Tiny, neon green tips, with an aroma reminiscent of Christmas in the spring time, dust the evergreen trees in my backyard. They bring a Narnia-like hope, when the snow melts into flowers and Father Christmas comes bearing gifts. And while evergreens often remind us of winter, this wild food and medicine brings the benefits of a citrus fruit and sunshine. Vitamin C is their gift. In fact, if we were ever met with an apocalyptic situation, we could survive for quite some time off of fir tips, assuming the apocalypse happened in the spring time.
Fir Tips are the new, spring growth on Fir Trees, but you can harvest from many different evergreens, like spruce + hemlock. They are a perfect wild food for a beginning forager because they make themselves known in a neon green fashion every spring. You can also identify them by their soft and supple feel, compared to the dark green, rigid, elder needles.
Foraging is a perfect opportunity for us to practice the kind of relationship we want to have with our environment. When I first began my foraging practice, almost 7 years ago, I had minimal connection to nature. I mimicked the ways of the consumer culture, harvesting without intention, forethought or gratitude. Over the years I have seen how often I judged the mass culture without seeing the seeds of their ways within my own practices.
You could look at the fir trees and think, "they have enough tips, I can just harvest as much as I want." This is how I thought. But the truth is, trees, plants, nature; these are all a part of us. How we approach nature is how we approach ourselves and our greater body. With this in mind, my foraging practices drastically shifted.
I realized what a gift it was to forage gifts of wellness and abundance from nature. My gratitude naturally and exponentially grew into an overwhelming and bounteous display. Now, when I approach a plant, I ask permission, I express my gratitude and meditate on what it looks like for my spirit to combine with it's gifts.
When I harvest, I wander along the branches like a cow grazing on grass. I don't over harvest one branch or tree, I gather a little bit here and there and constantly move along. This way, I leave some of the fir tips for the tree to continue producing abundance year after year. It is this gift of foresight that our entire human population could learn to implement in every act. I am not perfect in this, but it is my intention.
One of my favorite and favorable ways to use Fir Tips, and many other wild edible greens, is to make pesto. This recipe can be incredibly friendly to the local Pacific Northwest scene when using garden or locally grown Basil, local Hazelnuts and cheese. Feel free to use whatever nuts are local to your region in this recipe.
Fir Tip Pesto is a lovely way to consume the whole plant and infuse it's benefits into your body and spirit. When we consume plants we can imagine their gifts combining with our body and spirit. We are like a team...us and all of nature.
Evergreen Tips in general are packed full of more Vitamin C than oranges!
Lately I've been frying up Oyster Mushrooms with Banza Pasta (chickpea pasta) covered in a Pine Pollen Butter (which I may share next!) and topped with Fir Tip Pesto.
Due to it's high content of Vitamin C, I also like to make a sun tea with fir tips daily during the spring, and through the winter if I can freeze enough! This creates a rehydrating elixir of life, referred to as "natures gatorade" but obviously full of life in comparison. You can add lemonade (be watchful of sugar content) strawberries or anything else you like to sip in a cool drink.
I hope this empowers you to get out there and experience the joy of wild food and medicine!
All photos by: AUBREY JANELLE