I think one of the big advantages for me over the past few months, and I acknowledge my privilege in being able to say this, is the increased connection to nature in my neighbourhood. I’m fortunate to live very near to a forest, and it’s been a real pleasure in noticing the change of seasons, from flowing cherry blossom at the entrance to the ever-growing luscious green canopy inside. Although before the Coronavirus I visited the forest often, it’s something I’ve not really noticed before: the forced slowdown of life has made me far more aware of my environment and I’m often curious about new plants and flowers I see. Today I decided to discover a bit more about these wildflowers I pass daily.
I found some apps that are made just for this: they scan a picture, analyse and identify it. I am rubbish with flowers and plants and can just about identify my daisies from my poppies, so these were perfect for me! I used PictureThis until I seemed to run out of free pictures, so then switched to PlantNet which I found a lot easier to use, and didn’t seem to have a limit.
My first discovery was the bristly hawksbeard, a little yellow plant from the daisy family. I see these all over, and I thought they were a weed until I tested my app on it. It turns out, the bristly hawksbeard is edible! I’m not sure I’d like to give it a try, but maybe it’s one to put on the list for another day.
Next up was garlic mustard, another plant I see all over. I was a little surprised to read that this small white flower is also edible – I had no idea you could eat these common plants. I think I would be a little apprehensive eating any wild plants without someone I trust explicitly telling me it’s ok.
My final plant is one I walk past almost every day and notice. The white delicate flowers look so interesting and unusual that it always catches my attention. I couldn’t see why it was called old man’s beard, but the name definitely made me smile.
I wasn’t really interested in learning much more about the plants other than their name, but I was really surprised to find some edible ones. I was under the impression that you’d have to forage quite carefully to find edible plants, so that was a nice surprise. I’ll definitely use this app again, I like being able to identify the different flowers and learning a bit more about nature in my neighbourhood.