Edible Wild Plants in Washington State

ThistleIt's a good idea to be aware of the plants around you in case you get stranded and need a meal. The native people of Washington state subsisted for many years without going to the grocery store, and you can, too. (Picture: Thistle)

Edible Wild Berries in Washington

salmonberries

Every Washingtonian is familiar with huckleberries, raspberries and blackberries in autumn. While other regions may regard these foods as delicacies, they grow quite wild and are even invasive in the mountainous regions. Other edible wild berries are salmonberries (pictured above), which are ripe as early as May, thimbleberries, salal, Oregon grapes and wild strawberries.

Stinging Nettles

nettles

These are the bane of many hikers. Their captivating heart-shaped leaves hide a row of dagger-like thorns just waiting for you to bump into them. Hikers report, however, that if you harvest the leaves and scrape off the thorns, they're quite tasty. There are even recipes for Nettle soup, which is filled with vitamins and minerals. Reportedly, ingesting nettles, whether as salad greens or in a soup, can render you immune to their sting.

Cattails and other Wetland Foods

cattails

Cattails grow in many streams and along riverbeds throughout the state. Many parts of the cattail are edible. The roots can be prepared like potatoes and are best in the fall. The flowering tops of each stalk yield a pollen that can be used as flour in making pancakes or muffins. The buds of the flowers and early leaf shoots can be steamed like asparagus.

Edible Salad Greens

dandelion greens

Dandelion greens (pictured above) are edible and almost always widely available. You may also want to try the leaves of the purslane, sheep sorrell, thistle, clover, chickweed and yellow dock. Carry a field guide with you whenever you hike or forage, until you're sure that you can identify these foods.

Article Written By Lisa Russell

Lisa Russell has been a freelance writer since 1998. She's been published in "Rethinking Everything Magazine," "Playdate" and "Home Educator's Family Times." She has a professional background in education, cosmetology and the restaurant industry. Russell studied early childhood education at Antelope Valley College, and is pursuing a degree in law.

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