Sometimes when you camping, hiking, or just spending time in nature, you can find some wild plants that you can eat. Here are some of then:
Wild blackberries are 100% safe to eat and easy to recognize. They have red branches with long thorns, jagged green leaves, and white flowers with 5 petals. If you find wild blackberries, you’ve found gold. These things are much better than anything you will ever buy in stores. The berries ripen around August to September.
Probably the easiest wild edible to recognize on this list is the dandelion. They’re found everywhere. In your lawn, in the woods, and sometimes even growing between the cracks in concrete. In the spring they show a bright yellow buds, but will soon go to seed and show that fluffy puffball. The entire plant is edible – roots, leaves, and flower. You can eat the entire thing raw or cook them to take away the bitterness. You can drink the water you boiled the plant in as a tea and use the flower as a garnish for your dandelion salad. Dandelions are packed with Vitamin A and Vitamin C, and beta carotene.
Clovers are edible, and they’re found just about everywhere there’s an open grassy area! Clover are easily spotted by their distinctive trefoil leaflets. You can eat clovers raw, but they taste better boiled or sauteed. While you can eat the blossoms, the brown ones are usually bitter. If you’re going to eat the blossoms, make sure you get the young pink or white ones because they taste a lot better. You can also use the leaves and blossoms to make a tea, or pan roast the blossoms until they’re nice and crispy.
Also called Pigweed, Fat Hen, and Goosefoot, lamb’s quarters are susceptible to leaf miners (ants); be careful to harvest plants that are not infested. Although Lamb’s Quarters are best before the flowers appear, if the fresh young tips are continuously harvested, lamb’s quarters can be eaten all summer. Use the leaves raw in salads, or cooked in soups, in mixed cooked greens, or in any dish that calls for cooking greens. The leaves and young shoots may be eaten as a leaf vegetable, either steamed in its entirety, or cooked like spinach. Each plant produces tens of thousands of black seeds that are high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Eat lamb’s quarters sparingly due to high levels of oxalic acid.
Prickly Pear Cactus
A staple in Mexican and Central American diets for hundreds of years, the prickly pear cactus is a very tasty and nutritional plant that can help you survive if you’re stranded in the desert. Carefully remove the spines on the outer skin. The fruit of the prickly pear cactus ripens in late summer, looks like a red or purplish pear and can be eaten like a fruit. The pad of the plant can be prepared and eaten like a vegetable either raw, boiled or sauteed. The thicker the pad, the older the plant. The older, thicker pads are often tough and stringy. The petals of the flower are typically yellow, pink, purple or red, and can also be eaten raw in a salad.
Wild onions, wild chives, wild ramps and wild garlic all can be found in fields or forests. Some will have flowers, some may not, but any plant you find that smells like onion or garlic is edible. If the plant doesn’t smell like onion or garlic, do not eat it as there are similar looking plants that may be toxic. The whole plant is edible and may be chopped into salads, soups, chili and stews. There is some evidence that eating wild onions, wild garlic or wild chives may reduce blood pressure and lower blood sugar.
Much like the dandelion and clover, plantain is typically considered a weed that grows just about everywhere you find grass of any type. You can pick the green, rippled leaves and leave the tall flower stems. Blanch the leaves and sautee with some butter and garlic just as you would with kale or any other tough green. Plantain also has an inherent medicinal qualities as well. The fresh leaves are applied whole or bruised in the form of a poultice. Rubbed on parts of the body stung by insects, nettles, etc., or as an application to burns and scalds, the leaves will afford relief and will stop the bleeding of minor wounds.
Some species of pine have large edible seeds (nuts) that are absolutely delicious. You can also use the needles for medicinal purposes. Add some pine needles to simmering water to make tea that is rich in vitamins A and C. Some people have even been known to boil or pan fry and eat the white inner bark and use the pollen as a thickener for soups and stews. Some species of pine are poisonous.
This can grow up to a foot a day, and will literally take over anything in its way, like other plants, buildings, road signs, etc. The leaves, stem tips, roots and blooms can be eaten raw, steamed or boiled. Kudzu looks very similar to poison ivy. Kudzu also produces beautiful, purple-colored, grape-smelling blossoms that make delicious jelly, candy, and syrup. Some people have even used these to make homemade wine.
Probably one of the least known edible plants is the cattail. Cattails are usually found near the edges of freshwater wetlands. Most of a cattail is edible. You can boil the roots or eat them raw. You can also eat most of the stem of the plant. The best part of the stem is near the bottom where the plant is mainly white. Again, you can either boil or eat the stem raw. You can also boil the leaves and eat them as you would any other greens. While the seed head may look like a corndog, it’s not edible. You can, however, save the heads and tear them apart to use as tinder in your fire making.