Welcome to the Gift of Wild Edible Plants
I like to start with questions so here are some that I use for class often.
Why do you want to learn about edible wild plants?
How many do you already use?
Where do you find them?
Can you eat them raw?
What are they good for?
Can you grow them?
Can you start them from seed, root, or bulb?
Do they transplant?
Let’s take a look at a number of my favorite wild edibles then, we can try to answer some of these.
We are going to do this alphabetically to a degree with an ephasis on those edibles readily available in the Northwest of the United States. I am going to throw in a few that I grow in the house because I can’t collect them outside or grow them here.
Alluim Family wild chives, garlic, onion, leeks.
Aloe Vera grows wild in Hawaii but not the northwest, so I grow it inside. This is true for a number of edible wilds if we wish to grow them in places they are not native to. Aloe Vera is one of many that have learned to grow rather well in the homes, green houses, and sun rooms.
These are some of my favorite wild edibles. Acai, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cranberry, Elderberry, Huckleberry, Mulberry, Raspberry, Salal Berry, Salmon Berry, Service Berry, Strawberry, Thimble Berry,
Berries are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and anti-oxidants. This gives them superfood status. Berries feed the brain, and help take toxins out of the body. Strawberries in particular are know for helping remove heavy metals from the system. Berries eaten with the seeds are a great source of dietary fiber. Are proven to prevent and reverse cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
This commonly used herb in Irland now finds it’s way frequently to the field, table, and garden. The flowers are good in salad, the leaves also make good greens. People cut the stem and used it after scraping for a number of recipes.
There are a few places with cactus in the northwest and I have always been surprised when I walk into it. It is not common but thrives in some of our dessert areas. I will need to do some more researching on this one.
Cattails grow anywhere they can find water. The young vegetation can be eaten as a vegetable. Digging the roots to use for flour and collect pollen in the spring. All of it can be used for cooking.
This is a moisture and shade loving plant that is loaded with good nutrients.
Red and White are the mostly commonly grown commercially and for their value in nutrients. There are a number of other edible clovers as well. Yellow flowered clover with a cone like seed cluster is also edible as is the tiny jumping clover that likes to grow both in my garden and in my house plants.
Mallow grows veraciously and seeds quite well. It can be used as small leaves. The whole plant including the seeds are edible.
Growing them is usually way to easy. I was blessed with a yard full of them when I moved into my current house. The young leaves are best, older leaves can be boiled or steamed to take out some of the bitter. The flowers can be used as decoration or steamed and eaten.
Dock Yellow and Curly
Dock grows really well in my back yard and survives the winter with little more than a bit of a freeze down. The yellow dock has large seed producing stocks. It is a great green when it is young and has bit of a lemon flavor. It can be used in salads, soups, and stews. It also works as a bandage should you need one.
There are people who make a reasonable living on the Oregon coast foraging for wild mushrooms, ferns, and salal berry plants for florist. Ferns such as the fiddle head are prized when they first come out of the ground. Most of the rest of the fern is also edible but not very tasty for most. I have tried little pieces of a number of different kinds of ferns.
There are many grass type grains one can eat in the wild. The Aramath, Millit, wild oats, ryegrass, sorgum, and corn. Yes, corn at some point was a wild plant and the indian corn or Heirloom varieties were once wild. There are so many of these so check back later for more video’s
Grasses of many types are also edible.
There are thousands of types of grains.
Honey Locust Thorn-less
Honey Locust grows amazing pods with a sweet layer in part around the seeds. These large pods have been studied extensively for animal feed. They are also can be used kind of like a bean.
This is one of those wild edibles in need of restoration in many places. It is beautiful and the springy seeds are wonderful to eat. They have a nice nutty flavor. Jewelweed likes to grow next to water and is a great plant to start in your creek if you are blessed with one. The nutty seeds are worth it but not the only value of the plant because all of it can be used for healing.
Growth is only limited for this by nutrients and daylight. I have seen it over five feet tall. The young leaves are the best and pretty high in calcium and other nutrients.
This is one of my favorites to eat. It has a wonderful flavor. It likes shade and moisture and is found here under forest cover near the river.
There are many kinds of mint and mint related plants most of which are edible. Mint is high in anti-oxidants, and vitamins and nutrients. I use mine mostly for wonderful flavor tea which can be done as a cold, sun tea, or hot infusion.
Nettles stinging and non-stinging
Nettles are reported to be some of the highest plants when it comes to calcium. The y also contain a number of other nutrients.
We have a number of wild nuts in the United states. Those common to the Northwest are Acorns (these require some processing), Black Walnuts, Hazelnuts, are the most common in the Northwest. It is worth looking into Almonds, Chestnuts, Pistachio, Pecans, English Walnuts, Hickory, and Macadamia to grow at home depending on where you live. All of them pack healthy fats, and a high nutrient value.
Plantain broad and narrow leaf
The whole plant can be eaten. the leaves make great greens when young and if you take the fibbers veins off the stems. Plantain is also one of natures bandage materials.
My favorite wild edible this succulent boast great amounts of Omega 3 Fatty acids. You can eat the whole plant raw, blend it up in a smoothie, use the leaves in as salad, or use it as a cover for wounds.
This great little plant has a wonderful sour taste. Is high in many vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, and K. It is the main ingredient in Essiac Tea for cancer. Caution in over use, it is high in oxalic acid.
This is native to Brazil and other parts of South America. It is now also widely available as a natural sweetner. My friend says her children ate all the leaves off of hers. I am still enjoying mine dried. I also hope to grow much more of it this next summer. Great natural sweetner expecially for people with diabetes. Whole stevia has the added benefit of adding antioxidants and phytochemicals to the diet.
All the thistles that I know of are edible at least in the flowering part. The leaves are edible but much to spiny to want to eat. The stalks of of which get mighty tall are generally edible but a bit of work to get at. A good knife, machete, garden pruner, and gloves are all recommended.
I hope you have enjoyed this introduction to Edible Wild Plants of the Northwest. Please take time to check back again this coming summer to see what I have discovered by then.
Garlics and onions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhpvMg5d1OM
Licorice sweet cicely Edible Acres
Mi Gardener Grains https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtTHCG16IP4
Trillium Wild Edibles Channel
Created by Judy Woodworth 2018 All Rights Reserved