Wild Edible Plants By Sustainable Home (Brenda Nolen

Back in 1999 -2000, I was looking around Yahoo groups and stumbled on a group focused on wildly foraged edible plants. I had joined, not for some esoteric reason but strictly out of curiosity. I had been learning about medicinal plants and it never "clicked" that many of these same plants could be used simply as food! They were talking about this and that and I had no idea what they were talking about. So, I started looking up the Latin terms they used for plants and discovered many that I had here. Unfortunately, that Yahoo group is now defunct but I do have some of the information posted on my website: http://www.wildforager.org, one Yahoo group that was established in 2001 (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/forageahead/) and I just started a new Yahoo group (thanks to a suggestion thrown into my head by Tom Inskeep) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sustainablehome/ (which won't just be focused on wild edible plants but other topics as well). For me, the hardest thing to learn was the terminology. The Latin name for the plant should always be used when looking for information or asking questions. Common plant names, like pig weed, can mean two totally different plants, depending on which coast of the U.S. you live on. In order to properly identify an unknown plant, certain terminology must be understood and used when asking for help with identification (some websites will allow you to narrow the search criteria by the characteristics of a plant). So, what is this terminology? They are based on leaf shape and margin, leaf arrangements, and root structure (for a more comprehensive piece on plant anatomy, go here: http://www.dmturner.org/Teacher/Library/4thText/PlantsPart2.html). The leaf shape is ... how the leaf is shaped! Is it lance-shaped, elliptical, egg-shaped, oblong, wedge-shaped, triangular, long-pointed, or top-shaped? The leaf margins describe the edge of the leaf: toothed, lobed (like an oak leaf), and toothless (or smooth). There are photos starting on page 99 of FM21-76 (an older version can be downloaded here) http://www.ar15.com/content/manuals/FM21-76_SurvivalManual.pdf or a newer updated version can be purchased on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0967512395/everthingshak06). Here is an extensive discussion on how to identify plants (mostly wildflowers) http://www.swcoloradowildflowers.com/learning%20about%20plants.htm. Your best bet is to take a detailed photograph of the plant in question and submit to a website/group if you have not been able to identify the plant. One of the websites I use the most for identifying plants is through UC Davis: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/weeds_intro.html. It can be time consuming, not knowing the name of the plant, but I find the extensive picture collection helps immensely. The pictures are by plant family, so if you see a picture of a plant that is close to yours, you are probably within the correct family of plants. That helps narrow the search a bit. For non-Internet plant identification, I suggest watching some of the videos I have links to and purchasing some good books (listed at the end).

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they detail the Universal Edibility test. You can see from the steps and time involved in testing for edibility just how important it is to be able to identify edible plants. apply the Universal Edibility Test before eating any portion of it. your neighbor's "perfect yard". In FM21-76. Grain heads with pink. make sure there are enough plants to make the testing worth your time and effort.Wild Edible Plants By Sustainable Home (Brenda Nolen) Once you have identified the plant.org. Therefore. or thorns. or seeds inside pods. “Almond” scent in woody parts and leaves. fine hairs. ~~~NOTE~~~ Pay close attention to where you are harvesting plants. There are many plants throughout the world. time to find out if it is edible. bulbs.pfaf. or black spurs. Do not harvest plants that are known to be treated with (or exposed to) harmful chemicals. They have one of the largest plant databases I have seen. purplish. Beans. along the side of roads (due to the toxicity from exhaust and other chemicals. Before testing a plant for edibility. never harvest (if that requires killing) a plant if that is one of only a few (or the only one). extreme internal disorders. The easiest way is to go to http://www. carrot. Tasting or swallowing even a small portion of some can cause severe discomfort. Examples are: edges of farms (unless you know the farmer does not use herbicides/pesticides). Bitter or soapy taste. stay away from any wild or unknown plants that have—         Milky or discolored sap. parsnip. Spines. *Using the above criteria as eliminators when choosing plants for the Universal Edibility Test will cause you to avoid some edible plants) More important. the consensus among those I have known is 15 to 20 feet from the side of a well-traveled road is best). these criteria will often help you avoid plants that are potentially toxic to eat or touch. flowers. It is best to make a note of the location and re-visit that site next season. or parsley-like foliage. Dill. Do not waste time testing a plant that is not relatively abundant in the area. To avoid potentially poisonous plants. leaves. Also. This is especially important if Page 2 of 10 . Learn as much as possible about the plant life of the areas where you train regularly and where you expect to be traveling or working. Three-leaved growth pattern. if you have the slightest doubt about a plant’s edibility. and even death. Each part of a plant (roots. and so on) requires more than 24 hours to test.

Page 3 of 10 . swallow the food. touch a small portion (a pinch) to the outer surface of your lip to test for burning or itching. 8. During the test period. stinging. Before placing the prepared plant part in your mouth. since no two climates sustain the same wild plants. thoroughly chew a pinch and hold it in your mouth for 15 minutes. 4. DO NOT SWALLOW! 11. Wait another 8 hours. smell alone does not indicate a plant is edible or inedible. itching. 7. If after 3 minutes there is no reaction on your lip. take nothing by mouth except purified water and the plant part you are testing. 6. roots. You must become familiar with BOTH climates. the plant part as prepared is safe for eating. If no ill effects occur. That will allow you to isolate that plant in your system. numbing. 9. Usually 15 minutes is enough time to allow for a reaction. Wait 8 hours. If any ill effects occur during this period. or other irritation occurs during the 15 minutes. 5. Select a small portion of a single part and prepare it the way you plan to eat it. and flowers. induce vomiting and drink a lot of water. 13. you know for certain it's the plant and not some other food you ate. Test only one part of a potential food plant at a time. Here are the details of the Universal Edibility test: 1. 12. place the plant part on your tongue. If there is no reaction. There are many plants out there that have edible leaves or berries but poisonous roots (or vice versa). If no burning. holding it there for 15 minutes. 2. eat 1/4 cup of the same plant part prepared the same way.Wild Edible Plants By Sustainable Home (Brenda Nolen) you plan to bug out to a location with a different climate than yours. During the 8 hours you abstain from eating. If no ill effects occur. Smell the food for strong or acid odors. Separate the plant into its basic components . If you have any adverse reactions. Remember. 3.leaves. Do not eat for 8 hours before starting the test. 10. test for contact poisoning (or allergy/sensitivity) by placing a piece of the plant part you are testing on the inside of your elbow or wrist. buds. stems.

Test the part raw to ensure edibility before eating the plant part raw. or they may upset your stomach (Cape Sorrel contains oxalic acid. The flowers and leave are fantastic in any dish you would normally use lemon juice in or add to a salad. Cape Sorrel (Oxalis pes-caprae) has a refreshing. I used to pick the flowers and chew on them all summer long. I do not know enough about them to be able to tell anyone about whether they are edible or poisonous. what plants do I have in my yard and how do I use them? I will not cover mushrooms. The same part or plant may produce varying reactions in different individuals. sour flavor. Page 4 of 10 . Do not eat too many. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Now.Wild Edible Plants By Sustainable Home (Brenda Nolen) Do not assume that a part of the plant that proved edible when cooked is also edible when raw. which in large doses is thought to contribute to kidney stones).

and roots). All parts of dandelion are edible (flowers. Chickweed is a good source of Vitamins A. as well as containing minerals such as iron. steamed. calcium and zinc. Phosphorus and Copper. Dandelion greens are also a wonderful Page 5 of 10 .Wild Edible Plants By Sustainable Home (Brenda Nolen) Chickweed (Stellaria media) is an early spring plant. Vitamin K. Once the temperatures reach between 70 and 80 degrees F it starts to die. If you live in a part of the world where dandelions actually go dormant during the winter (I'm in California and they grow year round) the best time to harvest the leaves is before the plant flowers. Vitamin E. The majority of information you will find online about chickweed refers to its medicinal properties. Magnesium. potassium. D. leaves. Vitamin C. Manganese. etc. Chickweed's flavor is like a combination of raw corn on the cob and alfalfa sprouts. Potassium. Folate. Vitamin A. It is excellent in salads. B and C. Vitamin B6. the leaves become bitterer. If you like mustard greens. you will like dandelion! Dandelion greens are high in Dietary Fiber. Iron. soups. Chickweed can be preserved two ways: dried or pureed then frozen (pour into ice cube trays. Once dandelions flower. Thiamin. Riboflavin. lightly sautéed. Calcium. pop out into freezer bags). Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is the most prolific wild edible in my yard.

Potassium. Page 6 of 10 . or my favorite way to eat dandelion leaves is dried. Iron. Calcium. that's what I call it but it's more like a bunch of Ziploc bags). Vitamin A. dandelion muffins (petals only).wildforager.info/dandelion%20recipes. Do a search online and you will find tons of recipes that include (or feature) dandelion greens (remember my website: http://www. and add them to soups and herbed breads in the winter. roasted at 350 degrees F until brittle then ground for use as an alternative to coffee or you could make Roasted Dandelion Root Ice Cream (http://www.Wild Edible Plants By Sustainable Home (Brenda Nolen) diuretic. Riboflavin.com/herbalbranch6.org). and many more recipes. omelets. Protein. crush them up. They can be cooked the same as any other green: added to a salad. Vitamin C.html (the entire flower head or just the petals). since the flavor is similar.htm)! Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album) can be used just as spinach. Vitamin B6. and a very good source of Dietary Fiber. It is also a good source of Niacin. Copper and Manganese. Magnesium and Phosphorus. I dry various plant parts and herbs. lasagna. Thiamin. dandelion honey (petals only). Here's different one for you to think about: Dandelion Pesto! Take any pesto recipe and replace the basil with dandelion greens. Folate.learningherbs. The dandelion root can be scrubbed then boiled and served with butter and herbs. Dandelion flowers can be made into dandelion fritters http://www.prodigalgardens. I keep a "Greens Jar" (well. quiche. Vitamin K.

I made a sweet relish with this. This green is rich in vitamin A. One-half cup has about 10 calories. I now only eat it raw (the leaves only). a type of the omega-3 fatty acids. also known as Verdolagas) has a sweet-sour flavor.com/purslanewithcheese. An exciting new health discovery is the high content of alpha linolenic acid present in verdolagas or purslane.Wild Edible Plants By Sustainable Home (Brenda Nolen) Plantain (Plantago major) is mostly used medicinally but there are some who eat this plant. Research is finding these substances lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as helping to prevent blood clots.survivalistssite. a chewy texture. Here's a recipe for Plantain Leaf Rolls http://wildforager. and is mucilaginous (slimy like okra). Here's a link to Purslane with Cheese (Verdolagas Con Queso): http://wildforager. It had a great flavor but I couldn't get past the slime.txt. vitamin C and magnesium with a fair amount of potassium and calcium. sprinkled in salads.survivalistssite.txt Page 7 of 10 .com/plantainleafrolls. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea. Young plantain leaves can be added to soups or stews.

They look exactly the same but Lily of the Valley is highly poisonous. which are listed incorrectly (like Turkey mushrooms being listed under edible mushrooms . How do you tell the two apart? The Three-Cornered Leek smells like a strong onion or garlic and Lilly of the Valley has no odor. They are best used as a flavoring.. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On the Web http://www. http://mimi54. You need to pay attention to some of the pictures.com/ Steve Brill is a wonderfully knowledgeable naturalist. with a slightly larger bulb. I love this plant! It has taken over half of my back yard but is a fall to spring plant here in California.wildmanstevebrill. and Eastern Canada.com/ This website has too much information for me to list. Since this plant is in the Leek family. they are not edible). collecting. so the dried leaves retain more flavor than green onions.com/ This site is about finding.. http://foraging. Page 8 of 10 . New England. Three-Cornered Leek has a stronger flavor.Wild Edible Plants By Sustainable Home (Brenda Nolen) Three-Cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum) is like wild garlic. then removed before eating but the bulbs can be used like garlic or onions. identifying and preparing the more safe and common edible and medicinal mushroom species of Maine. You must be careful to not confuse this plant with Lily of the Valley.wordpress. The plant is about the size of a small green onion.com/2009/03/18/weed-walk-march/ This is a perfect example of how edible/medicinal plants can be found anywhere! http://mushroom-collecting. the leaves are tough.

Mushrooms.amazon.youtube.html Edible Landscaping and Gardening Plant Descriptions. Cultivars by Ben Sharvy You Tube http://www.amazon. This seems to be a great book (mine has not arrived yet) and a bargain (new and used copies selling for around $7) http://www. and Cook Them (Paperback) http://www.efn.wildmanstevebrill.com/user/EatTheWeeds The most extensive video collection I have seen about edible wild plants.com/Illustrated-Guide-Edible-WildPlants/dp/1585746614/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_c/184-9446319-7451725 Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not-So-Wild) Places http://www.com/Complete-Edible-Plants-MushroomsFruits/dp/1592282881/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1249969100&sr=8-7 The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying.com/user/sunnysavage And this gentleman has a few videos on Wild Edibles but has some other useful information: http://www. Lore.com/Edible-Medicinal-Mushrooms-England-Eastern/dp/1556437951 Page 9 of 10 . Identify.Folder/I%20%26%20H%20Folder/Id%27g%2 0%26%20Hvst%27g. and Preparing Edible Wild Plants (Paperback) http://www.Wild Edible Plants By Sustainable Home (Brenda Nolen) http://www. and Nuts: How to Find.amazon.amazon.youtube.org/~bsharvy/edible. Harvesting. Cultivation Tips. Fruits.com/user/wildernessoutfitters Books The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants.com/Books. Trivia.youtube.html Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada http://www.com/Foragers-Harvest-Identifying-HarvestingPreparing/dp/0976626608/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1249969100&sr=8-4 The Illustrated Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Department of the Army. http://www.

Wild Edible Plants By Sustainable Home (Brenda Nolen) Tools http://www. The majority of the edible plants illustrated have been selected because of their wide distribution and availability. Page 10 of 10 . the common name. and many are distributed throughout the world. and details of their key identifying characteristics. Each card has a picture. This would be perfect to (once you have studied the cards) throw in your bug-out bag or keep in your vehicle.wildmanstevebrill. Most of them are found throughout the United States and Canada.us/Edible_Plant_Survival_Kit_Wilderness_Gear_Wild_Food.com/Purchase/WildCards.html This deck of plant identification cards includes some of the more important edible and poisonous plants of the west.html A great tool that he sells is a set of Wild Cards. the Latin name. the area of the United States this plant can be found. with 52 different common wild edible and medicinal herbs and greens. http://boyscoutsworld. I am not sure if they come this way but the picture of the cards shows the cards with a hole punched through them with a key chain strung through them. as well as their uses as food or home remedies.

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