The plum trees are in blossom. The delicate white flowers emerge before the leaves, but their appearance is fleeting. Ten days and they are gone. For the keen wild forager, now is the time to scour the local hedgerows and woodlands for the plum’s early flowering cousins, the damson, bullace and sloe. Their white blossom is equally ephemeral but at this time of year these wild and semi-wild plums are easy to spot in the hedgerows. Make a mental note of their location and return in the late summer to harvest the delicious fruit.
A hedgerow, with a mixture of hedge crops such as damson and sloe, can be evidence of an old orchard site. Planted to mark the boundary of traditional orchards, hedgerows protected the trees from frost and wind damage. They would often be stocked with fruiting trees and shrubs such as blackthorn, damson, cherry plum and crab apple to attract pollinating insects and provide an additional source of fruit that extended the cropping season.
- Common law allows foraging for personal use, but don’t forage from bushes and trees that are clearly in someone’s garden.
- Do make sure you have identified the fruit you are picking. Don’t eat anything that you can’t positively identify.
- Don’t forage rare or endangered species.
- Only take what you need. Leave plenty for the wildlife.