6 Plants to Forage This Fall
Filled with crisp and sunny days, fall is the perfect season to head into the forest for a foraging trip. Nature's bounty of fruit, flowers, and foliage is also at its peak in autumn, offering myriad options for bringing the outdoors home in fresh and dried arrangements. Read on for six of our favorite plants for fall foraging.
1. Rose Hips: Collected from Rosa rugosa and other large-hip varieties, rose hips bring a pop of vivid color to autumn arrangements. These foraged finds ripen in late summer through early autumn; they're most commonly found in shades of red and orange, but can also be deep purple or even black. For adventurous cooks, rose hips are also excellent additions to jams, teas and baked goods, where they provide a better source of Vitamin C than citrus juice.
2. Ostrich Fern: Found in swampy areas across the northern United States and Canada, ostrich ferns make a beautiful autumn centerpiece thanks to their tall, feathery fronds. Inspired by this plume-like shape, their species name -- struthiopteris -- is derived from the Ancient Greek words struthio, meaning ostrich, and pterion, meaning wing.
3. Osage Oranges: The inedible fruit of Maclura pomifera, Osage oranges serve as natural ornaments thanks to their striking, chartreuse rind and knobby texture. These unusual fruits are only distant relatives of the orange; instead, they're a member of the mulberry family. Hardy and adaptable, these conversation-starting plants are commonly known by a wide variety of descriptive names including hedge apple, horse apple, and mock orange. The ripened fruits drop as fall arrives, just in time for seasonal decorating.
4. Moss: Tactile, sweet, and reminiscent of walks in the woods, mosses make the perfect accent for fall container plantings, centerpieces, and décor. Thanks to cool temperatures and increased moisture, mosses look their best in autumn. They can be gathered from the woods or scraped from bricks and stone -- just be sure to leave some to grow back.
5. Solidago: Better known as goldenrod, Solidago is a common sight in the fall landscape. This herbaceous perennial is native to meadows and prairies across North America, where its golden-yellow flowers provide splashes of color beginning in late summer. For long-lasting display, collect Solidago just before its flowers are fully open, then dry and tuck into autumn arrangements.
6. Flowering Dogwood: Cornus florida is just one of the many trees that put on a show with brilliant autumn foliage. A star in the spring garden thanks to abundant blooms, flowering dogwoods are also autumn beauties, offering flame-colored leaves and contrasting gray buds. We also love to collect the branches of various maples as their leaves transform to crimson and gold.
Photo credits: 1. Rebecca Siegel; 2. Nicholas A. Tonelli; 3. Michael Brown; 4. Nichloas A. Tonelli; 5. rockerBOO; 6. Dcrjsr
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