Event Announcement

A QueensWay Tour with “Wildman” Steve Brill

Sunday, Sep 3, 2017
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

The 2 hour walking tour of The Queensway and adjacent Forest Park begins at 10 AM, Sunday, September 3, at the NE corner of Woodhaven Blvd. and Forest Park Dr., in front of Victory Field in Woodhaven, Queens.

The suggested donation is $20/adult, $10/child under 12. At least 24 hours in advance to reserve a spot on tour.



We’ll hike along a long-abandoned LIRR trackway, plus wild, wooded trails running through a large, mature forest. We’ll also examine thickets and cultivated areas, all loaded with wild plants. This is the start of the nut season, and the butternut is one of the best. We’ll crack these flavorful nuts open with rocks, and enjoy a treat you can’t buy anywhere.


One of the best-tasting of nuts, this one isn’t grown commercially only because the tree doesn’t provide a huge harvest of nuts every single year.

Most roots are out of season in the summer, but burdock, an expensive detoxifying herb sold in health food stores, is an exception, and it abounds in human-disturbed areas scattered throughout the trailsides, where it’s invasive. Instead of brewing it as a tea, it’s so common, you cook it like potatoes, or marinate and bake it to make vegan beef jerky.

Another root that’s in season is sweet cicely. This one tastes like black licorice, and it’s great in dessert dishes and oatmeal. Sassafras root, the original source of root beer, stays in season all year. You use it for making tea and root beer, as the thickener for gumbo, called filé powder, and as a cinnamon-like seasoning.

Another tree we’ll look for is the black birch. It grows in the woods, with twigs that taste like wintergreen, and it provides the raw material for making birch beer. You can steep the twigs in hot water to make a fabulous tea, with anti-inflammatory properties that protect you from heart disease, similar to the chemically-related aspirin. You can also thicken an apple juice decoction with agar, season and sweeten it, and create black birch Jello. Even better, use it, along with raisins, coconut milk, stevia, lemon rind, and some vanilla bean to flavor a tapioca-thickened Stick Pudding.

There are plenty of summer herbs and greens in season. We’ll find mugwort, a tonic for the female reproductive system, and lamb’s-quarters, which you use like its relative, spinach. We’ll also be collecting Asiatic dayflower, hedge mustard, poor man’s pepper, lady’s thumb, and wood sorrel, all great for salads, sandwiches, and cooked vegetable dishes.

Wild seeds are in season too. We’ll hunt for the spicy seeds of garlic mustard, walnut-flavored seeds of jewelweed (a panacea for skin irritation— the juice in the stem even cures mosquito bites and prevents poison ivy rash), plus the wild grains of foxtail grass. With lots of rain and a bit of luck, gourmet chicken mushrooms, milky mushrooms, boletes, and russulas may be emerging. Don’t miss a fantastic tour of this vastly under-appreciated nature trail.

Violet's Chicken Mushroom

Chicken Mushroom

Foraging expert Violet Brill combined her interests in ornithology and mycology to find this 30-lb. chicken mushroom from a moving car!

“Naturalist-author “Wildman” Steve Brill is America’s go-to guy for foraging. He’s been leading foraging tours and providing demos for the public, for schools, day camps, birthday parties, museums, nature centers, parks departments, restaurants and chefs, garden clubs, hiking clubs, teaching farms, nurseries, and other organizations, in parks and natural areas throughout the Greater NY area, since 1982.


Forest Park Dr, Woodhaven, NY 11421, USA

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