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CALABOGIE HIKER: Trout Lily, Edible, Medicinal (Spring Walk Series)

Trout Lily

BLOG 6: The Trout Lily (Erythronium americium) is also known as the Dog-Toothed violet to some hikers. This wild edible plant can be found covering the forest floor in the highlands in late March and early April but can be found as late as May. It is a short-lived spring herb and lasts about two glorious weeks. If you happen to chance upon a forest covered in Trout Lilies, please know this colony is already hundreds of years old. Stay a bit and honour and enjoy their presence. They love moist deciduous forests and need lots of early spring sunlight before the thick waxy and greenish brown mottled leaves begin to pop up out of the snow. When you see that single leaf standing in attention with no flower, its is already 7 years old! After the leaf appears then a single flower will appear in the next years to come. It is said the name of the herb came from the leaves looking similar to trout skin and the little yellow flower was used as a temporary fish fly by fisherman running out of lures. The whole herb, corms, leaves and flowers of the Trout Lily are edible and medicinal. The leaves have a mild nutty flavour similar to sunflower seeds and can be tossed in a salad. The corms (root bulb) taste similar to cucumbers and are a good snack for hikers. Please know that eating large quantities may cause you to vomit. The flowers are slightly sweet and can be used to make tea. Traditionally, The women of First Nation peoples gathered the leaves in the spring for a 'contraceptive' salad but I do not recommend one try this unless you are willing to accept the consequences.

(Photographer: Colleen Hulett) (Sources: WildEdibleFood.Com; Eastern/Central North American Medicinal Plants and Herbs. Steven Foster and James Duke. 2000; The Art and science of Herbology, Rosemary Gladstar) (Photo by Colleen Hulett)


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