Nearly everyone in Maine recognizes cattails as they appear in autumn, but Tom Seymour wants you to start enjoying them this spring. Take some knowledge on your foraging expeditions with Tom Seymour's Wild Plants of Maine: A Useful Guide Third Edition! Here's an excerpt from the pages of Wild Plants of Maine detailing how to find what it takes to dig up "the supermarket of swamps."
"Cattails vie with evening primrose for the title of first wild edible of springtime. In fact, a determined forager could, with some risk of hypothermia, harvest cattail products in midwinter, by cutting holes in the ice and pulling up the rootstalks. But such chilly and potentially risky endeavors are not recommended. So the prudent forager waits until early spring when dried, brown cattail leaves and stalks from last season protrude from newly thawed ponds and waterholes," Tom Seymour writes about spring cattails.
"For me, harvesting cattail sprouts entails putting on hip boots and, with long-handled spade in hand, walking out in the shallow section of a nearby pond. There, I work the point of my spade under a cattail root clump and, with one hand prying on the handle, grasp the plant with the other hand and apply steady pressure until the muck releases its grip on my plant, something often accompanied by a loud, slurping sound. It’s a muddy, cold business but in late March [and early April], a very worthwhile one."
And that's not all you'll find in Tom Seymour's Wild Plants of Maine. You'll learn about dandelions and their lookalikes coltsfoot, blunt-leaved dock, jewelweed, and evening primrose. And that's just what you'll find outside right now, in early spring! In Tom's book, you'll learn about stag horn sumac, find out when to harvest the ostrich fiddleheads that make for such good eats, and read why lamb's quarters are one of Tom's favorite wild edible plants!
So when you go foraging this year, don't forget your tools: your knife, your weeding tool, your scissors, your basket, and of course, your copy of Wild Plants of Maine: A Useful Guide by Tom Seymour.
Tom Seymour, Maine writer and naturalist, has written over a dozen titles including: Getting Your Big Fish: Trolling Maine Waters, Wild Plants of Maine: A Useful Guide, Forager’s Notebook, Wild Critters of Maine: Everyday Encounters, and Hidden World Revealed: Musings of a Maine Naturalist from Just Write Books LLC, Topsham, Maine. Seymour has also written a multitude of monthly features including his popular “Maine Wildlife” for The Maine Sportsman Magazine.