Alicia Funk and Karin Kaufman’s book Living Wild, has recently been released with an expanded selection of native plants. The eco-friendly book showcases gardening, cooking and medicinial uses for native plants throughout the Sierra Nevadas and California. I asked the Nevada City authors for some of their favorite local plants.
Alicia wrote that her favorite wild plants in Nevada County are, “Since I love all of our native landscape, it is hard to pick favorites. But these are a few wild plants that I use regularly as part of trying to live a local, habitat-friendly lifestyle.
California Bay: Wonderful as a spice for winter soups and stews, delicious ice cream made by Treats in Nevada City and as a natural, household cleaner. Make your own cleaner by filling a mason jar with fresh or dried bay leaves and then steep overnight. Available at Briarpatch Co-Op if you don’t want to make your own.
Manzanita: The flowers are an edible and visual treat on salads, the berries are my favorite antioxidant-rich beverage and I use a tea made from the leaves externally to treat poison oak.
Black Oak: The acorn is the classic symbol of natural abundance and I love using leached acorn flour as a gluten-free, nutrient-dense flour for desserts.
Mugwort: There is nothing better for keeping away mosquitoes in the summer!
Madrone: I love the beauty of the tree and the delicious taste of the berries, added to a local veggie stir fry or made into a beyond cranberry, wild berry sauce for thanksgiving.”
Landscape architect Karin said, ” What I love about using plants native to the area is that I know they’ll need minimal attention to stay healthy and thriving. This means less watering and fertilizing, and more time enjoying the hummingbirds and butterflies that the beautiful blossoms attract. Also, in using native plants we are replacing, bit by bit, the habitat and food sources that wildlife depend on that have been lost through development of our towns and cities.” Stop by Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply, they’ve got a large selection of native plants.
Find out more or add your own recipes to the community website, www.livingwild.org. The new edition of Living Wild is out now at Outside Inn and local Nevada City and Grass Valley stores.