Go Foraging in Forest Park with "Wildman" Steve Brill
Hunt for Wild Butternuts in Forest Park
with naturalist/author "Wildman" Steve Brill
On Saturday, September 7, naturalist/author "Wildman" Steve Brill, America's go-to guy for foraging, will lead one of his world-famous foraging tours of Forest Park, in Kew Gardens, Queens. This is one of the best places for foragers in late summer. A wild, wooded park, with a large, mature forest, trailsides, thickets, and cultivated areas, it's loaded with wild plants.
This is the start of the nut season, and the butternut, is one of the best. We'll crack these flavorful nuts open with rocks, and enjoy a treat you can't buy anywhere. Due to a fungus that attacks the trees, butternuts are rare nowadays, but there's a huge tree off Park Lane South and Myrtle Ave. that often produces nuts in large quantities.
Most roots are out of season in the summer, but burdock, (http://wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Burdock.html) an expensive detoxifying herb sold in health food stores, is an exception, and it abounds in human-disturbed areas scattered throughout the park. Instead of brewing it as a tea, it's so abundant, you cook it like potatoes!
Sassafras (http://wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Sassafras.html) root, the original source of root beer, stays in season all year. You use it for tea, for making root beer, and as a cinnamon-like seasoning. Another tree we'll look for is the black birch (http://wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/BlackBirch.html). It grows in the woods, with twigs that taste like wintergreen, and provides the raw material for birch beer. You can steep the twigs in hot water to make a fabulous tea, with anti-inflammatory properties similar to aspirin. Or thicken the tea with agar, season and sweeten it, and make black birch Jello!
There are plenty of summer herbs and greens in season. We'll find mugwort, a tonic for the female reproductive system, and lamb's-quarters, which you use like its relative, spinach. We'll also be finding Asiatic dayflower, hedge mustard, poor man's pepper, lady's thumb, and wood sorrel, all great for salads, sandwiches, and soups.
Wild seeds are in season too. We'll hunt for the spicy seeds of garlic mustard, (http://wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Garlic%20Mustard.html) walnut-flavored seeds of jewelweed (http://wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Jewelweed.html) (a panacea for skin irritation—it even cures mosquito bites and prevents poison ivy (http://wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Poison%20Ivy.html) rash), and the fiery seeds of field garlic.
With lots of rain and a bit of luck, gourmet chicken mushrooms, milky mushrooms, boletes, (http://wildmanstevebrill.com/Mushrooms.Folder/Bolete.html) and russulas (http://wildmanstevebrill.com/Mushrooms.Folder/Russula.html) may be emerging.
Don't miss a fantastic tour of this vastly under-appreciated park.
The 4-hour walking tour of Forest Park begins at 11:45 AM, Saturday, September 7, at the
stone wall at Union Turnpike and Park Lane, near the Overlook Building ibn Kew Gardens.
The suggested donation is $15/adult, $10/child under 12. Please call (914)[masked] at least 24 hours in advance to reserve a place.
For "Wildman's" 2013 tour calendar and additional info, visit