Tag Archives: foraging

Wild Edible Plants of Burji District, Ethiopia

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Ethnobotanical study of wild edible plants in Burji District, Segan Area Zone of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), Ethiopia

Ashagre M, Asfaw Z, Kelbessa E
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Aug 2;12(1):32
PubMed Central: PMC4971624

Investigators at Bule Hora University and Addis Ababa University conducted an ethnobotanical study of wild edible plants in the Burji woreda of southeastern Ethiopia.

Ficus sur
Ficus sur (Photo: JMK, Wikimedia Commons)

Using guided field walks, semi-structured interviews, and direct field observations, the team documented 46 wild plant species used as food. Two species (Arisaema schimperianum and Amorphophallus gomboczianus) were used to supplement the regular food supply and the remainder were used during food shortages, including seven species consumed during famine (Dovyalis abyssinica, Ehretia cymosa, Euclea divinorum, Ficus sur, Lannea schimperi, Olea europaea, and Rumex abyssinicus).

Noting that wild edible plants are under threat in the district due to anthropogenic pressures and disturbed climatic conditions, the authors make a number of recommendations for collaborative action:

“Ethnobotanical studies are important to promote the conservation and management of the vegetation of a certain area. The loss of indigenous knowledge on wild edible plants may occur if the resources disappear from the landscape. Being a basic source of information about the types of wild edible plants found in the study area and their use, this study would help in maintaining the ecological balance of the area and serve as a wakeup call for other researchers, including ethnobotanists and ecologists, to proceed to more of such studies. It enriches the herbarium and serves as permanent herbarium records and specimens for determination and quick botanical reference in future. In addition to these:

  • Some plants, for example, Ariseama schimperianum could be a very good food source at any time; hence should be given due attention either in maintaining it or improving it through domestication for more intensive usage.
  • Proper consideration should be given in the conservation and keeping of both wild edible plants and associated indigenous knowledge.
  • Expansion of farm lands through clearing forests and woodlands should be stopped by inducing intensive agricultural activities than extensive one through fulfilling different inputs.
  • The local people need awareness raising interventions about the sustainable use of natural resources.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.




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The Glocal Nature of Waldensian Ethnobotany

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Isolated, but transnational: the glocal nature of Waldensian ethnobotany, Western Alps, NW Italy

Bellia G, Pieroni A
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 May 7;11:37
PubMed Central: PMC4495842

A Waldensian Mountain Cottage
A Waldensian Mountain Cottage (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Keystone View Company Studios, 1881 [Public Domain])
Investigators at the University of Gastronomic Sciences conducted an ethnobotanical field study of traditional uses of wild plants for food and medicinal/veterinary purposes among Waldensian communities in the Western Alps of Italy.

Working with forty-seven elderly informants (typically small-scale farmers and shepherds), the team documented the uses of 85 wild and semi-domesticated food folk taxa, 96 medicinal folk taxa, and 45 veterinary folk taxa. Commonly used medicinal plants included Arnica montana, Artemisia absinthium, Abies alba, and Chelidonium majus.

Arnica montana
Arnica montana (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1896 [Public Domain])
The authors conclude that local plants play an important role in food security and the management of human and animal health in these communities, and may constitute a key resource for sustainable development in the area:

“A marked persistence of local knowledge regarding these plants among Waldensians confirms the importance of studying enclaves as well as cultural and linguistic “isles” in ethnobotany, which may represent both crucial reservoirs of folk knowledge and bio-cultural refugia.

On the other hand, the findings of this study indicate that a proper conservation of the bio-cultural heritage, such as the ethnobotanical one, requires strategies, which carefully consider natural landscapes and resources as well as cultural and religious customs, since plant folk knowledge systems are the result of a continuous interplay between these two domains over centuries.

Finally, these neglected local plant resources may represent a key issue for fostering a sustainable development in an area of the Alps, which has been largely untouched by mass tourism and is looking with particular interest at eco-touristic trajectories.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.




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Medicinal Plants of Eastern Madagascar

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Medicinal plants used to treat the most frequent diseases encountered in Ambalabe rural community, Eastern Madagascar

Rakotoarivelo NH, Rakotoarivony F, Ramarosandratana AV et al.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 Sep 15;11:68
PubMed Central: PMC4570514

Investigators from the Missouri Botanical Garden, University of Antananarivo, and Washington University in St. Louis inventoried medicinal plants used to treat diseases frequently occurring among residents of Ambalabe in eastern Madagascar.

Working with residents of Vatomandry District (which includes the rural community of Ambalabe and Vohibe Forest [a protected area established in 2008]), the team identified diarrhea, malaria, stomach-ache, cough, bilharzia (schistosomiasis), and dysentery as the most frequently occurring diseases and 83 medicinal plant species used to treat those diseases.

Litchi chinensis
Litchi chinensis [Photo: B.navez, WikiMedia Commons]
Plant species commonly used to treat the diseases included Mollugo nudicaulis, Litchi chinensis, Kalanchoe prolifera, and Paederia thouarsiana. Less than half of the medicinal plants were collected in Vohibe Forest, the rest were cultivated or collected around the villages, in house yards, and in crop fields.

In their conclusion, the authors note that while the local population retains important knowledge about medicinal plants, many of those species might be threatened:

“[T]his paper provides new information on medicinal plants used by the local population in Ambalabe community to fight against frequent diseases. Some species seemed new to sciences or sometimes have new uses never recorded. Further pharmacological studies will be needed to better understand the importance of traditional medicine. Besides, because 83 species were used to treat six most frequent diseases, their conservation should be considered as important to ensure sustainable future use, especially due to the fact that most of them were collected in the surroundings of the villages and in non-protected areas. Sustainable management techniques should be considered, especially for Malagasy endangered species.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.




Wild Food Plants and Fungi Used in the Tibetan community of Zhagana

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Wild food plants and fungi used in the mycophilous Tibetan community of Zhagana (Tewo County, Gansu, China)

Kang J, Kang Y, Ji X, et al
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Jun 1;12(1):21
PubMed Central: PMC4890536

Investigators from Northwest A&F University, Yangling Vocational & Technical College, Bailongjiang Forestry Administration Bureau, University of Gdansk, Polish Academy of Sciences, Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l’Asie orientale, University of Glasgow, and University of Rzeszów conducted field research to investigate knowledge and use of wild food plants and fungi in a highland valley in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Region on the north-eastern edges of the Tibetan Plateau.

Pteridium aquilinum
Pteridium aquilinum (Photo: Rasbak, Wikimedia Commons)

The team conducted field research in four neighboring villages in a mountain valley of Diebu (Tewo) county, interviewing villagers singly and in groups (altogether 63 informants) and collecting voucher specimens. DNA barcoding was used to identify fungi. They recorded the use of 54 species of vascular plants and 22 mushroom taxa. The most frequently mentioned wild foods included wild vegetables (Pteridium aquilinum, Notopterygium incisum, Allium chrysanthum, Allium cyaneum, Chenopodium album); fungi (Lactarius deliciosus, Ramaria spp.); fleshy fruits (Fragaria orientalis, Ribes alpestre); and two species used as staple foods (Persicaria vivipara and Potentilla anserina).

The authors note impacts of modernity and tourism in their discussion of the traditional uses of the plants:

“Most wild vegetables and mushrooms are usually boiled, sprinkled with hot oil and served as side-dishes. Wild fleshy fruits are collected mainly by children and eaten raw. Some green parts of plants are eaten as raw snacks: plants with a sour taste (Rumex leaves, Rheum peeled stalks), solidified spruce sap and nectar sucked out of flowers.

“In times of famine or grain scarcity Persicaria vivipara fruits were mixed with barley and used to make flour. This was practiced even up until the 1980s. Other wild staples are the small tubers of Potentilla anserina. They are still gathered now, but are treated only as ceremonial foods, being served during New Year celebrations, funerals and other ceremonial occasions. Their rarer use stems from a very tedious gathering procedure. The tubers are dug out by women in late autumn or early spring. One woman can gather 0.5–1 kg of tubers per day. In the past they also constituted emergency food. Several informants observed changes in the frequency with which wild foods are collected: adults collect and eat less wild vegetables and children snack less on wild fruits. Most people usually use only a few wild vegetables, such as Allium spp., Pteridium and Notopterygium. Some people have stopped eating Chenopodium and Urtica. Due to the increasing involvement of tourism in the valley in the last 5 years, people do not have time to gather fungi in summer, at the peak of the tourist season.

“Practically all families dry wild vegetables for later use, however they do not lacto-ferment them. People usually dry bracken (Pteridium) fronds, Nothopterigium leaves and wild garlic (Allium) flower heads. They also dry a few species of mushrooms, mainly morels (Morchella conica) and milk velvet caps (Lactarius deliciosus var. deterrimus). Morels are an important article of commerce, as is the medicinal Cordyceps sinensis mushroom, which was regarded by our informants as medicinal and not an edible mushroom. Some of our informants stored a few large sacks of morels for sale.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

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Folk Knowledge of Wild Food Plants in Thakht-e-Sulaiman Hills, Pakistan

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Folk knowledge of wild food plants among the tribal communities of Thakht-e-Sulaiman Hills, North-West Pakistan

Ahmad K, Pieroni A
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Apr 8;12:17
PubMed Central: PMC4826518

Investigators from COMSATS Institute of Information Technology and the University of Gastronomic Sciences conducted an ethnobotanical study to document traditional knowledge of wild food plants among indigenous communities of the Thakht-e-Sulaiman hills in the North-West tribal belt of Pakistan.

The authors note both the importance of traditional knowledge of wild food plants for people in the region and factors putting that knowledge in danger:

“In spite of their great importance, [wild food plants] are vanishing from traditional diets, which poses serious concerns due to their role and contribution in the cultural history of a region as well as their nutraceutical value. In the developing world these plants are regularly ignored in governmental policies, agricultural research and extension programs. Over the past decade, the majority of tribal communities on the north-western boarder of Pakistan have been affected by the ‘war on terror’, which has destabilized their traditional knowledge systems. The present research area is semi-arid and mountainous with deficient agricultural land. The people live in extreme poverty with widespread food insecurity. They are also not considered in government developmental policies.”

Amaranthus spinosus
Amaranthus spinosus [Photo: Forest & Kim Starr, Wikimedia Commons]
Working with 72 informants from 10 different villages, the team documented 51 species used as wild food plants, including fruits, vegetables, and teas. The most highly cited species were Olea ferruginia, Amaranthus spinosus, and Ficus palmata.

The authors recommend a program of sustainable harvesting, domestication, and marketing to conserve both the wild food plants and local knowledge about their uses:

“In addition to food value, the supplementary qualities of [wild food plants] such as medicinal potential, cultural uses, marketing and storage make them more important in the local culture but also predispose them to extensive exploitation. There is a large potential for the harvesting, domestication and marketing of [wild food plants] in the area, and if done properly, they could be a source of cash income for locals. The wild relatives of the domesticated food species could help increase genetic diversity for crop improvement and yield, thus addressing the present demand of human food security. The ongoing process of domestication of wild species in the area is of the utmost importance not only for the interests of local communities but also for global food diversification.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Wild Plant Species Used for Food in Regional Parks of Sicily

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A survey of wild plant species for food use in Sicily (Italy) – results of a 3-year study in four Regional Parks

Licata M, Tuttolomondo T, Leto C, et al.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Feb 9;12(1):12
PubMed PMID: 26860327
Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonie
Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonie (Source: Martin Teetz, Wikimedia Commons)

Investigators at Università degli Studi di Palermo conducted a study of traditional knowledge on food use of wild plant species in four regional parks of Sicily: Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonie, Parco Naturale dei Nebrodi, Parco dell’Etna, and Parco dei monti Sicani.

Cichorium intybus
Cichorium intybus (Source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany, Wikimedia Commons)

The team conducted interviews with 802 people over the age of 60, who had spent their entire lives in the area and who were or had been traditional farmers. The study documented 119 wild plant species for food purposes, including Cichorium intybus, Foeniculum vulgare, Borago officinalis, and Asparagus acutifolius. Sixty-four of the species were indicated as also having medicinal properties.

The authors note an increasing importance of wild food plants as part of the Mediterranean diet:

“In an effort to highlight the importance of wild plant species in our diets, a number of studies have been carried out in recent years in the Mediterranean area documenting the nutritional and medicinal properties of these plants. Compared to cultivated a number of wild plant species have been reported to contain greater levels of fiber, to have far greater antioxidant and flavonoid levels and to contain a smaller amount of lipids. A number of studies maintain that the carbohydrate, fibre, polyphenol, protein, mineral, vitamin and ω-3 fatty acid content of various parts of the wild plants can have beneficial effects on human health. This reinforces the concept of food as medicinal, first expressed by [Hippocrates] in 400 BC. The well-documented health properties of wild food plants have also contributed to increasing their importance as a part of the Mediterranean diet.”

In their conclusion, the authors recommend further research, and urge protection of these native genetic resources and the culinary traditions linked to them:

“In terms of agriculture, it is important to highlight that given the fact that only very few of the wild plants mentioned can/could be cultivated in kitchen gardens and/or crop fields, further agronomic research on these few species is essential in order to improve knowledge on their main cultivation techniques. An important result of the research is the fact that most of the wild plants are perceived as highly useful for food/medicinal purposes and this is due to the health effects of the wild plants as reported by the informants. The protection of the native genetic resources and the culinary traditions linked to them is essential if we are to preserve the cultural heritage of the Sicilian Parks concerning the food use of wild plant species and in order to cultivate a number of species of agricultural interest. Our contribution should be not considered as exhaustive and future research is necessary in order to extend investigation to the younger generations and comment on the transmission of knowledge from the old to the new generation.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.




Traditional Knowledge of Wild Edibles Used by the Naxi in Baidi Village, Yunnan Province

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Traditional knowledge and its transmission of wild edibles used by the Naxi in Baidi Village, northwest Yunnan province

Geng Y, Zhang Y, Ranjitkar S, Huai H, Wang Y
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Feb 5;12(1):10
PubMed PMID: 26846564
Yunnan Province
Yunnan Province (Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons)

Investigators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, World Agroforestry Centre, and Yangzhou University conducted a detailed investigation of wild edibles used by the Naxi (Nakhi, 纳西族) people in Baidi village of Yunnan Province and evaluate them to identify innovative organic food products.

The team recorded 173 wild edible plant species, including Cardamine macrophylla, Cardamine tangutorum and Eutrema yunnanense, traditionally consumed as important supplements to the diet, particularly during food shortages.

From the background:

“The Naxi people, one of the main ethnic groups in northwest Yunnan, have accumulated rich knowledge on using wild edibles. Baidi Village (Sanba Naxi Nationality Township, Shangri-La City, Deqing Prefecture) is located in … the Northwest of Yunnan Province, roughly between the two cities Lijiang and Diqing…. The mountain in its territory belongs to Haba Snow Mountain, Yunling Mountain range. Baidi … reaches an elevation of approximately 4500 m while networks of streams and rivers including Geji and Yangtze dissect numerous valleys, which make it encompass a rich diversity of plants. The village has 15 sections or groups of the settlement, eight of which belong to the Naxi. In the northwest of the village, there is a big limestone terrace, Baishuitai (literal meaning white water terrace). Local people believe this place as a shrine and perform various religious activities. It also is a famous scenic spot that attracts the considerable number of tourists all over the world.”

Hypericum forrestii
Hypericum forrestii (Source: Prashanthns, Wikimedia Commons)

The article details the diversity of wild edibles used by the Naxi (including wild vegetables, wild fruits, teas, and one honey source, Hypericum forrestii) and the traditional wisdom of the Naxi regarding the use of these plants. In their conclusion, the authors propose sustainable investigation of nutritional value and market opportunities, while promoting conservation of traditional knowledge:

“The traditional food knowledge of the Naxi in Baidi is dynamic, affected by social factors and communicated with the outsiders’ food knowledge. Overall, this study provides a deeper understanding of the Naxi traditional knowledge on wild edibles. The study suggests some wild edibles might have an interesting dietary constituent, which necessitates further investigation on the nutrition value as well as market opportunities. With scientific evidence on nutrition value and market opportunity, more people will be attracted toward the wild edibles that will help in addressing food security issues along with conservation of traditional knowledge of the aboriginal population.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.




Wild Edible Plants (Primarily Fruits) Used by Polish Migrants in Misiones, Argentina

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Wild Edible Plants Used by the Polish Community in Misiones, Argentina

Kujawska M, Łuczaj Ł
Hum Ecol Interdiscip J. 2015;43(6):855-869
PubMed Central PMC4673098

Misiones Province, Argentina
Misiones Province, Argentina [Source: Hogweard, Wikimedia Commons]
Researchers at the University of Lodz and University of Reszów conducted interviews with Polish migrants and their descendants in northern Misiones, Argentina, to study the cultural significance of wild edible plants for these Eastern Europeans settling in this rural subtropical area of South America.

The team recorded the use of 41 botanical species, primarily fruits (e.g., Eugenia uniflora, Eugenia involucrata, Rollinia salicifolia, Campomanesia xanthocarpa, Syagrus romanzoffiana, Allophylus edulis, Plinia peruviana, Plinia rivularis, Eugenia pyriformis) and the green vegetable Hypochaeris chillensis.

Eugenia uniflora
Eugenia uniflora [Source: Citrus limon, Wikimedia Commons]
The authors note that the environmental wealth of Misiones has been and continues to be threatened by centuries-old human activity and expansion, which is ongoing:

“Misiones is one of the smallest, greenest and most biologically diverse Argentinean provinces. As a part of a greater ecoregion known as the Atlantic Forest of the Upper Parana (la Selva paranaense), it is home to 3000 vascular plant species At the end of the nineteenth century this ecoregion extended over 1.2 million km2 from the Paraguay River to the Atlantic Ocean, covering eastern Paraguay, southern Brazil and the province of Misiones in Argentina. During the twentieth century, the expansion of agriculture and animal husbandry, as well as deforestation, reduced it to 7.8 % of its former size…. Prior to 1767, the region was part of the ‘theocratic empire’ of the Jesuit missions, which gave their name to the modern province. The missions were self-sustaining political, religious and economic organizations engaged in the evangelization and acculturation of the indigenous population of the Tupi-Guarani linguistic family. With the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, the region of present-day Misiones was nearly abandoned by the indigenous Guarani people. Throughout the nineteenth century the area was used for logging, yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis A.St. –Hil.) extraction, and livestock pasturing in the south…. At present the most important economic activities in the region are forestry, agriculture and, to a lesser extent, cattle breeding. Forestry is based on monoculture plantations of exotic species of pine (Pinus spp.) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.) for the paper and timber industries. The main crops are tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.), yerba mate, tea (Thea sinensis L.), and citrus (Citrus spp.). The local economy is based on exploitation of raw materials with little industrial development.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

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Foraging for Wild Edible Plants in New York City’s Parks: 
Practical Considerations & Recommendations

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Green Shading Indicates Areas within a 10-Minute Walk of a Park, NYC
Green Shading Indicates Areas within a 10-Minute Walk of a Park, NYC [Source: NYC Department of Parks and Recreation]
What Is a City Park?
On their website, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) claims stewardship of “approximately 29,000 acres of land — 14 percent of New York City.” [1] Beyond the parks themselves (e.g., Central Park, Prospect Park), these properties include athletic fields, playgrounds, tennis courts, swimming pools, recreational facilities, nature centers, golf courses, and beaches.

What Are the City’s Rules Covering Foraging in the Parks?
Unauthorized foraging is covered under the city’s prohibited uses of the parks, and carries penalties including fines and imprisonment. I’ll quote directly from NYC Park’s Rules & Regulations: [2]

§1-04 Prohibited Uses
Destruction or Abuse of Trees, Plants, Flowers, Shrubs and Grass

  • No person shall deface, write upon, injure, sever, mutilate, kill or remove from the ground any trees under the jurisdiction of the Department without permission of the Commissioner.
  • No person shall deface, write upon, sever, mutilate, kill or remove from the ground any plants, flowers, shrubs or other vegetation under the jurisdiction of the Department without permission of the Commissioner.

§1-07 Penalties

  • Any violation of these Rules other than Rule 1-04 (b)(1)(i) shall constitute a misdemeanor triable by the Criminal Court of the City of New York and punishable by not more than ninety days imprisonment or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by both, in accordance with § 533(a)(9) of Chapter 21 of the New York City Charter.

  • Any violation of Rule 1-04 (b)(1)(i) shall constitute a misdemeanor triable by the Criminal Court of the City of New York and punishable by not more than one year imprisonment or by a fine of not more than $15,000, or both.

  • Any violation of these Rules shall also constitute a violation triable by the Environmental Control Board and punishable by a civil penalty of not more than $10,000, in accordance with §533(a)(9) of Chapter 21 of the New York City Charter.

Does the City Arrest and Prosecute Foragers?
Media reports indicate that the city hasn’t been taking legal action against foragers — aside from issuing summonses — since the 1980s, following the arrest of forager Steve Brill, for gathering dandelions in Central Park. The city dropped the charges after media-savvy Brill parlayed his arrest into national print and broadcast coverage that was mostly sympathetic to him. [3]

However, the city stepped up enforcement of anti-foraging regulations during the Bloomberg administration, directing park rangers and enforcement-patrol officers “to keep an eye out for foragers and chase them off,” according to the New York Times. [4]

On the basis of a recent Google search, it appears the de Blasio administration hasn’t yet made an announcement about its policy toward foragers; however, in email correspondence published in Gothamist in December 2014, a spokeswoman for the Central Park Conservancy (a private, not-for-profit organization that manages Central Park under a contract with the city [5] expressed the Conservancy’s vigorous opposition to foraging:

“When individuals forage in Central Park, they’re actively destroying the carefully planned and maintained work of those 200 employees, as well as destroying the experience intended to be shared by 40 million annual visitors.” [6]

What’s a Would-Be Forager to Do?
The city’s argument that unrestricted foraging in the parks is not sustainable has some merit. Unschooled foragers can yank out vulnerable plants like American ginger and ramps by the roots, [7] and some foragers engage in practices that might better be called poaching, as reported by the Times:

“Beverly McDermott, director of Friends of Kissena Park in Flushing, Queens, has confronted foragers directly when she has seen them hauling away everything from plants to top soil to turtles. A garden in the 242-acre park that Mrs. McDermott helped revive a decade ago has been repeatedly pillaged, with herbs, flowers and a whole weeping cherry tree disappearing.”

[On a personal note, in the early 1980s, one sunset after an idyllic afternoon in Central Park, I was surprised to see an old man who looked for all the world like Santa Claus lure several ducklings from the Lake into a canvas poke, which he then tossed over his shoulder and toted off into the darkness. No adult duck was nearby, so perhaps they were his pet ducklings, heading home to a comfy bathtub after a day of free swim? Or perhaps he planned to cook them up like squab? Maybe it’s this ambiguity that defines the conscientious park user’s attitude toward foragers.]

New York City’s parks comprise one of the largest and most biologically diverse networks of urban forests in the world. Within our parks, artificial landscapes and wild areas are host to thousands of native plants and invasive species, many of which could serve as a free source of nutritious food for New Yorkers.

Surely we can begin to explore policies to countenance, and even encourage, sustainable foraging of edible wild plants in the city’s parks. An essay in City Atlas suggests convening an expert panel including foraging advocates, the Parks Department, and academic ecologists among others to help the city chart a course for foragers and other stakeholders of the parks to co-exist and for the parks themselves to flourish even more than they do today. [8]

There are models. For example, Sandy Hook in New Jersey, part of the federal Gateway National Recreation Area, allows harvesting of beach plum fruit, berries, and mushrooms to “one quart container per person, per day,” according to a spokesman. [9]

I, for one, plan to advocate for a re-thinking of NYC Park’s existing regulations prohibiting foraging, starting with this essay. In the meantime, would-be foragers may want to follow progress on my blog [10] and Twitter feed [11], while exercising due caution when coming upon that next mouth-watering stand of lamb’s quarters, amaranth, or any of the multitude of wild edible plants in the city’s parks.

References

  1. About the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.nycgovparks.org/about
  2. Rules & Regulations of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.nycgovparks.org/rules
  3. Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, but Not as Salad. New York Times, July 29, 2011. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/nyregion/new-york-moves-to-stop-foraging-in-citys-parks.html
  4. Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, but Not as Salad. New York Times, July 29, 2011. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/nyregion/new-york-moves-to-stop-foraging-in-citys-parks.html
  5. Central Park Conservancy. About Us. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/about-cpc/
  6. NYC Is Your Salad Bar: A Day In The Life Of An Urban Forager. Gothamist, June 12, 2014. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://gothamist.com/2014/06/12/how_to_forage_nyc.php#photo-1
  7. Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, but Not as Salad. New York Times, July 29, 2011. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/nyregion/new-york-moves-to-stop-foraging-in-citys-parks.html
  8. Urban foraging: a lost art? City Atlas, July 1, 2013. Accessed on 16 July 2015: http://newyork.thecityatlas.org/lifestyle/heyday-urban-foraging-over-not-ready-published/
  9. Urban foraging: a lost art? City Atlas, July 1, 2013. Accessed on 16 July 2015: http://newyork.thecityatlas.org/lifestyle/heyday-urban-foraging-over-not-ready-published/
  10. http://blog.williamaveryhudson.com/
  11. https://twitter.com/wahwahnyc

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for legal professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current knowledge.