Foraging for Wild Edibles: 25 Plants and Nuts You Can Safely Eat

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    It is important to have food when TEOTWAWKI strikes. By storing canned goods and having plans in place to grow vegetables, you will most definitely give yourself an advantage, but what else might be available to eat? Believe it or not, there are many wild growing plants that are edible of which you can find and partake from once the life as we know it now has changed.

    Here are 25 to get you started:

    1. Acorns are something you might have to fight a squirrel to acquire, but they are an easy item to recognize and are plentiful in many regions. Eat these in moderation once cooked.

    2. Asparagus grows wild on several continents although it may vary in appearance from the stuff you see in the grocery store. Pick and prepare like you would had you acquired it from any other source.

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    Photo: Wine Terroirs

    3. Blackberries are one of the berry species that are safe for human consumption. They can be recognized easily and are best harvested when ripe around the months of August and September. It will be necessary to avoid thorns when picking.

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    Photo: Kate's Cuisine

    4. Dandelions may seem to many to be an annoying weed, but they are rich in Vitamins A & C and the entire plant can be eaten safely.

    5. Daylilies are edible but be sure you are not mistakenly eating tiger lilies or Easter lilies as these are toxic. Daylilies can be identified by a lack of leaves on the stem and the presence of six orange petals.

    6. Elderberries are found on a bush with white blossoms. These sweet berries ripen around September and are easiest to identify when the plant is in bloom as its flowers will take the shape of an umbrella.

    7. Gooseberries grow on a bush with gray branches with red thorns and leaves shaped like maple. The berries are bright red and taste best in early summer.

    8. Goose Tongue should be eaten in the spring/early summer prior to flowering. It is very similar in appearance to Arrowgrass, which is toxic, so be sure you are certain as to which is which prior to consuming.

    9. Hazelnuts grow in pod strands on short trees with bright green leaves. These are ripe for consumption generally in the fall.

    10. Hickory nuts are round and best for eating in the fall. They grow on trees that are usually about 50 or so feet tall with large, pointed leaves.

    11. Kudzu is edible in its entirety and can be prepared in several ways but is not ideal for pregnant women. This plant grows plentifully in southern regions.

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    Photo: JJ Anthony

    12. Milk Thistle has medicinal properties that aid in liver function but it also makes for a good snack. Toss it in a salad or saut, boil, or bake.

    13. Miner's Lettuce is good raw or cooked and, much like other lettuces, makes a good salad. The younger the leaves, the better, as older leaves bitter with age.

    14. Monkey Flower is a raw edible that goes well in salads or soups. It tastes better prior to flowering, but the flowers themselves can be eaten as well.

    15. Mulberries exist in in many temperate regions around the world. The berries themselves look similar to blackberries but the leaves on which they grow appear different.

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    Photo: Edible Plant Project

    16. Pecans are nuts that grow on large trees. These grow in pods which burst open when ripe, releasing edible pecans onto the ground below.

    17. Pine needles can be harvest and boiled to make a tea that has been used to cure scurvy. They are also rich in Vitamin C.

    18. Prickly Pear Cactus is an excellent acquisition for desert travelers. Remove spines and outer skin before eating fruit atop it and boil stems.

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    Photo: Prickly Pear Extract

    19. Walnuts are found on large trees that grow higher than 100 feet tall. On the trees, walnuts grow in clusters and are best to eat in the fall months.

    20. Watercress are tangy and spicy and can serve many culinary purposes. These are leafy and green and popular in various dishes around the world.

    21. Wild Black Cherries should only be eaten before they fall from the plant as wilting cherries contain cyanide. The ideal color is black as opposed to red and they should be eaten raw in moderation; cooking nullifies the cyanide these cherries contain.

    22. Wild Grape Vines consist of grapes and leaves that both have a purpose. Grapes can be eaten or used to make wine and leaves can be stuffed with other food items, such as rice. Grape leaves also freeze well for later use.

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    Photo: Chickens in the Road

    23. Wild Leeks generally make their appearance in the spring months, growing ahead of most other plants. They are similar to onions and both bulbs and leaves can be eaten, but you should eat them in moderation to avoid becoming ill.

    24. Wild Plantains should be cooked before eating. The part of the plant that should be eaten is the green, rippled leaves (no flowers, no stems).

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    Photo: Big is Little Dish

    25. Violets are not just for perfume anymore! High in Vitamins A & C, violets are great in salads. Be sure to only eat these when in bloom, however, as it is easy to confuse them with other plants.

    The 25 edible plants listed above are only the beginning and there are more from where they came. The key to foraging for wild plants is being able to recognize and identify safe plants before you eat them. Since there are variations in the plants that grow in different regions, it is best to acquaint yourself with that which grows in your area. Research plants online and test yourself in nature until you are sure you can make a positive identification, then bring home the fruits of your efforts and experiment with methods of preparation until you find some that appeal to your palate.

    Are there any wild edibles you prefer, or that you would advise against? Let us know in the comments!

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