Wildflowers Part 1 (Bunchberries, Recipes and Prickly Roses)

I’m a huge fan of wildflowers.  Well any flower in general.  But I love wildflowers.  Always have.  Ever since I really started working in the bush, I’ve been trying to “learn” new wildflower every year.  Not just learn about them, but retain the knowledge of their names and what they look like so that I can identify it easily the next year.

It always seems simple that I can remember a flower until the next year rolls around and I rediscover the same flower as if I had never seen it before.  It doesn’t help if I sometimes go years without seeing them.  However I do manage to add to my arsenal of knowledge each year—usually by one.  So I’m up to like maybe 20 kinds of wildflowers or so now, that I can easily identify when they are in bloom and sometimes even when they are in bud or just finished blooming.  I can tell you some of the benefits of a few of them, but not every one.  Some I could even tell you when and where to expect to find them.  I’m getting smart and then I realize it’s because I’m getting older and soon I will be loosing what little I have learned and retained over the years.

This summer I mentioned in an earlier post that I flew north to Atlin, BC to work for a Heli-fishing Lodge on the Nakina River.  One of the great parts of my trip was that it was prime wildflower season up there and I took full advantage of photographing the botany around me.  I discovered flowers I didn’t remember or was sure I had never seen before and then (in this new age of technology, because gosh I forgot to bring my Wildflower Handbook) I looked up on an app that I had on my Ipad and found the names and descriptions for them. (Thankfully the app didn’t require WiFi, because to the horror of so many of our guests, we didn’t have any)  Oh how things have changed in the remote bush from ten years ago!  Back then, only the richest of rich would’ve thought to ask for internet.  Now it’s an absolute expectation.  I was very glad, though, that the owners of the lodge decided against hooking up their satellite internet.  It just seemed more natural and relaxing to not have access to the busy outside world.  And yes, I just went on a rabbit trail, but that is also part of discovering wildflowers.

Here are a couple  wildflowers I discovered and rediscovered on my trip this summer:

Bunchberry or Dwarf Dogwood (Cornus Canadensis)  Nakina River, BC

Bunchberry or Dwarf Dogwood (Cornus Canadensis) Nakina River, BC

Very prevelant when I first arrived at the Lodge on the Nakina river was the dwarf dogwood that littered the surrounding forest ground with beautiful white flowers.  This one was new to me.  At least I didn’t remember it from years past working in that country.  What is unique about these, is that the white part of the flower that most people—myself included—think these are petals, when in actuality they are not.  They are bracts and the tiny little bits in the center of them are the flowers which turn into soft orange or reddish berries in late August or September.  Hence it’s nickname Bunchberries.  These berries are questionable whether they are considered edible as there are records of the Pilgrims making puddings out of these berries because of their high pectin levels, but people have complained about upset stomachs after eating large quantities of them.  Having high pectin levels, I’m guessing they may be a good addition to a berry jam.  But I didn’t have the chance to find out as I was gone just as the white bracts started falling off.

Click here for a link to a Bunchberry Raspberry Syrup, that I would be keen to try if I ever have the luck to be around an abundance of Bunchberries in the future.

Wood Rose (rosa woodsii)

Wood Rose (rosa woodsii)

Also in abundance was the Wood Rose and the Prickly Rose.  Very similar to my native province’s wild prairie Rose.  And yes this flower is well known to me.  It’s always a favorite for it’s lovely perfume and glorious pink. Bushes of roses grew in profusion around our cabins and the lodge.

And as with all roses, they come with thorns.  Little itty bitty thorns that poke easily through anything but the stiffest of denims or leather.  They make walking through the bush in BC a bit of a trial sometimes, as my son quickly found out.  Bare legs are not an option!

The petals of these roses are often used to make tea or jelly and the “hip” or the fruit that appears after the petals fall off is also used to make jellies, jams, teas and even soups.  The rose hip is very high in vitamin C, but make sure not to eat the seeds as they have two pointy prongs that could lodge in your intestines and cause irritation and possible damage.

Click here for an interesting link to a Jewish Rose Hip Soup that I might try if I can ever find the time to go out and collect 1 litre of rose hips!

Stay tuned for more Wildflower fun!


This entry was posted in Cooking for a Fishing Lodge in Northern BC, Daily Life in the Bush, Tips and Tricks from the Bush and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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