I’m sitting here enjoying a nice big salad. My salad is packed with lots of delicious organic veggies and one special something that takes it to a whole other level.
That special something is Claytonia perfoliata or Miner’s Lettuce. A native wild plant that makes a delicious addition to any salad or can be enjoyed all on its own. I admit I helped this particular wild plant invade the yard where I live by planting just one start. It’s done the rest of the work and I now have quite the supply of delicious greens to chomp on!
Eating wild foods is a fun past time of mine. It combines my love of being out in nature and my love of eating tasty nutritious things. Just yesterday I picked and munched a bit of another kind of Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia sibirica, also known as Candy Flower or Siberian Miner’s Lettuce or Spring Beauty. It’s a close cousin of the one I’ve helped take over my yard. C. sibirica tends to be a bit more common in my nearby woods. It has a very similar taste and is always a nice refreshing snack.
The day before that I nibbled another favorite wild food, Oxalis oregana or Oregon Oxalis or Wood Sorrel. It has a tangy lemony taste that I’ve been enjoying since I was a little girl out on fishing trips with my mom. She’d been eating it since she was a little girl on fishing trips with her dad. It’s a family thing! I don’t eat this in large quantity but it makes for a nice tangy snack! I also love photographing it!
There are so many tasty wild plants out there. Spring is a great time of year to start learning about what is edible near you. Perhaps the nettles are just coming up near where you live and are still small enough to enjoy. Do the lady ferns still have some small fiddleheads to be harvested. Or you can try some flowers – I just love the bright pink Salmonberry blossoms. Only I make sure not to take too many because I also love the berries they turn into too!
This is just a small sampling of possibilities here in the northwest. There is a whole wonderful wild world of delicious treasures to discover out there. And I didn’t even touch on all those delicious “weeds” outside your door. Nature is full of nourishment!
But how do you know what you can eat? You should have a good plant identification book (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast is my own favorite for my area) and know how to use it. You can connect with someone you know and trust that knows what’s edible and ask them to show you. You can check out the local native plant society to see if they have any walks coming up that might highlight edible plants. Maybe there is a Wilderness Education School near you that has workshops and classes on foraging. The main thing is to make sure you know what you are eating and if in doubt wait till you can know for sure. Just don’t be afraid to learn. Eating wild foods is another great way to connect with nature, and a tasty adventurous one at that!
I’d be super curious if you have eaten wild foods and what you’ve tried? How did you learn what to eat? Do you have any favorites? If you don’t eat wild foods, what holds you back?