‘Tis the season for ripe Saskatoon berries, but there are many options for a quick snack while you are out on the trails. Supplied
While on a bike ride this weekend, I made an amazing discovery: the Saskatoon berries are ripe.
I stopped and spent a few minutes picking and eating before continuing my ride. Having the Stoney Creek Valley and so many other trees in Camrose gives us a great opportunity to go out and pick some of our own food.
Although Saskatoon berries are my personal favourite, especially in a pie, there are many other edible plants that you can find, including some things that most people would not think are edible.
First, the fruits. In addition to the many bushes sporting purple and red Saskatoons, you can find wild raspberries in the forest and strawberries close to the ground along the grass trails. The pin cherries and chokecherries are slowly ripening on their trees, though not everyone enjoys the small, bitter fruit. Rose hips don’t ripen until the fall, but the red fruits, rich in vitamin C, can be made into tea, jams, pies, or eaten raw once the hairs inside are removed. Most people have eaten hazelnuts, but don’t know that you can find them in the Stoney Creek Valley if you search hard enough.
There are also plants most people wouldn’t think of eating.
Usually, one tries to avoid stinging nettles, but soaking or boiling the young leaves removes the stinging chemicals and leaves a taste of spinach mixed with cucumber. Dandelion leaves can also be cooked or eaten raw, although you should first make sure that there has not been pesticide use in the area. Cattails, as long as the water they grow in is not polluted, have many edible parts. The pollen and ground roots are both used to make flour, the heart of the plant has been compared to asparagus, and last week I tried the green flower spike which tasted pleasantly like broccoli with a touch of lemon.
If you are not sure what a plant is, please do not eat it. It is best to consult an identification guide or use an online service to determine that a plant is safe to eat. If you want to see some of these plants in person, on July 27 there will be an event that includes berry picking, local jam sampling, and identifying a few other edible wild plants.
The Camrose Wildlife Stewardship Society event this week is about Frank Farley, a naturalist who lived in Camrose in the early 1900s and was deeply involved in many aspects of the city. His work, as well as the efforts of those he worked with and inspired, has had a lasting impact on our city. Learn about Farley’s life and legacy with Dr. Glen Hvenegaard on July 13 at 7 p.m. at the Stoney Creek Centre.
On July 20, bring your bikes and helmets for a workshop on bike maintenance led by Konrad Schellenberg before we go for a bike ride in the valley and learn some biking techniques.
Carson Hvenegaard is the Wildlife and Greenspace Stewardship Coordinator for the City of Camrose. If you have any questions regarding wildlife in Camrose or our great system of parks, contact him at 780-672-0544 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.