A QueensWay Tour with “Wildman” Steve Brill
Saturday, May 7, 2016
– 3:30 pm
The 2.5-hour foraging tour begins at 1 PM, Saturday, May 7, at the NE corner of Woodhaven Blvd. and Forest Park Drive, outside Victory Field, in Woodhaven, Queens.
The suggested donation is $20/adult, $10/child under 12. At least 24 hours in advance to reserve a spot on tour.
For the first time, a tour of the QueensWay will be co-led by Friends of the QueensWay and local legend, “Wildman” Steve Brill, who will lead us on a hunt for “Devil’swalkingstick” above and on the QueensWay as well as many other shoots, greens and flowers.
This tour explores the long-abandoned RBB line that runs through Forest Park, and it’s one of the best places for foragers in the spring . We’ll explore adjacent trails in Forest Park itself as well.
On the embankment off Forest Park Dr., above the Queensway, we’ll come to a large stand of Devil’swalkingstick. This small tree gets its name because only the Devil could use the very thorny trunk as a walking stick. The large, red-and-green shoots at the tip of the trunk are prickly too, but you can trim the prickles away with a knife and cook the shoots, which regenerate, to make a vegetable similar to asparagus.
Another shoot in great abundance will be Japanese knotweed, which looks like asparagus and tastes like rhubarb. The faster you collect this tasty, nutritious, invasive wild plant, the faster it regenerates.
Roots are in season too. Burdock, an expensive detoxifying herb sold in health food stores, abounds throughout the area. The cooked root tastes like a combination of potatoes and artichokes. This invasive species hails from Europe and Asia.
Sassafras, on the other hand, grows in open places in the woods. It tastes like root beer, which you make from the taproots. You can also use it for brewing a delicious, detoxifying tea, or as a cinnamon-like seasoning.
Sweet cicely, which should be flowering, has leaves and roots that taste like licorice, wonderful in salads and oatmeal, and everything in between.
The black birch tree, of birch beer fame, is a common forest tree that tastes like wintergreen. The twigs, which you can chew, make a delicious non-steroidal anti-inflammatory herb tea. And you can thicken, season, and sweeten the tea to make black birch Jello, or to flavor puddings!
Everyone will also find plenty of leafy green vegetables, such as chickweed, which tastes like corn, pungent garlic mustard roots with their garlicky leaves, mild-flavored violets, sour-flavored greenbrier, and spicy field garlic.
With lots of rain and a bit of luck, gourmet chicken mushrooms, dryad’s saddle, and fawn mushrooms may have emerged.
“Naturalist-author “Wildman” Steve Brill is America’s go-to guy for foraging. He’s been leading foraging tours and providing demos for the public, for schools, day camps, birthday parties, museums, nature centers, parks departments, restaurants and chefs, garden clubs, hiking clubs, teaching farms, nurseries, and other organizations, in parks and natural areas throughout the Greater NY area, since 1982.