View Full Version : Wild Foods on Trail

Wander Yonder
2003-01-11, 01:41
I have a question for you guys. I am very into wild edible foods and mushrooms. I am very careful to harvest only when the plants are plentiful and healthy, and to make sure that I harvest them so they will come back bushier and healthier than they were before.

I would like to occasionally add some wild foods to my trail meals for nutrition and flavor. Considering that I am very careful about not touching protected or scare plants, do you think I would catch a lot of flack for doing that?

Just for fun, here are a few pictures of my wild edibles.

Bracken fiddleheads and poke salad (http://www.griffinwebart.com/bimages/basket.jpg)

Oyster mushrooms and wild onions (http://www.griffinwebart.com/bimages/om_plate.jpg)

Assorted wild soup ingredients--was delicious! (http://www.griffinwebart.com/bimages/wildfoods.jpg)

Fried wild carrot flowers--fun appetizer (http://www.griffinwebart.com/bimages/fried_carrotflower.jpg)

Garden salad with wild edibles and bull thistle root soup (http://www.griffinwebart.com/bimages/wild_lunch.jpg)

Hog On Ice
2003-01-11, 08:00
Depends on the location - in the national parks you might get some official flack for wild collecting anything other than mushrooms or fruit (apples, berries). I think the rules are less restrictive in the national forests but I don't know what they are. State managed areas are another big unknown to me.

With respect to wild edibles have you ever tried Chicken of the Woods? see link for picture:
Chicken of The Woods (http://www.brushwolf.us/berrypicking/chicken_of_the_woods.htm)

Wander Yonder
2003-01-11, 08:04
HOI, thanks for answering. I do think that some state parks and maybe some other protected areas have regulations against collecting plants. But it's nice to hear that not everyone considers gathering them a sacrilege.

No, I haven't found a Chicken of the Woods yet, although I have been looking for them for over a year. Guess I just haven't been in the right place at the right time.

I did find a huge Eastern Califlower mushroom last year though!

I've been studying the wild plants for a few years now, but just got into mushrooms last year. I am VERY careful with them! :D

2003-01-11, 09:33
One of the pleasures of hiking in late summer is the wild blueberries, especially up north.

Unless regulations say otherwise, go for it.

Lone Wolf
2003-01-11, 09:41
Don't forget ramps(wild leeks). They're everywhere.

2003-01-11, 13:12
Watch out for the hallucinagenic variety of mushrooms. Might get to Katahdin and not even know it !!

Wander Yonder
2003-01-11, 18:14
Peaks, I am really looking forward to the blueberries. We have them, too, everywhere here in the NW Georgia hills. Also wild strawberries, huckleberries and blackberries. I hope I will be in the right place at the right time to sample some of the other northern berries that I've never seen down here.

Lone Wolf, I am looking forward to seeing ramps for the first time. Down here we have wild onions, wild garlic and field garlic, but no ramps!

Footslogger, I avoid ALL of those LBM's (little brown mushrooms). Couldn't bear to finally make it to Katahdin and miss it! :D

poison ivy
2003-01-13, 17:00
Sharon --

I was just curious how you went about learning about edible plants. I went backpacking with a guy this summer that was able to point at all sorts of trees and plants and mention what you could make with different parts. It totally got me interested the subject. I bought a book on them, but I'm not sure about the best way to go about looking for them?

Is it better to pick out spefic plants and look for them along the way or should i bring the guide along and just start looking up everything I see? I just wondered if you had any suggestions for someone who is just starting to learn about edible plants.

-- Ivy

Wander Yonder
2003-01-14, 01:04
Poison Ivy, it is a slow process, but fun if you just take it easy. I think the best way is to look at guidebooks, find what might be growing in your area during the season, and try to find them.

When I started, I had a terrible time identifying anything! I got the Peterson's field guide and the line drawings are great. But the plant itself looks so different from the drawings of the individual parts that it wasn't much help at first. What was most helpful to me was a book with actual photos of the plants. Then when I thought I had one identified, I would go to the line drawings and check the details to make sure.

I had the best luck identifying the flowers when the plant was blooming. Many books are organized by flower color, which makes identification easier. I would take pictures of the flowers, then come home and find them in my books or on the net.

I also did a LOT of net searches. There are a lot of wildflower sites with detailed photos. And since many wildflowers are edible plants, that was a foolproof way to identify them.

Identifying plants seems to come in spurts. I would go a long time totally frustrated at my lack of progress. Then, in one day I would finally recognize several. Eureka!!!!!

I like to walk, and found that simply walking and looking at plants was relaxing and educational. Almost automatically you learn to recognize the plants in various stages of growth.

There are very few truly deadly plants. Make sure you learn to identify those and avoid anything that looks like them.

I have dozens of books, but here are the ones I recommend most highly:

First of all, they are not a book, but the decks of plant identification cards are a great start. They have photos on the front, and detailed instructions on how to identify and use the plant on the back. I would get these first. http://campingsurvival.com/edpoisplanof.html

Edible Wild Plants, A North American Field Guide, by Thomas S. Elias & Peter A Dykeman, published by Sterling. This is an excellent book. Has full color photos for most plants, is arranged by season, tells where and when to find the plants and gives excellent directions (including some recipes) on how to use them.

Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plans in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places by Wildman Steve Brill with Evelyn Dean. Published by Quill. This book has the most extensive instructions of where to find plants and how to identify them, along with extensive (some gourmet) recipes. The illustrations are black and white drawings, but they are so beautifully drawn and shaded that they are far beyond any other I have seen. This is one of my favorite books.

Peterson Field Guides, Edible Wild Plants of Eastern/Central North America, by Lee Allen Peterson. The bible of plant ID guides. The drawings are so detailed that you cannot make a mistake in plant identification if you use this manual. I double check every plant I find with this book.

I got most of my books from Amazon.

Good luck. If you get started, you will get hooked on one of the most interesting and rewarding hobbies in the world. :)

2003-01-14, 09:12
stalking the wild asparigus by eull gibbons, well written and humorous, got me started over 25 years ago. it still gets reread from time to time.


poison ivy
2003-01-14, 11:09
Thanks so much for all of the advice. I will definitely have to check out some more books. Right now I just have the Peterson guide... looks like I'll be getting a few more for my collection.


Wander Yonder
2003-01-14, 14:34
Slabfoot, I have Stalking the Wild Asparagus. I love it. I haven't identified a lot of plants with it, but it is the best book written on how to use them. I also just love his personality and genuineness that comes through his writing.

I am anxious to find a snapping turtle so I can try his turtle soup recipes. They sound wonderful. I also love bluegills, and he is the one who taught me to make the little fish fillets with them.

I got a REAL kick out of his chapter on food prejudices when he and his buddy ate the bobcat. As I remember it, his buddy said, "The bob part of this is good, but I am having trouble with the cat part." Euell said he agreed! :D

I also like it because it is so unpolitically correct. Back then, it was okay to hunt and eat critters!

Poison Ivy, I am really tickled to see you interested in wild plants. A word of warning though... if you ever make bull thistle root soup, make sure you have a supply of Beano on hand! :D

Lone Wolf
2003-01-14, 14:44
Sassafras is plentiful on the trail. Pull up the roots and shave them with your knife blade, rinse and boil them. Makes a tasty tea.

Wander Yonder
2003-01-14, 14:49
Lone Wolf, I have sassafras on my property, and would you believe I have never tried it? It's always one of those "gonna do" things. I'm not sure I could identify it now without the "casper the friendly ghost" leaves.

Do you carry sugar on the trail? It's awfully heavy, but I think it would be nice for wild teas. I was also thinking of ordering some dried honey crystals for that purpose, but wince at the price and weight.

Lone Wolf
2003-01-14, 15:09
I carry those little blue nutra sweet packets. Not as good as sugar but does the trick.

2003-03-23, 05:43
Tom Brown's Field guides are really nice... not so hot for identification (black and white line drawings), but really nice for everything else.

I often find myself "grazing" along the trail. A leaf here, a leaf there... Im often not even all that hungry by the time Im ready to settle in.

2003-03-25, 23:02
Wintergreen,aka Teaberry makes a good hot beverage. It has a wintergreen taste with a little something else. This plant's extract was used to make the gum (Teaberry gum). I don't know how many remember this; in fact, don't know if the gum is still made. Haven't seen it for years.

There was a lot of it in the Mt. Rogers area.

2003-03-26, 11:39
Years ago a man told me about Polkberries, and I have yet to identify them. I was skinning (very well) and tanning(very poorly) a lot of deer hides, and he showed me his own tans, the color was phenomenal. Apparently polk berries make a very rich blue to purple to black dye. Anyone know of these?

2003-03-26, 12:53
redbeard...... poke sprouts up early in the spring and the shoots are edible when very young but poisenous when mature. berries develop later and are very dark and plentiful(we used to have "inkberry" battles with them when i was a little kid.)gramma used to force her "poke salad" on us in the spring. that along with pig ears and dandilion greens were just some of the ways we were abused when young.

Hog On Ice
2003-03-26, 13:49
just do a goggle search for "pokeweed" - lots of good information on identification as well as toxicity

2003-03-26, 16:25
your rite HOI, saw a picture on a Purdue U page, I know I've seen this plant. I kind of lost interest after I quit skinnin, (did the whole muzzleloader thing) but someone mentioned them and it resurfaced in my murky brain.

Hog On Ice
2012-01-26, 09:08
Has anyone seen the video that this trailer references? Is it any good - as in more so than the bit on ramps shown in the trailer?


2012-02-09, 00:21
I would go a long time totally frustrated at my lack of progress.http://www.amzcard.info/g.gif