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What to forage in spring in the Pacific Northwest

In the Pacific Northwest, there are spring flowers, tasty leaves, salty seaweeds and savoury mushrooms that come up from March to May.  The wonderful thing about harvesting your own ingredients is the journey it takes you on, out into the fields and forests to explore and then home to your kitchen to cook with family and friends. Here is my list of favourite spring treats with a few tips on where to find them to help you on your foraging travels.  Or if you’d rather someone else do the picking, Chef Robin has a Spring Forage Supper coming up April 16th if you want to share in her harvest.  More Info!

Wild Mushrooms:

  1. Morels (Morchella spp.) : Look for these in garden compost, the sides of forest paths or in forest burn sites.
  2. Spring Kings (Boletus rex-veris) : These fungi are closely associated with Pine tree forests
  3. Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.) : Find them clustering on dead alder and cottonwood trees
  4. Shaggy Manes (Coprinus comatus) : They love urban grassy areas like boulevards
  5. Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus spp.) : Grow on dead wood from conifer stumps to ornamental cherry trees

Spring Shoots:

  1. Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata): Sunny coastal rocky bluffs
  2. Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica): Moist, shady areas, they can grow everywhere urban and wild places
  3. Sheeps Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) : Sunny meadows and coastal bluffs
  4. Sea asparagus (Salicornia pacifica) : Tidal flats

Edible Flowers:

  1. Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum): These sunny coastal shrubs like rocky bluffs
  2. Elderflower (Sambucus spp.): Gather the blossoms from the sides of logging roads or mountain paths, when the sea level blossoms are done, go up in elevation to find more!
  3. Maple blossoms: Find a maple tree! The flowers are green, crunchy and taste a bit like almond.

Seaweeds:

  1. Sea lettuce (Ulva spp.) – Transparent green blades are easily found in the mid tidal zone on rocky shores.
  2. Bullwhip Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) – Sustainably harvest healthy looking seaweed washed up on the beach! 

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