This past Saturday we had an amazing group come out to Bluff Creek Park to our first guided hike! We wanted to choose a super easy place to go over basics and gauge interest in a trip to somewhere a little more rugged, and we got so much enthusiasm from those who came!

Unfortunately Jacob wasn’t able to make it due to car trouble, but Jay T Parrish did a fantastic job teaching us some foraging basics!

We went over great resources on identifying plants: from Oklahoma Wildcraft to the fantastic book Southwest Foraging we carry in store! We also went over the rule of three: make sure you can verify any plant with three resources before diving in.

Also, we learned how to test plants and mushrooms to see if they’re edible. First thing is to bring at least three references to use - multiple sources is a must. Also, using gloves is a must to safely observe plants. Having a knife to harvest and handle plants is also strongly recommended.

Here is what Jay-T shared with the class and most experts would recommend - the goal is to slowly limit contact after identifying a plant through reference as to avoid harmful contact with anything you might have an allergic reaction to!
First, picking up a plant and and then leaving it alone for an hour, see if your skin has any reaction. Limiting physical contact double checks to make sure you don’t have a basic allergy.
Next, smell the plant and see if it smells palatable. If it doesn’t smell like something you’d want to eat, it probably isn’t.
Taste it and then spit it out! After tasting it, give yourself another hour to see if you have any allergy symptoms in your mouth.
If your skin and mouth don’t have a reaction, and it tastes and smells palatable - then it’s safe to eat!
We RECOMMEND verifying with three sources beforehand, but slowly testing plants out this way is a better way before diving straight in.

If it’s a mushroom, you MUST use references! So many mushrooms look similar - edible mushrooms usually have deadly cousins - so watch out! We recommend only handling mushrooms with gloves, a knife or tool to keep it away from skin, and having multiple references to examine the fungus with.
Thinks to look for when trying to identify mushrooms:

1. Take notice of the cap or outer shell. Take note of color and texture.
2. Turn over and examine the gills underneath.
3. Bruise the cap and see if color change.
4. Place on a white piece of paper, leave overnight, then move and see what color spores were left behind.

Mushrooms are often seen as dangerous and should be completely avoided, and though there are some that aren’t edible and can be toxic to skin - with proper care and consideration they shouldn't be feared but responsibly observed.

As we walked through Bluff Creek Park we learned one very important lesson: foraging changes depending on the season! Most plants might be ready to harvest in one period of the year but completely disappear in others. But in Oklahoma’s biomes, there’s always something in each season! Also, location is so crucial. Proximity to water, elevation, terrain, human development, etc. all affect what plants will be present - and that’s not considering Oklahoma’s several biomes.

What we found on our early, early fall walk were lots of hardwood trees. We found a few ripe Sand Plums, a native Oklahoma fruit tree. We found Hackberry which can be a great snack or ground into a powder as Native tribes used them for centuries. We also found Thistles which have great roots to consume. We also found out how to successfully harvest prickly by boiling to get rid of spines.

We loved this class and are so excited to plan our next one! Have a suggestion for a class? We’d love to hear about it! Be sure to send us an email, message on Instagram, or hit us with it next time you’re in the store.

And again, thank you so much to Jay-T. Jacob, we missed you and are excited to have you out on the next one!

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