Forage Friday #58 Ground Ivy

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Ground Ivy 4220a”. All of the photos found on my blog are my original work and are available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

I have only recently discovered that Ground Ivy is in fact edible. I have not eaten it in any qualities at this point and therefore can’t really attest to quality it provides.

In the end, my Forage Friday posts are only presented as trivia and should not be mistaken for an endorsement of treatment when medicinal herbs are discussed.

I never cease to be amazed by the bounty of nature. The Appalachian Mountains are almost a garden of Eden. When most Americans look to the landscape for nourishment we have a tendency to ask how the indigenous peoples may have used a plant. I suppose that’s because of the Thanksgiving story about the failed crops and it’s true that the natives had to rescue the colonial settlers. But we have to remember that they were aliens in a landscape with a that most of their seed was not adapted to. A few of the plants they brought with them have actually done so well that they’re now considered invasive “weeds”. Such is the case with Ground Ivy.

Image Titled “Ground Ivy 41620a” shows just how prolific Ground Ivy can be.

Once it has a foothold ground ivy is tenacious! It will spread out and set root at every opportunity. At this point I have not learned if it was brought here on purpose or by accident. Two things make me think that the herb was brought here on purpose.

1. The Anglo-Saxon name for this plant is “Alehoof” which is said to mean “Ale-herb. And, it was a prime ingredient for brewing before hops was adapted.

2. The accidental import theory is that it traveled here in the stomach of livestock. But ground ivy is toxic to livestock so it wouldn’t be a good fodder and most livestock don’t like the taste of ground ivy and wouldn’t have eaten it.

So it looks like it was intentionally brought aboard the ships.

Ground Ivy is said to be rich in Iron, potassium and Vitamin C as well as flavonoids common to the mint family and the square stem on Ground Ivy puts it in the mint family. Because it’s an evergreen herb it would have been available as a good source all year round.

Historically it was not only added to ale but also to jams and marinades. According to a couple of online sources Ground Ivy mixes well with Garlic, honey and lemon, sesame, the cheese and clove. It’s main function seems to be as a seasoning and more than source suggested using it on grilled meat.

Image Titled Ground Ivy 51920a. Although a creeping plant it does bolt from time to time.

As a medicinal herb ground ivy has a reputation for use with lung ailments and bronchitis like most members of the mint family. According to the USDA/NRCS Ground Ivy has been used to treat disorders of the the bladder and kidneys, digestive problems, gout, coughs and colds, poor vision, tinnitus, partial insanity, asthma and jaundice and much more. (They even say that a wreath woven from ground ivy and other herbs strengthens the eyes enough to reveal witches that might be hiding in your village according to the Swiss. )

Several sources also warned that pregnant women should avoid ground ivy because it can cause a miscarriage which makes me think it’s got some strong phytosterols too.

Another warning comes from my personal experience. The ground ivy seems to provide a good habit for spiders. While obtaining some of tonight’s photos I managed to get a mild spider bite. No super hero powers (Just my luck) but a lot of itching. The bite completely healed in about 3 weeks with the aid of antibiotics and I only mentioned it to encourage you to be cautious. We do have black widows and brown recluse in my area but thankfully it seems to have been just a plain old jumping spider that got me.

This little guy isn’t quite as friendly as Lucas the Spider on YouTube. This isn’t the exact spider that bit me but it’s the same species that I suspect did the biting.

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

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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.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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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.

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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

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Forage Friday #52 Star Chickweed

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Star Chickweed 32420” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve reached week 52 of Forage Friday having not missed a week due to lack of subject matter. The was a few times when something prevented the post but wasn’t because of not having a plant to talk about. When I started Forage Friday I thought that I would run out of subject matter in the winter months. But what I learned was that if you look hard enough that you’ll find what you need when you need it. And that’s one of awesome things about Chickweed! It’s one of the early Spring forage plants.

I was first introduced to Chickweed by my grandfather during one of walks to check the fence line. Chickweed was huge blessing to people in the great depression. But the time it shows up the winter stores of home canned food would have been running low. Every meal in late winter would have shown how few mason jars were left on the shelf. Then one day the snow melts and reveals a thick mat of fresh greens. Grandpa said it was enough to make you drop to your knees and give thanks right there one the spot.

A thick mat of Chickweed in early Spring.

As the name suggests Chickweed was often fodder for livestock as well as the family. In our modern world with its frozen dinners we tend to forget that our ancestors not only had to feed themselves but also had to make sure that the animals were well fed and healthy.

Chickweed is a veritable nutrition bomb!! If you could turn a leaf over and read a label you’d see vitamins A, C & several of the B vitamins. You’re also getting a trainload of minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorus and potassium. Of course like all plants this is going to depend on the soil health.

Chickweed can be eaten raw and goes well with other forage plants. I recommend wild purple violets for the color and sweetness of pedals. Chickweed can have a strong flavor but it’s a plant to be consumed for it’s benefits as it replenishes a lot of nutrition that can be lost over the winter.

Medicinal information about any wild plants found on this blog is given in a historical context and not intended to be medical advice on any level. Remember, I’m a photographer and not a doctor.

Herbalists say that preparations of Chickweed help with constipation and other stomach/bowel problems. Lung troubles, obesity and even rabies. Salves made with Chickweed are recommended by herbalism for skin problems like eczema and I have personally used it to relieve itching from bug bites.

Chickweed is often found growing with Speedwell

Chickweed is often found growing with Speedwell and Speedwell is said to have similar uses. ( Speedwell is to be covered in an upcoming post. )

The Chickweed flowers look really similar to the False Rue Anemone that featured in the previous two posts but if you look at anther you see that they don’t quite make a crown shape as with False Rue Anemone and they’re a reddish brown as opposed to bright yellow. The flowers themselves are also a bit smaller. The leaves of Chickweed are not mitten shaped like those of False Rue Anemone.

Chickweed is a blessing in hard times and could be considered a luxury in good times.

As always I’ve only given enough here to get the conversation going so if you have a personal experience with Chickweed I’d love to hear about it. Just let me know in the comments section below. 😊

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that graduation will be here before you know it. Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!!

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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.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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!❤

Forage Friday #40 Greenbriers

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Greenbrier Berries 122719” and was taken specifically for this article. All of the photos are my original work and are available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Although I chosen to use the cluster of greenbrier berries as tonight’s feature image I wasn’t really able to find a wide variety of references to the food value of the berries themselves. Greenbriers produce edible roots, shoots and leaves and while the berries may not be poison they do contain a large seed and I’m not sure what th e flavor of the berry might be like.

I have never taken the time to sit down and watch the old movie “Calamity Jane” but I understand that’s where the quote “Make mine a sarsaparilla” came from. In the 1800s Charles Elmer Hires made his mark on American culture with Root Beer which was often referred to as “sarsaparilla” but actually didn’t contain any of the plant that gives real sarsaparilla it’s flavor. Instead he used a mixture of birch oil and Sassafras to create his brew. It was a huge success until 1960 when the US Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of Safrole. (The substance that gives Sassafras it’s flavor and is also found in black pepper as well as nutmeg.) However, in other countries the true Sarsaparilla plant which has been used since the 16th century continued to be the soft drink of choice. That plant is one of about 300 species of greenbrier. And that brings me to tonight’s post.

As I researched the article I learned that greenbrier based soft drinks widely available and very popular in other countries. So much so that I’m a little surprised that Americans haven’t been growing smilax ( The greenbrier genus) commercially ourselves.

In the Spring, the soft new growth of the vine is free of thorns. To harvest the new shoots simply locate the uppermost thorn and begin flexing the stem while slowly working your way to the top. When you reach the point where the woody fibers end the tip will naturally break off in your hand. The shoot is tender enough to eat raw right there on the spot. It’s flavorful too. I have enjoyed this myself and it tastes a little like asparagus. It’s also fun to joke with those who don’t forage about being tough enough to chew on briers. I’ve not tried them steamed or boiled but they’re said to be excellent when cooked and buttered.

Next is the leaves. Young leaves like the stem are tender enough to eat raw and go great in a “wild child” salad. They can also be cooked like spinach and served as a pot herb.

But the real harvest is the root crop. Smilax roots are fibrous and those fibers need to come out. It’s a little bit of a process but once you dig up the root it should be peeled like a potato and crushed under water. Allow the starch to settle out in the bottom of the container and gently pour off the water with the floating fibers. The starch on the bottom can be used like flour and can be used immediately or dried and saved for later. This powder is kinda special among starches. By adding a tablespoon of the dry red powder to each cup boiling water you can make a nice jelly. Or by diluting it and chilling it you get the aforementioned soft drinks ( minus the carbonation). I’m guessing that either product will require sweetening. The starch can also be added to soups and stews as a thickening agent.

I have not been able to confirm that greenbrier root contains the Safrole like nutmeg, back pepper and the banned sassafras but if not then it just a wild forage plant but a potential commercial crop for niche markets.

The most popular type of Sarsaparilla is the Jamaican variety but the best variety in North America is the Bull Brier. From my experience it has the fewest thorns and the best flavor.

The late Fall leaves of a Bull Brier showing the different shapes of the leaves.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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=238248269630914251Lastly, 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!