July 22, 2020

Incredible Edible Trees

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When you are out in a forest or wooded area you may notice and appreciate the abundant life a tree may give to other living things all around it. You see various creatures collecting and harvesting useful bits that will sustain it through the seasons. But, what might not be as obvious is that you, the passing human in this woodland can also find sustenance from a tree! Aside from obvious tasty fruits, sap and nuts a tree can produce, there are some less obvious edible food sources that can be found in the bark, twigs, roots and leaves. Ecology instructor and author, Jesse Vernon Trail, has written on what to look for in forest foraging, let's explore those together. 

A pine tree can provide valuable nutrition, like vitamin C, in its inner bark and a birch tree produces edible syrup, a tasty inner bark as well as young twigs for human consumption. Let's explore a few more trees that you can eat! The American Beech brings to mind a great towering shade tree, the small nuts can be eaten and the leaves in Spring can be cooked. Several trees such as the Beech and Birch, have an inner bark that can be eaten, the best method for inner bark is often a method of drying the grinding it down into a flour for baking. While it possible to create bark flour it is still a "survival food" meaning it takes great effort and offers limited yield, however, it is exciting to think that there is food around us if we need it. In fact native people and pioneers used these methods to survive. Outer Birch bark can also be eaten raw or cooked and added to many dishes either way, its sap is also usable.

If you come across a Linden tree in bloom you might use the flowers to make a tea and the young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked as a green dish. Poplar trees and Quaking Aspens can provide edible inner bark raw or cooked and ground into flour for baking. In the mood for spaghetti? Try the long inner bark strips of a Willow tree, it may not taste as good as your usual pasta plate but it will keep you alive! 

Be safe when recreating and exploring nature, take time to learn and identify what surrounds you, there is always more than meets the eye. Consider taking a nature course in edible trees and plants. You can learn more about all sorts of edible trees here too!