Butternut (Juglans cinerea)

Butternut Leaves

Identification: A tree indigenous to eastern North America. It has gray, relatively smooth bark. The leaves are large and pinnate, divided into 11 to 19 pointed and toothed leaflets; there are drooping racemes or catkins of separate male and female flowers. Butternuts

Family: Juglandaceae

Other Names: Butternut, White Walnut, Oilnut.

Habitat: Rich soil in deciduous woods. Southeastern Minnesota, southern Ontario, and western New Brunswick, south to northern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, western Georgia, and western South Carolina.

Parts Used: Nuts and sap.

Harvest: Early spring (sap); Fall (nuts).

History: Native Americans and European settlers prized butternuts. Native Americans harvested the buttery fat left from boiling the nuts, make a mush for baby food, ground the nuts for breads and cakes, soup and relish. The nuts were stored for winter food. Native Americans also made syrup and beverages from the sap, but yields were lower than from sugar maple.

Uses Today: Nuts, candy, flour, oil, syrup, sugar, water. Although the nutshells are often difficult to open, the nuts are sweet and delicious; they can be eaten raw, dipped in sugar syrup and eaten as candy, ground into a meal-like flour, or crushed and boiled to separate out an excellent vegetable oil. Although walnuts are becoming increasingly scarce, a single tree will produce a large supply of nuts; gather the nuts when they fall to the ground. The sap can be used in the same way as maple sap.

Nutrients (Per 100 grams)
Calories – 629 Fat – 61.2 grams
Protein – 23.7 grams Iron – 6.8

Butternut also has medicinal properties.


(Arctium lappa – Great Burdock)
(Arctium minus- Common Burdock)

Burdock Identification:
Burdock is a biennial plant found in the Eastern and Northern U.S. and in Europe, along fences, walls, and roadsides, in waste places, and around populated areas. The root is long, fleshy, gray-brown outside, and whitish inside. During the first year burdock has only basal leaves. The purple flowers appear in loose clusters from July to
Great Burdock (A. lappa) – The burs are large, up to 1-1/2 inches, long-stalked; in flat-topped cluster. Stalks of lower leaves solid with a groove on upper surface. Grows from 4 to 9 feet. Habitat – Roadsides, waste ground, limy soil. Eastern Canada to Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New England.
Common Burdock (A. minus) – Burs much smaller; short-stalked. Stalks of lower leaves hollow, not grooved. Grows from 3 to 5 feet. Habitat – Roadsides, waste ground, limy soil. Canada south to Kansas, Missouri, West Virginia, and Virginia.
Other Names: Lappa. Lappa minor, Beggar’s buttons, Clothburr,
Cockleburr, Cockle buttons

Nutrients (Per 100 grams)
Calories – 89 Niacin – 0.03 mg. Riboflavin – 0.08 mg.
Calcium – 50 mg. Phosphorus – 58 mg. Sodium – 30 mg.
Fat – 0.1 gram Potassium – 180 mg. Thiamin – 0.25 mg.
Iron – 1.2 mg. Protein – 2.5 grams Vitamin C – 2 mg.

Uses: Cooked green, cooked vegetable, salad, candy.

Harvest: Spring (leaves & leafstalks); Early Summer (roots;
Summer (flowerstalks).

Burdock Bloom Stalks
Note: Collect about a dozen Burdock bloom stalks (which is the main central stalk that will support the flowering side branches). They should be about one to two feet high and still in the process of growing taller (in early summer way before they start to bloom). Cut them as close to the ground as you can.

4 cups cooked burdock bloom stalk rounds
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onions (can use wild onions or wild leeks)
2 cloves garlic, minced (can use wild garlic)

Remove large leaves and leaf stalks. Cut off the cluster of leaves at the top of the stalk. Peel or cut off the outer rind (which is stringy and bitter).
Chop the peeled bloom stalks into rounds about 1/3 inch thick.

Drop the chopped burdock bloom stalks into boiling salted water and boil until tender (about 10 to 15 minutes). Remove and drain.

Add the rest of the ingredients and combine well. Spread in a pie pan or flat baking dish and sprinkle paprika over the top.

Bake at 350°F. until bubbly (about 20 minutes). Serve hot with crackers.

Burdock Rice
1/2 cup grated burdock root (first year plant)
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water

Bring the water to a boil. Add the rice and the grated burdock root at the same time. Bring water to a boil again, then turn down the heat and simmer until the rice is cooked. The burdock root adds a nutty flavor to the rice.

Burdock Salad
3 lbs burdock rootstock, sliced &
boiled (first year plant)
1/4 to 1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
2 tsp dry mustard
4 green onions, finely minced
2 tsp tarragon
1 small cucumber, peeled,
seeded, chopped
2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 cup (packed) parsley, minced 1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup (packed) minced fresh dill
weed (2 tsp dried dill)
1/2 to 1 cup sour cream
1 to 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 stalk celery, minced
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped cashews (optional)

Slice the burdock root diagonally and boil for about 30 minutes in water with a pinch of salt. Drain off water and boil again in fresh water for about 10 minutes.

Thoroughly combine all ingredients, cover and chill. Makes a great main dish for lunch during the hot summer days.

Scalloped Burdock
3 cups sliced, cooked Burdock root
3 Tbsp chopped garlic chives
2 Tbsp margarine
3/4 cup warm milk
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Layer the burdock, with chives sprinkled over each layer, in a buttered casserole dish. Combine the margarine, milk, salt and pepper, and pour this mixture over the burdock. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve topped with a sprinkle of fresh chives.

Burdock also has medicinal properties.

Bull Thistle

Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)

Bull Thistle

Bull Thistle is a biennial of the Compositae (Composite) family. The leaves are
deeply cut and prickly with long yellow spines. The stems are also prickly with long yellow spines. The disk flowers are showy, a rose-purple color, and resemble a “shaving brush”. These flowers sit on top of a spiny ball. The plant grows 2 to 4 feet tall.

Habitat: Pastures, roadsides. Throughout the eastern United States.

Flowers: June – October

Parts Used: Young leaves, young stems, and roots.

Harvest: Spring through fall.

Uses: Salad, cooked green, cooked vegetable. With the spines removed, the young leaves can be added to salads or cooked as greens. The pithy young stems are excellent peeled and eaten raw or cooked. The raw or cooked roots of first-year plants (those without stems) make a good survival food.

Black Walnuts

Black Walnuts (Juglans nigra)
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Black Walnuts
Black Walnut Leaves A deciduous tree from the Juglandaceae family that grows from 50 to 80 feet tall depending on soil and amount of sunshine. It requires moist soil and it cannot grow in the shade. It is hardy to
zone 4. Black Walnuts
Leaf: Alternate, pinnately compound with 10 to 24 leaflets, 12 to 24 inches long. Leaflets are ovate-lanceolate, finely serrate, and are 3 to 3-1/2 inches long. The leaves are fragrant when crushed.
Twig: Stout, light brown. Buds are short, blunt with a few pubescent scales. Leaf scars are 3-lobed, resembling a monkey face.
Flower: The scented flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by the wind. The plant is self-fertile.
Fruit: Round with a thick, green husk changing to black and breaking open. The nut shell is black, hard, thick, and finely ridged. The nuts mature from September to October.
Bark: Thick and very dark brown; divided by rather deep fissures into round ridges. Blocky appearance.
Habitat: Rich woods. Massachusetts to Florida; Texas to Minnesota. (Native.)
Part Used: Nuts.
History: Native Americans used the buttery fat left from boiling the nuts. Cherokees dried the nuts for winter use, and made porridge from ground nuts mixed with hominy and beans. Iroquois made beverages, soups, breads, pies and puddings from the nuts.

Nutrients (Per 100 grams)

Calories – 628 Niacin – 0.7 mg. Riboflavin – 0.11 mg.
Calcium – Trace Phosphorus – 570 mg. Sodium – 3 mg.
Fat – 59.3 grams Potassium – 460 mg. Thiamin – 0.22 mg.
Iron – 6 mg. Protein – 20.5 grams Vitamin A – 300 IU

Uses: Nuts, candy, flour, oil, syrup, sugar, water.
Harvest: Fall (nuts)

Black Walnut & Wild Rice
1 cup cooked wild rice
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sliced mushrooms 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 cup black walnuts

Cook the wild rice according to directions. Melt the butter and sauté the Black Walnuts, mushrooms, onion and green pepper about 3 minutes, or until the vegetables soften slightly. Add the wild rice and garlic salt and continue cooking, stirring several times, until wild rice is heated through.

Serves 4 to 6.

Black Walnut Poundcake
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tsp rum extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup black walnuts, chopped

1.Cream butter and shortening. Add sugar and beat until very light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixed with baking powder, alternately with milk, starting and ending with flour.
2.Beat in rum and vanilla extracts.
3.Fold in walnuts.
4.Pour into large tube pan that has been greased and floured. Bake at 325°F for 80 minutes. DO NOT OPEN OVEN DURING FIRST HOUR!

Black Walnut also has medicinal properties.

Black Birch

Black Birch (Betula lenta)
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Black Birch Identification: Medium-size tree with rounded crown and smooth, dark red to almost black bark. Broken twigs have wintergreen fragrance. Buds alternate, both side and end buds present, about 3/10 of an inch long, light brown, broadest near base and tapering to a point. Fruits are erect brown cones 1 to 1-1/2 inches long,
containing many tiny, winged seeds. Fruits mature in late summer and early fall. Cones persist into winter. Leaves oval, toothed, and up to 6 inches long.
Habitat: Forests or open woods, especially moist, north-facing, protected slopes; in deep, rich, well-drained soils. Southern Quebec, southwest Maine to northern Georgia, Alabama; north to eastern Ohio.
Nutrients: Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E. Calcium, chlorine, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and silicon.

Note: It has been recorded that during the civil war, the edible bark of Black Birch probably saved the lives of hundreds of confederate soldiers.

Harvest: Twigs, red inner bark, and bark of larger roots year round, but best in late winter and spring. Sap in early spring, 3 to 4 weeks later than Sugar Maple.

Preparation: Eat inner bark fresh as emergency food, boiled like noodles, or dried and ground into flour. Dry inner bark at room temperature; store in sealed jars for later use.

Uses: Tea, flour.

Harvest: Spring (sap & inner bark); All Year (twigs).

Black Birch Tea

Steep twigs or fresh or dried inner bark in water, or preferably, birch sap. (Do not boil. Boiling removes volatile wintergreen essence.) Sweeten to taste.

Black Birch also has medicinal properties.

Blackberries (Rubus)

Blackberries (Rubus)

Blackberries This native shrub can grow to 15 or 20 feet in length. Family: Rosaceae (Rose family)
Leaves: Prickly, deeply-lobed, alternate; lighter green color beneath.
Stems: Biennial. Sterile first-year stems, known as primocanes, develop from buds at or below the ground surface and produce only leaves. Lateral
branches, or floricanes, develop in the axils of the primocanes during the second year and bear both leaves and flowers.
Flowers: White. Develop in clusters of 2 to 15 near the ends of leafy branches.
Fruit: Red and hard when immature but shiny black when ripe. Oblong or conical, somewhat bristly, and up to .8 inches in length. Sweet and flavorful at maturity.
Habitat: Roadsides, clearings, woodlands, pastures and many other areas.

Nutrients (Per 100 grams)

Calories – 58 Niacin – 0.4 mg. Riboflavin – 0.04 mg.
Calcium – 32 mg. Phosphorus – 19 mg. Sodium – 1 mg.
Fat – 0.9 grams Potassium – 170 mg. Thiamin – 0.03 mg.
Iron – 0.9 mg. Protein – 1.2 grams Vitamin A – 200 IU
Vitamin C – 21 mg.

Uses: Fruit, jelly, cold drink, tea, wine, salad.
Harvest: Spring (shoots); Summer (fruit & leaves).

Blackberry Leather
1 quart blackberries
1/4 cup sugar

Puree blackberries. Put in a saucepan. Add sugar. Heat through. Strain through cheesecloth to remove seeds.

Dry in a dehydrator or in oven.

To dry in oven, set temperature at lowest possible setting — about 140 degrees. Dry until fruit feels leather like, yet pliable. This would probably best be done on parchment paper. Remove the leather while it is still warm and roll it up. Store in covered container.

Blackberry Jam
3 cups blackberries
2 cups water
1 pkg powdered fruit pectin
5 cups sugar

Crush fruit thoroughly. Add water and fruit pectin. Stir until pectin is dissolved. Heat to boiling. Boil 5 to 10 minutes. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Boil 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until thick.

Makes 6 servings.

Blackberry Pudding
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp butter
1 cup flour
Sweetened blackberries 1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk

Cream 1/2 cup sugar and butter; blend in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk; pour into greased 8 X 8 inch baking dish. Cover with black-
berries. Bake at 325° to 350°F for about 45 minutes. Sprinkle top with remaining sugar; bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
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Asparagus Identification: Asparagus is a perennial plant with short, horizontal rootstock having long, thick roots and sending up the young shoots that we eat as vegetables. Asparagus
Stems – Up to 6 feet tall, herbaceous, erect, much branched, glabrous, from rhizomes. Branches thin and drooping.
Leaves – Fernlike (actually branches functioning as leaves). They appear somewhat like pine needles.
Flowers – Seldom noticed; whitish-green; stamens 6; anthers orange; appear from May – June.
Family: Liliaceae (Lily Family)
Other Names: Asperge, Garden Asparagus, Sparrowgrass,
Tien Men Tong, and Shatavari.
Habitat: Pastures, fencerows, old cultivated fields, disturbed sites, open woods, roadsides, railroads. Escaped from cultivation. Native to Europe.
Parts Used: Young shoots.
Harvest: Early spring. To find the new shoots, look for last year’s dead stalks. Cut young shoots off with a sharp knife, just below the surface of the soil. They should be picked when they are several inches long, and the stalk is still tender.

Nutrients (Per 100 grams)
Calories – 20
Potassium – 183 mg
Protein – 2.2 grams
Vitamin A – 900 IU
Fat – 0.2 grams
Thiamin – 0.16 mg
Calcium – 21 mg
Riboflavin – 0.18 mg
Phosphorus – 50 mg
Niacin – 1.4 mg
Iron – 0.6 mg
Vitamin C – 26 mg
Sodium – 1 mg

Uses: Steam or boil for 10 to 15 minutes. The young shoots are eaten raw or cooked in salads and omelets; the root & shoots are added to soups; the seeds can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

Baked Asparagus
1 lb asparagus
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lemon
Toasted sesame seeds, if desired
1. Break off ends of asparagus stalks.
2. Put in baking pan or dish.
3. Drizzle olive oil over asparagus.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice.
6. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of asparagus, if desired.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes or until fork tender.
8. Serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Asparagus also has medicinal properties.

Arrowhead (Broad-Leaved) (Sagittaria latifolia)

Arrowhead (Broad-Leaved) (Sagittaria latifolia)

Arrowhead Identification: Aquatic perennial. Leaves arrow-shaped; lobes 1/2 to as long as main part of leaf. Flowers white; petals 3, rounded; filaments of 7 to 10 stamens smooth. The bracts beneath the flowers are blunt-tipped, thin, and papery. The beak of the mature fruit (achene) projects at a right angle from the main part of the fruit. Height 1 to 4 feet.
The mature plant sends out underground runners at the end of which, maybe 15 inches (40 cm) from the plant’s base, you find either a new plant sprouting, or a “duck potato.” This tuber is white, somewhat egg-shaped, and about the size of a golf ball. Its flesh is harder than a regular potato’s, but still it is succulent enough that you can bite into it. Its raw taste is bitter but if it’s boiled for about 30 minutes or roasted in campfire embers, its taste becomes similar to that of a white potato.

Family: Alismataceae (Water Plantain Family)
Flowers: June – September.
Other Names: Duck Potato, Wapato.
Habitat: Wet sites or shallow water along lake and stream margins, marshes and swamps.
Parts Used: Tubers

Nutrients (Per 100 grams)
Calories – 107 Potassium – 729 mg.
Protein – 5.0 grams Thiamin – 1.60 mg.
Fat – 3 grams Riboflavin – 0.40 mg.
Calcium – 13 mg. Niacin – 1.4 mg.
Phosphorus – 165 mg. Vitamin C – 5 mg.
Iron – 2.6 mg.

Harvest: Fall – early spring.

Uses: Potato. The tubers can be gathered in quantity by freeing them from the mud with a hoe or rake and collecting them as they float to the water’s surface. Although slightly unpleasant tasting eaten raw, the tubers are delicious when cooked; prepare them as you would potatoes.

Warning: Arrowheads (not necessarily this species) may cause contact dermatitis. Do not confuse with Wild Calla or Water-arum (Calla palustris).

Arrowhead also has medicinal properties.

American Elder

American Elder (Sambucus canadensis)

American Elder Identification: American Elder is a native American shrub, growing 5 to 12 feet high. The stems are covered with rough, yellowish-gray bark. The leaves are opposite (paired), compound, with 5 to 11 elliptical to lance-shaped leaflets; shrarply-toothed. Elder Flowers

Numerous small, white, fragrant flowers appear in flat, umbrella-like clusters from June to July. The fruit is a dark purple berry appearing from June to September. The European Elder (Sambucus nigra), though larger than the American Elder has similar characteristics and similar properties.

Habitat: Damp areas and waste places, particularly in the central and eastern United States. Nova Scotia to Georgia; Texas to Manitoba.

Other Names: Black Elder, Common Elder, Elderberry, Rob Elder,
Sweet Elder

Nutrients (Per 100 grams) (Berries)
Calories – 72 Niacin – 0.5 mg. Riboflavin – 0.05 mg.
Calcium – 38 mg. Phosphorus – 28 mg. Thiamin – 0.07 mg.
Fat – 0.5 grams Potassium – 300 mg. Vitamin A – 600 IU
Iron – 1.6 mg Protein – 2.6 grams Vitamin C – 36 mg.

Harvest: Harvest the flowers when fully open by either picking the whole clusters or shaking the older blooms lose in a paper bag. Collect the fruit by breaking off the cluster and setting in water proof containers such as 5 gallon buckets. Elderberries are very easy to collect as the stem breaks off easily. It is a good idea to collect blooms from an area other than where you plan to collect berries later. Harvest flowers in summer and berries in late summer.
Uses: Fritters, jelly, muffins, cold drink, wine, and pies.

Elderberry Jelly #1
3-1/2 cups elderberry juice (about 3-1/2 lbs ripe berries)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
7-1/2 cups sugar
1 pkg powdered fruit pectin

Prepare elderberries by removing large stems. Place in a large kettle; crush. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Strain juice through jelly bag. Measure juice. If you do not have quite enough, add enough apple juice to make 3-1/2 cups. Add lemon juice and return to kettle.
Heat, adding sugar, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add pectin.
Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard 1 minute.
Remove from heat, skim off foam and ladle into hot, sterile jars; seal.
Makes 3 to 4 half pints.

Elderberry Jelly #2
2 quarts elderberries with stems removed
2 cups water
1 box powdered pectin
5 cups sugar

In a saucepan, simmer the elderberries in the 2 cups water until berries are soft. Strain through a cloth or jelly bag. Be sure you have 3-1/2 cups of juice; if not, pour a little water through the crushed berries in the jelly bag.
Return the 3-1/2 cups juice to saucepan. Add pectin to the juice and bring to a boil. Stir in the sugar and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat, skim off foam and pour into hot sterilized jars. Seal with hot paraffin wax immediately, or process in a boiling water bath. Makes 3 to 4 half pints.

Elderberry Pie
2-1/2 cups elderberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt 2 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix elderberries, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Sprinkle with flour and dot with butter. Put in an 8″ pie crust and cover with another crust. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Elderberry Flower Fritters
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup milk 1/2 tsp salt
Assorted spices such as nutmeg,
cloves, allspice and cinnamon
Collect the flower clusters, gently wash and dry on a towel. Clip the clusters into smaller sections and dip into the batter. Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Elderberry Muffins
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp nutmeg
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup wheat germ
3 Tbsp molasses
1/2 cup dried elderberries

Cream sugar and margarine. Add remaining ingredients and mix until
blended. Bake at 425 degrees F. for 20 minutes in a muffin pan.
Elderberry Wine
20 pounds of stemmed and washed elderberries
5 quarts boiling water
1 pkg wine yeast
10 cups sugar

Mash elderberries in a 5 gallon crock and cover with boiling water. Cover and let stand for 3 days. Strain juice and return to crock adding 10 cups sugar and one package wine yeast. Cover with cheesecloth or an airlock. Let stand in a dark, warm room until fermentation stops. Decant into bottles and store in a cool place for about a year.

Elderflower Wine
3 pints elder flowers (stems)
3 gallons water
10 lbs sugar 2 lbs raisins
Juice of 3 oranges
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pkg wine yeast

Wash and drain the elder flowers and put in large crock (primary
fermentor). Make a syrup of water and sugar, pour over the elder flowers
while hot, cover and let stand for 10 days. Strain and add the raisins.
Cover and let stand for 4 months. Decant the wine and store in a dark,
cool place for 6 months before using.

American Elder also has medicinal properties.

American Beech

American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)

American Beech Tall trees with distinctive smooth gray bark and coarsely toothed elliptic leaves. Leaves are simple, alternate, deciduous, elliptical in shape, and coarsely serrate with parallel lateral veins running to the margin teeth. Dead leaves persist on twigs over the winter. Twigs are slender, gray, and zigzag with long, pointed, yellow-brown, “cigar” buds. Bark is blue-gray, thin and smooth.
Leaves 1 to 5 inches long. Fruit – small triangular nuts enclosed in a bur-like husk with weak spines; each husk contains 2 to 3 nuts. The tree grows 60 to 80 feet tall.

Habitat: Rich soil of uplands and well drained lowlands from southeastern
Canada to Wisconsin; south to Florida and West to eastern Texas.

Fruit: September – October

Parts Used: Nuts

Harvest: Fall

Uses: Nuts, flour, oil, coffee. The thin-shelled nuts have sweet kernels that are delicious roasted and eaten whole, or ground into flour. An outstanding vegetable oil can be squeezed from the crushed kernels. The roasted kernels can be used as a coffee substitute. Gather the nuts after they drop from the trees during the first frosty nights in October.

Note: Usually, only the trees in the northern U.S. and Canada produce plentiful supplies of nuts.