Yesterdays article documented our recent success in finally learning how to forage. I mentioned the importance of having tools that could help you in the woods and have found the following app for my iPhone that’s a great resource.
I’ve been experimenting with different foraging apps for the iPhone for more than a year but a lot has changed and I thought a new post on “Wild Edibles with ‘Wildman’ Steve Brill” was worth another visit.
The author (Steve Brill) is n expert in the field. That knowledge is paramount in the success of the application as trust in the content is as important (and arguable more) than the actual application itself. There are 165 edible plants identified along with 52 lookalikes (including very large notices warning you about poison plants which could be mistaken for the one you’re intending to harvest). The breadth of knowledge is very wide.
Although you can search by name, you can also turn several filters on or off – I’ve been using the seasonal filter in combination with the type (edible) the most. You can type in partial words of the plant you are looking for or leave it blank and easily flip through photos of your results. Most things (if not all) are photographed multiple times to see different angles of what you’re looking for and the application works offline which is handy in the middle of a forest.
One of the great strengths of the program for the less experienced forager (like me)is the glossary. A description of the Virginia Waterleaf includes, “Straight, protruding stamens longer than the flowers.” This type of description is typical of most writing on foraging that I’ve encountered – but I needed a dictionary (or Google) to look up terms I was unfamiliar with. The glossary removes intimidation and allows you to find what you’re looking for while in the field (or forest or stream).
There are multiple ways to browse the edibles – the following screen shot shows the fastest way (it works like the contact list in your phone) but you can also flip through whole-screen images of items to see what you are looking at in more detail.
Each edible item contains a lot of information, including:
- Large warning if there’s danger/ harmful lookalikes
- Seasons/ habitats
- Information on finding it (Broken down by general, habitat and seasons)
- How to Identify (How to Spot, Positive Identification), Confusing Factors, Similar Plants, Cautions)
- How to Use (Harvesting, Food Uses, Nutrition, Recipes and Medicinal Uses)
Other than using it in-the-filed, I find this a great resource at other times, including:
- Using it 3-5 minutes at a time to study in short bursts and learn/ test my memory of what I’ve learned
- I use it after a foraging mission and compare pictures I’ve taken with my smart phone to those in the app to try to determine what something is
The writing is casual and often funny. Be sure to check out the food uses section of oak trees for his technique of removing tannins from the acorns. It had me in stitches which was the last thing I expected from a book on this topic.
At almost $8 it’s closer in price to an eBook than an app but it’s been well worth the price; we’ve brought home more than 4 pounds of foraged food in the last 2 weeks (and left far more behind) which means our costs have been miniscule in comparison to the payoff. It’s well worth checking out.