Here is our complete January foraging guide for the Pacific Northwest.
Wood Ear Mushroom
Wood ear mushroom (Auricularia sp.) also know as jelly ears can be foraged even when they are frozen in cold January temperatures. They have a jelly-like texture and grow on wood. They are common in Asian dishes and usually pan fried.
Conifer needles remain throughout the winter months and can be easily identified. Most conifers are edible with only a few toxic varieties. Pine, Spruce, Fir and Redwood are all both medicinal and edible. Douglas fir is the easiest to identify and most widespread in Oregon. The light green tips of the branches are the new growth called spruce tips. These spruce tips are softer and contain the most vitamin C and are the part of the tree that you want to harvest. Conifer needless are great for teas, tinctures and desserts.
Burdock root is known for its medicinal properties because it contains powerful antioxidants. It’s best to identify Burdock in summer or fall before the majority of the plant dies back. They have large, heart shaped leaves, pick to purple flowers surrounded by bracts that dry to form burs. The roots are primarily used medicinally by boiling into tea or made into a tincture.
Chicory is a perennial plant in the dandelion family. Chicory blooms between July and October with bluish purple flowers. The roots can be used similarly to dandelion root in coffee, tea or added to hot chocolate.
Dandelions are commonly used for their flowers, but the roots can be roasted and made into coffee, tea or added to hot chocolate. East to identify and extremely widespread you can forage the roots all winter long.
Old man’s beard or Usnea is a Lichen that can be foraged all winter long. Lichen is a combination of a fungus and an algae that grow together and is used medicinally. Usnea can be made into tinctures, extracts and teas. Usnic acid, one of the active compounds in Usnea, may help promote wound healing and fight infection.