The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) hardly needs an introduction. It is one of only a few plants that the vast majority of those inhabiting temperate climates worldwide can easily recognize. Many of these same people are very likely to have interacted with dandelions in a meaningful way as well, whether as a child wishing upon the wispy seed heads or frustratingly attempting to remove them from a garden.
Yet as you will see, this lowly weed is not only both edible & medicinal but is also an excellent conduit in which we may learn about ourselves as a species, how we have fundamentally changed the world’s ecology and how we should best react to our changing environments and landscapes. Understanding the life cycle of and experiencing dandelions first hand as an edible or medicinal herb will help to shed light on what this one plant among countless others can teach us.
The hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata) is a large shrub or small tree native to swaths of low-lying regions of Eastern North America that is quite rare in Ontario, restricted to a few localities along the north and eastern shores of Lake Erie, most notably Long Point Provincial and Point Pelee Provincial Parks where it grows along sandbars or beaches. (more…)
A new year means another new home brew, in particular another pale ale overflowing with ultra-piny yarrow blossoms and a generous helping of complimentary hops to add some flavors and aromas of citrus and coniferous woods. I’m really getting into the swing of home brewing on a regular basis now, mainly because there is a lack of outdoor activities that I am willing to participate in this time of the year but also because I’d like to be able to enjoy a regular supply of (hopefully) delicious home brewed beer. (more…)
Highbush cranberry is one of those plant names that, as an amateur botanist, fills me with a number of conflicting but equally reasonable emotions. It is one of those names that when taken in a literal context appears to be bewilderingly inaccurate and deliberately misleading but when observed under a different connotation is filled with a cultural charm that reveals much about the way we perceive and relate to the world, and perhaps even more importantly, how we communicate our understanding of that world to others. (more…)
Fomes fomentarius, known by more readily decipherable names as tinder or hoof fungus, is a perennial polypore fungi that is indigenous to most regions of North America, Europe, North Africa and Asia. Despite it’s drab, mundane and seemingly uninteresting appearance that many of us have unknowingly passed by in the forests that we stroll through from time to time, this species possesses a rich ethnomycological significance to ancient societies that dwarfs that of some other more rambunctious fungi that we may commonly associate with today. (more…)