I have lived in New Hampshire for twenty years now, and have only gotten around to looking for fiddleheads this year. I’m not sure why – I certainly wildcraft enough with other things, both obvious and obscure. Partly I believe it is because they are only available for a few weeks, if not days, in early spring. And also because unlike most of my other wildcrafting, I have had no mentor. I use my field guides extensively, and have quite a collection of wild eldible guides at this point in my life, but for fiddleheads… well, the most charitable word I can use is vague. And I will not feed my family foods that are identified vaguely. Here on Stonycroft we have close to a dozen species of fern, and up until yesterday I didn’t think we had the edible kind. Glady and I took a walk, and I was taking pictures. Then I spotted what looked like the Ostrich Fern fiddleheads and decided I would bring a few up to the house for identification and inclusion into dinner.
Back at the house, I delved into my books, and the internet for pictures and descriptions of edible fiddle heads, and realized that the little guys on the right in the above picture were correct. I had found them growing in a damp, shady area below an active spring. It was still cool enough there to have them tightly enough curled to harvest. Fiddleheads are edible, fern fronds are not. I discarded the wrong ones, and threw the handful of good ones, with a little cleaning off of the papery caul, into my pad thai for dinner. Along with some dandelion leaves.