The varied terrains of South Carolina contain a wealth of edible wild plants. Whether backpacking, hiking, or camping in the wetlands, uplands or highlands of the state, you can always find something wild to eat. South Carolina's landscape offers an abundance of nuts, berries, greens, roots and flowers. But before trekking into the wilderness, familiarize yourself with the local wild edibles. You don't want to mistake a poisonous plant for a safe one.
There are many trees growing in South Carolina that offer an abundance of fruits, berries or nuts. Sassafras is 30 to 40 feet tall with aromatic, mitten-shaped leaves usually found growing wild in old fields. The bark from the root is used to make a spicy tea. Mulberry trees are 20 to 30 feet tall with red to purple fruit. They are usually located in the rich, moist soils of the bottomlands. The fruit can be either cooked or eaten raw. Persimmon trees grow 25 to 35 feet tall and are located in old bottomland fields. The purple-orange fruits can be eaten raw. Chestnuts grow to a height of 5 to 15 feet and are usually located in dry woods. The fruit is round with spines, encasing a single nut that can be either roasted or eaten raw. Hickory trees are found in the bottomlands and slopes. Their nuts are smooth and edible raw.
Salad Greens and Potherbs
South Carolina has a wealth of edible greens and potherbs. The tender tops and young shoots of nettles can be cooked or used to make soup. Cooking removes the stinging spines. Chickweed usually grows 2.5 feet tall with small white flowers. The tender leaves and stems can be used raw for a salad or cooked and served like spinach. Purslane is a wild edible that grows close to the ground. It is good eaten raw in a salad, or the entire plant can be boiled in salty water and eaten. It is also a good source of vitamin C and A. Wintercress is a plant that grows 1 to 4 feet tall and has clusters of yellow flowers. The leaves can either be eaten raw or cooked. Dandelion's flowers or leaves can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked as a potherb. Bitterroot is a low growing plant that is 1 to 3 inches tall with rose to cream flowers. To eat the root, boil it and peel off the outer husk.
For years the wild edible berries found in South Carolina have been used to make jams, wines and pies, or just enjoyed raw. The cranberry is a berry found in the bogs and moist meadows of the state. It grows 8 to 12 inches high, has pink flowers and reddish to pink fruit that can either be cooked or eaten raw. Grapes grow wild throughout the forests and untended areas of the state and can be eaten raw. Varieties include Fox, Muscadine and Frost. Blackberries can be found in fields and along roadsides. The plants grow 3 to 7 feet tall and the fruits are black when ripe and can be eaten raw. Partridge berry is a low-growing plant that can have flowers and berries at the same time. The bright red berries can be eaten raw.
Article Written By Joyce Starr
Joyce Starr is a professional writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawn care and gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.