About Edible Wild Plants

About Edible Wild PlantsFamiliarity with local edible wild plants is a valuable survival tool as well as a convenience, allowing you to supplement the food you carry and forage in an emergency.

Types

The specific wild plants available will vary area by area; make sure you familiarize yourself with local plants such as cactus varieties and mesquite in the dry southwest or fireweed in the Pacific Northwest before foraging.

Benefits

Because edible wild plants are gathered fresh, they're full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. There is no such thing as an empty calorie in natural wild foods.

Fun Fact

dandelion

The dandelion (pictured above), usually seen as a repulsive weed, is almost entirely edible.

Effects

Some wild edible plants also have medicinal uses. Plantain is good in salads, and for soothing skin irritation and drawing out infection. Yarrow (pictured at the top) is good for making tea and also, when crushed, to draw out its oils.

Identification

Confident identification is key to safely and successfully harvesting wild plants. Wild sweet pea, for example, looks almost exactly like the delicious and edible eskimo potato plant--but the wild sweet pea is poisonous.

Considerations

Ostrich fiddlehead fern

Some wild plants such as nettles must be cooked before eating. Others such as fiddlehead fern (pictured above), horsetail fern and devil's club can only be safely harvested and eaten when still young and tender.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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