California Bay Tree (pictured above)
Also known as the Bay Laurel, this evergreen tree is edible in many ways. The leaves can be used for flavoring and have a bit of a stronger taste than regular bay leaves. The leaves have also traditionally been used to help headaches. The seeds can be roasted or powdered and used in baking mixed with other flours. The fruit, which comes from small yellow flowers, turns purple when mature and can be eaten raw, although it is usually cooked first. The seeds are somewhat bitter but this can be lessened by briefly lighting on fire. These are common in the northern half of California.
These perennial shrubs have ovate leaves and grow small white flowers and round purple berries. The shrubs can grow to 8 feet tall over several decades. The blooms will appear in late spring and berries will be ready for picking throughout the summer. Huckleberries are great for making jam, jelly, pie, ice cream and for a great many toppings as well as raw by the handful or in cereal. Soak them in a bowl of water for over an hour before eating to rid them of any insects.
Beautiful, blue tube-like flowers will form in a cluster atop the mostly leafless stalk of this plant. The flowers are about 1 inch long and there may be five to 15 clustered at the top of any given plant. Dig into the ground and pull up the bulb of this plant and you will have a nutty starch-like snack. The bulbs can be eaten raw or cooked.
California is full of other plants that are edible in full or part. Madrone, service berry, wild onion, wild hazelnuts, balsam root are edible; sage, maiden hair, chicory and cliff rose can be steeped for tea. Carry a local guidebook with you when foraging and always be 100 percent sure of an identification before eating.