The cattail is such a good source of wild food that the plant has been nicknamed by Tom Brown Jr., author of numerous survival and tracking guides, as "the supermarket of the great outdoors." Start with the root tuber that grows underground and can be pulled and boiled at any time of the year. In the spring you can pick the young green shoots and the green flower heads that both make a good boiled vegetable. And then in the fall the pollen heads can be dried and made into flour.
The best acorns come from the white oak and pin oak, for they can be eaten raw. The rest of the acorns can either be soaked in the stream for several days and then boiled; or boiled (without soaking) several times with a complete change of water between each cooking.
If you happen to be stranded in the forest during the fall there are many other species that are edible including pines (pinon pine nuts are very tasty), the beech tree and most species of hickory (avoid the bitternut and pignut hickory.)
Any bladed species of grass native to North America can be eaten as a shoot, when it first emerges from the ground or consumed when it goes to seed in the late summer and early fall. Make sure the plant is a true grass, which is easily identifiable by the parallel-veined leaf.
Two notes of caution with eating grass after it has gone to seed. Always roast the seeds first, as there are a few species among the thousands that have toxic seeds. And also, be able to recognize a fungus infection in grass. The fungus is called a rust and looks like a black or dark brown fuzzy material.
Learn the edible wild berries of North America, for there are quite a few tasty ones and only a small number that are toxic or poisonous. There are no poisonous blue-colored berries in North America and white berries are usually toxic and sometimes deadly poisonous. Some of the common names of edible wild berries include strawberry, wineberry, blackberry (picture above), blueberry, cranberry, huckleberry, elderberry and wild plum. To be certain of your plant look up the Latin name and check the plant description.
For example there is a lowbush and highbush blueberry. The highbush blueberry is scientifically referred to as Vaccinium corymbosum. It is edible and also called the huckleberry plant by some. The lowbush blueberry can refer to two species vaccinium angustifolium or vaccinium mytilloides, both of which are edible.
Article Written By Henri Bauholz
Henri Bauholz is a professional writer covering a variety of topics, including hiking, camping, foreign travel and nature. He has written travel articles for several online publications and his travels have taken him all over the world, from Mexico to Latin America and across the Atlantic to Europe.