Eating Plants

Fruits are actually only one of the edible parts which plants have to offer. Their leaves, stems, rhizomes, roots, and flowers may be tasty. Of course, since there are also poisonous plants out there, you have to know what you're picking. An introductory plant taxonomy course is tops for this, although an edible plants clinic through a parks and rec. department will probably do. Different times of the year offer different foraging opportunities. Spring in Oregon features the succulent leaves of plants like Miner's Lettuce (Montia or Claytonia species). In summer and early fall, plants begin to fruit. Extremely prevalent in our area are the berries of Vaccinium (huckleberries and blueberries) and Rubus (blackberries and raspberries). Other genera in the Ericaceae and Rosaceae, as well as the Liliaceae, also produce delectable fruits. There is nothing better than to have a trail nibble at your fingertips when hiking, and these species often provide that opportunity. When they are found in quantity, the berries may be taken home to brighten up those breakfast cereal blues you've been experiencing. Wild ginger and licorice fern rhizomes can be enjoyed nearly year-around.

How to get started:

Plant taxonomy and edible plants classes are a good start, but self-study is fine. One book I recommend for our area is Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar and McKinnon. It actually covers the whole region from the Coast to the Cascades and a bit beyond, and so is broader in scope than the title suggests. Picking regulations on public lands are ill-defined, but generally it is OK to pick fruits and plant parts on forest lands in Oregon. Whole plants are a different matter; generally, you should try to avoid digging up or destroying the entire plant.

Web Sites

There doesn't appear to be any centralized home page. Here are some things I dug up:

A Page of Wild Edible Plant Links

Dining on the Wilds. Great page, info. on available videos.

A neat page on the Temperate Rainforests of the Pacific Northwest and another on the Pinyon-Juniper Forests of the American Southwest.

Browse the Ethnobotanical and Phytochemical Databases.

The Detroit News: Fields, Forests Full of Fine Food; a good article with some recipes.

Some weird Survival Information.

A lot of Botany-related Resources.

The School of Self-Reliance has a new web page.

'Shroom Page Wild Plants Page Fishin' Page
The Edible LC Foray Reports Links


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