Saturday, June 14, 2014

Wild Edibles at Thousand Acre Swamp Sanctuary, Penfield

Does it taste good? Is it good for you? Find out what natural foods are in the Swamp as Frank Crombe and Carl Herrgesell walk us through this property of the Central and Western New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy at 1581 Jackson Road between Atlantic Avenue and Plank Road, opposite Penfield Center Road.  The driveway to the sanctuary parking lot is shared with the Penfield Volunteer Ambulance.  Please be prompt to get to the parking lot.
Thousand Acre Swamp on facebook
WOW!  What a walk!  Here are plenty of photos from this tasty adventure in the Thousand Acre Swamp.  Surprisingly, I was even able to identify many plants before learning of their nutritional value.  - Laura

Seven Canandaigua Botanical Society members met up with about 30 other people for the Wild Edibles walk at Thousand Acre Swamp in Penfield, NY.

Frenk Crombe and Carl Herrgesell introduced Jan Miller who told us about  The Nature Conservancy.
Carl Herrgesell, Jan Miller, and Frank Crombe
Carl, Frank, and Marie Heerkins


Frank told us that the Thousand Acre Swamp is an alkaline swamp of about 600 acres in the Hipp Brook watershed leading to Irondequoit Creek.  “Edible” was defined as species that can be eaten for nourishment gains.

They shared a “trunk full” of guides and recommended Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America as a must.  They recommended checking online advice, cross checking EVERYTHING, and being aware of look a likes.

One of our newest members, Marie Heerkins, reminded us that Dr. Bruce Gilman was actually a founder of the Thousand Acre Swamp. Marie urged us to “KNOW POISONOUS" species and shared the Field Guide to American Mushrooms (which she illustrated).  Timing can also be essential to knowing when a species is edibility or toxic.

 Because of the large number of people, Frank and Carl took two separate groups through the swamp walk. Frank stood at the entrance to the trail to tell us about trillium as a white salad plant and some information about NYS protected ferns and trillium.  We talked about common milkweed which can be eaten after cooking: stalks when young, flowers early on, and pods less than 2 inches.  Dogbane was identified as a milkweed look a like that should NOT be eaten.
 We identified poison ivy on the ground and climbing trees.  Poison ivy comes from the name “stick that makes you sore”. Frank told us about Jewel weed (Touch-Me-Not) as an antidote for the itchy results of poison ivy.  Jewel weed gets silver when wet and is edible.
pointing out poison ivy
Jewel weed

Multiflora Rose – 7 leaves.  Rosehips are edible, like a berry, very seedy, lowers blood pressure, vitamin C, from Asia.  Grown in NJ roadside medians so thick that cars can’t penetrate them.

Wild grape: good source of water
 Box Elder: Leaves look similar to poison ivy.  Poison ivy has alternate veins while box elder has opposite veins.  One gallon of syrup can be made from 60-80 gallons of box elder sap.  Box elders have a distinctive 1 ring per year.



Swallow wort: NOT edible

Goat’s beard (oyster plant): YES edible, Deer resistant

Mugwort (wormwood): from Asia, has medicinal qualities – looks like goose foot

Daisy (days eyes): We enjoyed the leaves which had a green bean taste to them

Garlic mustard growing low to ground and gone to seed – yes edible

Sapling hickory: alternate, compound, buds in June, shagbark, yellow in fall, hardwood great for burning, deep tap root


Sensitive fern: fiddle heads, bracken, not protected in NY

Curly dock: not native, yes edible, bitter
Horse tail, scouring rush, equisetum, has medicinal qualities

Frank spoke about the forget-me-nots…but I didn’t write down (or remember) what he had to share.

Crab apple: yes edible

Violets: YES whole plant is edible

Sticky weed, bed straw, woodsman corsage: NOT edible (we saw both but this one pictured is native as it does not have the “Velcro” quality)

Colts foot: Yes edible, salt substitute, medicinal, non-native

Plantain: same name but different than the banana.  Common weed that is edible and has medicinal qualities. 

Carrot parsley is not edible and it can be a look-alike to queen lace carrot that is edible

Duck weed: YES edible

Blue flag iris: NOT edible

Yellow loosestrife, swamp candles, NOT edible
 Cattails: supermarket of the swamp.  Pull out young roots and eat like asparagus – tastes like cucumber seeds.  Barrel makers use cattails between plats, can be used for mats and woodland torches.  Narrow leaf – male and female
 Evening night shade – NOT edible – from the potato family

 Spicebush: YES edible and medicinal, good all around agriculture for insects and birds, leaves and stems have pleasant aroma
Checking the trail markers

Herb Robert:  This pleasant little plant of the geranium family is considered edible by some as well as medicinal.  Rubbing leaves on your skin can repel mosquitoes and the entire plant repels rabbits and deer.

Blue cohosh, papoose root: medicinal but not edible

Jack-In-Pulpit: edible dried and cooked, but not a first choice as it can cause a burning sensation.  Also known as Indian turnip it can cause more harm than good

Ginger: yes edible

Swamp wild current: rare in this area

Christmas fern: leaves look like Christmas stockings and fern stays green throughout the year.  NOT edible

Linden tree, basswood, doesn’t leave ashes when burned, nonsymmetrical heart shaped leaves, excellent honey from linden flower blossoms, basswood tea

Cottonwood/poplar tree: Yes edible in many forms


Looking at a gall from a dogwood leaf

1 comment:

  1. Hi, in your picture labeled as 'Stickyweed', I can't help but note that stickyweed is the name for [Galium Aparine]. Whilst it has no barbs as I believe it is actually [Galium Odoratum]. I may be wrong, but I would like to share my botanical knowlage... Enjoy your day!