Nature’s Bounty

Nature’s Bounty

Aubrey Mundell, the “Wandering Lemurian,” knows what wild plants of the Northwest you can eat

Wandering Lemurian Herbs owner Aubrey Mundell harvests fireweed at Mount Spokane.
Aubrey Mundell, the Wandering Lemurian, harvests fireweed at Mount Spokane. | Photo by Young Kwak.

An untrained eye would have overlooked the cluster of silvery green leaves poking up through a pile of smooth rocks on the banks of the Spokane River.

But wild plant forager Aubrey Mundell immediately spots the herb, a variety of mugwort, traditionally used to soothe the stomach, aid digestion and even to treat menstrual problems.

Many other edible and medicinal plants naturally grow along the banks of the Spokane River below Kendall Yards, and even along the Centennial Trail above. During a walk through the neighborhood on a hot, dry August day, the self-trained forager points out a handful of plants that can be cooked or eaten raw, dried and steeped into teas, or used as smoking herbs.

Though it’s extremely invasive and classified as a noxious weed in Washington and many other states, Japanese knotweed’s young spring shoots can be harvested and prepared a number of ways; even pickled. So can the immature leaves of red dock, a plant of the genus Rumex that’s commonly found growing along roadsides and by late summer is several feet high with a stalk topped by feathery, burnt red sprays of seeds. Cattails are also edible throughout the growing stage, from the plant’s stem to its pollen.

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