I knew there were a lot of wild edibles in the area but never knew just how many, too many to count. This is a long overdue post about a plant walk we went on in April, 2015 with Greg Hovander and a dozen or so other people from the area. Greg is a Pharmacist at the Sultan Pharmacy and an expert mycologist. He’s also very knowledgeable about wild edibles and medicinal plants. He plans these walks about twice a year but it’s hard to find any information about them because they aren’t really advertised. I only heard about it through a local Facebook group. To sign up, you just need to call the Sultan Pharmacy and ask about any planned plant walks. He has a blog, Hovander Mycology and Edibles, but it doesn’t appear to be updated very regularly.
I tried to keep track of all the different plants we discovered by writing them down and taking photos of what we harvested but there were so many it was hard to keep track. I managed to write down over 30 of them along the journey and in between photographs.
Our first stop was the Sultan High School and not some place I would have expected there to be an abundance of plants. Little did I know, they have a nature trail on the property with all sorts of wild edibles and wild life. We actually saw a few deer roaming around. At the high school alone, we harvested agarikon mushrooms, turkey tail mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, reindeer lichen, sheep sorrel, plantain, miner’s lettuce, salmon berry blossoms (too early for fruit but the blossoms are also edible), sword fern, bracken fern, fiddle head ferns, chickweed, ox-eye daisy, mustard greens and flowers, chamomile, St John’s Wort and stinging nettle.
We headed East on Hwy 2 and on our way to the next stop we pulled over and dug out some cattail stems from a swamp. Luckily someone in the group had some waders in his truck and harvested some for everyone.
We continued East and stopped somewhere near Baring for our next adventure and found a bunch more things to add to our collection bags and learned of some plants to avoid. Here, we collected vanilla leaf, lady slipper, Star-flowered Solomon’s Seal, violets (avoid the false violets which have shinier leaves), hooker’s fairy bell, licorice fern, trillium, lily of the valley, avens, ginger flowers, vinca, cat’s ear (dandelion like) and creeping charlie.
We then headed back towards Sultan and found a park in Index to enjoy a late lunch that included all the stuff we harvested. We even discovered some wild edibles to add to our collection at the park: more sheep sorrel, cat’s ear, russian kale and mustard greens/flowers. Everyone emptied their harvest bags onto the table and we separated everything out. Some of it Greg cooked up into a tasty rice dish and others we combined in a bowl for a nice mixed wild greens salad. Unfortunately we had to get back home before the hot meal was ready but we took some salad home with us. It was a lot of fun and we hope to do another one again, maybe in the Fall.