Edible Plants By State That Grow In The Wild

By Colleen •  Updated: 02/15/22 •  32 min read

Many wild plants are edible in the United States and across the world. This article looks at edible wild plants for wilderness and disaster survival purposes in Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Alaska, Minnesota, Texas, California, and Washington State.

Edible Plants Georgia – Wild Plants for Survival
During a survival situation in Georgia, it is essential to know a few wild edible plant species that are native to the region. These plants can help sustain you in times when food is scarce. Here are some edible plants you can find in Georgia.

Poke Salet
Poke Salet (Claytonia virginica) is a common wild edible found in Georgia. It is a tiny plant and grows in any soil, and poke Salet can be eaten raw or cooked. Poke Salet can be identified by its long, slender leaves (about 30cm long), serrated edges like a saw blade, and spear-point tips. The leaves grow from thick, purple-colored stalks which grow out from the bottom of the plant. The leaves are pointed at both ends, giving it the common name “spear grass.”

Poke Salet has an interesting flowering period: about three months after plant germination, small yellow flowers emerge and bloom for about three weeks. These flowers are pollinated by insects such as flies, bees, and butterflies.

Once fully grown, Poke Salet produces small green berries that ripen to black in late fall/early winter. Each berry is about 1cm wide and contains many seeds inside.

Poke Salet is an excellent edible plant for the following:

Since it takes up only a tiny amount of space and has multiple uses, it will be an excellent addition to your daily diet when an environmental, natural, or human-caused SHTF event happens.

Since the leaves are delicate, they are best added at the end of recipes instead of cooked on their own. When used as a garnish on soups or stews, they add a color element to the dish and a nutritional boost!

Fiddlehead Ferns
Fiddlehead ferns are available from late March through May. They are found at the base of their parent tree and can be identified by their bright green color and curled fronds. Though they resemble a fern, they are members of the Lycopodiaceae family, as are other commonly eaten wild plants such as:

Fiddlehead ferns are best harvested before they unfurl or expand outward to their open-leaf form (usually when they are about 7-10 inches tall). They become a bitter and stringy texture if you wait too long to harvest them.

To prepare the fiddleheads for consumption, pinch off the brown scales with your fingers or use a paring knife to remove any brown bits or small leaves that are not palatable to eat.

Please do not wash them before eating, as washing them will make them soggy and less appealing to consume.

Fiddlehead ferns can be eaten raw or cooked in soups or stews, but they should not be boiled, as this will reduce their flavor.

Pine Needles
The pines of the Georgia state forests offer an excellent opportunity to forage edible plants. The trees are easy to identify, as they are usually tall and very straight-growing. They have tiny, dark green pine needles that grow in clusters of two or more needles. The bark is reddish-brown to light gray and usually has small horizontal lines running across it. The pine tree leaves are edible year-round and can be added to salads or boiled to make a tea with a sweet flavor.

Pine needles can also be eaten raw or cooked in soup to add:

  1. B1
  2. B2
  3. C flavor
  4. Vitamins

The inner part of the pine needle is also edible at any time of the year. You should pick pine needles after they have aged a little bit because they become slightly bitter as they mature.

Edible Plants in Ohio You Can Eat For Survival
In the event of a disaster or an emergency in Ohio, the following wild edible plants can provide you with sufficient nutrition to survive for up to three days.

Tansy Ragwort
The tansy ragwort is a wild edible plant found in Ohio; some even use it as an ornamental plant. The plant has leaves that look like ferns, and its flowers are yellow and five-petaled, appearing in the summer.

The leaves can be eaten mixed with other greens in a salad, while the flowers can be used to make tea or wine.

The tansy ragwort is also a medicinal plant. Its roots can treat wounds and respiratory ailments, while its leaves are commonly chewed to treat digestive problems. The sap from the stems can also relieve rheumatism, whooping cough, and fevers.

Black Walnut
The black walnut is a nut tree and an ornamental tree. It can live for hundreds of years and has large leaves four to eight inches long. In the fall, the leaves turn yellow and then brown before falling to the ground.

The nut is covered in a green husk that resembles a brain. The husks split open when they mature; they usually begin to crack when falling from the tree because they are so heavy.

The black walnut contains a high amount of tannins, which can cause upset stomachs if consumed improperly. The nuts themselves must be boiled in water for at least ten minutes before consumption to reduce the levels of tannins present. Also, since black walnuts have such a hard shell, it is recommended that they be cracked with a hammer or an ax before boiling.

Red-Osier Dogwood
Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) is a native deciduous shrub common in Ohio and the surrounding areas. It is pinkish-red, blooming in May or June, and the berries are red between August and September. Its Latin name translates to “stolonifera,” meaning “bearing stolons.” It’s also referred to as Red-Flowering Dogwood or Redosier Dogwood.

Red-Osier Dogwood is one of North America’s most popular edible wild plants because it’s abundant and easy to identify. It’s a perennial plant, growing naturally on the edges of fields and forests.

It grows tiny yellow flowers in spring with five petals that resemble an open hand. These usually grow in clusters at the branch tips and fall off before pollination. The branches are covered in fine hairs, making them feel rough to the touch. The leaves are opposite; they grow in pairs along stems, with each leaf having a heart-shaped base with rounded sides and serrated edges. The stems are smooth and green when young but brown with age (not red). The leaves have pointed tips, single ribs, and doubly serrated margins with white veins.

To eat the leaves, boil them or fry them with oil or animal fat until they wilt, and then eat them like vegetables. To eat the twigs, cook them by boiling them first, peeling off the bark, cutting them into small pieces, and chewing on them until they are soft enough to swallow.

Desert Parsley
This plant is found all over Ohio. It grows in low-lying areas, and it requires very little water. It can grow without any water at all! Its yellow flowers and glossy leaves can identify desert parsley. This plant grows in clusters; each can grow up to three feet tall!

Unfortunately, this plant does not taste very good raw and tastes like dirt. But don’t let that discourage you from trying it out once boiled or cooked for a long time (over 10 minutes). It can have a flavor that some people describe as being similar to asparagus.

Edible Plants in Missouri You Can Find In The Wild
Several species of wild edible plants are commonly found throughout Missouri. Some of them may have adverse health effects if misused. Here are some edible wild plants.

Dayflower
Dayflower is a spring wild edible that is found in Missouri. It grows best in moist woodlands and can often be spotted along the edges of clearings, trails, and roadsides.

The dayflower blooms on tall, wiry stems, typically between 3 and 6 feet tall, with small white flowers having rosy-purple stripes at their centers. The stems bear a cluster of small yellow flowers at the top.

It produces a single seedpod that splits open to reveal hundreds of tiny black seeds, which birds and other wildlife gather. The plant’s leaves grow from its base and can be up to 10 inches long and 1 inch wide. They are smooth-edged and generally heart-shaped, with a scalloped edge.

Dayflowers have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries; Native Americans used them for:

The dayflower is an excellent food source for survival. You can eat the root raw, but it has a robust taste, so it is best to wash it off with water before cooking it. You can boil the leaves to eat like spinach, and the flowers are edible.

They taste like an artichoke, but you should boil them to remove the bitterness. Dayflowers can be stored the same way you would keep spinach, by placing the leaves on top of each other and then wrapping them in newspaper. However, the flowers are best when boiled.

Japanese Knotweed
Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a perennial herb with simple leaves growing up to 4 meters tall. It has hollow stems that taper toward its tips. The plant’s stalks grow horizontally and then turn upward, reaching out to other plants’ branches and leaves.

Japanese knotweed flowers from July through September, making seeds from September through November. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked, and the young shoots can be eaten like asparagus or cooked like greens. The roots can be boiled into a tea-like drink or spread on bread for breakfast.

The leaves are also edible when cooked and can be used as a substitute for rhubarb in pies. All parts of the Japanese Knotweed are high in vitamin C and low in calories (about 25 calories per 100 grams).

The plant is used medicinally as an astringent for diarrhea or sore throats. It was once thought that the root could aid female infertility by regulating the menstrual cycle.

Jack-in-the-pulpit
Jack-in-the-pulpit is an edible wild plant found throughout Missouri. It grows mainly in wooded areas, and its leaves can be used as a substitute for a variety of common greens. Jack-in-the-pulpit is recognized by its large flower, which looks like the head of a monk emerging from his pulpit.

The leaves of the Jack-in-the-pulpit are green, thick, and succulent. They taste similar to spinach but with a milder flavor, and they can be eaten raw in salads or cooked as you would in collard greens.

When cooking, take care not to overcook them or cause them to become soggy and lose their texture and flavor. You can also eat the roots of the Jack-in-the-pulpit, but you must boil them for at least two hours to remove any toxins that may be present. Boiling will remove all traces of the bitter taste that sometimes comes with them.

Jack-in-the-pulpits also have several medicinal purposes; extracts from the leaves help heal burns and reduce pain caused by rashes and insect bites.
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Common Edible Plants In Indiana Found In The Wild
There are more than 150 edible plant species in Indiana. However, many are poisonous if ingested, and others are merely uninteresting. Out of the 150, only 20% are common wild plants that can be found almost anywhere in the state. Here are some of the most common edible wild plants found in Indiana.

Meadowsweet
Meadowsweet is a plant with a long, curved brown seed pod native to the United States. It flourishes in meadows, fields, and pastures, thriving in full sun to partial shade and preferring moist soil.

You can find Meadowsweet from Alabama to Maine and as far west as Oklahoma. It grows best in wooded areas with access to sunlight.

This plant has two varieties: meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and queen-of-the-meadow (Filipendula ulmaria variegata). They grow so similarly that they are nearly indistinguishable from one another.

The stems of the meadowsweet plant are tall and cylindrical, growing up to 10 feet in height. The leaves are lance-shaped with serrated edges, growing opposite each other along the stem. The leaves are slightly wrinkled due to their irregular shape and length. When touched, they are covered with downy hairs that feel like soft cotton balls. The stems bear small yellow flowers, giving way to brown seed pods containing tiny black seeds.

Chickweed
Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a commonly recognized wild edible herb, typically found in lawns, gardens, and fields. It is also known as Common Chickweed, Starwort, Winterweed, Sow Thistle, and White Weed. It’s a common weed of low stature, growing to only a few inches tall. Its leaves are ovate and finely cut, with an entire margin, and the lower surface is covered in white hairs. Its flowers are 5-petaled, white, or pinkish-white in color, and its fruits are cylindrical achenes with pappi.

Indians used the seeds in bread, soups, and stews and ate the young leaves as greens. The seeds taste nutty but are generally not eaten because they produce gas in the intestines.

Chickweed is a good source of minerals and Vitamin C. The leaves taste slightly bitter when raw but not bitter when cooked. Chickweed can be added to salads or used as a garnish on other dishes. Cooked chickweed leaves can be added to soups and stews or used like spinach. Like Asparagus, the young shoots can be eaten, and you can add the stems to stir-fried dishes. The roots of chickweed are edible once they reach around 1 inch long and can be dug up after frosts have killed off the plant’s leaves.

Wild Edible Plants in Michigan
If you ever find yourself in a survival situation in Michigan, the following plants could be lifesavers. These plants can be found all over the state and are edible; some may still be found during the winter months when you need them most.

Wild Leeks
Wild leeks (Allium tricoccum) are perennial plants that grow in Michigan from December through March. They are widespread throughout the state and easily identified by their broad leaves, small white flowers, and strong onion scent. Wild leeks grow in shallow, wet areas such as marshes, stream banks, and sandy soil on dunes and bluffs. They can typically be found along the edges of forests, particularly those with hardwoods like birch or oak trees.

The wild leek has a bulb at the bottom of its stem, which looks like a cluster of tiny white bulbs surrounded by green leaves. The stems are hollow and long, and the seeds are small and dark brown and look like rice grains. The plant grows 6-12 inches tall.

They are toxic if eaten raw or cooked without heating up first, and the taste is like that of an onion. To eat the wild leek, heat it over a fire or in hot water for 15 minutes to get rid of the toxins. Then cook it as you would cook any other vegetable or meat.

Wild leeks are a great source of:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. High in protein
  3. Iron
  4. Potassium
  5. Host of vitamins

Wild leeks have a strong onion flavor with a hint of garlic. The taste is strong enough to be eaten raw, but you can also cook them to reduce this flavor to the point where they can be added to recipes that call for onions or garlic.

Salmonberry
Salmonberry is a bramble plant that forms thickets and is hard to walk through. It grows from 4-10 feet tall, with dark green leaves and bright red fruits in the summer. The fruits start yellowish-green and turn red as they ripen in the fall. Salmonberries have five distinctive light blue petals and five stamens with white or pinkish anthers.

The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked, making an excellent jam or jelly. They taste similar to raspberries but less acidic and without the seeds.

Its black seeds are also edible (though some people dislike the taste). You can eat the leaves, too, but they’re best when boiled or steamed. You can also brew tea with them (but strain out the leaves first).

But watch out! This plant has some poisonous lookalikes, so make sure you know what plant you’re looking at to pick the correct one.

Vegetable Oyster
Vegetable oysters are wild edible plants that you can find readily in Michigan. It grows in wet areas, such as ponds and ditches, and is one of the easiest species to find. It is a low-growing perennial with gray-green leaves and white flowers growing on an erect spring stalk. The leaves are heart-shaped (10-30 mm long), smooth, and shiny on top, and they have dense hairs underneath.

The upper surface of the leaf stalk has very short stalks and no leaves. The leaf stalks bend when the new leaves expand so that the lowest leaves are just above or below the water surface. The flowers are small (1-2 mm diameter) and white, with four petals and six stamens. They occur in clusters (racemes) at the top of slender stalks, which are not longer than the leaves. Vegetable Oyster produces small black globular berries about 1 mm in diameter, ripening in the fall. The seeds are 0.3-0.4 mm long, with a black coat and white endosperm that contains endosperm oil.

Nannyberry
Nannyberry, also known as snakeroot, is a wild edible in the rose family with blackberries. It is commonly found in Michigan. They are perennial shrubs and grow best in full sun to partial shade, so they’re often found along roadsides and stream banks.

The berries are used for making jam and jelly or eaten fresh. You can use them to make a jelly similar to blueberry or raspberry jelly. It won’t have the same taste, but it will work well enough in recipes that call for either fruit. If you plan on eating them fresh, they should be boiled first and then baked into pancakes.

The roots can be made into a coffee substitute or roasted to use like coffee beans (though it won’t be quite as potent).

The leaves can also make a tea that helps relieve mild forms of heart disease.

Black Nightshade
Black nightshade (Solanum americanum) is Michigan’s most common wild edible plant. This edible plant is closely related to the tomato and eggplant, which are members of the same family as the black nightshade, the Solanaceae plant family. It prefers moist soil and partial shade, and its flowers appear in mid-June. This plant can grow on roadsides, forest edges, gardens, and vacant lots.

Black nightshade is a perennial herb that grows up to six feet tall. Its leaves are dark green, ovate, and have a smooth texture that feels velvety when touched. The leaves have serrated edges and grow opposite one another along the stem. Its flowers are white with five petals with a purple streak down each petal’s centerline.

Black nightshade produces small round berries that ripen from green to red in late summer. All parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested without being cooked or dried!

Balsam Root
Balsamroot is a perennial flowering plant native to woodlands in Michigan and northern parts of the US. It grows up to 5 feet tall and blooms in late spring. Its leaves are heart-shaped and may be identified when crushed or bruised.

Balsamroot is used in herbal medicine and food preparation. The dried roots have been used for their medicinal properties, including to treat stomach-related issues such as:

The balsamroot leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and taste like a cross between parsley, celery, and fennel. You can eat the root raw or cooked; when boiled with other foods, it helps enhance the dish’s flavor. Balsamroot tea has been said to help with colds and sore throats, and its leaves may also be used to make a vanilla extract.

Wild Edible Plants in Florida
If you plan camping or hiking in Florida, knowing what plants in your area are safe to snack on is essential. The following is a list of common wild edible plants found throughout the state.

Anise Hyssop
Anise hyssop is a delicious wild edible plant found in Florida. It is a member of the mint family and has a light, licorice-flavored taste. It may be used whole or in pieces and is typically used as an herb or a garnish for various dishes.

Anise hyssop leaves are mildly bitter, but you can easily change this by incorporating other ingredients with sweeter flavors. A good rule of thumb for harvesting anise hyssop is to use 2/3 of the plant’s total growth but not more than 1/3 of the top growth.

Sarsaparilla
Sarsaparilla (Smilax sp.) has a strong scent and flavor reminiscent of root beer. A tropical plant that likes shade and moisture, sarsaparilla is perennial and can grow up to 10 feet tall. It has thick vines with heart-shaped leaves that are dark green on top and lighter underneath. Sarsaparilla produces white flowers in the spring that form the fruit later in the summer. This vine is poisonous if eaten raw; however, it is used in herbal medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Tuckahoe (Pogonia ophioglossoides)
Tuckahoe is one of the easiest edible plants to identify, as its appearance is very distinctive. It is evergreen, grows three feet tall, and has bright red-orange flowers that bloom in clusters. The leaves are oval-shaped and grow in pairs, with fine white hair giving it a silvery appearance. Tuckahoe can be identified year-round by its distinctive white berries.

Edible Plants in Alaska
Several edible plants grow readily in Alaska, providing hikers and other outdoor adventurers with natural food sources. Here are some of the most common wild edible plants in Alaska.

Willowherb
In Alaska, the common edible plant Willowherb (Epilobium) can be found in wetland areas along riverbanks and lakes. It’s also sometimes called fireweed because it can be identified by the large purple flowers that appear after forest fires.

Willowherb has thin stems with leaves that are alternately arranged and lance-shaped. The greenish-white flowers grow in clusters at the end of branches, and the roots spread out and become creeping underground stems.

Willowherb grows to around three feet and can be recognized by its serrated leaves, which are narrow at the base and grow wider as they move up the stem. When eaten raw, the roots taste like cucumbers, while the leaves have an intense scent when crushed, which has been compared to green tea or cucumber. Willowherb is high in nutrients like vitamin A and calcium.

Sheep Sorrel
Sheep sorrel is a hardy perennial that grows throughout Alaska and thrives in the harsh climate. The plant is often found along roadsides, in pastures and forest clearings, and in disturbed areas such as fields and ditches.

Low-growing sheep sorrel is typically characterized by dark-green leaves that grow to be about 10-30 centimeters long. The leaves are pinnately divided into narrow leaflets with sharp teeth at the ends of each division. You can compare the leaves of sheep sorrel and those of common dock (Rumex obtusifolius). However, while both plants have similar leaf shapes and grow in similar locations, you should not be deceived by this similarity. Though not toxic, sheep sorrel leaves have milder flavor than standard dock (Rumex obtusifolius) leaves. It can be used for salad as a substitute for lettuce.

Thimbleberry
Thimbleberry is a low-lying, woody shrub found in the mountain birch zone of Alaska. It grows best in sunny areas and prefers acidic soils, often found in rocky outcroppings. Thimbleberry leaves are roughly 4 inches long and are covered in tiny hairs that give them a velvety texture. The plant produces small flowers that grow into red berries, which can be eaten raw or make jams and jellies. Because of its many uses and abundance, thimbleberry is an integral part of traditional Athabaskan medicinal practices.

Edible Plants in MN
There are many wild edible plants in Minnesota, and many of them are tasty. Here are some of the edible wild plants.

Jellyspot Pepperbush
Edible plants in Minnesota are rare, but Jellyspot Pepperbush is a common plant found in the northern regions of Minnesota, and it is also known as Dwarf Gray Birch. You can find this plant in various habitats, including spruce forests, evergreen forests, and swamps.

Its name comes from the coloration of its leaves, which are light green and spotted with waxy yellow spots. The leaves are also covered with tiny hairs; these hairs cause the leaves to feel sticky when touched, hence the name “jelly spot.”

The Jellyspot Pepperbush resembles tiny red berries like raspberries; they are edible when ripe and contain both seeds and flesh. They have a sweet flavor that is often compared to strawberries or raspberries with a peppery finish. They have a hard texture that becomes chewier as they ripen from green to red.

Beach Plum
Beach plums are in the Prunus genus, indigenous to Minnesota. There are three different species of beach plum, North America’s only native plum, that grow wild in Minnesota: the sand plum, the purple beach plum, and the western beach plum.

The sand plum is a small tree with glossy, evergreen leaves that turn yellow when fall comes around. It produces white flowers in springtime, and fruits appear two weeks after flowering. The fruits are red when ripening and turn purple or black after falling off the tree. They usually grow in sandy soil and can grow up to 5 meters tall with a trunk diameter of 15 centimeters.

Sand plums are usually found in southeastern Minnesota and are more common in prairie remnants than forest edges or lakeshores. They thrive in sandy soils with low fertility but can also be located on limestone bluffs.

Purple beach plums are mainly found near the Mississippi River valley. It’s much smaller than the sand plum, growing only 2-3 meters tall with a trunk diameter of 6 centimeters. The leaves are shiny green above and dull green below, turning yellow during autumn. The fruit is a red pome that ripens to purple-black before falling off the tree.

Mayapple
Mayapple is a common wild edible plant in Minnesota. It grows in forests and other wooded areas, with clusters of white flowers followed by green fruits. Each fruit has a large number of hard, woody brown seeds. The leaves have five lobes that can sometimes be mistaken for maple leaves.

The taste of the mayapple fruit is slightly acidic and sour. Some people eat the mayapple raw or cook it into pies, while others use the leaves to make tea. When picking mayapples, make sure you select only yellow and green fruits because they are the least bitter.

Edible Plants in Texas
Several wild edible plants are found in the state of Texas. Here is a list of tasty plants you might encounter while out on your next hike or exploration.

Wild Chamomile
Wild chamomile (Matricaria discoidea) is a well-known edible plant that can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Wild chamomile has distinctive mauve flowers that grow in clusters at the end of a slender stem, about 6-15 inches tall. The flowers have a sweet scent and are open during the daytime. The leaves have an irregularly toothed edge, sometimes with white veins. You can find it growing throughout Texas.

Wild chamomile is an edible herb that is used for medicinal purposes. The flowers are used to flavor or garnish soups, salads, or herbal tea. The flowers can be dried or frozen for future use, and dried leaves can be stored in a jar or rehydrated by soaking them in hot water.

The leaves and flowers of the wild chamomile can be made into an infusion with boiling water. Let them steep for 5-10 minutes before drinking. Depending on personal preference, this infusion can be used as a sweet or savory tea, but it is best stored in the refrigerator after opening.

Milkweed
The milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) plant is easy to identify because it has soft, thick, red sap that leaks from its leaves if they’re broken. It tastes like a mix of asparagus and green beans and can be boiled or fried.

Milkweed is a perennial plant that can grow up to four feet in height. It produces large clusters of flowers during the summer, and these clusters are typically white or purple and have five petals apiece.

Milkweed has a milky sap that is toxic when ingested. The leaves stems, flowers and roots can all be eaten once they’ve been adequately prepared, and it is recommended that one first boil them to leach out any harmful toxins. Milkweed can be used as a substitute for watercress in salads and sandwiches, and it is also a popular addition to soups and stews.

The best place to look for milkweed is in fields near rivers or streams. Stay away from areas that have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.

Cattail
Cattails can be found throughout Texas, along with many other states. The cattail is a tall, leafy plant that grows in marshes and along lakes and rivers. It has flat leaves, white flowers, and brown seed heads. The cattail is edible and contains many nutrients, including:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Protein
  3. Fat
  4. Fiber
  5. Vitamins A and C
  6. Calcium
  7. Iron
  8. Magnesium
  9. Potassium

You can eat the cattails safely. However, it is recommended that you boil the roots first to remove toxins. The flower stems and roots of cattails are edible raw or cooked, and cattail seeds are also edible when roasted or boiled.

Wild Edible Plants in California
California is a beautiful state. With its Mediterranean climate, the state has diverse species perfect for cooking and eating. There are a lot of wild edible plants around, and you may not recognize them. Some of these plants are poisonous if not prepared correctly, but some are edible. Below, we’ll cover wild edible plants in California.

Desert Willow
Desert willow is a plant in the willow family that grows up to 10 feet tall. Its slender and wiry branches split into fine, almost hair-like needles. Its leaves are green with a silvery sheen, and they tend to cluster at the ends of the branches. The pink or purple buds are long, thin, pointed at one end, and rounded at the other. This plant grows in the Western United States and Canada in dry climates like deserts or chaparral. They grow near streams or arroyos with little ground cover to block sunlight from hitting the soil.

Desert willows are helpful for many things. The bark can be used for:

Both the leaves and bark have medicinal uses because of their high tannin content, which makes them astringent compounds that help:

  1. Stop bleeding from wounds
  2. Speed healing time by shrinking blood vessels
  3. Slowing blood flow in the injury

For centuries, Native Americans have been using this plant for all kinds of medical treatments. The Cahuilla tribe would treat toothache by grinding up a mixture of plant material with water or chewing on a dead branch of this plant. They would also use it to aid in childbirth because of its ability to shrink blood vessels.

Pacific Yew
Wander through the forests of the Pacific West, and you might stumble upon a strange plant. It has bright red berries but looks more like an ordinary shrub than a fruit-bearing one. You might think of tasting them, but do you know what this plant is? These plants are called Pacific yews, and they’re often mistaken for currants or junipers since they look like other plants native to the area.

The plant is a Pacific yew, and it grows in California. The berries are poisonous unless cooked or dried first, but the pulp is edible. They’re also full of vitamin C and are often used to make teas for medicinal purposes.

Chokecherry
The most common wild edible plants in California are Chokecherries, and they’re often found along trails and near water sources. Unfortunately, many plants look like Chokecherries, and if you do not know what to look for, you could eat something poisonous by mistake.

Chokecherry is a small, round shrub that typically grows to a maximum height of 10 feet. It maintains low-lying, woody branches. The leaves are an oval shape and grow alternately with each branch. The leaves are generally 2 to 4 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. They are dark green and shiny but turn yellow-green before falling off the branches as they approach maturity. The flowers on this plant are white, five-petaled blossoms that can produce small black chokecherries that range from 0.5 to 1 inch in diameter.

The bark is grayish but is less noticeable on younger growth. You can find the fruits in clusters on mature branches, and the berries themselves are smooth in texture and range from red to purple in coloration. They contain a pit surrounded by a thin layer of flesh that ranges from white to yellow or red. Native Americans used the fruit of this plant for food, but it can be poisonous if consumed before it is ripe.

Edible Plants in Washington State
Washington State is home to a wide array of edible plants and berries. Here are the most common edible wild plants in the state.

Pokeweed
Pokeweed is a common wild edible plant in Washington that can be found almost anywhere, from dense forests to suburban yards. It is an early spring plant and usually grows to about 3 feet tall. It has dark green stems and dark green leaves, which are triangular and grow about 6 inches long. Its flowers are purple-pink, with many small berries ranging from red to purple to black.

Stems: They can be eaten raw or cooked but have a bitter taste.
Berries: These berries are poisonous when unripe, but they have been used as a food source by Native Americans for cooking or eating raw.
It would be best not to consume the berries because the plant is toxic!

But you can eat its fruit after it has fully ripened.

Lamb’s Quarter
Lamb’s quarter, found throughout Washington, is an edible wild plant with a slightly sweet taste and a hint of mustard. An annual or biennial plant grows in cultivated fields and grassy areas. Lamb’s quarter leaves are elliptical, with smooth edges and jaggedly toothed margins. The leaves grow alternately on the stem and can be 15 inches long. The leaf stalks are hairless.

The small white flowers of lamb’s quarter grow in clusters at the end of the stem. They are about 1/16 inch long and have five narrow, pointed petals at the tip. The flowers bloom between June and August.

Lamb’s quarter can be eaten raw or cooked and added to salads, soups, omelets, stir-fries, quiches, sandwiches, casseroles, and pasta dishes.
When picking lamb’s quarters to eat, look for plants with young leaves without any holes or tears. Also, avoid picking plants growing near woody shrubs or trees as they may have been exposed to chemicals that could be poisonous to eat.

Sumac
Sumac is a genus of about 15-20 flowering plants in the family Anacardiaceae (the cashew and mango family). Its leaves are often lacy, shiny green, tart, and lemony in flavor. The fruit is generally dried and ground before being used as a spice. It is also great as a souring agent in some beers.

In the American Southwest, it is common to make tea out of sumac leaves; this beverage is called “sumac-ade.” The berries are very high in vitamin C, at 3-19 times the vitamin C content of lemons/limes. Sumac grows wild throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere. Generally growing taller than 3 feet or 1 meter, it can grow into a large bush if its branches are not pruned.

How Do You Identify Edible Plants in the Wild, and How Can You Tell If A Wild Plant Is Edible?

To avoid potentially fatal food poisoning when collecting wild plants, it’s essential to properly determine whether or not a plant is safe to eat. Knowing how to perform the Universal Edibility Test can help you ensure you have a safe and nutritious meal in the wilderness.

The test is simple: if you can eat any part of a plant without experiencing any adverse effects, then you can eat it all.

To conduct the edibility test:

  1. Smell the plant. If it smells like almonds or cherry blossoms, it’s probably edible. If it smells burnt or metallic, that means there are compounds in the plant that could harm you.
  2. Rub a small part of the plant on your lips for about 10 seconds to see if there’s any burning or itching sensation that indicates a mild allergic reaction. You can move on to the next step if there is no reaction within 10 seconds.
  3. Rub a small part of the plant on your skin for about 30 minutes to see if any burning or itching sensation indicates a mild allergic reaction. You can move on to the next step if there is no reaction within 30 minutes.
  4. Chew with caution! Bite a tiny bit off, wait 15 minutes, and see if any adverse effects occur (there may be no negative effects). If there are no adverse effects, swallow the rest of the plant. If there are any adverse effects, drink plenty of water to induce vomiting. If there are still adverse effects or the symptoms continue, go to a hospital immediately.

Here are some wild plants you should not eat:
Bloodroot
Wild parsnip
Poison hemlock
Water hemlock
Daffodil
Cowbane
Lily-of-the-valley
Hemlock tree
Larkspur
Oleander
Locoweed
Dogwood
Virginia creeper
Lupine
Angel’s trumpet

Wrapping Up
Food will be your biggest concern during a survival scenario. It’s important to know where to find edible plants and how to prepare them properly so you can stay alive.

Wild plants are nature’s organic food. They offer excellent nutritional content and make a perfect addition to any diet. Throughout history, wild plants have been a staple for many of the world’s population, providing them with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Unsurprisingly, wild edibles remain a part of the current dietary landscape as more research is uncovering their immense health benefits.

Colleen

Living in a world where uncertainties can arise, Colleen has taken it upon herself to master the art of survival in the face of natural or civil disasters. With a background in outdoor activities and a keen interest in learning essential survival skills, Colleen has dedicated time to acquiring knowledge in areas such as wilderness survival, first aid, and emergency response.

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