Butternut (Juglans cinerea)
An early ripening nut in the walnut family. This nut is more oblong and milder tasting than the walnut.
I did not harvest this plant, but the friends that did were told what they had by a native to these mountains. That person claimed that branch lettuce was becoming rare due to over harvesting. It can be eaten raw in a salad, or cooked in bacon fat.
The autumn olive, as usual, is producing controversially bumper crops!
This invasive species is ripe from late summer (now) into early fall. Each bush varies in flavor and sweetness throughout the season. It is not difficult to harvest gallons per hour making this a good berry to put away for throughout the year.
Although it is not a berry it is considered aggregate it's bright red color makes it easy to spot and it's wonderful sweet tart taste makes it hard to gather. I tend to eat more than I gather. Three cups can be enough for a pie or muffins,Jam, or you can eat them in only a few minutes. It does not seem to have a preference to shade or sun although some sun adds to the size and sweetness. We are around 3000 ft. though I have seen them at higher elevations.It is a non native coming from China through Europe. Considered by some to be invasive. One of my favorite berries.Prefers slopes with good drainage and woodsy soil.
Not surprisingly with all the rain, mushrooms are popping out all over. Chanterelles are just starting their season which should go on for a couple of months especially if the rain continues. Look in the wet woods along the banks of creeks and trails. I'm also finding the edibles Lactarius volemus and Hedgehogs or Hydnum repandum, a tooth fungi. Both very tasty. Black trumpet is out there too. Check your books and don't eat anything unless you're sure. Go out on a foray with someone who knows. Lots of other interesting fungi all over the woods even if you can't eat them. Great fun.
The walnut is a delicacy known throughout Europe. Picked before ripening in early Summer these nuts can be pickled or made into a delicious and healing black walnut liqueur. Of course, the ripe nuts later in the season are delicious as well.
The longstanding traditions and uses of these nuts in Europe must be paralleled by uses in the Appalachain region? I have not heard of many stories to that effect though... With the abundance of Black Walnut trees in the Blue Ridge, it is about time we start using these nuts in a variety of ways!
After high temperatures in the 80's for a couple of weeks, we finally got a reprieve of low 70's. My son and I took the opportunity to wade through brambles and thick weed growth to gather these delicious berries along a fence line. They were not overly sweet, due I'm sure, to recent rain. They also seemed a bit smaller than last year. We managed to harvest enough for 3 pints of jam, leaving quite a few to continue to ripen.
Well, if you haven't ever experienced the sweet nectar of a honey suckle bloom then you had one deprived childhood! I'm joking, but if you haven't, you should go snatch one off the vine, gently nip the butt-end of the flower with your incisors and suck the nectar to your tongue. Every time I do it, it brings back memories of long lazy summer days as a 10 year old navigating thickets and crossing fences.
Sweet Cherry: Prunus avium
Ripe in Independence, but only a few on the trees due to a late frost. Disappointing because they are delicious!
Headed up to Whitetop we saw plenty of wood nettles along side the roads and trails.
I'm always glad to see wild strawberry blooms along a trail in the spring, but I get ecstatic when I find a patch in the summer that is ripe for picking. Maybe it is that they are hard to come by and tiny and that I usually come across them in the serenity of a Blue Ridge meadow, but my taste buds tell me that they are ten times better than a farmed clunker from Florida. A little burst of citric acid and sugar on a summer day.
Beautiful flush on fallen log (2' diameter or so) beside trail -- thick along 15' or so of the log.
Accidental finding made a wonderful meal!
Sunny day -- sporadic rain several days before, but not terribly heavy. Log well rotted and wet throughout.