Urban Foraging Info with Bryan

  • Published on May 16 2017 |
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Thank you to everyone to made it out to our Urban Foraging Hike with Bryan Dowkes at Robinson Field. It was a great turn out and Bryan led a fantastic hike. As promised, here are the handouts that Bryan gave out. 


Non Native Plants List

  • Deadnettle (purple) - Lamium purpureum; Uses: Greens/herb/tea - Leaves and young stems
  • Henbit - Lamium amplexicaule; Uses: Greens/herb/tea - Leaves and young stems
  • Asian mint - Mentha asiatica; Uses: Greens/herb/tea - Leaves and young stems
  • Common Mullein, Lamb’s Ear - Verbascum thapsus; Uses: Tea - Leaves, flowers
  • Dandelion – Taraxacum spp.; Uses: Many – leaves, roots, flowers/buds
  • Japanese Knotweed - Fallopia japonica; Uses: Vegetable/greens, Jams/pickles - Shoots, leaves
  • Garlic Mustard, Jack in the Hedge - Alliaria petiolate; Uses: Many – leaves, young plants, flowers, roots, seeds
  • Orange Daylily - Hemerocallis fulva - CAUTION; Uses: Many – tubers, shoots, flowers/buds
  • Stinging Nettle, Common Nettle - Urtica dioica; Uses: Vegetable/green – Leaves and young plant/new growth
  • Burdock, Gobo – Arctium Spp.; Uses: Many – taproot, immature flower stalks, young leaves & leaf stems
  • Motherwort - Leonurus cardiac -CAUTION; Uses: Flavouring/tea – leaves, flowers
  • Mugwort - Artemisia vulgaris; Uses: Herb/flavouring/tea – leaves, flowers, young shoots
  • Catnip, catswort, cat mint – Nepeta cataria; Uses: Herb/flavouring/tea – leaves, flowers
  • Field mustard – Brassica rapa; Uses: Greens, flavouring/seasoning – leaves, young plants, flowers/buds, seeds
  • Wintercress, Yellow Rocket – barbarea vulgaris; Uses: Greens, flavouring/seasoning – leaves, young plants, flowers/buds, seeds
  • Ox-eye daisy – Leucanthemum vulgare; Uses: Greens, pickles, herb – leaves, flowers/buds, young shoots
  • Common mallow, cheeseweed – Malva neglecta; Uses: Many – leaves, flowers/buds, young shoots
  • Plantain, plantago, fleawort – Plantago Spp.; Uses: Greens, “chips”, first-aid – leaves

Native Plant List

  • Yarrow - Achillea millefolium - CAUTION; Uses: herb, tea, tinctures - Leaves
  • Spruce – Picea Spp. – CAUTION; Uses: Flavouring, pickle, seasoning, tea – tips (buds)
  • Cattail – Typha Spp. - CAUTION; Uses: Many – Roots, laterals, shoots, flowers, buds, pollen
  • Trout Lily – Erythronium americanum - CAUTION; Uses: Greens – leaves, flowers
  • Milkweed – Asclepias Spp. - CAUTION; Uses: Many – Shoots, flowers, buds, pods
  • Purple Violet, Wild Violet – Viola cucullate; Uses: Flavouring, greens – Flowers, leaves
  • Dryad’s Saddle, Pheasant’s back - Cerioporus squamosus (Polyporus squamosus); Uses – Mushroom
  • Mica Cap - Coprinus micaceus (Coprinellus micaceus) – CAUTION; Uses – Mushroom

Where to go and Resources

Where to go

  1. Lanark County Forest http://www.lanarkflora.com/areas.html www.lanarkliving.ca/trails
  2. The Larose Forest http://www.cerec.ca
  3. Limerick Forest http://www.limerickforest.ca
  4. Renfrew County Forest http://www.countyofrenfrew.on.ca



  • Forest Foraging – By Ontario Nature
  • Wild Edibles – By “Wildman” Steve Brill


  • The Forager's Feast: How to Identify, Gather, and Prepare Wild Edibles – by Leda Meredith
  • A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America – by Roger Tory Peterson
  • Plants of Southern Ontario – by Richard Dickinson
  • Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America: A Field-to-Kitchen Guide – by David W. Fischer and Allan E. Bessette
  • Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada – by George Barron


  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants - Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from A Secret World - Peter Wohlleben and Tim Flannery
  • Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms - Eugenia Bone
  • Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal - Ava Chin

Ethical/ecological harvesting principles
1. Never harvest from Provincial/National Parks, Conservation areas, or NCC land; or private land without permission.
2. Leave 90% or more for other non-human “foragers”.
3. Get to know the land over time. If it appears that others are harvesting it, harvest less or even better go elsewhere.
4. Only take what you will use.
5. Learn what species are at risk in your area and avoid these or help cultivate them instead of harvesting them.
6. Learn what role plants/mushrooms play in the ecosystem and ensure what you are doing does not impede that role.
7. Learn sustainable harvesting techniques for each species (Ex. when harvesting fiddleheads take no more than ½ the heads on a single plant; don’t take leek bulbs; etc.).
8. Learn how to cultivate (non-invasive species). (Ex. wild leeks/ramps, milkweed)
Safe harvesting rules
2. Be careful handling unknown plants
3. Don’t harvest from contaminated or polluted areas (roadsides, industrial sites etc.)
4. Beware of “forager’s certainty”— Don’t try new plants in the field.
When trying something new
1. Consult at least 3 different (reliable) sources including experts, online sources, and books/guides.
2. Be aware of allergies, and individual reactions.
3. Do extra research before sharing wild plants with children, elders and, people who are or might be, pregnant, nursing, or have health concerns such as diabetes.