Edible wild plants in Texas have sustained people and animals throughout time. If you're clever about harvesting and have solid plant identification knowledge, you probably could survive as long as you had plenty of water. The first rule of foraging? Be sure you know what you're picking. Some plants closely resemble each other, and the difference can be fatal. Secondly, remember that it's against Texas law to harvest plants on someone else's property. The last rule? Don't take all the plants! In Texas, you'll find berries, mushrooms, herbs, flowers, roots, nuts and more...the delectable edibles are found everywhere. Indigenous peoples and early settlers enjoyed these treasures, so why shouldn't you?
Fraeser Meadow Garlic
Commonly known as Wild Garlic, this plant is true to its name. The taste is strong, even though the bulbs are tiny. Fraser Meadow Garlic has white or light pink blooms and is easily found during Spring. Roast the bulbs and smear on toasted, butter bread. Top soups with chopped bulbs or cook them to add flavor to dishes. The flowers are lovely salad accompaniments.
If you've heard of horehound, it probably was in reference to the old-fashioned candy. Water Horehound is part of the mint family and has flat, green leaves and a lemon scent. The plant proliferates easily, and blooms small, white flowers in the spring and summer months. The leaves can be boiled down with a heavy dose of sugar and formed into candy. Horehound is excellent taken as a tea or tincture for bronchitis and other respiratory conditions.
The Agarita bush is daunting with sharp, holly-like leaves. In the Spring, its delicate blooms fill the air with sweet fragrance that attracts honey bees and butterflies. Harvest by laying a sheet underneath the bush to catch the tiny fruit, which make delicious jelly. Some Texans spice it up by adding jalapenos!
Texans know how much deer love to eat cactus, including the "apples" that bloom. Watch out for the spines -- once they're gone, however, the fruit is sweet and worth the trouble. The cactus apples bloom during Spring and Summer, especially after a soaking rain. Spines can be removed by picking, but singeing them lightly, with fire, is a better option.
Found all over the state, sunflowers are beneficial to other plants as they offer shade and protection. Majestic and beautiful, the seeds are edible -- and so are the tasty florets, which make an excellent garnish. The seeds can be eaten raw, but taste better when they're roasted. You might find the lovely, yellow florets on top of a wedding cake, too.