4-hour foraging tour: (Outdoors) Don't miss a fantastic tour of this vastly under appreciated park. Inwood Hill Park is one of the best places for foraging in late fall. The city's hilliest park, with a large, mature forest, meadows, thickets, and cultivated areas, it's loaded with wild plants, even in late fall. This is the time to search for roots. Here are some we'll be finding: Burdock, an invasive, Eurasian, expensive, detoxifying herb sold in health food stores, abounds in human-disturbed areas throughout the park. Scrub the root, slice razor-thin diagonally, and cook in moist heat 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. It's fantastic.The root is great in soups, stews, rice dishes, or for making the Japanese delicacy, kinpira gobo. You can also marinate and bake it, to make the "Wildman's" Vegan Beef Jerky. Sassafras root, the original source of root beer, is a sure find. You can use it to make beverages such as tea or root beer, or as an exotic-tasting, cinnamon-like seasoning. The black birch tree, on the other hand, contains oil of wintergreen, and provides the raw material for birch beer. You can freshen your breath by chewing on the twigs, or use them to make tea or birch beer. A strong tea provides non-steroidal anti-inflammatory aspirin-like compounds, good for pain and inflammation (it's used in commercial massage liniments). It’s also fantastic for seasoning puddings. Another root the group will look for is the tuber of the hog peanut, a legume with a flavor akin to raw peanuts. There are still more roots to seek. Near the park's summit, an overgrown area conceals wild carrots, a tastier version of the familiar garden vegetable, with a light beige taproot. Peppery-sweet common evening primrose roots sometimes grow nearby. You can purchase a prostaglandin-rich oil pressed from the seeds in health food stores for PMS and other ailments, but you can't beat the root in soups, stews, and grain or bean dishes. Pepper sedum is an unusual herb, often used as an ornamental, that grows on bare rock at the edge of a precipice. A tropical plant without the ability to die back in the winter, it's in season all year, and grows where it does because it needs the heat the sun-baked rock provides in the summer to reproduce. The plant tastes somewhat like black pepper, and makes an excellent seasoning in any savory dish. Everyone will also find plenty of leafy green vegetables and herbs on this tour, since plants that tolerate the cold abound in this park. We'll be finding chickweed, which tastes like corn, parsley-flavored goutweed, bitter-savory dandelion greens, pungent garlic mustard (which also has a delicious horseradish-flavored taproot), spicy field garlic, with delicious leaves and bulbs, lemony-flavored curly dock, and wild lettuce, only good in the cold weather. Even though it's too late for most mushrooms, there are some species that don't mind the cold, and they grow here. With lots of rain beforehand, and some luck, we could find oyster mushrooms, tree ears, and enoki mushrooms. And when it looks like the tour is over, we'll stop to collect large quantities of the pods of the Kentucky coffee-tree, for making the world's best caffeine-free coffee substitute, followed by savory gingko nuts on Seaman Ave., just outside the park's Emerson Playground exit.