During these past two weeks, the forest trail I often walk along has been getting lighter and lighter, not because it’s been sunny, but because one of the largest deciduous trees in this forest community is making it’s own light as it forms thousands of clusters of cream colored, inverted cup-like flowers. As days go by, pollen dusts the clusters into a bright yellow. And after spring wrestling with winter wind storms sweep through, the path is made golden with the bright windfall of the Big Leaf Maples.
Recently Elise Krohn (http://wildfoodsandmedicines.com) and Sable Bruce (https://www.sablebruce.org/) gave a beautiful presentation about how Native Plants can be our teachers. The South Sound Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society generously opened this presentation up to interested neighbors to attend via Zoom. On top of the wonderful wisdom shared about their work connecting people of all ages with the natural world as a means of healing and restoring relationships, they also shared this wonderful recipe for Big Leaf Maple Flower Fritters!
I wished I didn’t need to wash these because I’m sure the pollen is really good for us, and I picked these directly from the tree, not from the ground. However, this trail is near a golf course, and I know they spray at times. I don’t know what they use. So if you do any gathering for food and you’re not 100% certain about use of pesticides, herbicides, or animal contact in the area, please clean your materials well for your good health!
I just made a pancake batter and dipped the flowers and fried. Next time I’ll dip in an egg wash and dust lightly with rice flower with a little salt mixed in. Light batter is better.
These were so tasty, crispy, sweet and wonderful for breakfast!
What I learned from making this batch is that the flowers have a very mild, slightly sweet flavor. Next batch – I’ll keep the batter super light, maybe use rice flour and a pinch of salt to compliment the sweetness.
What I learned more deeply, is that I am a part of a community of plants and trees that have lived here for a long time. The Coast Salish Peoples and Indigenous Peoples everywhere have lived as partners with the plants. As the last remaining forests in the lowlands around the Salish Sea are diminishing, without our human help, they will surely be overtaken by colonizing plants like English Ivy, Holly, and Scotch Broom, just to name a few.
Native plants are generous plants that have sustained The People here in the place since time immemorial. Coast Salish Peoples have always tended and cared for them. That’s why they still exist here now. Perhaps we can each find our own ways to help the landscapes and Native plants that so generously offer to help us.
Thank you Lisa Krohn and Sable Bruce for the good work you are doing at GRuB, and Gather, Tend & Grow, and beyond!
For more information and educational resources from the GRuB or the Gather, Tend & Grow Programs, please visit: https: //www.goodgrub.org/wild-foods/wild-foods-and-medicine