Edible Wild Plants

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It is native to much of the United States and Mexico and some southern regions of Canada. It can easily be identified by its raceme which first contains small white flowers that later turn into greenish fruits. Chetelat describes their taste as a fresh radish flavor.

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It prefers sunny locations with dry soil. Unfortunately, Chetelat says, there is a war being waged on them by lawn companies. The second being saw palmettos and the first being the non-native citrus.


The flowers in Hawaii are dried and used as a flavoring for a simple tea, much like that of the lemonade made from staghorn sumac. Chetelat teaches the group that Bacopa is a common health food supplement as it directly affects neural regeneration and development, which in turn helps with memory retention. The small thick succulent-type leaves creep along the wet ground at three to six inches high. The leaves which are rough to the touch have the smell of lime or lemon.

By adding these leaves to hot water you can make a refreshing tea. This edible weed has veiny, crinkly, edged leaves that are curled slightly. The plant comes up early in the spring and in Florida grows in shade in the hotter months.

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The younger leaves can be eaten fresh, while older leaves can be used as a potherb. Can be found from Pennsylvania to Florida and west to Texas. Chetelat says it is a member of the carrot family and the leaves are the part you consume, as the stem and roots are hard. It can grow in Zones three to 11 and is said to be difficult to control. How cool would it be if we controlled weeds organically with our appetite?

Both species can also be easily found in most, hypothetical monocultured, manicured lawns. He urges to the group to question our water usage. Pony foot does not have a strong flavor and is great to add to a bitter greens salad to create balance. Although lots of plants are edible, not all are palatable and of course, some are toxic. For example, Chetelat says that while you can eat the young leaves of a willow, historically people have said that they would rather eat their own shoes.

When foraging, remember that it is against the law to take plants from public land. Harvest, forage and propagate these edible wild plants from private land that you have been granted permission. The elephant ear is flowering. The group dissipates after ten or so minutes and a few of us remain. Your email address will not be published. Reading Time: 6 minutes On a sleepy Sunday afternoon, on the grounds of an ex-horse stable, Nate Chetelat presents a wild plant identification tour for a local gardening group.

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Edible Wild Plants

Countryside Machinery on the Homestead e-edition Flip Book. Edible parts : Fruit and flowers of this plant are edible.

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If you can find it, I highly recommend cloudberry jelly. It's amazing.

Caution : Many berries look alike. Carefully identify the plant before consuming its berries. Also known as the bog myrtle, this plant has several medicinal benefits, including as a treatment for acne, stomach ache, and liver issues. You can also keep the leaves around as a potent insect repellent.

This plant grows as a shrub near bogs, with flat, oblong leaves. Edible parts : Its fruit and leaves are edible and make a tasty tea. This pretty plant is part of the evening primrose family. Look for the tall, purple blossoms growing from long, pointed, alternate leaves. Edible parts : Flowers are edible raw or cooked.

Leaves from young plants can be eaten, as well. Caution : Watch your quantities when eating fireweed. Too much can have a laxative effect. People consider this plant a weed so you can do your part to help keep it in check in the wild by eating it, which is fortunate because it's delicious. It has scalloped leaves in a basal rosette, but the surest way to tell that you've found the right plant is to crush the leaves.

It will smell like garlic. Fiddleheads are ferns before they have fully opened. You'll find them emerging from the ground in spring from wet, fertile soil.


Flavor : This edible wild plant has a mild asparagus flavor mixed with a bit of spinach, as well. Caution : Remember that ostrich fern fiddleheads are the edible kind.

Some ferns are poisonous, so identification is crucial. Wood sorrel gets confused with clover, and it's even known as American shamrock, even though it isn't a shamrock at all. Look for three joined heart-shaped leaves. When it is blooming, you can spot it by the pink, white and lavender flowers. Edible parts : Leaves and flowers are edible raw, but the flavor is milder when cooked, and toxic compounds are removed via the cooking process.

Caution : Watch out, this edible wild plant, like other sorrel varieties, contains oxalic acid. This component gives it its acidic taste but is also toxic in large quantities. Not safe for pets to consume. Also known as ramps or ramsons. If you can find these, you've hit the wild edible plant jackpot, because they are delicious.

In the spring, look for wild leeks in the moist soil, usually under trees. They grow in 2 or 3 broad, smooth leaves out of a white bulb. Don't harvest the bulb, because ramp populations are dwindling, and it takes five years or more for a ramp plant to mature. Edible parts : You can eat the bulbs and leaves, but we recommend leaving the bulb in the ground to produce a new plant. Caution : Lily of the Valley is a poisonous lookalike, so watch out.

They only grow in the eastern and mid-western U. You'll find this European-native growing wild in lawns and cool, shady areas where the soil is moist. Edible parts : You can eat the leaves of this plant raw, but they taste better if cooked. This plant is packed with nutrients, and you can also use it medicinally to treat diarrhea and digestive issues.

Look for oval or egg-shaped leaves growing in a rosette. When you break the stems, you'll find strings that look like celery. Look for diamond-shaped leaves coated with a flour-like powder on the underside.

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Caution : Be careful not to overeat this plant. It shouldn't be consumed as a daily staple since the compounds in lamb's quarter can hinder the absorption of certain nutrients. While the blossom looks similar to dandelion, coltsfoot's leaves have a heart-shaped, waxy appearance. Caution : Pregnant women should not consume this plant, and there may be small amounts of toxins in the leaves, so don't overeat. Also known as a sunchoke, this wild plant is in the sunflower family. You can spot it by its bright yellow flower and oval leaves growing in large colonies.

Caution : You might confuse this plant with a perennial sunflower. Young sunchokes can cause gas. Edible parts : You can eat the leaves of this plant, but the rest of it is poisonous. Flavor : Taste somewhat like cucumber. The younger the plant is the better the flavor it has. Caution : This plant is part of the lily family, and many plants in this family are poisonous.

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The berries, roots, and flowers of this plant are toxic. Look for this biennial growing in dry, sunny locations. It's easy to identify by its tall, erect stem with yellow blossoms, but the large, velvety leaves are easy to spot as well. Caution : Some people are allergic to this plant, particularly the little hairs that grow on the leaves.