Foraging in your Area

Discussion in 'General Food and Foraging Discussion' started by TechAdmin, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

    I've wanted to know what region offers what wild edibles.

    If you have a wild edible in your area you know is safe to eat, please post what it is and how it can be found.
  2. Claymore5150

    Claymore5150 Appalachian American

    THIS is a subject that I HAVE to learn soon!!!! We live in the "valley" area of upper East TN, between the Cumberland Plateau & Gap and the Smokies. Our retreat location is in the mountains about 45mi from here, up near the NC state line on family land.

    We have a TON of wild edibles around here. Acorns, field onions, blackberry, wild strawberry, walnut, pecan, apple trees abound from OLD OLD OLD homesteads from the 1700's on....I'm sure there are SO many more. This region is bountiful all by itself, without help from man kind.

    I need a book for my region, I know my father in law has one and he's all of 5 mi away....but I should have one for the family as well.

    That guy on the "Doomsday Preppers" show on NatGeo out in Los Angeles had honed the "edibles craft" for his area pretty doggone well. I was impressed with that part of his plan, without a doubt.

    Biggest difference between here and LA, there's a small greenhouse behind every 200th house in the county and a garden 1 in 50-75. You can't turn around without seeing a cow, goat, or horse.
    I love East TN (now I just need to learn how to live off of it without the greenhouses and gardens).

    Good topic starter, Austin!
    Really gets me thinking.

  3. Davarm

    Davarm Texan

    For the past year or so, I have been putting together a reference on just the subject. I know of a long list of edible wild plants but have only added the wilds that I have found locally and have personally eaten or used.

    In the next day or so, I will try to put something together like you stated, from the material I have, and post it, I have some pictures of some of the edibles to make them a little easier to identify.
  4. timmie

    timmie timmie

    we have wild plums,onions,persimmons,grapes,bullises and crabapples that i knowfor certain about. also have blackberries. i'm pretty sure we have different mushrooms but so far we have been unable to find anyone that is knowledgeable about them.not going to give up,somebody somewhere knows and i am going to find him or her.
  5. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    A few of the things we wild craft (foraging) around here ...

    PawPaws, walnuts, grapes (wild), perrsimmons, berries, sassafras, plum (wild), wild onions/ramps, cress (greens), chicory, dandelions, plantain etc...

    Now for the hard part ... I grew up foraging with my dad, so that is how I know it is safe to eat and where/how to find it. The PawPaws smells like a banana to me, so if you walking in the woods and get a whiff of banana ... you have found them. (so the smell can help a lot.)

    My husband would go foraging with his Grandpa, so between the two of us we do fair to well ...

    I did buy a Peterson field guide to help on the wild herbs side. ;)

    (On a side note ... research, research and more research ... don't eat it if you are not 100 percent sure of what it is. ;))
  6. Davarm

    Davarm Texan


    Isnt there a trick to harvesting Paw Paw's, I heard somewhere that they were only edible for a very limited time and if you missed that window, may as well throw them away?


    Scratch that, I think that it was May Apples I was thinking about.

    I well could be mixing this up with another edible but for my education, is there anything to this assumption?
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  7. timmie

    timmie timmie

    we have huckleberries also.the only thing about foraging around here is that the city and county spray roadsides with chemicals to help with mosquito problem and to keep kudzu under some sort of control.which is why we have friends with large acreage that we can forage on .i know there is no the way you can make an awesome jelly from the kudzu.
  8. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    Once they ripen the paw paws will keep only a few days. It is best to work them up quickly. (maybe that was what you thinking of) Some folks pick them green and store them for up to a week or two. (this has never worked well for me. ;))

    The Ripe pawpaw flesh can be puréed and frozen for later use.
  9. md1911

    md1911 Member

    The cactus pad can ne deep fried their tasty
  10. Davarm

    Davarm Texan

    Understand, It was May Apples that I was thinking about, am not very familiar with either so got them confused.

  11. Davarm

    Davarm Texan

    I dug through my jump drives and found some of the material I was putting together for my daughters. I will post this one and if there is an interest in it I would post more.



    Anyone living in the southwest knows what a mesquite tree is, however, most people
    don't know that it can also be a valuable source of food. The indians of he southwest
    would gather Mesquite Beans and pound them into meal and make a type of flat bread
    cake out of it, with a sugar content of about 30% and protien content of more than 10%,
    it is easy to understand why it was an important part of their diet.

    There are some problems that go along with using the beans as a food source:

    The high sugar content makes it difficult, but not impossible, to grind the beans
    into flour. They can be ground using a grain mill with steel burs but if they are
    not completely dry it will be a sticky messy process.

    The bean pods are the goodie, the beans themselves are high in protien
    but are difficult to digest, thorough grinding helps. If you have digestive problems
    they may cause constipation.

    There is a bug larve that feeds on the bean and if you look closely at the bean pods
    many will have small holes in them, these are the exit points of the bugs. Since
    they feed on the bean and not the pod itself and exit the pod before it dries it is not
    usually a problem. If the pods are spread in the sun to finish drying any bugs should be
    long gone by the time they are ground into flour.

    The flours can be picked, boiled and eaten either freshly cooked or dried for later use, I have only
    eaten them one time long ago and can't recall much about them. The fact that I don't remember is
    probobly a good thing, if they were foul or unpaletable, that I would remember.


    The mesquite also has medicinal uses, the useful parts are:

    The sap that would seep out of damages to the bark can be collected,
    dissolved in water and used as a wash for irritated eyes.

    An infusion of sap can be used as a treatment for diarrhea.

    The sap can also be used as a topical antiseptic.

    The leaves can be mashed, mixed with water and then strained to make
    a topical wash for cuts, scrapes, and irritated eyes.

    The inner bark can be boiled and used to treat upset stomachs.

    An infusion of the inner bark can be used as an astringent as well
    as an antiseptic.

    The lowly Mesquite Tree has been seen as nusience by many in modern times but if the doctor is
    ever out and the grocery store closed they can be used as food and medicine. This valuable plant
    should be in your survival manual if hard times ever hit, and I suspect that they will.


    A note, I have eaten mesquite cakes, I mixed the bean meal with about the same amount of flour, egg, oil and baking powder and fried them like a Johnny Cake. The bean meal gave the cakes a pleasant sweet earthy taste and smell.

    Good Stuff.
  12. froggymountain

    froggymountain Member

    Southwest Michigan:

    Cat Tail
    LambsQuarters, pigweed (wild spinach or qinua)
    Wild Onion
    Wild Garlic
    Red Clover (flower and leaf)
    Echinacea purpurea
    Pine Needles (rich in vitamin C)
    Wild Rice
    Sumac (red fuzzy berry part)
    Milk Weed (first shoots before leafing)
    Burdock (root can be eaten after boiling. The inner root is the most edible part and imparts the most flavor. Save the leaves to use for salad)
    Puff Ball Mushroom (must be picked and cooked before eaten: harvest while inside is white and not turning color)
    Duck Weed
    Day Lily (orange swamp lily - young plant shoots, young flower buds or flowers, young white fleshed tubers)
    Goldenrod ( leaves can be eaten as a cooked vegetable. The flowers and seeds can both be eaten raw)
    Spearmint (leaves and flowers for a tea like drink)
    Jerusalem Artichoke (flowers and tubers)

    More here: (NOTE the cautions on some of these listed on this site)
  13. Truly

    Truly New Member

    I recommend looking into herbs. There are lots of different things you can learn from it. Not only how to care for your medical issues but also what herbs you can find in the wild that are a great source of health and healing. Like stinging nettle. It is a mega herb but you can also harvest it and fry it up like collard / mustard greens. It's delicious. There are lots of recipes for soups online. Just a thought.
  14. kappydell

    kappydell Well-Known Member

    All the things that froggymountain lists are also common in my area and on my lists. Also add:

    chicory (greens & beverage)
    hedgerow apple trees
    elderberries (good flu remedy, well known in Europe)
    hawthorne berries (food) & leaves (tea) good for high blood pressure
    wild mustards
    field docks (young, several varieties)
    clovers (blossoms for tea, red for breast cancer remedy; greens edible, though a little light in calories)
    thistle (peeled stems)
    purslane (good source omega-3 fatty acid, rare in plants)
    mallows (greens & cheeses)
    assorted bramble berries
    highbush cranberry (berries, bark tea good for cramps)
    wild grass seeds (small though, but edible)
    slippery elm bark (wonderful emerg food, swells up when cooked, good and filling)
    shepherds purse (makes a sort of a peppery seasoning)
    and of course the proteins:
    hickory nuts
    ground nuts
    crawdads (catch by hand, easy)
    plus tubers:
    solomons seal
    chufa nuts
    even quack grass roots can be eaten if properly prepared!

    This list is for edibles, medicinals would make it longer yet. I started with the things growing in my lawn and worked out. it sure gave
    me a new appreciation for weeds

    You MUST have a good field guide that also shows poisonous look-alikes if you are not being personally shown which plants are edible though, for your own protection!
  15. Jason

    Jason I am a little teapot

    This is one area I sorely lack knowledge in. We have tons of black raspberries ringing our property so in the summer we go picking and DW makes some incredible jelly. I know this area has tons of stuff to forage-just not sure how to go about getting a lot of it and then preparing it once its home.
  16. HoppeEL4

    HoppeEL4 Member

    timmie, when you said you had "huckleberries" in Alabama, I was surprised. Then I looked into it, and found you really do, and although ours up here, Oregon Cascades and Coastal Range, truly have a version of wild blueberries. Must have been the settlers who came and saw them, thus naming them something they had seen back east or south, and we've called them this since.

    Well, then I know I can eat these, they are phenomenol. Then there is the lower elevation huck, it is red and quite tart. Blackberries abound here, both native species and Himalayan (non-native, some dumb___ brought them here in the 1800's) which are quite invasive and a huge nuiscance like kudzu. However, they fruit out prolifically and the taste is really fantastic.

    Lets see, I know you can eat nettles, although, I'd prefer not to handle them at all. Oxalis is good to chew on the stems only, and get some vitamins out of, but not to eat the leaves. Licorice root ferns, medicinal and taste like black licorice. Fern shoots, numerous varieties, some mushrooms, but honestly that is best left to the experts. Thimbleberries, Salmonberries, wild strawberries, Western Filberts, pine nuts (on the eastern side), salal berries, Oregon Grape berries, um...more berries than I can remember.

    Some have said the moss is ok to eat, but I highly doubt it would even taste good. Of course dandelion greens, old farmsteads fruit trees, birds, squirrels, deer, elk and we just live up the gorge from a river that gets both spring and fall salmon. We have found wild rhubarb here, and wild carrots (Queen Annes before they flower). I know there must be more, but I need to do some studying it would seem, to become more knowledgable about my own areas full array of edible wild foods.
  17. badman400

    badman400 Member

    Poke Salad. A wild green leafy plant that makes a good substitute for turnip greens. The smaller leaves are tastier, like most "greens", when prepared properly. Do not eat the dark purple berries as they are poisonous. The Poke salad plant, if that is the true name, looks different in the southeast where I live than plants in other areas. So make sure about the species, because even the edible plant is poisonous if not prepared properly before eaten.

    Tony Jo White recorded a song called, "Poke Salad Annie", that is based on this edible wild green.

    From Wikipedia:
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    This article is about a genus of plants many of which are called pokeweeds. For American Pokeweed, see Phytolacca americana.
    Not to be confused with Veratrum viride, also called Indian poke

    Phytolacca acinosa foliage and fruit
    Scientific classification
    Kingdom: Plantae
    (unranked): Angiosperms
    (unranked): Eudicots
    (unranked): Core eudicots
    Order: Caryophyllales
    Family: Phytolaccaceae
    Genus: Phytolacca
    About 35, see text.
    Pircunia Bertero ex Ruschenb.[1]
    Phytolacca is a genus of perennial plants native to North America, South America, East Asia and New Zealand. Some members of the genus are known as pokeweeds or similar names such as pokebush, pokeberry, pokeroot or poke sallet.[2][3][4] Other names for species of Phytolacca include inkberry and ombú. The generic name is derived from the Greek word φυτόν (phyton), meaning "plant," and the Latin word lacca, a red dye.[5] Phytolaccatoxin and phytolaccigenin are present in many species which are poisonous to mammals. However, the berries are eaten by birds, which are not affected by the toxin because the small seeds with very hard outer shells remain intact in the digestive system and are eliminated whole.[citation needed]
    The genus comprises about 25 species of perennial herbs, shrubs, and trees growing from 1 to 25 m (3.3 to 82 ft) tall. They have alternate simple leaves, pointed at the end, with entire or crinkled margins; the leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen. The stems are green, pink or red. The flowers are greenish-white to pink, produced in long racemes at the ends of the stems. They develop into globose berries 4–12 mm diameter, green at first, ripening dark purple to black.[6][7][8]
    Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed, pokeweed, poke) is used as a folk medicine and as food. For many decades, poke salad has been a staple of southern U.S. cuisine.[13] All parts of it are toxic unless properly prepared.[14] Toxic constituents which have been identified include the alkaloids phytolaccine and phytolaccotoxin, as well as a glycoprotein.[15] Pokeweed berries yield a red ink or dye, which was once used by aboriginal Americans to decorate their horses.[citation needed] Many letters written home during the American Civil War were written in pokeberry ink; the writing in these surviving letters appears brown.[citation needed] The red juice has also been used to symbolize blood, as in the anti-slavery protest of Benjamin Lay.[citation needed] A rich brown dye can be made by soaking fabrics in fermenting berries in a hollowed-out pumpkin.[citation needed]
    Some pokeweeds are also grown as ornamental plants, mainly for their attractive berries; a number of cultivars have been selected for larger fruit panicles.[citation needed]
    Pokeweeds are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Giant Leopard Moth.
  18. ContinualHarvest

    ContinualHarvest Member

    We have wild raspberries (Wineberries) here that bloom along the edge of wooded areas and roadways. The berries are bright red when ripe and grow in clusters on the brambles. In June to July you'll see cars parked along the roads with kids running around with red faces and hands. The berries are commonly used for jams and jellies. I've made wine with them and it was excellent. The berries can also be dried for storing up to a year and are great on cereal or for baking. This invasive bramble is spreading across the state, so eat up.

    Here is an article on the berries.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  19. Davarm

    Davarm Texan

    Lambs Quarter


    Lambs Quarter is a plant that grows wild pretty much anywhere the soil has been tilled, plowed, or
    otherwise disturbed and can reach to a height of 4-5 feet. The leaves are a three pointed shape that
    resembles a gooses foot, hence the scientific name "Chenopodium", which means Goose Foot.

    This plant is valuable as a food and has medicinal qualities, food wise, it is closely related to spinich
    and has a higher nutritional value with wih significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, Thiamin,
    Riboflavin, Niacin, Iron, Phosphorus, and Calcium.

    Lambs Quarter is an annual so never pick a patch clean, leave some plants untouched and healthy
    to provide seed for the next years crop. A wise man (or woman) would gather the mature seed and
    sow, and tend them much as a garden crop to ensure a future food source.

    The leaves are the edible part which can be picked and prepared like spinich, boiled, steamed
    or sauteed. The leaves can also be added to soups, beans or just about any other dish to
    add to the nutritional value of the meal.

    Lambs Quarter will grow and continue to be harvestable as long as the weather allows, if you
    live where the winters are frost or freeze free, it can be gathered all year.

    The leaves can be picked during times of plenty and canned, frozen or dehydrated for use when
    the fresh is not available. If drying, it is benaficial to sift the leaves through a strainer to remove
    any courser or steamy portions which may not cook up well. The resulting "Powder" can be
    added to foods as you would any other herb. For storage, the dried powder can be stored in
    a canning jar with a lid that provides an air tight seal.

    For canning, can the leaves as you would any other green, being sure to pressure can it
    as a low acid food. If the leaves are to be frozen, blanch them before packing them into a freezer
    bag. This destroys the enzyme that would cause the leaves to continue to grow.

    The leaves can be eaten to treat upset stomach.

    A tea made from th leaves can be drank to treat diarrhea.

    The leaves can be eaten to prevent scurvy.

    A poultice made from the leaves can be used to treat burns and to releive itching.

    Lambs Quarte eaten regularly can help prevent iron defeciencies.


    Lambs Quarter does contain oxalic acid so dont eat excessively large portions at any given time, cooking
    does reduce the oxalic content but does not eleminate it.

    If you have kidney problems it may be wise not to eat Lambs Quarter on a regular basis as the oxalic acid
    is filtered through the kidneys and can irritate and weaken them.
  20. SwampRat

    SwampRat Old Salt

    Up here in Northern Wisconsin, I forage for Wintergreen, Blackberries, Wild blue berries, wild onions, asparagus, cattail roots, young ferns (Fiddleheads), acorns, wild mushrooms (morels and chicken of the woods. Learning about more!), Wild strawberries, dandelion... Still learning about what else is out there! Found an old bunch of apple trees out in the woods. Looks like an old homestead at one time. Got some apples for applebutter. When I do find a patch of something, I mark it on the GPS so I can find it again.