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Wild Edible Plants

Wild Edible Plants

More and more people are experimenting with different types of plants and vegetables to put in their dishes. There are many varieties of wild edible plants that are now being used in food preparations. Some of these types are mentioned in this section.
Gardenerdy Staff
Wild plants that can be eaten are full of vitamins and essential nutrients, and also taste good. However, make sure that you can identify them positively before you start including them in your diet, as many wild plants are poisonous. When you are collecting wild plants that are edible, avoid those that are growing near buildings and along roadsides, as these are most probably sprayed with pesticides. Avoid eating any leaves or seeds which have an almond-like scent, as it is a characteristic of the cyanide compound, which is poisonous. Many edible plants which grow in the wild, such as acorns and water lily rhizomes, are bitter to taste. These bitter substances, usually tannin compounds, can be eliminated by boiling them in water several times.

The following are certain examples of this kind of plants.
  • Dandelion - Dandelion is a popular wild flower which can be fried and eaten as a snack. The young leaves of the dandelion should be picked in spring; they can be used in a fresh green salad. Its roots can be dried in the sun and then ground into a powder which can be used as a substitute for coffee.
  • White Dead Nettle - White dead nettle is a kind of weed that is prolific in the English countryside. It has a very sharp scent and adds texture and flavor to salads.
  • Cow Parsley - Cow parsley, also known as wild chervil, has a flavor similar to that of aniseed, and is used in salads. The purple variety can be steamed and drizzled with butter, or preserved by making a pickle.
  • Violet - The violet flower can be deep-fried and used in jams. Its young leaves can be used in salads, and for thickening soups.
  • Prickly Pear Cactus - The prickly pear cactus is a well-known wild and edible plant of North America. It has multiple broad leaves with long and sharp spines. Its leaves are fleshy and have pink, purple, or yellow flowers. The spines are removed from the plant and are eaten either raw, or deep-fried.
  • Hart's Tongue Fern - Most ferns contain carcinogens, but Hart's tongue fern is an exception. It can be used as a salad leaf after being boiled in salty water.
  • Seaweed - Seaweed is a kind of marine algae that is found near sea shores. Thin varieties of seaweed can be sun dried or grilled over fire. These can be used to flavor and thicken soups and stews.
  • Cattail - Cattail can be found in fresh and brackish waters of marshes and swamps. It is a tall plant with sword-shaped leaves which can be used in salads. Its young roots can be added to thicken soups.
These plants which grow in the wild can be safely consumed by people. However, always ensure that the plant is edible before attempting to cook it in any form.