Edible Wild Plants in the Pacific Northwest

Edible Wild Plants in the Pacific NorthwestThe Pacific Northwest, consisting of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska, has an abundance of wild edible plants to forage, identify and enjoy. You must remember to absolutely identify a plant before eating it; many plants in the Pacific Northwest are poisonous and even deadly. Here are some of the common berries, blooms and greens you can look for and eat.

Berries

blueberries

Salmonberries and blueberries grow all over this region. Salmonberries can be a golden yellow to a bright red and grow on large shrubs. The flowers are usually a magenta color but can be a lighter pink or reddish purple as well. These grow in moist forests from sea-level to sub-alpine areas. The berries ripen from May to late June. These soft, almost mushy, raspberry-like berries can be eaten raw, mixed into a jam or jelly and baked into a pie or bread. Blueberries (pictured above) grow in several varieties, including the Alaskan Blueberry, Oval-leaved Blueberry, Bog Blueberry and Dwarf Blueberry. They can often be mistaken for Black Huckleberries, which are also good to pick and have a similar taste. These berries have oval leaves, small pink bell-shaped flowers and round blue fruits. The Himalayan Blackberry is also common, and some areas have blackberry festivals to celebrate this tasty woodland treat. Nearly everyone loves berries, including the bears, so be careful as you forage. Soak all berries in a bowl of water to rid them of insects.

Blooms

Many flowers of plants are edible. Flowers are often high in vitamins and look beautiful as a garnish for a salad, dinner or dessert. Wild violets are high in vitamin C and make pretty cake decorations. The Early Blue Violet, Alaska Violet, Marsh Violet (pictured at the top), Canada Violet, Stream Violet, Trailing Yellow Violet and Prairie Violet are all located within the Pacific Northwest. Fireweed, wild geraniums, spring beauties and roses are also edible.

Greens

bladderwrack

The leaves of wild edibles can make a rich tossed salad with a few edible berries and blossoms. If you are near the coast, beach greens, bladderwrack (pictured above), goosetongue, lovage and oysterleaf are all edible and make good bases or additions to "wild" salads. Clover, dandelion leaves and fiddlehead ferns are easy to find in all parts of the region. Sauté, stir-fry or toss them into your salad or casserole. The leaves of the above-mentioned flowers are also edible.

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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