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Discover nature’s larder

Blackberries (c) Mike Waite
Blackberries (c) Mike Waite

There is more than you may think out there to forage on in Britain’s hedgerows, woodlands and parks. With the start of the autumn lingering on the horizon, this brings with it an abundance of natural foods, from berries, nuts and fruits to mushrooms and edible plants. Find the green open spaces near you by taking a look at our online map here.

The blackberries shown in the image are of course a favourite with many. They are easily identifiable, abundant, sweet (usually!) and contain plenty of vitamin C. Bramble is not picky
about the conditions in which it will grow, such as the soil type or levels of sunlight, making it commonplace in many green spaces. Other berries to look out for include raspberries, sloes and mulberries. These can be used in jams, cordials, pies and gin.

There are numerous species of nuts to discover in the British wilderness, many of which emerge around September/October time. These include sweet chestnuts (not to be confused with horse chestnuts), walnuts and hazelnuts. Nuts are very good for you, being a great source of vitamins and oils. More information on nut foraging can be found on this interesting site.

Mushrooms thrive in warm, wet conditions. They don’t photosynthesise and don’t breathe, so they don’t come under the kingdoms of animals or plants. They are a fascinating group of species, with some edible types, but we do recommend that you go out with an expert and be very careful of what you eat, some toxic species can look identical to non-toxic ones. Have a look at the Code of Conduct for mushroom picking. The London Fungus Group runs lots of walks and workshops to improve your ID skills.

Just remember that these foods are also relied on by many wild animals, so don’t take them all! And do let us know what species you see whilst out and about in London by following this link. Plants, animals or fungi; we are interested to hear about them all. Each and every record contributes to our important database of London’s wildlife.

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