Naturalist to Lead Hunt for Wild Blackberries and Mushrooms in Forest Park
QUEENS — Forest Park is popular for its biking paths and jogging trails.
But it’s also a great place to spot an array of edible herbs, mushrooms, nuts and berries, according to naturalist Steve “Wildman” Brill, who will lead a foraging tour in the park this Saturday.
Brill, 64, who grew up in Kew Gardens and has been going to Forest Park since he was 3, said the park “has lots of native and foreign species and lots of habitats.”
The tour will take 4 hours and will cover a distance of about 2 miles, said Brill.
Participants, he said, will make a number of stops to observe and discuss various plants.
“It’s very hand-on,” said Brill, who has been taking New Yorkers on foraging tours around the city and beyond since 1982. He gained notoriety in 1986, when he was arrested in Central Park for eating a dandelion, considered a violation of park regulations.
During the tour in Forest Park, nature lovers will learn about sweet cicely, “which has roots that taste like licorice,” chicken mushrooms, “which taste like chicken,” Asiatic dayflower, “which tastes like string beans,” jewelweed, “which you can use to cure mosquito bites and to prevent poison ivy rash,” black birch, “which tastes like winterfresh gum” and sassafras, “which tastes like root beer,” said Brill.
Brill will talk about science behind the plants and their history. He will also discuss their medicinal and cooking uses.
The 4-hour walking tour begins at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10, at the stone wall at Union Turnpike and Park Lane, near the Parks Department's Overlook building. The suggested donation is $20 for adults, $10 for children under 12. There is no obligation to pay. Participants should call (914) 835-2153 at least 24 hours in advance to reserve a place.