Disclosure: Travel Oregon covered my expenses for this trip. I have not, however, received any compensation for writing about it.
Day two of Full On Oregon dawned bright, sunny and warm, cuz you know that's how it totally is every day in Portland. Isn't it? Anyway, the first portion of the day for me and my cohorts was to head up to glorious Mt. Hood, to meet John Kallas of Wild Food Adventures, who would take us around the shores of Trillium Lake seeking wild edibles.
Hot, sunny September is actually not the optimal time to go foraging. The best time is, actually, um, NOW, after the winter and spring rains have passed and the sun breaks through. But there were still enough things out there worth checking out, like smooth yellow violet, whose edible heart-shaped leaves have veins that branch out; its poisonous analogs' veins reconvene toward the point or are yellow. Fireweed's asparagus-like shoots and its flowers are edible, with a peppery flavor reminiscent of arugula with a little more astringency. Delicate thimbleberries have a rich, winey flavor.
Some wild plants have non-edible uses, like the vanilla plant. Just crush a leaf and keep it in your pocket for several minutes. The aroma from the leaf is an effective insect repellent.
And there was more, including the third (baneberry) and first (water hemlock) most poisonous plants in the US. Delish!