Edible Wild Plants in the Southeast United States

Edible Wild Plants in the Southeast United States
The southern states of the U.S. such as Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi have plenty of sun, humidity and heat. This creates a unique corridor of plants that do not flourish as well in other areas of the country. Plenty of these plants are edible, but remember to always consult a guidebook and be 100 percent sure of a plant's identification before you decide to eat it.

Wild Onion

Wild onion--Allium Canadense--of the Amaryllis family is closely related to wild garlic and may often be mistaken for it as both of them taste and smell very similar. They are both good for immune system support. Wild onion is often found in meadows, fields, moist or shady woods and thickets. The long, flat, grassy looking leaves can grow to be about two feet tall and at their ends pink or white flowers grow, which turn into the bulbs. Gather these in early spring, and use to make pickled onions or use chopped, diced, sauteed or fried.

Persimmon

Persimmon also known as the Date Plum, Diospyros Virginiana, is found in clearings, meadows, fields and dry woods or pine lands. These small yellow-orange to orange-red fruits grow from a half inch to four inches in diameter and may look like a miniature pumpkin. Persimmon trees will bloom small, light-yellow, bell-shaped flowers in the spring and turn into fruit by the fall. These can be eaten dry, cooked or raw, and are quite sweet due to their high glucose content, though they are not as tasty before they are properly ripe (if they're green--they aren't ready). They can also be used in jam, sauces, bread and in smoothies or ice cream.

Arrowhead

Arrowhead, Sagitraria latifolia, is found among canals and shallow water. According to the Rocky Mountain Wild Foods Cookbook, it was recorded in Lewis and Clark's journals that they ate Arrowhead during their journeys in the 1800s. People usually wade in shallow water for the arrow-shaped leaves and pull up the tuber of the plant, which looks like a potato. Like a potato, it can be peeled and roasted or diced and used in a stew-like dish.

Wild Strawberry

Wild strawberry, Fragaria viriniana, is an all-time favorite and grows near woodland borders, in meadows and fields, open slopes and near roadsides and fences. It is not surprising that wild rose grows in many of the same places, since strawberries are of the rose family. These grow in trailing vines and produce small white flowers with five rounded petals. Wild strawberries are smaller than those you buy in the store--from a half inch to and inch and a half in diameter.

Other Wild Fruits

Other wild fruits of the Southeast United States include wild blackberries, cherries, plums, pindo palm dates, huckleberries, crab apples, passion fruit, gooseberries, prickly pear and bear berries.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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