Wild Edible Plants of the Midwest
Wild Edible Plants of the Midwest
By Deborah Lee Ph.D.
1. Maple - inner bark, seeds
2. Wild Onion, Garlic, Leek - bulb, leaves
3. Amaranth - seeds, shoots, leaves
4. Groundnut - tubers (see glossary below for tubers, corm, etc)
5. Jack in the Pulpit* - corm (well dried)*
6. Horseradish - young leaves, root
7. Wild Ginger - rootstock
8. Milkweed - sprouts, leaves, flowers, buds, young fruits
9. Pawpaw - fruits
10. Burdock - root
11. Winter Cress - young leaves,* flower*
12. Birch - sap, inner bark, twigs
13. Wild Mustards - young leaves,*flowerbuds,* seeds
14. Shepardís Purse - young leaves, seedpods
15. Hickory and Pecan - nuts
16. Chinquapin - nuts
17. Hackberry - fruits
18. Redbud - flowers, young pods
19. Lambís Quarters - young leaves and tops
20. Chicory - young leaves, root
21. Thistle - young leaves, inner stem (pith), 1st year root
22. Ox-Eye Daisy - young leaves
23. Spring Beauty - corm**
24. Day Flower - young leaves and stem
25. Hazelnuts - nuts
26. Hawthorn - fruits
27. Chufa, Nut Grass - tuber
28. Wild Carrot - root**
29. Persimmon - fruits
30. Fireweed - young shoots and leaves
31. Wild Strawberry - fruit, leaves*
32. Beech - nuts
33. Ash - fruits
34. Cleavers, Bedstraw - young shoots/leaves
35. Honey Locust - fruits
36. Jerusalem artichoke - tuber
37. Day Lily - young shoots, flower, flower buds, tuber
38. Cow-Parsnip - young stems/ leafstalks, seeds, root**
39. Black Walnut - nuts
40. Wild Lettuce - young leaves
41. Henbit - tips
42. Peppergrass - young leaves, seedpods
43. Bugleweed - tubers
44. Common Mallow, Cheeses, young leaves, green fruit
45. Pineapple-Weed - flowers
46. Indian Cucumber-Root - tuber
47. Wild mint - leaves
48. Partridgeberry - fruits
49. Mulberry - fruit
50. Watercress - young leaves and stems
51. American Lotus - young leaves, seeds, tubers
52. Yellow Pond Lily, Splatterdock, Cow-Lily - rootstocks, seeds
53. Water Lily - young leaves, flowerbuds, seeds, tubers
54. Evening Primrose - 1st year taproot
55. Prickly-Pear - young leaf pads,* fruit, seeds
56. Yellow Wood-Sorrels - leaves, fruit
57. Wild Parsnip - taproot
58. Reed, Phragmites - young stem, seeds, rootstock
59. Ground-cherry - fruits
60. Pokeweed - young leaves**
61. Plantain - leaves
62. May-apple, Mandrake - only mature fruit**
63. Japanese Knotweed - new bamboo-like tips
64. Pickerel Weed - shoots, seeds
65. Purslane - stems and leaves, seeds
66. Wild Plum - fruits
67. Wild Cherry (Choke, Black) - fruits
68. Bracken fern - fiddlehead
69. Ostrich Fern - fiddlehead
70. Crap Apple - fruits
71. Chokeberry, Chokecherry - fruits
72. Oak - acorns*
73. Meadow Beauty - tender leaves, tubers
74. Gooseberries, Currents - fruits
75. Black Locust - flowers (only)
76. Wild Rose - petals, fruits (hips)
77. Brambles (Blackberry, Raspberry, Dewberry, etc.) - fruits, leaves
78. Staghorn Sumac (and others) - fruit**
79. Sheep (or Common) Sorrel - tender leaves and stems
80. Dock, Curled and Yellow - young leaves
81. Arrowhead - tubers
82. Willow - leaves, inner bark
83. Elderberry - flower clusters, ripe fruit**
84. Sassafras - leaves, root (for tea)
85. Bulrush - shoot, pollen, seeds, rootstock
86. Catbrier, Greenbrier - young shoots and leaves, rootstock
87. Sweet Goldenrod - leaves and flowers
88. Chickweed - tender leaves and stems
89. Dandelion - leaves and root
90. Basswood - leaf buds and flowers
91. Spiderwort - shoot
92. Salsify, Oyster-Plant -young leaves and root
93. Red Clover -young leaves and flowers
94. Clover -young leaves, flowerheads
95. Cattails - young shoots and stocks (inner core), immature flower spikes, pollen, root
96. Stinging Nettle - young shoots and leaves*
97. Blueberry, Huckleberry - fruits
98. Corn-Salad - young leaves
99. Violet - leaves and flowers
100. Grapes - tender leaves and fruit**
* There is something about this plant that needs study before you either collect or eat it.
** Caution this plant either has a poisonous look-alike, or parts of it are toxic. Research.
Last edited by FirstGarden; 05-27-2007 at 05:41 PM.
A Brief Glossary
A BRIEF GLOSSARY:
TUBER - Tubers are different types of modified plant structures that are enlarged to storenutrients, they are used by plants to overwinter and regrow the next year and toreproduce. Three different groups of tubers are: potato tubers, stem tubers and root tubers.
CORM - A corm is a short, vertical, swollen underground plant stem (usually one of the monocots) that serves as a storage organ used by some plants to survive winter or other adverse conditions such as summer drought and heat. A corm consists of one or more internodes with at least one growing point, with protective leaves modified into skins or tunics. The thin tunic leaves are dry papery dead petiole sheaths formed from the leaves produced the year before and act as a covering that protects the corm from insects and water loss. Corms are not bulbs.
PITH - Pith is a light substance that is found in vascular plants. It consists of soft, spongyparenchyma cells, and is located in the center of the stem. It is encircled by a ring of xylem (woody tissue), and outside that, a ring of phloem (bark tissue). In most plants the pith is solid, but some plants, e.g. grasses and umbellifers, the pith has a hollow centre forming a hollow tube except at the points where leaves are produced, where there is a solid plate across the stem. A few plants, e.g. walnut, have distinctive chambered pith with numerous short cavities in the pith.
FIDDLEHEAD - Fiddlehead is a name referring either to a young fern or to the top part of immature fronds that appear curled. The fiddlehead, or circinate vernation, unrolls as the fern matures and grows due to more growth in the inside of the curl.
The fiddlehead resembles the curled ornamentation (called a scroll) on the end of a stringed instrument, such as a fiddle. It is also called a crozier, after the curved staff used by shepherds and bishops.
HIPS - the fruit of a rose plant
Last edited by FirstGarden; 05-27-2007 at 06:03 PM.
Tips & References
Tips & References
1. Know what you are picking. Be absolutely sure it is the plant you seek. Learn how to key plants according to their features. Many edible plants have a poisonous look-alike.
2. As a further precaution once the edible plant has been identified, take a tiny nibble, then wait for 30 minutes to observe for any adverse reactions.
3. Be extremely careful when collecting mushrooms. Mistakes can be fatal.
4. Know what part to pick. One plant part may be safe to eat and another toxic. For example, elderberry blossoms and fruits are edible, but the leaves are an emetic and make you vomit.
5. Just because animals or birds eat a plant, does not always mean it is safe for humans.
6. Avoid collecting plants in commercially fertilized areas or where toxic herbicides or other chemicals may have been sprayed. Avoid collecting under power lines, in unfamiliar weed lots or lawns, beside commercial crop fields, or close to roadsides. Error on the side of caution!
6. Be grateful. Before picking or digging, pause for a moment and give thanks to the plant that is giving itself to you. Collect with consciousness. Make the area look as though you were not there. Take what you need, leaving plenty for wildlife and future years.
7. Once the food is collected, clean and sort it ‘in the field’. It is much easier there. No one wants a sink full of muddy roots mingled with grass blades and half an anthill.
8. Before you prepare a food, read. Many plants can be mildly toxic and may require cooking or parboiling (and then discarding) the first and second ‘waters’ before ingesting.
9. Practice moderation and avoid gorging yourself on unfamiliar wild edibles. They are powerful foods and you may need to adjust.
10. Learn to blend wild produce into a meal in subtle ways. Often the flavors are quite strong.
Edible Wild Plants, Peterson Field Guide Series, by Lee Allen Peterson, Houghton Mifflin Company. Great Identification book. Color pictures.
Wild Edibles of Missouri, by Jan Phillips, The Missouri Department of Conservation. Well written reference material. Black and white sketches of plants.
Wild Foods Field Guide and Cookbook, by Billy Joe Tatum, Workman Publishing Company. Contains plant descriptions and 350 recipes.
Last edited by FirstGarden; 05-28-2007 at 10:22 AM.
A Free Downloadable E-Book
Useful Wild Plants Of The United States And Canada by Charles Francis Saunders (1920)
Illustrated By Photographs, And By Numerous Line Drawings by Lucy Hamilton Aring
Although little known these days, Saunders (1859-1941) cast a large shadow in the first several decades of the 20th Century, writing many widely read books on western wildflowers, the Anasazi, edible plants, and the Indian, Spanish and Anglo folklore and culture of California, the Sierras and the Southwest. He was also a major and influential contributer to Sunset Magazine in its salad years.
Original edition from 1920.
Wild Plants With Edible Tubers, Bulbs Or Roots
Wild Seeds of Food Value
The Acorn and Some Other Wild Nuts
Little Regarded Wild Fruits and Berries
Wild Plants with Edible Stems and Leaves
Vegetable Substitutes for Soap
Some Medicinal Wildings
Miscellaneous Uses of Wild Plants
Certain Poisonous Plants