What to look out for when foraging in March
Wild plants and mushrooms to get to know
Foraging in March gets me really excited because the long winter wait for abundant fresh growth is almost over. Almost…
Hopefully by the time we reach the spring equinox, with the days and nights of equal length, we are able to choose from many dozens of wild plants, and we know that summer is only three months away.
So, now we are rapidly returning to one of the busiest times of the foraging year (unless that is, we are experiencing bitterly cold ‘beast from the east’ winds and its associated snowy conditions). As ever, the weather in Britain is extremely changeable and dominates what we will or won’t be foraging.
If you have watched my video on violet flowers then you will know some plants react in their developmental stages solely to daylength, rather than temperatures.
This means we will generally find them doing their thing, pretty much right on cue, no mater the weather. Other plants are the opposite and will be slowed and checked by low temperatures. Have a quick look below…
The following wild foods are all easily found if you are out foraging in March. They offer a range of plant parts and flavours. One of the finest flavours for me at this time of year will be found on the flowering currant…a plant I christened the ‘thyme n sage’ currant a few years back for reasons that will soon become apparant.
Check out this wonderful flowering shrub on my short video…
None of these March plants are too tricky to identify, especially when using my handy waterproof, field guide style, I/D cards. The pocket-sized cards should help fine tune your field skills, and make you more confident when identifying unknown plants in the wild.
So then, what plants can be easily found when foraging in March?
Wild food foraging in March
Wild plants to find and know this month!
|Species||Where to look||What part to harvest|
|Common hogweed||waysides, hedgerows, fields,||leaf shoots|
|stinging nettles||numerous settings, including hedgerows, fields, wasteground||leafy tops|
|Flowering currant||parks and gardens, amenity shrub||flowers|
|Alexanders||coastal areas||tender young stems, leaves, leaf shoots, flower buds|
|Cleavers||gardens, cultivated fields, woodlands, hedgerows||leafy tops only|
|Water hemlock dropwort||By watercourses||NONE! All parts deadly poisonous|
|violets||woodlands, grassy areas, hedgerows||flowers and leaves|
|charlock||gardens, fields, wastegrounds, roadsides||leaves, flowering tops, tender stems|
|Magnolia||parks and gardens||flower buds, flowers|
|rosebay willow herb||waste ground, grassy areas, rivers, and canal banks||young emerging stem shoots|
|cherry plum blossom||street tree, parks and gardens, hedgerows||flowers|
|silver birch sap||woodlands, parks gardens||sap, new leafy trigs|
|oyster mushrooom||woodlands, on old beech trees||young specimens|
Common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) A delicious wild food. Please refer to my earlier article for the benefits and dangers of foraging from the carrot family.
Nettles (Urtica dioica) A nutritious food and valuable medicine, covered in a previous article.
Flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) Gorgeous displays of tasty flowers are mostly found in towns and cities.
Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) A versatile wild food, as my recent article showed.
Cleavers (Galium aparine) As you may have read, the medicinal benefits of this ubiquitous plant is not a sticky subject.
Water hemlock dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) DEADLY POISONOUS! Please study the pictorial guide for your foraging safety.
Violets (Viola odorata) Scented flowers are the inspiration behind the sweets ‘love hearts’.
Charlock (Sinapis arvensis) Hot punchy leaves and sweet, juicy, and peppery flowering tops.
Magnolia (Magnolia species) Intriguing lemony scented flower buds from a an ancient flowering plant that reportedly developed flowers before bees existed!
Rosebay and greater willow herbs (Chamerion angustifolium / Epilobium hirsutum) Either the rosebay or greater willow herb young shoots can be used although the flavour of rosebay is less astringent. Strip the leaves off before using. Try Steaming, frying, or lacto-fermenting.
Cherry plum blossom (Prunus cerasifera) Almond-scented like other Prunus species. Infuse or garnish. Look out for the myrobalan plums in Early-mid summer
Silver birch (Betula pendula) Sap and young twigs are able to be harvested. The sap, once distilled, contains high amouns of the valuable medicinal plant constituent – salicylic acid, and because of this, birch sap is now the basis for commercial production of ‘Wintergreen’ oil.
For a fantastic appraisal on the pro’s and cons of tapping birch, and the alternative method of using the thinner branches, take a look at the one and only Fergus the forager’s article here.
Mushroom of the month
Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)
An easy to I/d edible mushroom, although there are a number of closely related edible species in the genus Pleurotus. This fine mushroom can be found all year round, and it’s often easier to find when there isn’t so much else growing.
Being a bracket fungi, you will probably find it shelving, with one fruiting body directly above another on both the standing and fallen trunks and boughs.
The oyster mushroom cap is grey and its closely spaced gills are creamy white. It can easily grow as large as your hand. The spore print should be white.
To get a head start on what to pick, and to ensure you dont miss a foraging trick this year, these seasonal, colour-coded harvesting charts will help you plan your foraging adventures. Listed alphabetically and covering eight plant parts, this at-a-glance guide is available as a downloadable set.
If you want to learn more practical foraging skills, then why not take advantage of my special offers on all my foraging walks this month. Spaces are still left on my March foraging courses in the Gower and Totnes.
More wild foods will be coming in April. Until then, happy foraging!