The Dereila Nature Inn - a cyber nature centre for nature lovers
 
 
A Walk In the Woods - A Look at Edible Plants
 

In this stroll we'll be wandering from sea-level to sub-alpine in search of wild plants that are edible in some way, including the fixing of tasty drinks.

Throughout the history people of many groups have found plants to sources of nourishment, food, and flavour.

Trails through meadows in the forest leading up the the mountains in search of edible plants.
Oregon grape
Oregon grape
Oregon Grape - Fruit

Oregon-grape and Tall Oregon-grape

Don't be confused by the name of these plants; they're not grapes at all. They are small evergreen shrubs with holly-like leaves which can turn different shades of reds in the winter. They bare large clumps of clustered yellow flowers and dark blue berries which can be eaten raw but as they are bitter, they're better in a sweetened jelly.

The Oregon-grape is the state flower of Oregon and is found through the woods and hillsides of the Pacific Northwest.

     
Himalayan Blackberry - flowers
 
Himalayan Blackberry - fruits

Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus discolor - flowers and fruits

It's hard to pass a Blackberry or Bramble bush when it's in full fruit which are good eaten off the brach or picked and used in pies, crumbles and jams.

The plant is found in roadsides and disturbed grounds and can be quite invasion. It grows into a huge bushy shrub, with large arching, prickly canes.

     
Salmonberry - flower
Salmonberry - fruit
Salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis - flower and the fruit
 
Salmonberry is an erect thicket-forming shrub found in the moist forests and areas of the west coast of North America. It has woody stems with prickles. It is a close relative to the raspberry and has raspberry-like fruits which are used jams and jellies whereas tea can be made from the flowers and leaves.
   
Thimbleberry - flower
  Thimbleberry - fruit
Thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus
- flower above, fruit right

Thimbleberry is thornless shrub growing to 8 feet (2.5 m) high. It has large, maple-leaf like leaves, white flowers and red fruits which can be very tasty or tasteless, depending on its habitat. It is found in open woods in moist to dry areas and to subalpine levels.

 
Saskatoon berry - flowers
 

Saskatoon, Amelanchier alnifolia

This is a deciduous shrub or even a small tree, standing from 1 - 5 m (3-15 feet) tall. It has oval to nearly circular leaves and white star-shaped early spring as the new leaves are still growing.

The fruit is small and purple in color and is delicious in pies and jams. It was widely used by natives across the plains who used to eat then fresh, dried or mashed and dried into cakes.

The Saskatoon is sometimes called Juneberry or Serviceberry.

     
Wild Ginger
Wild Ginger, Asarum caudatum
 
It is really worthwhile looking for this amazing deciduous plant in moist shady sites with humus rich soil. There are several species found across North America.

The leaves are heart shaped and grow from a rhizome under the soil surface. The rhizome is the underground woody part of ginger that you'd find in a supermarket.

The fascinating purplish-brown flowers have a strange jug shape to them and are often difficult to see because they hang down, under the leaves.

The roots of wild ginger have been used as a spice and can also be made into a tea, but it might be best just to appreciate it where you find it and buy some at the market!
     
Labrador Tea
 
Cow Parsnip

Labrador Tea, Ledum groenlandicum

This is a low aromatic evergreen shrub with oblong shaped leaves. The flowers are white and cream colored in terminal umbrella-shaped clusters. These shrubs enjoy moist and wet bogs and swamp like conditions. The leaves may be used as a tea although a few drops of lemon juice may improve the flavor along with a change of boiling water.

 

Cow Parsnip, Heracleum lanatum

This plant is a weedy perennial plant with stout strong stems that grows to 10 feet tall. Leaves are large and deeply lobed clasping the stems. It’s a seashore plant throughout the length of the coast line. The flower stems before they flowers open, may be peeled and the inner portion eaten green. These young stems are as palatably as stewed celery if boiled until tender.

     

Nettle, Urtica species

This weed is a simple erect stem plant with the leaves coarsely toothed and with stinging bristles. The green flowers vary and are small and inconspicuous in the axil of the leaves. The young shoots as they appear in the spring can be boiled and used as spinach. It is also made into a tea with a quart of boiling water and five handfuls of young tips infused for several hours.

 
Nettle
     
Salal
 

Salal, Gaultheria shallon

This is an erect wiry evergreen shrub with ovate leathery leaves. The flowers are in clusters and in a row along the flowering branch. Its habitat includes forest thickets, ravines and exposed shores. The fruit is edible and very pleasant when ripe. It should be placed high on the list for those lost in the bush.

     
Blue Camas
Camas
Death Camas

Camas, Camassia quamash and Camassia leichtlinnii, and Death Camas

The two blue camas flowers were a great part of the earlier day’s food source for the native people. The bulbs when well cooked are very nutritious. With the death camas appearing as the same as the other plants when not in flower, they were dug up so as not to be collected by mistake. Camassia quamash flowers earlier than the Great Camas, Camassia leichtlinnii. The Great Camas curls and twists the tepals together to cover and protect the fruit while the other camas does not.

     

Chicory, Cichorium intybus

The chicory plant is a tall perennial with loosely branching stems along with a deep taproot. The leaves resemble those of the dandelion becoming reduced upwards. It grows rapidly on waste ground and roadsides and fields. The basal leaves, blanched in early spring makes a tasty salad. The roots, dried and ground, make an excellent coffee substitute
 
Chicory
 

>> Go to A Look at Edible Plants - Page 2

 
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