by David Cecelski
We were foraging for wild mushrooms by the Eno River just before supper. A walk in the woods is so pleasant now in the autumn light and with the first leaves changing color. We got there when the sun was barely coming over the ridge and we walked in the day’s last light. The forest floor was still moist from the storm a couple weeks ago, so we found lots of mushrooms next to the river and also along a path that followed the ridge.
We also found lots of black walnuts along the river. Black walnut trees (Jugans nigra) are fond of rich, moist soils and sun, not shade, so you often find them next to rivers and streams.They grow mostly in older, mixed hardwood forests, and, while they may flourish best in Appalachian coves, they can really be found all over the state. Their whole fruit, including the husk (which looks like an old tennis ball), falls to the ground this time of year.
Along the Eno, there were places where the black walnuts just covered the ground. My son and daughter were more captivated by their discoveries of an indigo milky and an “Old Man of the Woods,” but this old man of the woods filled his pockets with black walnuts and began thinking about making cookies and shortbread.
photo by David Cecelski
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