Compared to the price of enjoying local food in a restaurant (the Post recently pointed out how easy it is to drop $600 at Roberta’s), $15 for a foraging foray with the “Wildman” Steve Brill seemed like a steal when we took part recently. However, getting a taste of Brill’s stories and anecdotes — and rounding up some wild edibles — is about to get cheaper and easier. In between leading tours, Brill is hard at work on an app for iPhone and Android, Foraging With the Wildman, which he hopes to release March 1. The app, which Brill estimates will retail for $4.99, will be “The equivalent of a natural foraging book, except it’s interactive.”
Users will be able to identify plants they encounter by answering a series of questions (What kind of plant is it — is it a tree, is it a vine?; Are the leaves oval-shaped, heart-shaped?), until the query is narrowed down to a few possibilities, which can be identified via photos and illustrations (done by Brill himself). Checklists of features will help you distinguish between look-alikes like the wild carrot (hairy stem, carrot-y smell) and poisonous wild hemlock (smooth stem, dead-mouse smell). During the question process, “Anything you don’t understand, you touch the terms and the definition pops up,” Brill says.
Though Brill told us “this has never been done before for wild plants,” we have to point out that an app called Neighborhood Fruit, focused on locating trees bearing common edible fruits growing on public land, did drop earlier this year. But while a lot of the foraging books are written by botanists, Brill’s app will include harvesting tips and recipes, plus some of his signature jokes, like this one: “The gingko tree is different from human beings, because unlike human beings, it’s the female of the species that has the nuts.”