Saturday, July 16, 2011

Foraging Days in the Forest

Photos by Josiane and Wikipedia Commons

Not only the woodland creatures and the domestic cattle found the summer satisfying to their stomachs.  Mid-July must have been a time when, for our ancestors, work blended with pleasure.  There was treasure to find in the woodlands around Irsch, Oberzerf, Serrig and the other villages where forest land had now developed several layers of plants.  Some special plants clung close to the ground, bending at knee level, some standing tall as if proud of their ability to produce, from their June flowers, delicious fruit.  A walk here meant eyes up, down, and all around.

A special find for any child was the bright, round berries.  Children in Kreis Saarburg would discover that some fruits and berries tasted delicious.  Other fruits might be distasteful, or perhaps deadly.  Safety when picking or eating berries was a thing that had to be learned.  When parents could be watchful, a child learned which berries were a treasure and which a danger.  But parents were not always with their children.  The fruits and berries in these photos are all eye-catching.  But which can be plucked and eaten right from the tree or bush?

Wild honeysuckle berries are slightly sweet but mostly seeds.  The seeds should be approached with caution as they may cause a bad reaction in some people 

Sorbus is commonly called  European Rowan or Mountain Ash.  While the fruit is quite bitter, it is high in Vitamin C.  It can be used to make a distinctive jam or flavor drinks.  Rowan jelly is often served with game and venison.

Bryonia has a berry that is poisonous, even fatally poisonous is some varieties

Bittersweet makes a nice decoration but the red fruit is poisonous

European Spindle (which turns a lovely pink color later in the late summer) is also dangerously poisonous.  Its wood is very hard and in the past was used to make spindles, hence its name

Wild blackberries are safe to eat and delicious