Lily, my daughter, and I went hiking in Temescal Canyon last week. We were taking a nature class. (For those of you who don’t know, I homeschool my daughter.) This particular class, we learned about edible and poisonous plants, as well as a plant that’s the only known antidote to poison oak.

Edible Plants:

Sour Grass

Sour Grass

Sour Grass

Chris, the instructor, started us with sour grass. It’s edible and it’s, well, sour. So sour it will make you pucker, but children love it, even Lily. She is phobic of almost anything green. One tast of sour grass, and she was hooked. Of course, introducing her to new foods food  when she’s starving helps… a lot. And tromping in the hills around in cold temps builds up an apetite.

Mustard

We tried this. I’m not sure why I didn’t take a picture of the mustard plant. Perhaps because I was less than enthused with the flavor. LOL Apparently, the only type of mustard I like is French’s.

Curly Dock

Curly Dock

Curly Dock

I’d heard of this one before, but I’d never seen it. It looks like immature lettuce leaves, but didn’t taste like lettuce to me. While I enjoyed the fruity, somewhat tart flavor, Lily was full of sour grass by the time we got to this one and was less than impressed. (g) It would make an interesting addition to a salad… if I could convince others in my household to eat it, too.

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums aren’t native to California. While they are pretty, they are consider an invasive species, but they are edible. And after watching the kids tromp through the sour grass and curly dock, and because my belly was full, I refrained from trying nasturtiums. As I’ve never had them before, I can’t tell you what they taste like. Perhaps another time. 🙂 And the fact that I saw a few dogs wandering around the park with their owners off leashes was a deterrent. I’m just hoping I didn’t eat anything with dog pee on it. Yeah, I know. Ew!

Sacred Plants:

Purple Sage

Purple Sage

Sage:

To the Chumash Indians, sage was sacred. The sages we are most familiar with are the white sage and the purple, but the sage that was the most sacred to them and used in sacred ceremonies was the coastal sage. Much like people do today, the Chumash believed that sage dispelled negative energy and thoughts. It looks quite a bit different than this purple sage. Perhaps the next time we are up there, I will take a picture of it and post it.

Poisonous Plants:

Hemlock

Hemlock

Hemlock:

Another plant I’d heard of but never seen was this one. According to Chris, any plant that has a top like a carrot, besides the carrot, is very poisonous, and it’s best not to eat it.

I think I can manage that. LOL

Castor bean

Castor Bean

Castor Bean:

This is the most poisonous plant in this area. Even a small amount would make you extremely ill. It’s most poisonous when producing its bean. Yes, this is the same plant that castor oil comes from. However, castor oil is highly processed. I wouldn’t recommend trying this. Or trying any plant you aren’t sure of what it is.

Medicinal Plants:

Coyote Bush and Chris our instructor

Coyote Bush and Chris

Coyote Bush:

This is the only known antidote for poison oak. If you use it properly, the poison oak will last only three days as opposed to a month. It requires taking a large amount (if it’s all over your body, boiling it, and pouring it into a bathtub of warm water leaves, stems, and all and soaking in it for 30 minutes every morning for three days. Three days vs. a month. I’m in. 🙂

We had a great time and will be back again and again. 🙂 One thing I enjoy about homeschooling is that as my daughter learns, so do I.