There are many reasons why people are interested in eating edible wild plants. Some prize them for their nutritional values and solidly organic nature. Others like the wild taste, and some consider the identification of edible plants a sound outdoors and/or survival skill. Heading down to the local blackberry briar for summer picking is part of many a Tennessean's youth. However, there are a lot more wild, edible plants in Tennessee than blackberries.
The best known and most popular wild edible plants are berries. Use caution, however, because a mistaken identification can result in picking poisonous berries. The easiest is the wild blackberry, whose briars are common enough to be familiar to even suburbanites. Less known is that Tennessee is also home to the Northern Bush Blueberry, a wild species more commonly associated with Maine. The least known wild berry species is the American Elderberry.
The wood sorrel, or oxalis, has a tuber that resembles a small potato. However, the leaves and flowers should be avoided because they contain oxalic acid, which is mildly toxic. Dandelions are a familiar and pleasant weed, but their leaves have long been used in herbal teas and are now sometimes found in salads. Spring onions, or ramps, are frequently encountered, and morel mushrooms can be found in Tennessee's coniferous forests. However, as with the berries, special care must be taken in identifying morels, since some mushrooms are poisonous.
Tennessee's native walnut species is the American Black Walnut, which grows best close to rivers and streams. The hickory tree that gave President Andrew Jackson of Tennessee his nickname ("Old Hickory") also produces edible nuts.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.