Monday, April 25, 2011
One old-time Mainer of my acquaintance had a stock answer to any question that began with, “Can I?” He would say in a rough, drawn-out voice, “Ya can if ya know what you’re doin’.”
Well, that generic retort comes to mind now when people ask me if they can find any number of wild, springtime edible plants. To paraphrase the above-mentioned character, I will say that yes, you can, if you know where to look.
Depending upon where you live in Maine, wild plants may or may not be available. In Mid-Coast Maine, most everything is still a tad too small, miniature versions of what is to come.
For instance, I found some curled dock today. But the entire plant would easily fit in my palm with my fist clenched. Soon, though, soon.
Along those lines, while driving along today, I saw some bloodroot in bloom. These pretty white springtime wildflowers precede ostrich fern fiddleheads and other great wild edibles by only a short time, perhaps one week. In fact, I would guess that early spots, particularly south-facing locations, would offer enough ripe fiddleheads for at least a scant meal.
So the time has almost, but not quite, arrived. Soon, it will all happen and to my mind, far too quickly. Why does nature pack everything into such a compact time span? I simply don’t know. I do know that things I would give an eyetooth for in February are wildly abundant in spring, but only for a short time.
The good news is, as one plant recedes, another takes its place. So from now until the first killing frost of fall, we have an endless succession of interesting, useful, healthful and tasty wild plants to deal with. That’s pretty neat, hey?