Wild And Edible

For a handful of area residents, a walk through the park was simply a means of experiencing nature firsthand.

On Saturday, the Jamestown Audubon Society hosted a Wild Edibles walk at Bergman Park, in which a variety of wildflower species were explored and even consumed.

The walk was part of the Audubon’s Wildflower Series, which took place throughout the month. Every week, the series consisted of a Wednesday evening lecture focusing on a variety of wildflower-related topics, followed by a Saturday afternoon walk at different locations.

The other wildflower series topics included: wildflower ABC’s, an introductory course featuring field guides and apps available for flower-seekers; the art of wildflower photography; and wildflower basics, which focused on the biology of spring flowers. The other Saturday field trips took place at Ander’s Run in Irvine, Pa., Jamestown Community College’s Hundred-Acre Lot and the College Lodge in Brocton.

This week’s topic, known as Wild Edibles, featured a discussion by Audubon teacher and naturalist, Katie Finch, on the different parts of wildflowers, and how they can be used as food. Due to a grant from the Cornell Cooperative Extension for the Wild Edibles portion of the series, the cost to participate was $7, or $5 for friends of the nature center, which was half the cost of the other weeks’ programs.

Finch, who led the walking tour at Bergman, said the idea behind the wildflower series fulfilled a host of roles for the flower enthusiast.

“I think the purpose was to help people identify wildflowers, so they know what they’re looking at, and appreciate the biology behind wildflowers. Some of them are in the ground for five to seven years before you even see the flower,” she said. “For our programs, we’ve had anywhere from six to 16 people at each walk or program. And we’ve been fairly happy with the response because it’s a pretty narrow field of focus. So, we consider (the Wildflower Series) a success.”

The walk at Bergman took place around the perimeter of the park, along the treeline, with a brief jaunt into the forest on the southern end of the park. Along the way, a variety of wildflower species were pointed out, discussed, and, in several cases, eaten. Finch gave a brief description of which types and parts of flowers were edible or inedible, as well as the flavors and smells they possess and different means of incorporating them into meals.

Some of the species the tour came across were: dandelions, field mustard, sumac, woodland phlox, burdock, Hawthorn flowers and berries, shagbark hickory, trout lilies, lily of the valley and leeks.

In the Wednesday lecture that preceded the walk, Finch talked about several concepts, such as identification and the sustainability of harvesting.

“In the lecture, I highlighted 12 different plants,” she said. “So we looked at the identification of those plants, the habitat in which they’re grown, how to harvest, when to harvest and then what to do with that afterwards; which is just as important. Because when you’ve taken time to go out and identify it and dig it up, you want to know how to eat it and for it to taste good. Because you’re harvesting food. And, not only is it a fun trailside nibble when you’re walking in the woods, it can be an accessible food to people, and part of your plate.”

The Audubon’s Wildflower Series was concluded with Saturday’s walk at Bergman.