What to forage in Spring in Burnaby? What to forage in Spring in Burnaby?

Spring in Burnaby: Discovering 11 Exceptional Nutrient-Rich Wild Foods

Burnaby is a beautiful city located in British Columbia, Canada. It is one of the largest cities in the province, with a population of over 249,000. You can visit Burnaby any season, but something about spring makes it the perfect time.

The land comes alive with spring treats of many shoots on trees, roots, or wild edible plants to forage. This season, it becomes a lively and vibrant landscape with organic and fresh edibles. It is as if it calls us to discover it for foraging and harvesting.

Our food source profoundly affects our land, health, communities and wildlife. We must understand plants’ role in our ecosystem, and foraging is a great way to start.

Spring in Burnaby
Image by Ember Navarro/Unsplash

1. Foraging as an Ancient Practice

Foraging1 is the practice of finding and gathering edible wild food and resources. Spring is the season when the land is visible with unlimited growth. At the beginning of history, foraging was the daily routine of ancient life and indigenous peoples in Canada. After winter, collecting wild foods was their primary source of sustenance.

Unlike summer, the best season to forage in Burnaby is spring. Ideally, a wealth of fresh and new sprouts grows from March to May. 

Indigenous people have been foraging in BC for more than 10,000 years. However, foraging for wild plants and fungi is not permitted in provincial parks, according to the Ministry of Environment of British Columbia. However, it does not apply to First Nations peoples in summer or winter. Similarly, it is not allowed in National Parks and protected areas.

1.2. Nutritional Benefits of Foraging Wild Edibles During Spring in Burnaby

There are immense nutritional benefits of foraging, and many people are trying a hand at it. It is a sustainable practice for your garden, and foraging is also a way to connect with nature. It allows you to enjoy the freshest greens and locally sourced ingredients as purely organic food.

Additionally, these wild ingredients have minerals, antioxidants2, and nutrients as they are naturally grown edibles that absorb sunlight for over 8 hours daily. Consuming them means taking in the vital energy of the sun. Some of the best plants to forage in spring are stinging nettle3, morels4, dandelions, fiddleheads5, huckleberries, and huckleberries.

Cooking with Foraged Food: How This Chef Finds All Her Ingredients In The Wild

As opposed to traditional chefs, many culinary specialists are creative and innovative. They venture into nature for wild edible food6 to add flavour, taste, and aroma to their dishes. 

Innovative chefs, like Chef Robin in Vancouver, have effectively incorporated foraging into their cooking. From salads to soups, they have developed unique blends in their cooking techniques. Thanks to such pioneers, foraging is becoming a trending addition to the culinary arts.

1.4. Go Foraging Safely

Before starting to forage, focus on how to identify wild edible plants. Two seemingly identical plants can have vastly different natural attributes. For instance, one could be tasty, while the other could be deadly poisonous.

Furthermore, most foraging takes place purely in natural settings, which can pose safety threats. That is why, if possible, it is best to consult a practicing expert forager for knowledge. Additionally, it is safer to go foraging during the day and be cautious of any wildlife encounter.

2. Foraging in British Columbia

Spring in Burnaby is the prime time to forage for wild foods compared to other seasons. Consequently, this season, many foragers go out for naturally grown food. Here is a list of the edibles that grow in Burnaby, British Columbia.

2.1. Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle is among the abundant greens you must forage for. With a dark green colour, its most distinctive feature is stinging hairs on the stems and undersides of the leaves. 

To your knowledge, Stinging Nettle is a nutritious food high in Calcium, Magnesium, and Protein and a good source of vitamins A, C, and K.

Stinging Nettles beat spinach in the properties that they contain. As extremely potent medicinal herbs, they aid in blood cleansing and strengthen our immunity. Stinging Nettles are used to heal urinary tract infections. They can also treat conditions like eczema, asthma, seasonal allergies, and digestion. Widely recognized for their anti-hay fever properties, they are ideal for foraging.

2.2.Morel Mushrooms

image by Sarah Stierch/Unsplash
Image by Sarah Stierch/Unsplash

Spring in Burnaby is a unique time when the ground warms after the winter. It allows for the growth of edible morels. Morel mushrooms7 are highly famous, valued, and challenging to grow. These wild mushrooms are typically hand-picked between March and June. You will see these mushrooms blooming in areas following a forest fire in the wild. 

The ideal conditions for Morel mushrooms include elevation and shade. You can combine morels into an incredible dinner. However, take note that morels are not eaten raw. Consume morels only after getting verification by an expert because most mushrooms are poisonous.

2.3. Chanterelle Mushrooms

Mushrooms usually blossom in spring, but you can harvest them in autumn. You can find these in coniferous forests with adequate rainfall, such as those in the Pacific Northwest. They are renowned for possessing artificial gills. These are veiny and do not appear to fall off.

When you pull them apart, they have a stingy, shredded quality. Smelling is another method of identifying them. Chanterelle Mushrooms will smell like apricots. They have a fruity and musky flavour. 

Image by Andreas/Pexels
Image by Andreas/Pexels

One way of cooking and eating these mushrooms is through mixing in pasta. You can also use delicious Chanterelle Mushrooms to serve them with steak. They can also be prepared in a simple yet delightful manner. Mix and cook the Chanterelle mushrooms with minced garlic, butter, and olive oil. 

2.4. Ramps

Ramps EXPLAINED! (Wild Onions)

Ramps, also known as wild leeks, have a distinct appearance and flavor, resembling a cross between garlic and onion, with broad, smooth leaves and a pungent aroma. They usually pop up in spring and across Eastern Canada.

You can eat them raw or cooked. But do not consume their roots. Ramps are simple for harvesting. They thrive in damp soil and shaded forests along creek banks.

In the middle of the blooming season, their leaves start emerging, frequently in enormous clusters. It is preferable to harvest a small amount of the bulbs because they are rare to find. Ramps typically have two or three leaves. Therefore, attempt harvesting one leaf per plant while leaving many alone. 

2.5. Dandelion Flowers

Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area is one of the sites with Dandelions. Dandelions are common plants. This plant offers many medicinal benefits. It is a rich source of fibre, zinc, minerals, and vitamins A, C, and K. In particular, it possesses anti-cancer properties. Eating it protects against chemotherapy8 damage. It reduces inflammation and enhances kidney and liver functions.

Use Dandelion leaves in a salad. However, old, larger leaves tend to be more bitter and rough; the flowers are used in tea-making

2.6. Watercress

Image by Pixabay
Image by Pixabay

Watercress9 is one of the oldest leafy green vegetables. When eaten, it enhances our immune system. It controls blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart rate. If you are seeking different types of green plants for salads and other meals, Watercress is one option in your garden. This plant is easy to grow. All you need to do is make sure it gets plenty of water. It can thrive with moisture or near-flowing water.

2.7. Asparagus

Wild asparagus is harvested during spring in Burnaby because they are eventually harvested in winter. If you have never tasted asparagus, a green plant shoot, you have not done enough foraging. You can also store it for a couple of days. However, fresh vegetables taken from the garden, cooked within an hour, and eaten are ideal. It is because this, by far, is the best way to experience the yummy taste of asparagus10.

If you have a garden or lawn with a small space, it is worth it to harvest asparagus there. I recommend eating raw food such as salad or cooking. Cooking may lessen the benefits of heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C.

2.8. Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads are known as ostrich ferns in Canada and are the only edible ones. These ferns have a limited growing season, which lasts for about two weeks. Also, when they grow beyond 7.5 centimetres, they become too bitter to consume.

When foraging, you must use a pocket knife to remove their heads. Moreover, they are renowned for their distinct, mouthwatering flavour, appearance, and culinary applications. Therefore, seize them as soon as you find them.

They resemble a perfectly blenched green bean with a sharp flavour similar to asparagus. They contain omega 3, fatty acids, iron and fibre. However, you can not eat them raw.

2.9. Licorice Fern Root

Image by Li Xiaohan/Unsplash
Image by Li Xiaohan/Unsplash

Although it grows many times a year, March is its best time. Native Americans would chew their roots for a long hike for sustained energy. It was their equivalent of contemporary cough and cold medicine.

You will occasionally find Chef Robin foraging for Licorice Fern for one of her future tasty treats in a Vancouver forest. She often uses it as a braising flavouring. The best part is that it grows in Vancouver and Burnaby in abundance.

2.10. Magnolias

Plant Profile: Caring and Planting Magnolias

Magnolias are great wild foods that blossom in spring. The climate of the city makes it ideal for the cultivation of magnolia trees. If you want to experience the true magic of magnolias, the UBC Botanical Garden has a huge collection of them.

The health benefits of Magnolia date back hundreds of years and have been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. Magnolia has been used to relieve certain respiratory conditions and has anti-inflammatory properties. Magnolia bark has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits that may be beneficial for skin disorders.

You can use them to make salsa and homemade ketchup. Although these berries take a few days to dry, you can powder them. Afterward, use this powder to add flavour to cakes or pastries. Its flavour is like rich blueberries.

2.11. Salmonberries and Huckleberries

Image by Pixabay

Salmonberries grow wild on trees in a forest. They are pretty similar in shape to blackberries. Eat them when they are dark red, or make their tea in boiling water to treat diarrhea.

Likewise, Huckleberries, wild foods or fruit, are smaller than blueberries. They taste delicious. As a result, you can use this fruit in baking and preserving. They are also an excellent source of fibre, iron, and Vitamin C.

Wrapping Up The Journey

Through foraging tours, the Forager Foundation has been making it an emerging venture in British Columbia since 2015. As a rewarding way, it offers foraging tours during spring in Burnaby to discover unique edible plants like Miner’s Lettuce.

Nature enthusiasts feel energetic about foraging to support the local ecosystem. For the same reason, eager readers find it helpful and motivating. If so, why not join these fellow foragers in this treasure hunt with friends and family?

Remember that you are responsible for your own food safety. Foraging is a lifelong skill you need to learn to recognize and enjoy wild edibles. It takes time to gain the confidence to harvest wild fruits and herbs fully. However, it is worth it in the long run since it will open up a whole new world for you.

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  2. Gulcin, İlhami. “Antioxidants and antioxidant methods: An updated overview.” Archives of Toxicology 94.3 (2020): 651-715. ↩︎
  3. Devkota, Hari Prasad, et al. “Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.): Nutritional composition, bioactive compounds, and food functional properties.” Molecules 27.16 (2022): 5219. ↩︎
  4. Xu, Yingyin, et al. “Large-scale commercial cultivation of morels: current state and perspectives.” Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 106.12 (2022): 4401-4412. ↩︎
  5. Bolton, Elizabeth. “Fiddleheads.” (2023). ↩︎
  6. Duguma, Haile Tesfaye. “Wild edible plant nutritional contribution and consumer perception in Ethiopia.” International Journal of Food Science 2020 (2020). ↩︎
  7. Sunil, Christudas, and Baojun Xu. “Mycochemical profile and health-promoting effects of morel mushroom Morchella esculenta (L.)–a review.” Food Research International 159 (2022): 111571. ↩︎
  8. Behranvand, Nafiseh, et al. “Chemotherapy: a double-edged sword in cancer treatment.” Cancer immunology, immunotherapy 71.3 (2022): 507-526. ↩︎
  9. Pinela, José, Ana Maria Carvalho, and Isabel CFR Ferreira. “Watercress.” Nutritional Composition and Antioxidant Properties of Fruits and Vegetables. Academic Press, 2020. 197-219. ↩︎
  10. Guo, Qingbin, et al. “The bioactive compounds and biological functions of Asparagus officinalis L.–A review.” Journal of Functional Foods 65 (2020): 103727. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Tahsina Javed


  • Zahra Jabeen

    Zahra Jabeen is an emerging SEO content writer from Pakistan. With a master's degree in Language and Literature from the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, she combines her academic background with her love for nature and passion for traveling. Having six years of experience as a teacher and a deep appreciation for yoga, spirituality, and environmental science, Zahra is committed to producing engaging and transformational material. Her inspirational content encourages self-improvement, sustainable living, and a closer relationship with nature, reflecting her expertise and genuine enthusiasm.

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