Searching for edible plants, as our predecessors did, is not solely an amusing undertaking. You can get food that is entirely natural and nourishing without charge. It’s nearly impossible to come by a spot on the planet free of pollutants, yet wild vegetation still fares better compared to commercially grown crops. Additionally, you are provided with many minerals and vitamins that are generally not found in most standard meals.
Here are some of the edible herbs you can look for in and around your property:
1. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
This plant is everywhere and needs no explanation as its bright yellow flowers can be seen wherever you go. However, mushrooms that are growing in your yard or garden may not be safe to eat if you’ve been using chemical products on them, even if they haven’t been very effective. The flowers, leaves, and roots are all edible. Fry the leaves or prepare them similarly to spinach and place them in salads and sandwiches when fresh. You can deep-fry the blossoms or create jelly or tea using them.
Dandelion is very nutritious as it contains plentiful amounts of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, calcium, and potassium, making it an excellent antioxidant and mineral provider. It has the capability of purging impurities from the liver, kidneys, and urinary bladder as it serves as an amazing diuretic and delicate purgative.
2. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
A commonly disregarded herb, Purslane can be found nearly anywhere if you take the time to look for it, especially in spots where other plants don’t tend to develop. Crawling close to the ground, it can be easily overlooked. The minimal succulent foliage, bright yellow blooms, and tender pink stalks are all edible. The texture and flavor of them are pleasant, with a slightly tart flavor that will make you want to munch away while collecting them.
Purslane has a past of being utilized as a cooking herb. You can eat it raw or cooked. The mucilaginous stems help thicken gravies and soups. Purslane is rich in vitamins A, C, and E and includes a variety of minerals. This vegetable is an outstanding source of Omega–3 fatty acids.
3. Violets (Viola spp.)
Areas that don’t receive much sunlight are home to beautiful violets, recognizable for their petite, heart-shaped foliage and dazzling blue petals. The most reliable way to identify the plants is by their flowers as opposed to the leaves, due to the fact that some other plants, such as the dangerous lily of the valley, have leaves that appear alike.
You can add violet leaves and flowers to salads. The wild violets lack the sweet aroma of cultivated garden violets, however, they are still consumable and delicious. Crystallized violets make excellent decorations for cakes and desserts. Consuming violet honey and tea can provide relief for a sore throat and headache, as well as reduce inflammation due to the salicylic acid contained in the flowers.
4. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
When walking through the wild, you may catch a whiff of a lemony scent if you come across a herb in the mint family. It’s likely to be a lemon balm, which is easily identifiable by its distinct aroma when the leaves are crushed. You can eat them raw or cooked. A tea prepared with lemon balm leaves has calming and comforting properties. This is a conventional medicinal treatment for digestive concerns, even in infants and elderly people.
To make a citrusy vinegar and herbed butter, use lemon balm, or alternatively, cut up the leaves and add them to salads and other meals. Let the extra leaves dry in the shadow and save them in containers that are sealed tightly. Care should be taken when consuming lemon balm as it has been linked to decreased thyroid function.
5. Garden cress (Lepidium sativum)
Garden cress is commonly found in gardens and backyards. In many parts of the world, this plant is viewed as a nuisance; however, it is cultivated for sale commercially in certain European countries such as the United Kingdom. The distinctive and pungent flavor of garden cress makes it a common choice for salads and sandwiches.
Garden cress is rich in carotenoids and vitamin C. Tests performed in a laboratory have revealed that this plant holds anti-cancer properties similar to other plants of the cabbage family. Garden cress contains high amounts of vitamin K too.
6. Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
This plant which is closely related to garden cress is found all around the world. This plant, as suggested by its name, typically grows close to bodies of water such as ponds and lakes. No matter where it occurs, it does so in large numbers, so there is no real concern about it becoming scarce. In reality, watercress is commercially cultivated in a variety of places across the globe.
Watercress has significant amounts of Vitamins A, C, and some of the B-complex family, involving folic acid. Clean them completely so as to take away any debris or other unwanted elements that have made their way into the water.
More Edible Wild Plants
1. Burdock (Arctium lappa)
One can easily identify this plant if one searches for bothersome burrs. If there isn’t a stem, spot a bunch of pointed oval leaves laying close to the ground that were grown during the first year.
The leaves of the plant can be eaten, however, older leaves require cooking to become softer and have a better flavor. The young stems and insides of the flower stem are likewise edible.
Flavor: Earthy and somewhat sweet.
Be careful: Cocklebur is very similar to Burdock, but its leaves must be boiled to remove any poisonous compounds.
2. Wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum)
Search for orange flowers that have a cup-like shape and are speckled with purple, growing on stalks that are one to three feet in height. The stem has long, narrow leaves in whorls. This plant is becoming less common.
This wild plant is edible – its flowers and seeds are both edible.
Flavor: This plant has a slightly peppery taste.
Caution: Not all lily varieties are edible.
3. Bamboo (Bambusoideae)
The number of bamboo species is extensive, out of which 110 are able to be eaten. Consult a manual to decide which varieties are native to your locality.
The edible part of the plant is the shoots.
The flavor of the item varies depending upon the kind and can range from tasting savory to sweet. It is also a nice way to add a crunchy factor to a food item.
Be careful: Make sure you are aware of the type of bamboo that you are consuming. Some contain a toxic amount of cyanogenic glycosides. Shoots should be boiled before consumption.
4. Blueberries (Cyanococcus)
Blueberries cultivate many thorns-free stems straight from the dirt in sunny areas that are nearby to a supply of water. These plants are only found in the northern and eastern parts of America.
Freshly-harvested berries can be enjoyed raw or used in sweets.
Flavor: Sweet and slightly sour.
Exercise care: There are several varieties of toxic berries that resemble blueberries, so make sure you are able to correctly identify the exact species.
5. Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia)
Look for a many-branched cactus with broad, flat pads. These flowers open during the months between April and June, and are located in diverse places across North and South America, ranging from Canada to Argentina.
You are able to consume the edible portions of this wild plant, yet you must get through the spikes before doing so. You can also eat the fruit.
Flavor: Varies but may have a slightly sour taste.
Caution: Other cacti may not be edible. Make sure that you take out the sharp quills and rough edges before eating the flesh.
6. Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Clover belongs to the same family as peas and possesses a faint pea-like flavor. Seek out foliage that is light green in color and has a pronounced V-shape marking.
You can eat any part of the plant, yet it is suggested to cook leaves that are more mature.
Flavor: The blossoms have a fresh, grassy taste. The rest is nutritious but not as tasty.
Be aware: The red clover type is edible but as autumn approaches, there is an increase in alkaloid levels. Not everyone tolerates clover as an edible. Pregnant women shouldn’t eat it.
7. Kelp (Laminariales spp.)
Kelp, otherwise known as sea vegetables or seaweed, is a nutritious low-calorie food that is high in fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals. Edible seaweed exists in abundance, though some kinds are more appetizing than others.
Edible parts: You can eat the entire kelp plant.
The flavor is reminiscent of the ocean or sea, which makes sense since it’s harvested from those bodies of water.
Caution: Blue-green algae found in freshwater is poisonous. Be mindful that when kelp grows in areas with high industrial activity, it may accumulate trace amounts of lead and copper. Do not consume seaweed found at the beach due to the threat of spoilage.
8. Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
This plant that originates from North America has been consumed as food and utilized as a remedy for hundreds of years. Search for a flower that looks like a daisy and has petals that emerge from an unpleasant center core.
The leaves and petals of this wild plant are edible and can be eaten.
Flavor: This has a perfumed, floral taste and aroma.
Beware: There are some types of blossoms that look like yellow coneflowers, but are not fit for consumption.
9. Curly Dock (Rumex Crispus)
This vegetation is viewed as a nuisance, often appearing in places such as parking lots, street sides, and unkempt yards. Search for leaves that are long and pointed with a curvy outer edge sprouting from a root at the center.
The leaves of the plant can be consumed, however, it is recommended that you try the younger leaves for a better flavor.
The taste of this has a sourness to it due to the oxalic acid in it. It has a slightly spinach-like taste.
Be careful not to eat too much of this green plant as it contains oxalic acid. Ensure that you are not consuming any vegetation that has been contaminated.
10. Lobster mushroom (Hypomyces lactifluorum)
The lobster mushroom has an orange-red top that is full of bumps. The interior of the object is a light color, and its form gradually alters into peculiar shapes as it grows older. They prefer old-growth forests.
Edible parts: Whole mushroom.
The flavor has been likened to that of a poached lobster by certain individuals. It has a slightly sweet flavor with nutty notes.
Caution: Mushroom identification is not for beginners! Many mushrooms have poisonous doppelgängers. Gathering wild mushrooms necessitates accurate identification, and you shouldn’t start until a specialist has given you permission.
11. Hazelnut (Corylus americana, Corylus cornuta)
In North America, there are two kinds of hazelnuts that are native, and several that are European in origin which have been able to live naturally in the U.S. Nuts become available at the beginning of August and continue to be available through the autumn season. Search for shrubs with multiple stems that can reach 10 feet in height (but can reach up to 25 feet when cared for optimally), and which have husks around their brown nuts.
Edible parts: Nuts from this tree are edible.
Flavor: Tastes like – surprise – hazelnut.
12. Wild rose (Rosa spp.)
Wild roses have pink flowers with five petals. When the product is produced, it takes the form of being either round or resembling pears and are either orangish or red. They grow everywhere from wooded areas to roadsides.
Edible parts: Petals, rosebuds, and young shoots and leaves.
Flavor: Fragrant, perfume-like aroma.
Caution: Rasberry and blackberry plants look like wild roses. That’s because they are all in the rose family.
13. Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria)
Until recently, most property holders were attempting to get rid of Yaupon, the only home-grown tea plant in North America, since they thought of it as a harmful invasive species, although it really isn’t. A cup of tea made from this specific type of tea plant has the same amount of caffeine as the average cup of coffee.
Leaves can be cooked or boiled to produce tea for consumption.
The taste of the drink depends on how it is made, however, it is comparable to the taste of yerba mate tea.
14. Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus)
If you are fortunate to live in a region where cloudberry exists, it is worth having a shot of it. There’s nothing like fresh cloudberry. Seek out short-statured vegetation with three foliage per organism in northern boreal environments. The blooms are tiny and white, and each shrub produces a single pale pink berry.
You can eat the fruit and blossoms of this plant.
Flavor: Tastes like a raspberry, but a little sourer.
15. Sweet gale (Myrica gale)
This plant dubbed the bog myrtle, can assist in the treatment of acne, stomach ache, and liver problems, proving to be medically beneficial. You can also keep the leaves around to ward off insects. This plant has a shrubby habit, thriving near bogs, and has wide and elongate leaves.
consumable parts: The fruit and foliage are suitable for eating and can be used to make a delicious tea.
Flavor: Slightly bitter taste.
16. Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium, Chamerion canescens)
This attractive plant is a member of the evening primrose family. Search for the large, violet flowers that grow from long and pointed leaves that are arranged in an alternating pattern.
Edible parts: Flowers are edible raw or cooked. Leaves from young plants can be eaten, as well.
The taste of the plant depends on its environment but generally has a pleasant and slightly citrus-like taste.
17. Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
This plant is typically thought of as a weed, but you can use it for something positive by incorporating it into your diet, as it happens to be very tasty. The best indicator that you have located the correct plant is to squash the leaves, which are in the shape of a rosette at the bottom. It will smell like garlic.
Edible parts: The entire plant is edible.
Flavor: Garlicky taste. The strong aroma of garlic, too.
Beware! There are many lookalikes to beware of creeping Charlie, black mustard, and fringe cup. If it has a strong odor to it that resembles garlic, it is most likely garlic mustard.
18. Fiddleheads (Matteuccia struthiopteris)
Fiddleheads are ferns before they have fully opened. In springtime, they will appear from the moist and abundant earth.
Edible parts: Furled-up fern portion of the plant.
The taste of this wild edible plant is similar to that of asparagus blended with a hint of spinach.
Beware: Don’t forget that ostrich fern fronds can be eaten. Some ferns are poisonous, so identification is crucial.
19. Wood Sorrel (Oxalis)
Wood sorrel is often mixed up with clover, and it has even been given the name of the American shamrock, albeit incorrectly. Look for three joined heart-shaped leaves. Each “heart” will have a crease down the middle. When it is in bloom, you can identify it by its pink, white, and lavender flowers.
The leaves and flowers can be consumed raw, though the taste is subtler when cooked. By heating, any toxic chemicals will be destroyed.
Flavor: Sour flavor thanks to its oxalic acid content.
Be careful! Similar to other types of sorrel, this edible wild plant contains oxalic acid. This element is responsible for the acidic flavor, but it can be dangerous if consumed in too high of quantities. Not safe for pets to consume.