Get back to nature by introducing some natural, wild edible plants to your plate! People have been eating these wonderful flowers, roots, leaves, nuts, and seeds since the beginning of man on earth. If something were to disrupt the food supply that we all have become so dependent upon, what would we do? Knowing where and what to look for, especially if it were no farther than your own back yard, makes a lot of sense. Consider landscaping your yard with some or all of these beautiful wild edibles, plus so many more. Did you know that almost every part of a pine tree is edible? It’s true!
There are many handy foraging guides on Amazon, complete with pictures put together by experts, and lots of websites hosted by those who know far more about the subject than me. Simply input something like “wild edible plants” in your favorite internet search engine and more information than you can possibly digest in a day will be at your fingertips. 🙂
Here are a few to get you started:
All true Thistles are edible and have many edible parts though some will be more palatable than others. Keep this in mind the next time you come across a patch. Don’t forget to wear thick gloves if want to give it a try. Consider transplanting a few to a far corner of your yard and corral them with a border. See more: http://bit.ly/1wTq5NK The roots are edible, but obviously pulling up the plant would kill it. Harvesting the leaves/ribs only will allow the plant to provide food every year. Here’s one way to prepare them. http://wildedibletexas.wordpress.com/tag/wild-edible-plants/
Wood Sorrel is an edible wild plant that has been consumed by humans around the world for millennia. Perfect for ringing the base of trees in your yard, they come in a variety of flower colors. Purchase perennial seeds to sow or find a wild patch and transplant to get it started in your yard. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxalis
Now’s the time to thoroughly do your homework to determine which edible Fiddleheads may be found in your area. Not all ferns are safe to eat. Purchase seeds online or find an edible patch this summer to transplant for harvesting next Spring. Never eat just any old Fiddlehead without positive identification. Sautéed in butter with a few seasonings makes it a wonderful addition to your wild edibles plate!
The original Daylily, seen growing wild at roadsides and easily identifiable as edible by their lack of spots on the flower petals, are a beautiful addition to your landscape. They multiply by root so whenever you need to cull the patch, share with a friend and eat the rest. The flowers are full of good-for-you iron.
Wild onions and garlic are perfect for your edible landscape. You’ll know you’ve found the right plant if it smells like onion or it smells like garlic. If there’s no ordor, don’t eat it! Find the good stuff growing wild in yards, meadows, and fields and dig up a patch to transplant or find the seeds online.
Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C, and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dandelion Rather than waging war on the much-maligned happy flower, harvest it for a nice salad plate from time to time. You can also make dandelion wine. Common Sense Homesteading has a great recipe.
If you see these wispy, feathery fronds growing at the edges of forests or roadsides, stop and take a closer look, especially in the spring. Shooting up from the ground around the base of the plant you’ll find Asparagus! Harvest by cutting the super healthy stalks of goodness close to the base. Once the buds have opened, the stalks are too tough and woody to eat. Transplant to your yard and give it a few years to start producing for you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparagus
The Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple, or topinambour, is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America, and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. Harvested for their delicious tubers (dig up the roots). Find them in open fields and roadsides or order seeds online. More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_artichoke
A friend posted a pic on facebook of a little purple flower. She wanted to know what it was as they grow wild all over her yard. If you find these pretty things in yours, don’t kill them. Eat them!
When newly opened, Viola (violets) flowers may be used to decorate salads or in stuffings for poultry or fish. Soufflés, cream, and similar desserts can be flavored with essence of Viola flowers. The young leaves are edible raw or cooked as a somewhat bland leaf vegetable. The flowers and leaves of the cultivar ‘Rebecca’, one of the Violetta violets, has a distinct vanilla flavor with hints of wintergreen. The pungent perfume of some varieties of V. odorata adds inimitable sweetness to desserts, fruit salads, and teas while the mild pea flavor of V. tricolor combines equally well with sweet or savory foods, like grilled meats and steamed vegetables. The heart-shaped leaves of V. odorata provide a free source of greens throughout a long growing season. More info at http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/sweet-violets-edible-flowers-zmaz84mazgoe
If you live in a temperate climate, consider adding Sugar Cane to your edible landscape. It grows 10′ to 20′, depending on the variety and the beautiful plumes make it one of the prettiest ornamental grasses. Bonus, the cane juice can be used to sweeten your drinks and desserts.
Ramps (aka spring onions or wild leeks) are “an early spring vegetable, a perennial wild onion with a strong garlic-like odor and a pronounced onion flavor. Ramps are found across much of the eastern United States and eastern Canada, from Alabama to Nova Scotia to Manitoba to Oklahoma. They are popular in the cuisines of the rural uplands of the American South, and also in the Canadian province of Quebec. Ramps also have a growing popularity in upscale restaurants throughout North America.” If you can’t find them near you, buy the perennial seeds to start them in a partly shady area of your yard.
I love making jelly, though I’ve never tried Clover. If you come across a lovely field, give it a try. This recipe at Magnolia Holler looks like a great one to try. 😊
Did you know it’s possible to get the highly sought-after Morel Mushrooms to sprout in your yard? If you have a shady area where you allow the leaves and limbs to rot and decay, and you’re lucky enough to find two or three morels elsewhere every year (handle them with care!), you can shake the morels over your land. Scrape back the top layer of dead leaves and shake the spores from the nooks and crannies of the mushrooms over the moist soil. It will take several years, but there’s a good chance you’ll begin to find the coveted fungus. You can also buy the spores from http://www.bestspores.com/edible-spores?page=1
Did you know Watercress just beat out kale as the top “superfood?” http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/you-ll-never-guess-what-veggie-just-beat-kale Did you know you can find it growing wild? If you have a stream near your home or running through your property you can start your own patch. Search the rivers and streams nearby and gently pull some up with roots intact. Replant at the edge of the creek or stream, not quite in the water, but as close to the edge as possible. It make take several tries to get it to take, but when it does, you’ll have an endless supply of a watercress. Otherwise, buy plants from a nursery or online. They will grow well in a moist, humus area of your yard.
Underground Greenhouse ~ I just think this is smart idea. 🙂
Wild Chicory is a perennial plant usually with bright blue flowers, or sometimes (rarely) white or pink. You can pop the flowers straight into your mouth for a quick snack. The leaves, flowers, and chicons (blanched flower buds) are great in salads. The roots can be roasted and ground to make a great substitute for coffee or used in it as a flavoring. It’s also grown as a forage crop for livestock. You can find it at roadsides and in fields and is native to Europe, North America, and Australia, where it has become widely naturalized. There are many different varieties and seeds for most can be purchased on sites such as ebay.
All parts of Nasturtium are edible! For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropaeolum
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Shepherd’s Purse is gathered from the wild or grown for food, to supplement animal feed, for cosmetics, and for medicinal purposes. It is commonly used as food in Shanghai and the surrounding Jiangnan region, where they are stir-fried with rice cakes and other ingredients or as part of the filling in wontons. It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku. In Korea it is known as naengi and its roots are one of the ingredients of the characteristic Korean dish, namul (fresh greens and wild vegetables). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsella_bursa-pastoris
Galium aparine, with many common names including Cleavers, clivers, goosegrass, catchweed, stickyweed, robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy, sticky willow, stickyjack, stickeljack, and grip grass, is a herbaceous annual plant of the family Rubiaceae.
The leaves and stems of the plant can be cooked as a leaf vegetable if gathered before the fruits appear. However, the numerous small hooks which cover the plant and give it its clinging nature can make it less palatable if eaten raw. Geese thoroughly enjoy eating G. aparine, hence one of its other common names, “goosegrass”. Cleavers are in the same family as coffee. The fruits of cleavers have often been dried and roasted, and then used as a coffee substitute which contains less caffeine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galium_aparine
Chickweed is a cool-season annual plant native to Europe, but naturalized in many parts of North America. It is used as a cooling herbal remedy, and grown as a vegetable crop and ground cover for both human consumption and poultry. It is sometimes called common chickweed to distinguish it from other plants called chickweed. Other common names include chickenwort, craches, maruns, winterweed. The plant germinates in autumn or late winter, then forms large mats of foliage. Flowers are small and white, followed quickly by the seed pods. This plant flowers and sets seed at the same time.
Common Chickweed is edible and nutritious, and is used as a leaf vegetable, often raw in salads. It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku. More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellaria_media
Two of my favorite field guides: