Foraging around in Falls Village

Andy Dobos led a group on a successful search for edible wild plants at Great Mountain Forest.

Patrick L. Sullivan

Foraging around in Falls Village

Andy Dobos of Forest Wolf Programs led a group around the perimeter of Great Mountain Forest’s chestnut orchard on Undermountain Road in Falls Village on a chilly Saturday morning, April 13, in search of edible plants.

He started with Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as wild carrot.

This was a good plant to start with because it’s common and relatively easy to identify, he said.

“Relatively” easy.

Dobos said when he was first learning about plant identification it took him a year to learn how to identify Queen Anne’s Lace in all four seasons.

“It took another year to be confident about it.”

Throughout the presentation, Dobos stressed caution in ingesting wild plants.

He said most plants that are toxic to humans will be easy to identify by the taste.

“Most toxic plants taste really bad,” he said cheerfully. “You’re going to know.”

Except for mushrooms, where toxic varieties are harder to differentiate from edible varieties by taste.

The rule of thumb: “Know what it is before you swallow.”

Walking with the group of about a dozen people, Dobos spotted and delivered impromptu lectures on mustard garlic and trout lily, passing samples around and encouraging the participants to examine them closely without actually eating them.

He had some advice for the group on sources of information about plants.

He said he uses Peterson Field Guides, saying they are good for identifying plants, but the information on edibility is sparse.

He also recommended Samuel Thayer’s “Forager’s Harvest” and “Nature’s Garden.”

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