Please remember that picking plants is prohibited in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but some fruits, berries, nuts, and certain mushrooms may be gathered for personal use within limits. No wild mushroom should be eaten unless its identification is absolutely certain, which usually requires an expert to determine. Many mushrooms are poisonous, some deadly, and the responsibility for eating any mushroom or fungus rests with the individual.
Story and image of sassafras by Valerie Polk
Before we leave summer behind, we'd like to share an interview we recorded a couple months ago with Vesna Plakanis, owner of A Walk in the Woods, a tour guide service specializing in knowledge of edible and medicinal wild plants, backpacking, and local human history here in the Smokies. A Walk in the Woods has helped more than 100,000 people explore the Smokies since 1998 through direct, positive experiences.
Vesna shared her knowledge of foraging, something she has been doing with her family since her childhood. Listening to her describe her wild foods frittata may work up an appetite, so grab a snack and have a listen to all the deliciousness that she finds in her own backyard.