Wild edible plants are vast and varied across the United States. From east to west, north or south, wild edible plants can be found almost anywhere. The backpacker or hiker venturing into the wild can find wild edibles in a variety of forms. Roots, berries, flowers, nuts, fruits and greens can all be found growing wild with the ability to sustain you in a survival situation. It is best to carry a field guide to help in identifying what is and is not safe to eat.
Tropical Wild Edibles
Growing wild throughout the warmer sections of the country are various edible palms. The coconut palm grows in tropical coastal areas. It is a tall tree producing clusters of coconuts as its fruit. The coconuts can be cracked open and its rich meat can be eaten raw or cooked. The coconut milk can also be consumed. Bananas or plantains plants prefer humid climates. They are tall, fibrous tree-like plants growing in clusters. The fruit is the banana and can be eaten raw or cooked. The flowers can be boiled. Tropical almond trees are found in the warmer coastal regions growing by the ocean. Trees can reach a height of 20 feet and have shiny, leathery leaves. The almond shaped fruits are ripe when they become green. Remove the outer green covering to uncover the nut-like seed; eat them raw or cooked.
Wild strawberries inhabit the eastern half of the country. They are low-growing plants with hairy leaves growing in a pattern of three. They have white flowers and red fruits, which can be eaten raw, cooked or dried. Eat only strawberries produced on white flowering plants because others can be toxic. Blackberries grow throughout the United States. They are tall, drooping, brambly bushes that have thorny limbs. There are three leaflets to its leaves and five-petal white blooms. The black fruit grows in clusters and usually ripens in the summer. The fruits can be eaten raw, cooked or made into pies. Tea can be made out of the leaves. Cranberries are ground creepers with tiny leaves and fruits of red berries. They are found in the colder areas of the country. The berries are edible raw but are tart. Cooking them with sugar will lessen the tartness.
Green and Potherbs
Asparagus can be found growing in cooler regions. In spring, the plant looks like a cluster of green fingers protruding from the ground. Steam or boil the young stems before leaves form on the plants. It is advised to not eat it raw because it might cause stomach irritation. Sassafras can be found throughout the eastern portions of the country. It is a small tree with different shaped leaves and small yellow flowers in spring. The leaves and tender young twigs can be eaten raw, dried or as an addition to soups. The peeled and boiled roots can be used for tea. Wild roses are found throughout the country. They have sharp prickly stems with alternate leaves and red, pink or yellow flowers. The rosehip fruit remains on the bush year-round. The rosehips and flowers can be eaten raw or boiled. Tea can be made out of the leaves.
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.