Foraging on the trails: A Brief Introduction
OutdoorHub Reporters 07.03.18
Plants are everywhere when you’re out on the trails, and besides being nice to look at, some of them are even edible. Knowing which plants are safe to eat can make a big difference in a survival situation, so you may want to brush up on your foraging skills.
Plus, who doesn’t love free food? We take a look at some of the different edible plants you may come across on your next hike.
First, a warning
Now, before we get started, we feel the need to give you a little warning. Before you consume anything you’ve found on the trail, but particularly mushrooms and berries, you need to be absolutely certain that you have correctly identified the plant and know for sure that it’s safe to consume. That’s because some things are toxic or even deadly.
This article gives you an insight into a few of the edible plants you may come across during a hike, but we’re not experts, so you may want to consult an expert or guidebook if you want to learn more.
You can even get pretty good apps these days that provide detailed descriptions and images, so it may be worth downloading one if you’re interested in foraging. And remember, if ever you’re unsure, it’s best not to eat it.
Edible wild plants
Ramps, also known as wild leeks or spring onions, usually grow in big patches and can be identified by their broad green leaves and red stems. They grow in the eastern half of the U.S. and parts of the mid-west, and you’ll typically only see them for a brief while in the Spring.
They’ve got a strong garlicky flavor, and smell, which is one of the ways you can tell them apart from their deadly poisonous look-a-like, the Lily-of-the-Valley.
If you do end up spotting these, don’t dig up or use the whole plant, and never take the bulb. Many states are seeing a deterioration of local ramp populations, so to help preserve these patches, just use the leaves. They’re just as flavorful and can easily be chopped up and added to meals to add a taste of onion and garlic.
Purslane is quite common; you can often find it growing in gardens or even in cracks in the sidewalk. They’re often considered to be a weed as they grow pretty much everywhere.
Its leaves are succulent (fleshy), glossy, and spoon-like, it has a distinctive thick, reddish stem, and yellow flowers that only open up for a few hours in the morning. Importantly, you will need to make sure it’s not a “hairy-stemmed spurge,” a similar, but poisonous plant.
It’s got a lemon pepper flavor, but you can get rid of the sour taste by boiling the leaves. They can be eaten as a cooked vegetable, so it’s great to use in soups or stews.
W I L D C A R R O T // Also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, this plant has been used as a natural birth control by ancient women as long as we have been gatherers (thousands of years). It is recommended to eat 2-3 tablespoons of the seeds after sex to prevent pregnancies. She assists in inhibiting implantation, should an egg become fertilized. I’m lucky to have her medicine, and to have only used this method for my needs, while also tuning into my cycle. For three years, my beloved and I mainly use this herb and listening to my phases, and it has proved to be effective so far. I respect all people’s choices in birth control, however I feel that modern contraceptives are more harmful and expensive than they are worth. I feel secure knowing that I am working with the natural seasons of my body, not trying to rid myself of them all together, and doing so with the help of plants. Imagine instead of being told to “be safe,” we learned to be smart and were given real, ancient knowledge of contraceptives, rather than fear-based propoganda. I look forward to the day when I stop taking Wild Carrot and do decide to allow life to birth through me, and to the day when I may teach my daughter how to listen to her body, and how to learn from the plants 🌱 #wildcarrot #queenanneslace #naturalbirthcontrol #herbalism #plantallies #wisewomensways #medicine
Wild carrot is one of the common names given to Daucus carota, also known as Queen Anne’s lace. It’s a white flowering plant with a white root that smells like carrot, hairy stems and stalk, and a flat-topped umbel of white flowers.
The white flower head can be eaten raw and, if you catch the plant early enough, you can also eat the root, which tastes a bit like a carrot. If you don’t pick it when it’s young, then the root becomes too woody to consume.
It’s worth mentioning the warning again; if you’re not sure what plant you’re looking at, then don’t eat it. There are many poisonous lookalikes out there for edible plants, so you need to make sure you know how to correctly identify the plant and be aware of any similar plants that are in fact toxic. As always, be safe on those trails!