Plant and Fungi Walk Jefferson National Forest Virginia (part 1)

We recently had the opportunity to live for two years right in the Jefferson National Forrest outside of Blacksburg, Virginia. Here I discovered the joy of taking plant walks — or herb walks. My plant walks consist of walking slowly through the meadow or woods–phone in hand to take pictures and look plant ID’s. Sometimes my daughter would join me.

I’m especially interested in edible and medicinal plants and fungi. The more I learn about medicinal plants, though, the more I learn that most every plant has its uses.  Many of the uses are still undiscovered by modern medicine, but the knowledge of them has been passed down through the centuries and is being rediscovered. Learning about using plants for healing is an art that takes a lifetime to master. So what if I’ve started learning it in mid-life. I will pass on what I discover to you and to my kids and I’ll enjoy the journey along the way. 

 

Jefferson National Forest Plant Walk Virginia Caldwell Fields Montgomery County
Enjoying the beauty of the Jefferson National Forest at Caldwell Fields with my daughter.

 

 

 

Jefferson National Forest Plant Walk Virginia sensative fern
Sensitive Fern, Onoclea sensibilis

 

Jefferson National Forest Plant Walk Virginia sneezeweed
Autumn Sneezeweed, Helenium Autumnale  

 

 

Jefferson National Forest Plant Walk Virginia autumn olive russian olive
Autumn Olive, Elaeagnus umbellata  These make a tasty treat for birds and people alike. They have a lot of lycopene that same as tomatoes, so they have sort of a sweet tomato-y flavor to me. If you look for the little gold flecks on the berries, you will be sure to have a positive ID, as there are not look alikes. They grow on large bushes. 

 

 

 

 

Jefferson National Forest Plant Walk Virginia Chicken of the woods sulfur shelf
Chicken of the Woods, Sulfer Shelf, Laetiporus sulphureus  The one on the top right was bigger than my head! This was my first wild mushroom find and I like Chicken of the Woods not just for its mild taste, but also because it’s SO easy to identify. Great mushroom for a beginner all around.

 

Jefferson National Forest Plant Walk Virginia witch hazel
Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana  Yes, that witch hazel. The bark is infused or distilled to make the common rub good for scrapes and bruises. 

 

Jefferson National Forest Plant Walk Virginia spicebush
Spicebush, Lindera benzoin  The leaves and fruit have a mild and spicey smell and flavor. 

 

Jefferson National Forest Plant Walk Virginia Goldenrod
Goldenrod, Solidago  Many medicinal uses and supposedly one of the plants used by the early settlers for tea. And no, you’re not allergic to it. In fact, the tincture is sometimes used it to combat hayfever.

 

 

Jefferson National Forest Plant Walk Virginia Wild Yam
Wild Yam, Dioscorea villosa The root has several medicinal uses.

 

 

 

Jefferson National Forest Plant Walk Virginia Smooth Sumac
Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra  The Fuzzy seeds can be used to make a delicious lemonade-like drink. 

 

View my Plant Walk in the Jefferson National Forest part 2!

 

 

 



2 thoughts on “Plant and Fungi Walk Jefferson National Forest Virginia (part 1)”

  • Kate Block says:

    Hi!! My 10 year old son and I are going on a self-created survivalist adventure coming weekend. We plan to stay somewhere in Jefferson national forest. Two questions-1. what app do you use for identifying edible/medicinal plants? And how might I find that Cardwell field in your photo? Or Craig creek? Or Do you have a recommendation for an area to hunker down. We will be building our shelter and finding our own food sources. 😃

    Thanks!

    • The Jefferson National Forest is HUGE and we only explored a tiny piece of it. You will find Craig Creek and Caldwell Fields off of Craig Creek Road in Montgomery County, Virginia. I suggest that you go to the Ranger Station in Blacksburg or another area you are interested in checking out to find out where you are allowed to camp. There is fishing in Craig Creek if that interests you. For books on foraging, check out my post 5 Books on That Could Save Your Life Hope you have a lot of fun! Stay safe!

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