We always open every Urban Foraging workshop with a review of City of Surrey Bylaws, and so we’ll start this blog in the same manner!
Section 15 of City of Surrey Parks Bylaw 13480 states: “No person shall within a park […] remove, cut, break, injure or in any way destroy or damage any animal, tree, shrub, plant, turf, sod, or flower.” You can read the full bylaws here. Surrey Parks are great venues for learning and teaching, but if you want to go harvesting, we encourage you to find a location on private or crown land.
A huge thank you to Mandi Thompson for facilitating this year’s foraging workshops! This year’s workshops in Tynehead and Green Timbers Park were by far our most well attended, and we’ve received numerous request to hold similar workshops with Mandi again.
Below you will find pictures from both events, the list of plants that we found and learned about, as well as Mandi’s suggested reading list.
Plant ID Walk
- Oregon Grape
- False Lily of the Valley
- Curly Dock, Broadleaf Dock
- Shepherd’s Purse
- Plantain- broad leaf and narrow leaf
- Horsetail – Only the young shoots (still green), and I do not really recommend it!
- Red Osier Dogwood – medicinal
- Hardhacks – medicinal
- Flowering Wild Currant
- Thistle- Bull thistle, sow thistle
Toxic/Do Not Eat List:
- Buttercup – gastric distress; they taste so bad human fatalities are rare.
- Bleeding Heart – vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, slowed breathing
- Holly – vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, drowsiness
- Skunk Cabbage – they taste really bad so you wouldn’t want to eat them, intestinal upset
- Foxglove*- Bell shaped flowers, many colors, grows in ditches. Seriously potent emetic.
Slows the heart, causes heart attack
- Cherry Laurel/English Laurel* -extreme intestinal upset, cyanide compounds
- Lupine* – Slows the heart, numbness in feet and hands, burning in mouth, shock, dehydration, fever, nausea, vomiting, coma, hallucinations
Recommended Reading: (*Available at Surrey Libraries)
- *Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt to Plate by John Kallas – an excellent “starter” book that focuses on identification and creative ways to eat weeds! Lots of photographs of the same plant from various angles, good maps, and good recipes.
- *Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada by Andrew Mackinnon – a great, easy to understand and interesting reference with clear pictures. Canada-wide focus, but clear maps of where to find each. A definite must read.
- * Wild Berries of the Pacific Northwest by J.E. Underhill – a 1974 classic with clear photographs and illustrations, local focus, clear charts and maps, and includes lots of really nice recipes!
- *Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms by Nancy Turner – an excellent reference to 300+ toxic plants, North American focus, clear photographs and easy to understand. Kind of the “Anti Mackinnon” and a very important read.
- *Edible Wild Plants and Useful Herbs by Jim Meuninck – Small and handy guide – not a good starter since it’s illustrated instead of photography, but lots of information in there!
- *Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer – Though the book covers plants of the Midwest, many are also found in the PNW. Some great ideas for cooking!
- *Indian Use of Wild Plants for Crafts, Food, Medicine and Charms by F. Densmore – not a reference guide, a Canada-wide focus, and not solely dedicated to foraging, but incredibly interesting and endangered information in here.
- * How to Eat in the Woods by Bradford Angier – Only ⅓ of the book is dedicated to foraging (the other ⅔ are dedicated to hunting and survival techniques), a broad North American focus and not quite clear illustrations. This one isn’t a reference guide by any stretch, but it contains some surprising tidbits about food and survival, and is quite entertaining!
- Plants of the Western Boreal Forest and Aspen Parkland by Johnson, Kershaw, Mackinnon and Pojar – Though the book is not specific to BC areas, many of the plants inside are. This book is super dense, and it trains your brain to think in “plant families” to learn to more quickly identify new plants. Not essential but a great tool!
There are hundreds of others out there, including The Deerholm Foraging Book, Pacific Northwest Foraging, Backyard Foraging, The Joy of Foraging, etc etc etc. (All available at Surrey Libraries!) The above list is just a good start. I encourage you to go and find your favorites