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Sun Nov 11, 2012, 02:04 PM

Harvesting ornamental & wild plants for food and other uses

Been doing some reading on the internet the past few days about learning to identify wild plants that are edible. Finding it to be quite interesting as it may be a good hobby and a way to streatch the food dollar plus be a potential food source during a disaster. There's an abandoned railroad grade just a short walk from where i live and if I follow it in one direction, I'll go thru woods and down to the bank of the river. If I go the other way, I'll walk thru more woods, open field and swampy areas. A variety of plant habitat which ought to make finding useful plants rather easy.

It is my intent to edit this OP considerably later with more detail and links to informative web sites but below are just a few examples of plants that I've seen written about:

The common daylily

The dandelion

Pine trees

Red and white clover

Cattails-many parts are edible and the mature leaves can be used to make baskets and mats.

Fiddleheads-what the unfurled young sprouts of ferns are called.

Most every site I looked at stressed the importance of correctly identifying plants because eating the wrong ones can make you very sick, clean out your bowels much more then needed, or kill you. In the case of the daylily, eating too much of the leaves can get you high. Which may be a plus for some. Some people won't eat the fiddlehead of the very common Bracken fern while others say it's fine in moderation and if prepared properly.

Here is a site that has a database of over 7000 useful plants:

http://www.pfaf.org/user/default.aspx





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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 02:24 PM

1. Be careful out there. My father once got a bad mushroom and almost died.

I am quite envious of where you are located, based on your description. A walk in the woods can soothe your soul.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 02:32 PM

2. I'll probably stay away from mushrooms all together. Just to be on the safe side.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 02:45 PM

3. My uncle used to say every part of the pine tree is edible.

There's the pine nuts from the cones, and tea from the needles (leaves) is supposed to be a source of vitamin C. Not sure the rest of it would be very appetizing...



PS also, chewing gum from hardened spruce tree sap is supposed to be good for dental health.
http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2010/05/lets-eat-adirondack-spruce-gum.html
Gum collectors scored spruce trees with an ax. The tree filled the wound with sap, which weathered and hardened over the summer and into winter. In early spring, Adirondackers used an ax or a picker make from a tin can with a sharp edge or scraper attached on the end of a long pole. Boiled and processed, the gum was broken into bite-sized chunks. Still brittle, it took a few seconds to soften in the mouth, and retained a distinctively “sprucy” taste.

Enterprising men and women could collect hundreds, even thousands of pounds each year, to sell to manufacturers or process at home. In good years, one could sell the collected gum for as much as a dollar a pound. In 1881, the Pulaski Democrat announced, “A gentleman was in Lowville the other day, buying all the spruce gum that could be found in the market… The gum is shipped to Lowell, Mass., where it finds ready sale.” In 1916, John Kelly of Croghan collected and sold more than 3,000 pounds, “quite an achievement when taken into consideration that Mr. Kelly is well up into the sixties and did the work alone.”

In 1870, Thomas Adams of Staten Island, NY, developed chewing gum made from the sap of the Mexican Chiclezapote tree, and invented the Chiclet. Softer and sweeter, the new gum gradually outpaced the demand for brittle, unsweetened spruce gum.

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Response to eShirl (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:03 PM

6. Chewing gum from Spruce trees! Now that's interesting!

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 07:37 PM

4. Adding lamb's quarter to a salad

Last edited Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:14 PM - Edit history (1)

is tasty and a good source of vitamins and minerals. Also, at least here, garlic mustard is an invasive weed that is good in a salad too. I am sure there are other ways to eat these plants, but this is how I use them. I do not make salad with these as the only greens, I mix with lettuce...they have a much stronger taste. And as with many plants, they are only tasty when they are young and get bitter with age.

And can I add that you should not dismiss mushrooms. I have been foraging wild mushrooms for years, and I have studied them, made sure I knew what I had (even with spore prints), and avoided any plants with look-alikes that are dangerous or deadly.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:01 PM

5. and there's Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot) and Golden Rod

I didn't know what lamb's ear was until I looked at some images of the plant on the internet and I've seen that plant at many different homes.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:12 PM

7. What do you do with goldenrod?

I never can recognize it until it flowers....and I have transplanted some from the side of the road into my garden. But it looks like a lot of other "weeds" when young.

Have you tried Queen Anne's Lace? How have you prepared it?

Also, I just editted my post to say "lamb's quarter", which is found just about everywhere. Lamb's ear, I doubt is edible. (I have brain farts all the time, I have lamb's ear in the garden and I forage lamb's quarter.)

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:03 AM

9. Well, it's a darn good thing I didn't rush out and eat a belly full of lamb's ear!!



I haven't prepared anything from either the wild or from flowers but earlier this evening I watched a couple of youtube videos talking about how to identify both and how to use them.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:42 PM

8. My husband was an Eagle Scout and led survival courses in the Smokey Mtns...

I'd really like to learn, we just are too damn busy right now.

Regardless of whether or not you actually consume much (or any) of what you find, it will be really fun to learn...

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Response to Flaxbee (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:12 AM

10. Yes, I believe it would be fun thing to learn!

I don't know if I'll get great quanitees but it'd be a good excuse to get outdoors.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:22 AM

11. Late summer and fall, I munch on

nuts and wild grapes on my walks in the woods.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 04:02 PM

12. Chickweed, sorrel and dock (curly or yellow) are very common and often even grow

in people's lawns. These are all nutritious and can be added to salads, and you could also steam the dock as a veggie or add it to a soup. You can eat both the flowers and leaves of nasturtiums, and the flowers of anything in the onion family (chives, garlic, etc.) and the violet family (pansies and johnny jump-ups). These are all lovely in a salad or as a garnish. I have frozen violets and pansies in ice cubes and served them in drinks! Squash and pumpkin blossoms are delicious. You could print out pictures from the internet before you go foraging to make sure you are picking the right thing if you are not sure.

(Editing to add that you will need to cook the squash and pumpkin blossoms---they are popular in southwestern and native American cooking, and here are some recipe ideas:
http://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&p=squash+blossom+recipe )

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 11:35 PM

13. The extent

of my foraging thus far has been things like wild blackberries while camping, or huckleberries. I would love to incorporate more foraged food into my diet.

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Response to CaliforniaHiker (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 11:50 PM

14. Pretty much the same for me too.

I'd eat wild blackberries, wild strawberries and winter berries when I cam across them but I'd like to learn about as many useful plants as possible this winter and then go out in the spring and give it a try.

While doing some google searching a few days ago, i came across some posts made back in 2007 where a person said they had identified 36 useful plants where I live in the Western part of Upper Michigan and posted a link to a PDF file where he said that info was but when I clicked on it, it wasn't found.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 06:45 PM

15. My favorites -- herbal wines

I can't guarantee my own favorite 2-litre-soda-pop-bottle fizzy wine and ale recipes won't go wrong and kill you, but here's a site I bookmarked some time ago...

http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/newsletter/09/may/herbalwine.php

Or you might google "dandelion wine" recipies.

But I do like bubbles and the trick is to use plastic soda bottles. Flick the bottle with your finger or squeeze it. If it seems harder than an ordinary soda bottle fresh from the supermarket, loosen the lid a little to vent some of the carbon dioxide.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 10:39 PM

16. I have done this for years

I started with what comes up in my yard. I have about an acre and a half on a lake and have a lot of diversity.

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