seen in tonight’s feature image. Bull Thistle. Also, part of the problem was that I had waited until they were fully mature and that certainly changes the experience. What was needed was a young plant and not bull Thistle but Milk Thistle. From what I understand Bull Thistle has every benefit of Milk Thistle it’s just not as pleasant flavored.

If you do your foraging in a local supermarket you’ll find Thistle in the form of a commercial standardized extract. In 2018 890 tons Milk Thistle extract was sold into the supplement market and that’s not counting the seeds that are sold as fodder for songbirds. Most people who use any type of Thistle are doing so as an aide to liver function and even the Native Americans used it to support healthy digestion as well as a treatment for arthritis due to it’s anti-inflammatory affect.

Image Titled “Among The Prickles 90820BW” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Of course if we foraging anywhere other than than the local supermarket we’re going to need to deal with the thorns. If you’re very careful all you really need is a good pocket knife. However, I recommend you also have a good set of gloves and maybe even welding gloves that cover the arm as well as the hand. The thorns are fierce enough to cause permanent eye damage so a decent set of safety glasses might be in order as well.

Those mean thorns are really the only part of the Thistle that is not edible. Then entire plant from the roots to the seeds may be consumed. The roots are said to taste like Jerusalem artichoke or Burdock roots. The stem and midrib of the leaves can be eaten raw but are better as a sautee as is the the flowerhead. Be certain to remove all the thorns!

The seeds are collected when the down appears. To remove the down simply rub the seeds between your hands and winnow them in same manner as separating wheat from chaff. It’s suggested by multiple sources to use an electric coffee grinder to coarsely grind the seeds and sprinkle them on other foods.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that Thistle sprouts might be another option if you have enough bulk seed to make it worth the effort. I would recommend sprouting them like any other herb. It can be as simple as placing the seeds between damp paper towels and leaving them in a warm spot where they can germinate.

Why go to all that trouble? Well, wild plants can be richer in nutrition than even garden veggies. Thistle is high in fiber, protein, calcium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. All of this depends on what’s available in the soil of course but presuming the ground is suitable for gardening the Thistle is better able to accumulate these minerals.

We’ve recently seen how fragile the normal supply chain can be. If you’re a person who has been buying supplements in the store then it makes sense to identify alternative resources just in case. All the better if you have a small space to allow some wild plants to flourish. And if nothing else Thistles will attract butterflies and others pollenators with its flowers and songbirds with its seed.

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Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!

Forage Friday #73 Japanese Honeysuckle

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Japanese Honeysuckle 61620” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Please remember that Forage Friday is only intended to be a conversation starter and all of the information is presented as trivia and should not be mistaken for an endorsement of treatment of treatment.

Mostly associated with early Spring and Summer Japanese Honeysuckle in known for its overwhelmingly sweet scent. Some people are actually sent into an asthmatic episode by it Japanese Honeysuckle because of three strong fragrance. But for the rest of the world this invasive species does hold some benefits.

Like many of the invasive species in the Appalachian Mountains Japanese Honeysuckle was brought here in 1800s as an ornamental plant and as a ground cover. The rabbits and deer soon found out the flowers were quite tasty and even the hummingbirds are fond of sweet nectar from honeysuckle. The flowers themselves can also be consumed by humans. As a young boy I learned that pinching the flowers of at the base allowed one to suck out the nectar deep inside.

The flower can be added to salads but us most recognized as a medicinal tea. Traditional uses for the tea are centered around sore throat and bronchitis. However Japanese contains Methyl caffeate which according to the Wikipedia article may help both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. ( I should point out that I’m not giving advice here and that Wikipedia article was a little beyond my understanding.) In short my layman’s perspective is that it makes one more sensitive to insulin and that could lead to bottoming out. Which is a good reason to pay attention to the disclaimer at the top of the article.

Traditional Chinese use includes skin infection and tumor necrosis.

Eating the berries was not recommended only the flowers are used.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

To book me simply reach out using the Contact Page and we’ll set a date. If you’re within a 50 mile radius of Summersville West Virginia all travel fees are waived.

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Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

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I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!

Forage Friday #72 Water

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Living Waters 82520” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Water, water, every where.

Nor any drop to drink.

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

A warm breeze rustled the turning leaves as Little Elk Creek rippled it’s way towards the Gauley River. Over pebble and over stone it winds its way from the top of the mountain. A historical marker sign on the Nicholas County and Fayette County border says this is the path that Pocahontas traveled to reach John Rolfe in Virginia. In my imagination I see her treading softly along the creek bank in my yard on her way to meet her lover. In her bundle is a small birch bark container. She steps down into ditch near one of the deeper pools and dips her cup into the water to enjoy a moment of harmony in nature and have a drink. Hollywood has done a fantastic job of creating in our minds the image of a pristine forest where people have no fear of things like cryptosporidium and brain eating amoebas. Unfortunately it wasn’t always possible to find a clean source of water.

The Native Americans knew full well that a person could get sick from drinking wild water. The records indicate that they had a large number of botanical treatments to heal people who became sick from waterborne illnesses. We also have records of some of the ways that they would have purified water. When a fire was practical they boiled it. If they were at base camp then it’s likely that a clay pot would be used. But that would awkward to transport on the trail and so a pan made from birch bark would fit the bill. As long as the bark container is full of water it will not burn.

Most people today drink water that has been chemically treated and filtered. The use of sand to filter water goes back to ancient times and some people still use this method today. Adding a little charcoal to a couple of layers of the sand will also help to filter water.

Some trees like Sycamore are natural water filters. The method of collecting fresh water from a tree is the same for collecting sap for maple syrup. Simply tap the tree and as long as the sap is flowing you can fill a bucket. But not all trees would be suitable because the sap just isn’t pleasantly flavored. Tree of heaven for example is absolutely terrible smelling. Maple, Sycamore and birch would be my choices.

Drinking water from a vine is one that we see on T.V. and movies. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this too. I’m only comfortable with drinking from grape vines. To best of my knowledge all of the other woody vines in West Virginia are toxic. But don’t cut the root end of the. Find the roots and trace the vine up the tree until you find where it comes back down the tree. Cut off the tip and place a thumb on the end. Shake the vine a few times and when you take your thumb off of the end water will flow out.

Image Titled “Driving In The Rain 82220”.

Rain is a great resource for fresh water. I remember my grandfather Dempsey drinking rainwater that collected in a woiden barrel.

There’s also wells an cisterns and ice in winter.

I focused on the sources of wild water and really only touched on the purifying processes. Filtering and boiling is always a good idea and the simplest way to to make wild water potable.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

To book me simply reach out using the Contact Page and we’ll set a date. If you’re within a 50 mile radius of Summersville West Virginia all travel fees are waived.

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

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If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!

Joy On Wings

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Simple Blessings 80420” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Joy travels on wings of ebony and blue. Nimbly dodging the twigs and thorns she makes her way through the shrubs.

She avoids the silken threads with the greatest skill and with delicate grace rises above her troubles.

Her existence is an aerial dance through the landscape and her ultimate expression of life.

I sometimes wonder what the Lord was thinking at her creation.

It shall be a humble worm.

It shall be regeneration and change.

It shall be rebirth in beautiful living color.

It shall be swift.

It shall be the sweetness on a balmy breeze.

It shall be innocence.

It shall be loved and it shall be an expression of my joy.

Life is meant to be all these things and more. Find your joy and live in it.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

To book me simply reach out using the Contact Page and we’ll set a date. If you’re within a 50 mile radius of Summersville West Virginia all travel fees are waived.

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

https://www.facebook.com/aviewfromthelens/

If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!❤