Sometime last year while Keri and I were out foraging we found some Black Walnuts. My very first thought on finding them was that I had to make some ink. And so the adventures began. First I made Walnut ink for brown. Then pokeberry for a magenta/red. Further research told me that I could use Buckthorn to make green. By the time I got to Buckthorn I was hooked. Making ink is so much fun. I got the copper blue and the rust/acorn grey recipes from Jason Logan’s book, Make Ink: A Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking. Check out the samples below:
I remember as a kid spending the days of summer down in the neighborhood creek and surrounding woods and fields. Along the edge of these woods and fields and the banks of the creek grew blackberries and honeysuckle which we would eat at our leisure.
With the Covid pandemic lockdown, we have taken to the woods again and rediscovered our love of foraging. Our most frequent spot for foraging is along the East Bay Bike Path in Riverside and Barrington, R.I.. There is a mile long stretch near our house that boasts of wild Concord grapes, Autumn olives, sassafras, burdock, black walnut, Northeastern Bayberry, elderberry, and garlic mustard.
Our first Chicken of the Woods discovery! Unfortunately, these were too old to harvest but at least we now know of a good spot to look for them.
The seeds of the Pokeberry plant are poisonous but the berry fruit is apparently edible. I don’t think we’ll risk it; however, the berries do make an awesome magenta ink. Soldiers during the Revolutionary War used to forage these berries to make ink to write letters home.
The Northeastern Bayberry is another great find. There are a few bushes along the bike path but we found an even better spot near Scarborough Beach in Narragansett. The leaves can be used like bay leaf and the berries can be boiled to harvest the wax to make candles.
Keri and I try to forage for these every year. They grow plentiful along the bike path. This year we have made jam and cough drops.
As far as I know this Buckthorn is not edible. The berries do make a great ink. The ink is purple when wet and blue/grey when dry. As it oxidizes it becomes more of a dark green.