Edible Wild Plants in Oregon

Edible Wild Plants in Oregon
Finding edible plants in Oregon can improve your understanding and connection to nature. With its rugged coastline, extensive forests and mountainous regions, Oregon is a bounteous basket for those who are willing to search for their dinner. The key to gathering wild plants is proper identification and never eating something of which you are unsure. Pick only plants that look healthy in areas that were unlikely to have been sprayed with pesticides.

Kelp

Several types of kelp can be found along the Oregon coastline. The two most common types, giant kelp and bull kelp, are both edible. They can be identified by their long, dirty yellow blades and round floating bladders. In the case of giant kelp, each blade has its own floating bladder, whereas bull kelp has a larger bladder further down the plant's stalk. Kelp should be cleaned, then eaten raw or boiled.

Dandelions

Dandelions, those ever-present weed flowers, can be used in a variety of ways. Easily identified by their slightly spiky, scalloped leaves and puffy yellow flowers, the dandelion flower, leaf and root can all be eaten. Dandelions can be eaten raw or cooked.

Ostrich Ferns

Also known as fiddleheads, the ostrich fern can grow to a height of 5 feet. They look like coiled tentacles, with a bunched center. Collect the top coils and scrape away any brown patches. Steam or fry and serve buttered.

Juniper

This tree grows up to 20 feet in height and is commonly found in the Pacific Northwest. Branches are composed of short needles with blue berries. The berries are edible, but cause nausea in some people. A better edible opportunity is the plant's inner bark, which can be chewed. Be careful not to confuse juniper with western yew or cedar, both of which have different colored berries and cones.

Camas

While many of the plants described can be found across the country, camas is exclusive the Pacific Northwest, running from Washington to Northern California. The plant has a large bunch of small blue flowers at the top, often shaped roughly into a cone or torch shape. Found in swamps and damp lowlands, the camas plant can be dug up to reveal white bulbs. These bulbs can be prepared like potatoes after washing off the dirt. Take care not to confuse common camas with another type of camas known as "death camas." Again, knowledge and proper identification are key!

Article Written By Louie Doverspike

Based in Seattle, Louie Doverspike has been a professional writer since 2004. His work has appeared in various publications, including "AntiqueWeek" magazine, the "Prague Post" and "Seattle Represent!" Doverspike holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hamilton College.

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