Top nuts, seeds and berries to forage for in September

Autumn is upon us, so enjoy the last of the fine weather and get gathering. Foraging is a great way to get kids interested in the countryside, and it's good for keeping them occupied on walks. These nuts, seeds and berries are easy to identify. 

24th August 2015

Always be sure you can positively identify any plant before you pick it, and never eat any plant you are unsure of. When foraging, ensure you leave plenty for wildlife.

1. Rosehips

Used as a replacement for citrus fruits during the Second World War, they where widely collected and made into syrup for flavouring foods. They can be found in hedgerows, rough grass and scrub. It grows up to 3m (10ft) high. The leaves grow in pairs of toothed leaflets, the flowers are pink or white, and the fruit is orange-red and oblong shaped. Watch out for thorns and be sure to remove the inner seeds.

2. Beech nuts

This easily recognisable tree can grow up to 40m (131ft) tall. The leaves are bright green, alternate and oval. The nuts grow with four, three-sided nuts to one brown prickly husk. It tastes similar to a walnut, but gather early, as you will have squirrels to contend with.

3. Elderberries

Widespread and easily found in woodland and hedgerows. The bark is corky and the green slightly toothed leaves grow in groups of five. These small, dark red-black berries grow in clusters and can be added to sweet pies, crumbles or jams.

4. Raspberries

An easily identified plant and less prickly to handle than its bramble cousin. Raspberries are coming to an end in September, but you should be able to get a harvest or two, especially from autumn fruiting garden escapees. It is only very slightly spiny with toothed oval shaped leaves, with a white underside. These rich red berries are formed from drupelets.

5. Wild strawberries

Although small and hard to find, these berries are well worth the search. They are bursting with flavour and best eaten straight from the plant. They can be found on grassy banks and in open woodland, low on the ground. The leaves are grouped in threes and are toothed and shiny.

6. Hazelnut

These nuts are ripe for picking when the leaves are just beginning to turn yellow. Found in woods, hedgerows and scrubland, try giving a branch a good shake and searching below the tree. The leaves are roundish, downy and toothed while the nuts are encased in a green, leafy cup. Our editor Fergus went hazelnut foraging last year – here's how he got on

7. Poppy

Contrary to popular belief, poppies in England do not contain opium. The seedheads are ready for picking when they are a grey-brown colour and have small holes just underneath the flat top. Put the whole seed heads into a paper bag and shake. Remove the heads; the seeds left in the bag can be used for sprinkling on bread, cakes and rolls.

8. Blackberries

This prickly shrub grows in woods, hedges, heaths and waste places. It is usually found in a tangled straggly clump, with prickly, toothed leaves that turn reddish green in the autumn. The berries should be a deep purple-black when picked. We've rounded up our favourite blackberry recipes here

9. Hawthorn berries

This abundant shrub can be found in woodland, hedges, scrubland, on heaths and downs. Its leaves are a glossy green, deeply lobed and found on spiny branches. The round red berries (haws) grow in small bunches and have a gentle, apple-like taste.

They can be used to make wine or a sort of candy called hawthorn leather. This involves simmering the haws in a little water until soft and straining off the pips. You then add sugar as you would to make a jam but keep reducing the liquid until it thickens. When cool, it resembles a strip of candy. You can find a recipe/technique here


Main image credit: Getty

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