Over 250 plants and fungi to forage in Aotearoa

By Peter Langlands

Penguin, $50


Earlier this year I wrote about Fungi of Aotearoa by Liv Sisson and mentioned the imminent publication of a ‘companion’ book:  Foraging New Zealand by Peter Langlands. Peter has long been a leading expert in foraging. He has created a large, personal database of 7500 edible flora and fauna species in New Zealand. For this book he limited himself to plant-based foraging and to only 250 of our tastiest wild plants.


The book starts with chapters on edible plant families listed in alphabetical order from Amaranthaceae to Violaceae. This is followed by chapters on edibles such as Conifers, Ferns, Grasses, Succulents, Seaweeds and Fungi. It finishes with recipe basics and has a comprehensive index and additional resources. The book is a great reference book with tools to accurately identify plants and foraging tips, all accompanied with full-colour photographs. Each plant is identified by its scientific name and one or more common names and Māori name where appropriate. Many cautionary notes are included regarding toxicity and the importance of proper identification.


Personally, I am not adventurous with greens, even in the produce isle of our local supermarket. But this book is not just a guidebook. Langlands is keen to inspire people to get out into the outdoors and enjoy the environment around them. I was curious about what I could find around Lake Tekapo. Did you know that the tender new growth at the tips of the Douglas fir has a “distinct citrusy and resinous flavour and is high in vitamin C and electrolytes”? The tips can infuse flavour in syrups or tea, or finely chopped is a seasoning for fish or poultry.


Many of you will already know Peter Langlands and his partner Jackie Philips who was the librarian at the Fairlie library. Together they will run two workshops at the Breathe Tekapo Wellness Festival on 25th and 26th May. And they will also be at Petronella’s Bookstore from 1 – 3 PM on Sunday 26th for a book signing and to give you an opportunity to sample some foraged food snacks.



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