This week's wild edible is Black Walnut!
-The Black Walnut tree is a hardwood tree that can reach upwards of 60ft. At the end of summer and into early fall the trees will develop large green to yellow-green spherical fruit. Inside each fruit is a very tough ridged nut that can get up to roughly the size of a golf ball. Each mature tree can contain hundreds of these fruits, but be quick, they are a favorite snack for many woodland creatures.
-The edible part of the plant is the nutmeat. Inside of each incredibly tough shell is a small yet delicious cache of nutmeat that contains vital proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. These trees can also be tapped before spring for a bounty of sap that can be as much as a pint (if not more) of sap a day. This sap can be enjoyed as is for a refreshing and sweet beverage filled with vitamins and minerals or boiled down to make a very sweet and delicious syrup that has a slight hint of nuttiness to the flavor.
-Another identifying characteristic of this tree is the some-what unique compound leaf pattern. Each compound leaf will contain anywhere from 9-21 lance-shaped leaflets. The leaf itself has an alternating pattern on the tree, but the leaflets on each leaf are opposite one another. The leaf shape and pattern paired with the presence of the large green fruit is a dead giveaway to the identification of the walnut tree.
-The tree’s bark and leaves are said to have medicinal values as well that include: an astringent and detergent properties, laxative effects, and healing ulcers. The green hull of the fruit is also said to have medicinal properties that include: lowering blood pressure and serum cholesterol, balancing blood sugar levels, killing intestinal worms and parasites inside the body, treating diphtheria, syphilis, colic, and heartburn, and is also used as an astringent.
-Other uses for this tree is making dyes and is even thought to help treat leukemia. The crushed green hulls can also be used to make a fish poison for sluggish waters during a survival situation (fish poisons usually aren't legal so be sure to check local laws and regulations unless its an actual honest to goodness survival situation, then do what you gotta do)
**When identifying plants you are unfamiliar with, please use as multiple references, as well as help from experts when available. Unless you are 110% sure what a plant is, it is best to avoid it completely.
**If you plan on using any plants for medicinal uses, consult a healthcare professional, as well as botanist familiar in the field of wild plants. And as always, use as many references and expert opinions as possible when identifying a plant.
**Be sure to avoid any plants growing near roads, around chemicals, other poisonous plants, or polluted/contaminated water.
**As always, be sure to use the Universal Edibility Test to ensure the plant is the correct plant and to help identify any unknown allergies you may have.