Naturalist, author, and environmental educator “Wildman” Steve Brill, America’s go-to guy for foraging, has just released a master series of foraging apps, WildEdibles, that will give iPhone users the in-depth information they need to identify, ecologically harvest, and use 165 of the best wild edible and medicinal plants of North America, plus essential details of 52 look-alikes. The focus will be on eastern species, but half the plants and many more very similar close relatives that are also edible grow across the country.
“This takes foraging beyond what’s in any book or other app,” said the popular freelance naturalist, author, and environmental educator. “Taking full advantage of this newly developing media technology, I pair each plant with up to eight detailed pictures. My 718 photos, paintings, and drawings present all aspects of these tasty, nutritious, in-demand renewable resources in all their seasonal forms, something simply not cost-effective with print media.”
Plants are easily searchable by a number of different criteria (season, habitat, etc.) and arranged alphabetically for quick access in the field. Each herb, green, shoot, fruit, berry, nut, seed, root, or seaweed listed contains detailed identification info, a checklist of critical features, how to spot it, scientific and common names, parts used, food uses, seasons, range, habitats, poisonous and non-poisonous look-alikes, related species, cautions, and clarification of anything that may cause confusion.
“Wildman” provides his practical tips (and quips) for harvesting and using the plants (“Never pull out a cattail if there’s an animal rights activist watching!”), as well as details about preparing them. 162 scrumptious, healthful, vegan recipes, from simple ones such as Garlicky Chickweed with Penne to elaborate creations such as Black Forest Cake with Wild Cherries, grace this app’s electrons. “Wildman” has been recognized as America’s top foraging expert for decades, and his Brill-iant innovations with wild and vegan whole food dishes will be appreciated as soon as you try his Wild American Persimmon Ice Cream, or his unbelievably realistic Cow Parsnip Meatless Loaf (but not if you taste them both at the same time!).
The medicinal uses of the wild plants also get full coverage, from practical home remedies in use for centuries, to explanations of the latest cutting-edge pharmacological and nutritional research.
A big advantage of having this massive amount of information in an app is that you can use it whatever way works best for you. You can look up plants alphabetically, by season, or by habitat, or find the best toxic species to gather in case the boss drops over for dinner. WildEdibles is completely interactive, so you can switch around or find anything in it whenever you choose.
You can use the app as a cutting-edge vegan cookbook for wild foods or store-bought alternatives, or just sit back and browse through the modern botanical paintings and drawings that rival anything created by 19th-century naturalists. And there’s also a detailed introductory section, plus a glossary of botanical terms as close as a tap of the finger.
If you’re a beginner who finds the huge number of plants a little too imposing, a variety of smaller versions, including a flashcard-style studying tool, should suit your needs. A lite version with the most common, widespread, edible lawn “weeds” is free; the full app costs $7.99; and other smaller versions run from $0.99 to $3.99 each. Upgrades will become available as the app continues to blossom and grow.
This app series, created as a collaborative project, was crafted by skilled designers and programmers from the Detroit-based group WinterRoot.
WildEdibles, “Wildman” Steve Brill’s master foraging app series, is now available for all iOS 4.2 devices, with a customized iPad version soon to follow. Android and other smartphones will also be supported by future releases. Please contact “Wildman” at (914) 835-2153 for further information, and visit him at http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com.