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*'''A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, A Peterson Field Guide''' by Lee Allen Peterson
*'''A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, A Peterson Field Guide''' by Lee Allen Peterson
* [http://www.edibleplants.com Dining on the Wilds], by Miriam Darnall-Kramer, and John Goude
* [http://www.edibleplants.com Dining on the Wilds], by Miriam Darnall-Kramer, and John Goude
[[Category:Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book|{{SUBPAGENAME}}]]

Revision as of 07:51, 17 June 2007

Template:Honor header

1. Photograph, collect pictures of or sketch fifteen edible wild plants. Identify each plant in the wild.

Several wild edible plants are presented here in alphabetic order. I have included the plants with which I am most familiar, meaning that most of them are available in the Eastern United States. To make this section more universal, please add plants from your own area. This should be done by creating a separate page for the plant and including it thusly:

{{:Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Edible Wild Plants/New Plant}}

Save the page, and then click on the red link you just made to create the new page (or let someone else do that - just knowing which plant to include is a great help). If you choose to add content to the new page, please use the EWP template to maintain uniformity. See the discussion page of the EWP template for its usage, or look at an existing page that uses it (which would be all of the ones below).

Bladder Campion

Description: The calyx of the flower is a balloon-like structure shaped like a melon. The flowers are deeply cleft.

Where found: Found in Canada, south to Missouri, east to Virginia. Grows in dry ground, along roadsides, etc.

Availability: Spring

Use: Collect the leaves in early spring before the plant is more than a couple of inches high (5 cm). Boil them in water for 10 minutes and eat them as greens.

Typha latifolia - Cattail

Where found: in wetlands throughout the Northern Hemisphere

Availability: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

Use: In early spring, the shoots and stalks can be pulled up and eaten raw or boiled for 15 minutes. In late spring, the spikes can be gathered just before they break out of their papery sheaths, boiled for a few minutes, buttered, and eaten like corn-on-the-cob. In early summer, the spikes produce large quantities of pollen which can be gathered by covering the top of the plant with a paper bag, inverting it, and shaking vigorously. The pollen can be used as flour when mixed half and half with wheat flour. In fall and winter, the roots can be gathered. Wash them and then soak them in a bucket of water. While still submerged, crush them to remove the fibrous covering. Then let the starchy portion of the root settle to the bottom. Skim off the fiber, strain out the water, and use as flour.


Description: Chicory is a spindly plant with purple (though sometimes pink or white) flowers. The petals are narrow, notched at the tips, and numerous. The flowers fold up in the afternoon, opening again in the morning.

Where found: Originating from Europe, it was naturalized in North America, where it has become a widespread roadside weed.

Availability: Early spring (leaves), Fall to Spring (roots)

Use: The roots are washed, roasted, ground, and brewed as a coffee substitute (use 1.5 tsp per cup of water). In the spring the white, underground portion of the leaves are an excellent addition to salads, and the green above-ground portions can be boiled and eaten as greens.


Where found: Found worldwide in fields and yards

Availability: Spring, Summer, Fall

Use: The flowers can be eaten raw, added to salads, boiled in soups, or dried (or roasted) and ground to flour. They can also be used to make fritters. Red clover is shown here, but white clover is just as good (but a little smaller, so it takes more work to collect). The leaves and stems are also edible in salads or as greens.
Trifolium pratense bgiu.jpg


Where found: Throughout Asia, Europe, and North America

Availability: Spring, Summer, Fall

Use: Add the young, tender leaves to salad raw, or boil and eat as greens. The roots can be roasted and ground, and used as a coffee substitute. The yellow rays of the flowers are sweet and make a great snack raw, or they can be fried as fritters. The unopened buds are also excellent and can be used the same way as the leaves.
Dandilion plant.jpg

Day Lily

Description: The alternating lanceolate leaves are grouped into fans (a clump also containing the roots and the crown). The crown of a day lily is the small white portion of the stem, between the leaves and the roots. The name "day lily" reflects the fact that the individual flowers last for only one day. The flowers of most species open at sunrise and wither at sunset, to be replaced by another one (sometimes two or none) on the same stem the next day; some species are night-blooming.

Where found: Originally from Eurasia, native from Europe to China, Korea, and Japan, their large showy flowers have made them popular worldwide

Availability: Early Spring (shoots), Summer (buds and flowers), All Year (tubers)

Use: The early shoots make a good addition to a salad. The buds and flowers can be prepared by boiling or be made into fritters. The tubers can also be added to salads or can be prepared like corn-on-the-cob.
Daylily - Stella de Oro.jpg


Description: Goldenrods are easily recognized by their golden inflorescence with hundreds of small flower heads. They have slender, usually hairless stems. They can grow to a length between 60 cm and 1.5 m. Their alternate leaves are linear to lanceolate. Their margins are usually finely to sharply serrated.

Where found: Found in the meadows and pastures, along roads, ditches and waste areas in North America and Europe.

Use: The flowers can be steeped in boiling water for 10 minutes to make an anise-flavored tea.
Solidago canadensis 20050815 248.jpg


Description: On their own, Smilax plants will grow as a shrub, forming dense impenetrable thickets. They will also grow over trees and other plants up to 10 m high using its hooked thorns to hang on to and scramble over branches. The genus includes both deciduous and evergreen species. The leaves are heart shaped and vary from 4-30 cm long in different species.

Where found: Eastern United States

Availability: Spring, Summer

Use: The shoots and leaves are delicious eaten raw on the trail or in salads. They can also be boiled and eaten as asparagus and greens.
Smilax aspera.jpg


Description: Common milkweed is a herbaceous perennial plant growing from a rhizome to 1-2 m tall. The stem is very hairy, and all parts of the plants produce a white latex when broken. The leaves are opposite, simple broad ovate-lanceolate, 7-25 cm long and 3-12 cm broad, usually with an undulate margin and a red-colored main vein. They have a very short petiole and a velvety underside. The flowers are grouped in several spherical umbels with numerous flowers in each umbel. The individual flowers are small, 1-2 cm diameter, perfumed, with five cornate hoods. The seeds are attached to long, white flossy hairs and encased in large pods.

Where found: Native to most of North America east of the Rockies, with the exception of the drier parts of the Prairies. It grows in sandy soils and appreciates lots of sunlight.

Availability: Spring, Summer

Use: The stems, shoots, leaves, flowers, and young pods are all edible, but should be cooked first. The flowers can be dipped in batter and fried, and the other parts can be boiled for a few minutes. It is not necessary to boil milkweed in repeated changes of water.
Asclepias syriaca.jpg


Description: Pickerelweed is a genus of aquatic plants. They have large waxy leaves, succulent stems and a thick pad of fibrous roots. The roots give rise to rhizomes that allow rapid colonization by vegetative reproduction. Species are perennial, and produce a large spike of purple flowers in the summer.

Where found: Pickerelweed is endemic to the Americas, distributed from Canada to Argentina, where it is found in partially submerged in shallow water or on mud.

Availability: Early Summer (leaves), Late Summer to Early Fall (fruit)

Use: The young leaves, if picked before they unfurl can be eaten raw in salads or boiled for ten minutes and served with butter as greens. The nut-like fruit can be gathered in late summer to early fall and roasted or eaten out of the hand like granola.
Pontederia cordata.JPG

Plantago Major, or Broadleaf Plantain

Description: The Broadleaf Plantain or Greater Plantago (Plantago major) is a member of the plantago family, Plantaginaceae. In North America, this plant is primarily a weed, though it is edible and is used in herbal medicine. The plant is native to Europe, and is believed to be one of the first plants to naturalize in the colonies.

This plant does best in compacted soils, and hence is sometimes called "roadweed". It is commonly found on field boundaries as it is tolerant to pesticides and herbicides. It is wind-pollenated, and a cause of summer allergies when in flower.

Where found: Common lawn weed found throughout

Availability: Best in Early Spring, also usable in Summer and Fall, but tough and stringy.

Use: Crushed leaves can be applied directly to the skin to stop bleeding, bee stings and insect bites. Psyllium seeds are a bulk laxative. The young leaves are delicious raw in salads. In summer and fall the leaves can be eaten when boiled as greens.
Plantago major.jpg

Sheep Sorrel

Where found: Throughout the Northern Hemisphere

Availability: Spring, Summer, Fall

Use: Nibble on the raw leaves - a great addition to a salad. They may also be boiled and eaten like greens, or steeped to make a tea.

WARNING: Sheep sorrel contains small amount of oxalic acid which gives it its pleasantly sour taste. If eaten in large quantities over a period of time, however, may inhibit the body's ability to absorb calcium.
Ahosuolaheinä (Rumex acetosella).jpg

Wild Strawberry

Description: Similar to the domestic variety, but the berries are quite a bit smaller, measuring about quarter inch (6 mm) in diameter. The Woodland Strawberry was widely cultivated in Europe before being largely replaced by the Garden Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa and other hybrids), which have much larger berries. Woodland Strawberry fruit is strongly flavored, and is still grown on a small scale commercially for the use of gourmets. Unlike most commercial and garden cultivars of strawberries, Woodland Strawberries rarely form runners, and are usually propagated by seeds or division of the plants.

Where found: Throughout the Northern Hemisphere

Availability: Summer

Use: The fruits can be eaten raw or cooked into jellies and jams. It can also be baked into pies. An herbal tea made from the leaves, stems, and flowers is believed to aid in the treatment of diarrhea.
Fragaria vesca 2.jpg

Wild Carrot (Queen Anne's Lace)

Description: It is a biennial plant growing up to 1 m tall, bearing an umbel of bright white flowers that turn into a "bird's nest" seed case after blooming. Very similar in appearance to the deadly poison hemlock, it is distinguished by a mix of bi-pinnate and tri-pinnate leaves, fine hairs on its stems and leaves, a root that smells like carrots, and occasionally a single dark red flower in its center.

Where found: Waste ground, fields, throughout

Availability: Fall to Early Spring

Use: The roots of the wild carrot can be cleaned and used as regular carrots. They are quite a bit smaller than domestic carrots, but the flavor is unmistakable. It is best to use the roots of the plant during its first year.

WARNING: Do not confuse the wild carrot with poison hemlock. The root of the wild carrot smells like carrots. Also the bracts beneath the flower heads are three-forked. Poison hemlock has a smooth, hollow, jointed stem and often has purple spots. Queen Anne's Lace has none of these characteristics.
Daucus carota inflorescence kz.jpg

Wild Garlic

Description: All parts of the plant have a strong garlic odor. The underground bulb is 1-2 cm diameter, with a fibrous outer layer. The main stem grows to 30-120 cm tall. The leaves are slender hollow tubular, 15-60 cm long and 2-4 mm thick, waxy textured, with a groove along the side of the leaf facing the stem. The flowers are 2-5 mm long, with six petals varying in color from pink to red or greenish-white. It flowers in the summer, June to August

Where found: Northern Hemisphere

Availability: All year

Use: Use the tubular leaves and bulbs in salad or in soups.
Allium vineale1.jpg

Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Edible Wild Plants/Wild Grape

Wild Onion

Description: Wild Onion has an edible bulb covered with a dense skin of brown fibers and tastes like an onion. The plant also has strong, onion-like odor. The narrow, grass-like leaves originate near the base of the stem, which is topped by a dome-like cluster of star-shaped, pink or white flowers. It typically flowers in the spring and early summer, from May to June.

Where found: Throughout North America

Availability: Spring - Winter

Use: Use the leaves and bulbs raw in salads, or cook them in a soup. Basically, use them as you would domestic onions.

WARNING: Though the plant is edible, it pays to be careful in identifying it as there are several look-a-likes. So be sure to do more research before eating plant.
Allium canadense.jpg

Wintergreen, or Teaberry

Description: Wintergreen (also called Teaberry) is a low evergreen plant that grows in wooded areas. It produces red berries in the Fall, and they remain on the plant through the winter until the plant flowers again in the spring. The crushed leaves have a medicinal smell very much like peppermint (or surprise! wintergreen!) It is also used as the flavor of Wrigley's popular Winterfresh chewing gum.

Where found: Primarily found in the Northeastern United States, but it also grows in Minnesota, south to Mississippi, east to Georgia, and north to Maine.

Availability: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Use: The leaves can be picked and chewed raw like a chewing gum. The leaves can also be finely chopped and steeped in boiling water to make a tea. The berries can be eaten as well.

WARNING: Wintergreen is endangered in Illinois, so if you find it there, leave it be!
Gaultheria procumbens.JPG

Wood Sorrel

Where found: Occurs throughout most of the world, except for the polar areas.

Availability: Spring, Summer, Fall

Use: Use the raw leaves, stems, and flowers as a refreshing, sour addition to a salad. Steep in boiling water for 10 minutes to make a tea.

WARNING: Wood sorrel contains small amount of oxalic acid which gives it its pleasantly sour taste. If eaten in large quantities over a period of time, however, may inhibit the body's ability to absorb calcium.
Oxalis arborea1.jpg

2. Identify in the wild five trees and five shrubs which are edible.



Description: Acorns are the fruit of the oak tree. They are a very important food source for wildlife. Creatures that make acorns an important part of their diet include birds such as jays, pigeons, some ducks and several species of woodpeckers. Small mammals that feed on acorns include mice, squirrels and several other rodents. Large mammals such as pigs, bears and deer also consume large amounts of acorns; they may constitute up to 25% of the diet of deer in the autumn. However, acorns are toxic to some other animals, such as horses. In some human cultures, acorns once constituted a dietary staple, though they are now generally only a very minor food.

Where found: The oak is native to the northern hemisphere, and includes deciduous and evergreen species extending from cold latitudes to tropical Asia and the Americas.

Availability: Fall

Use: The acorn contains tannin, which is very bitter and slightly toxic. Luckily, tannin is easily removed by soaking in water. Acorns from the white oak family have far less tannin than acorns from the black (or red) oak family, so if you have a choice, opt for white oaks. The first acorns to fall from the tree are likely to contain worms and moth larvae. Most of these bad acorns will float in water, while most good acorns will sink. At the beginning of acorn season (late summer or early autumn) you will find that most of the acorns will float and very few will sink. As the season progresses, you will find that most acorns will sink and few will float. Once you have sorted them, shell them. They can be opened with a pair of pliers or a nutcracker. Remove the meat from the shell, crush it into a fine powder (use a mortar & pestle or a food processor), and then soak it in water for about a week, changing the water twice a day. If you choose to, you can speed this process by boiling the shelled, crushed acorns in several changes of water. Native Americans would put the crushed acorns in a sack and then place the sack in a swift stream for several days. If after soaking, the acorn mush is still bitter, it needs to soak longer. When they are no longer bitter, spread them out on a cookie sheet and dry them in an oven at 120°C250°F for 90 minutes. They can be used as flour or to make acorn mush - a staple of the Native American diet. You can also skip crushing them and eat them as nuts, but uncrushed acorns will take much longer to leach.
Amerikaanse eik eikels Quercus rubra acorns.jpg

Beech Nut

Description: The Beech is a deciduous tree growing to 20-35 m tall, with smooth silvery-gray bark. The leaves are dark green, simple and sparsely-toothed with small teeth, 6-12 cm long (rarely 15 cm), with a short petiole. The winter twigs are distinctive among North American trees, being long and slender (15-20 mm by 2-3 mm) with two rows of overlapping scales on the buds.

Where found: The American Beech is a species of beech native to eastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to southern Ontario in southeastern Canada, west to Wisconsin and south to eastern Texas and northern Florida in the United States.

Availability: Fall

Use: The nuts can be eaten raw, or they can be roasted.
IN Hoot Woods.jpg

Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Edible Wild Plants/Cherry

Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Edible Wild Plants/Hickory Nuts

Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Edible Wild Plants/Maple Syrup

Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Edible Wild Plants/Persimmon

Pine Nuts

Description: Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pine trees. About 20 species of pine produce seeds large enough to be worth harvesting; in other pines the seeds are also edible, but are too small to be of value as a human food. The nuts are located at the base of the scales of the cones.

Where found: Temperate areas of North America, Europe, and Asia.

Availability: Fall

Use: Pine nuts can be eaten raw or baked into a casserole.

Pine Trees

Description: Pines are evergreen and resinous. The bark of most pines is thick and scaly, but some species have thin, flaking bark. The branches are produced in regular "pseudowhorls", actually a very tight spiral but appearing like a ring of branches arising from the same point. Many pines are uninodal, producing just one such whorl of branches each year, from buds at the tip of the year's new shoot, but others are multinodal, producing two or more whorls of branches per year. The new spring shoots are sometimes called "candles"; they are light-colored and point upward at first, then later darken and spread outward.

Where found: Pines are native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, they range from the Arctic south to Nicaragua and Hispaniola, with the highest diversity in Mexico and California. In Eurasia, they range from Portugal and Scotland east to the Russian Far East, Japan, and the Philippines, and south to northernmost Africa, the Himalaya and Southeast Asia, with one species (Sumatran Pine) just crossing the Equator in Sumatra. Pines are also extensively planted in many parts of the Southern Hemisphere

Availability: All year

Use: The needles can be eaten year-round. The young shoots can be eaten as candy when stripped of the needles, peeled, boiled until tender, and then simmered for 20-30 minutes in a sugary syrup.
Pinus pinaster.jpg


Description: Sassafras is a small tree with brown, furrowed bark. The leaves come inthree shapes: an oval (one lobe); a mitten (two lobes); and a glove (three lobes).

Where found: Eastern US, west to eastern Texas, north to Illinois, east to New Hampshire.

Use: dig up the roots, peel them, and boil them to make a rootbeer-like tea.

WARNING: Safrole, which is the main component (75-80%) of sassafras essential oil, is now recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture as a potential carcinogen.
Three-lobed sassafras leaf
Three-lobed sassafras leaf


Description: It grows to 3-10 m tall, and has alternate, pinnately compound leaves 25-55 cm long, each with 9-31 serrate leaflets 6-11 cm long. The leaf petioles and the stems are densely covered in rust-colored hairs. The fruit of staghorn sumac is one of the most identifiable characteristics, forming dense clusters of small red drupes at the terminal end of the branches; the clusters are conic, 10-20 cm long and 4-6 cm broad at the base. The fruit appear during autumn, at which point the foliage turns a brilliant red. Sumacs are considered some of the best fall foliage around. The fruit has been known to last through winter and into spring.

Where found: From Ontario and Quebec south to northern Georgia and Mississippi.

Availability: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Use: The fruit drupes can be bruised and then soaked in water to make a refreshing lemonade-like drink.

WARNING: Avoid the Poison Sumac tree which is easily identified by its white flowers. Contact with poison sumac will cause a rash (like poison ivy).
Rhus typhina.jpg


Autumn Olive

Description: Autumn olive is a small tree (or large shrub), growing 4-10 meters tall. The leaves are lanceolate, shiny green on the top with a silvery, powdery underside. The berries are about 6-7mm in diameter, bright red with speckles on them, growing in groups. They are very sweet.

Where found: Native to eastern Asia from the Himalayas east to Japan. It was introduced to North America where it has become an invasive species.

Availability: Fall

Use: When ripe, the fruit is juicy and edible. It can be eaten fresh or made into a jam. The fruit is small, extremely numerous, tart-tasting, and it has a chewable seed. It has been shown to have from 7 to 17 times the amount of the antioxidant lycopene that tomatoes have. Lycopene has been consistently shown to be useful in decreasing the risk of prostate cancer.
Image-Cardinal Elaeagnus umbellata 1987.jpg


Description: The blackberry is a widespread and well known shrub; commonly called a bramble in the eastern U.S. and Europe but a caneberry in the western U.S. growing to 3 m (10 ft) and producing a soft-bodied fruit popular for use in desserts, jams, and seedless jellies.

Where found: Throughout the non-polar regions of the world.

Availability: Fall

Use: The berries are fantastic eaten straight from the cane, cooked into jelly, or baked into pies.
Blackberry fruits10.jpg


Description: Blueberries are shrubs varying in size from 10 cm tall to 4 m tall; the smaller species are known as "lowbush blueberries", and the larger species as "highbush blueberries". The leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen, ovate to lanceolate, and from 1-8 cm long and 0.5-3.5 cm broad. The flowers are bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red, sometimes tinged greenish. The fruit is a berry 5-16 mm diameter with a flared "crown" at the end; they are pale greenish at first, then reddish-purple, and finally turn blue or dark purple on ripening. They have a sweet taste when mature, with variable acidity.

Where found: Native to North America and eastern Asia.

Availability: The blueberry season typically runs from May to October, peaking in July

Use: Blueberries are used in jellies, jams, and pies, baked into muffins, and are an ingredient of many other snacks and delicacies.


Description: Cranberries are creeping shrubs or vines that grow up to 2 meters long and from 5 to 20 cm. tall. They have slender stems, and small evergreen leaves. They have dark pink flowers with petals that leave the style and stamens exposed and pointing forward. Their fruit is a berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant. It is white when unripe, but is a deep red when it is fully ripe. Cranberries have a very acidic taste.

Where found: Northeastern US, northern Europe and Asia, and southeastern Canada.

Use: Cranberries are usually made into compotes or jellies, but are also baked into muffins, scones, or cakes, or other baked goods. They are considered too sour for eating unaccompanied.
Mirtillo Rosso Cranberry.jpg


Description: The gooseberry is a straggling bush growing to 1-3 meters (3-10 feet) tall, the branches being thickly set with sharp spines, standing out singly or in diverging tufts of two or three from the bases of the short spurs or lateral leaf shoots. The bell-shaped flowers are produced, singly or in pairs, from the groups of rounded, deeply-crenated 3 or 5 lobed leaves. The fruit of wild gooseberries is smaller than in the cultivated varieties, but is often of good flavour; it is generally hairy, but in one variety smooth, constituting the R. uva-crispa of writers; berries' colour is usually green, but there are red variants and occasionally deep purple berries occur.

Where found: The gooseberry is indigenous in Europe and western Asia, growing naturally in alpine thickets and rocky woods in the lower country, from France eastward, well into the Himalayas and peninsular India. It is a non-native species occurring throughout most of North America.

Use: Gooseberries are best known for their use in desserts such as Gooseberry Fool and Gooseberry Crumble. In some countries, like Portugal, gooseberries are very appreciated as a beverage, being mostly used mixed with soda, water or even milk. They can be eaten raw, though many species should be cooked down to soften the spines. They are also commonly used in making jelly.


Description: The rose is a common garden shrub, but it also grows wild in many places. The leaves of most species are 5–15 cm long, pinnate, with 3–13 leaflets and basal stipules; the leaflets usually have a serrated margin, and often a few small prickles on the underside of the stem. The vast majority of roses are deciduous, but a few (particularly in southeast Asia) are evergreen or nearly so.

Where found: There are more than a hundred species of wild roses, all from the northern hemisphere and mostly from temperate regions.

Availability: Fall

Use: The fruit of the rose bush (rose hips) are sometimes eaten, mainly for their vitamin C content. They are usually pressed and filtered to make rose-hip syrup, as the fine hairs surrounding the seeds are unpleasant to eat (resembling itching powder). They can also be used to make herbal tea, jam, jelly and marmalade. They are also used to make pies and bread.
Rose hip.JPG

Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Edible Wild Plants/Serviceberry


Description: The leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen depending on species, and are alternate, entire or three-lobed, and strongly spicy-aromatic. The flowers are small, yellowish, with six petaloid sepals and no petals. The fruit is a small red, purple or black drupe containing a single seed.

Where found: Native to eastern Asia but with three species in eastern North America.

Availability: Late Summer, Early Fall

Use: The fruits of the spice bush can (as the name suggests) used as a spice.
Lindera melissifolia.jpg

3. Identify, prepare, and eat three kinds of wild berries or fruits, three kinds of beverages, three salad plants, three potherbs (greens), and two tubers or roots.

Fruits and Berries

See above on Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Grape, Persimmon, Strawberry, and Wintergreen.


See above on Chicory, Dandelion, Goldenrod, Sassafras, Sheep Sorrel, Sumac, Wintergreen, and Wood Sorrel

Salad Plants

See above on Dandelion, Greenbriar, Plantain, Sheep Sorrel, Wood Sorrel


See above on Dandelion, Plantain, Milkweed

Tubers or Roots

See above on Carrot, Cattail, Garlic, Onion, and Sassafras

4. Demonstrate the preparation of wild foods in each of the following ways:

a. Boiling

Any of the greens are prepared by boiling.

b. Frying

Clover Pancakes

Collect about one gallon of clover flowers and let them dry for two weeks (or dry them in the oven at 250°F for 30 minutes and then let them sit overnight). Once they are dry, grind them to powder using a mortar and pestle to make a fine flour. This will produce about a cup of flour. Mix this half-and-half with wheat flour and make pancakes.


  • Dandelion flower heads can be dipped in batter and fried to make fritters.
  • Milkweed flowers can also be battered and fried, but they must be dipped in boiling water for one minute first.
  • Black Locust flowers also make excellent fritters.

c. Roasting

See above for acorns, chicory, pickerel weed, and pine nuts.

d. Baking


Delicious pies can be made from blackberries or blueberries. Wild cherries are not really large enough for this, but if you find them in quantity, you might make a go of it.


Try baking bread by mixing wheat flour with any of the various "wild" flours made from clover, acorn, cattail pollen, or cattail roots.

5. Demonstrate how to prepare four parts of the common milkweed or day lily for food.


Common Milkweed in flower
Milkweed pods

The parts of a milkweed plant that are edible are the leaves, stems, shoots, flowers, and pods. The pods must be collected while they are young, and the flowers are not in season for very long. All are prepared essentially the same way, which is by boiling them in several changes of water. Boiling eliminates the bitter, milky sap from which the milkweed derives its name.

Prepare the milkweed by filling a large pot with water and bringing it to a boil. When the water is close to boiling, fill a small pot with water and bring it to a boil as well. When both pots are boiling, place the milkweed in the smaller of the two and let it boil for about a minute. Pour the water off and then refill the small pot from the large pot. You may wish to use a ladle to dip the boiling water from the large pot into the smaller one. You do not want to cover the milkweed with cold water as this will set the bitterness. Boil the second batch of water for a minute also, drain it off, and refill. Subsequent changes of water should remain in the pot for a few minutes. After no fewer than six changes of water, the milkweed should be ready to eat. Add a little butter if desired and prepare to treat your taste buds.

Day Lily

See requirement #1 for information on preparing the shoots, buds, flowers, and tubers.

6. Explain how to identify three "odd-shaped" edible fungi and how to identify the deadly mushroom amanitas.

Sulphur Shelf

Description: Sulphur shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) is also known as the chicken of the woods, the chicken mushroom, and the chicken fungus. It is, as one might expect, an edible mushroom with a taste quite similar to lemony chicken. Individual "shelves" range from 2-10 inches across. These shelves are made up of many tiny tubular filaments (hyphae). The mushroom grows in large brackets - some have been found that weigh over 100 pounds (45 kg). It is most commonly found on wounds of trees, mostly oak, though it is also frequently found on yew, cherry wood, sweet chestnut, and willow. Though it does grow off of a living tree, sulphur shelf is not a parasite, though it may cause decay. Young mushrooms are characterized by a moist, rubbery, sulphur-yellow body with bright orange tips. Older mushrooms become pale and brittle, pungent, and are often dotted with termite holes.

Where found: Throughout most of the world

Availability: Late Summer to Fall

Use: Slice thinly and add to stews or simmer for 30 minutes.

WARNING: About half of the population has an allergic reaction to this type of mushroom, with cases being more pronounced in older mushrooms. Due to all of these factors, the mushroom should generally only be eaten when young, and one should always only try a small amount the first time.
Sulphur shelf fungus.jpg

Morel Mushrooms

Description: Morel mushrooms have a distinctive, sponge-like cap. The cap is heavily and deeply pitted.

Where found: Moist woods throughout.

Availability: Spring (usually in May)

Use: Use as a cooked vegetable or sauté in butter.

WARNING: When gathering morels, care must be taken to distinguish them from the poisonous false morel (Gyromitra esculenta and others). However, morels are fairly distinctive in appearance. Eating False Morels in quantity can be fatal.

Giant Puffball Mushroom

Description: Most giant puffballs grow to be 10 to 70 cm in diameter, although occasionally some can reach diameters up to 150 cm and weights of 20 kg. The inside of the mature Giant puffballs is greenish brown, whereas the interior of immature puffballs is white. The large white mushrooms are edible when young.

Where found: Throughout North America

Availability: Late Summer, Fall

Use: Cooked vegetable, or use like cultivated mushrooms

WARNING: Cut the mushroom open before using it, and check for rudimentary gill or stem. The deadly Amanitas looks like a puffball when it is young before its stem grows, but it will have the gills or stem. Also, make sure the interior flesh is pure white rather than yellowish.
Langermannia gigantea R0018880.JPG

Toxic.png Amanitas Toxic.png

Description: The genus Amanita contains about 600 species of agarics and contains some of the most toxic known mushrooms, found worldwide. This genus is responsible for 95% of the fatalities resulting from mushroom poisoning, with the death cap accounting for 50% on its own. The most potent toxin present in these mushrooms is alpha-amanitin.


7. What root plant can be dried and ground into meal?

  • Cattail
  • Greenbriars
  • Kudzu

8. Know at least 8 families embracing the poisonous or doubtful plants.

  • Buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae) - buckthorns
  • Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) - buttercups, larkspur, baneberry
  • Carrot/parsley family (Apiaceae) - hemlock, fool's parsley
  • Cherry family (Rosaceae) - cherry (leaves)
  • Daisy family (Asteraceae/Compositae) - white snake root
  • Dogbane/milkweed family (Apocynaceae) - dogbane, butterfly weed
  • Legume family (Fabaceae) - Goat's rue, indigo, locust (seed pods), Lupine, Rattlebox
  • Horsechestnut family (Hippocastanaceae) - horse chestnut
  • Iris family (Iridaceae) - all are poisonous
  • Lily family (Liliaceae)(other than Day lily) - False Hellebore, Fly Poison, Star of Bethlehem
  • Crowfoot family (Ranunculaceae) - monkshood
  • Mushrooms - many
  • Nightshade family (Solanaceae) - nightshade, tomato (leaves), potato (leaves)
  • Poison Sumac/Oak/Ivy family (Rhus/Toxicodendron/Anacardiaceae) - poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac
  • Soapwort family (Caryophyllaceae) - soapwort
  • Grape family (Vitaceae) - Virginia creeper
  • Yew family (Taxaceae) - yew

9. What is the cardinal edibility rule?

Never eat any wild plant unless you have positively identified it and know that it is edible.


  • A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, A Peterson Field Guide by Lee Allen Peterson
  • Dining on the Wilds, by Miriam Darnall-Kramer, and John Goude