What plants can I eat straight from the garden?

cweathersbyMay 6, 2005

I'm looking for a list of plants that I can eat parts of, leaves, seeds, berries, etc, straight out of the garden with no harmful effects.

I would also like to know which herbs can be eaten raw and still give all of the benefits.

I've read a couple of herbal medicine books, but can't find anything that I am looking for.

For example, the other day I learned that you can eat Borage flowers. Does that have any beneficial effect, or is it just harmless?

Also an "herb lady" around my area told me that you could eat Smilax, the weed, in salads.

Are there any books or websites that have this information?

Thanks in advance,


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thorspippi(z9/s14 CA Sacramento)

I'm just a beginner, but this is my favorite site:
Plants for a Future Database

It's home page:
Plants for a Future Home page

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 12:14AM
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I think you can eat all of them. Why not look at the "edible landscape" forum.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 4:32AM
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marie_in_wa(8 (coastal))

Keep in mind that whatever you plant, if you spray it with any sort of chemical, you will not just be able to eat it straight from the garden. (not that I would do that anyways - birds might have pooped on it!)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 3:34PM
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thorspippi(z9/s14 CA Sacramento)

I think you can eat all of them

Yikes! Not everything! Oleander, for example.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 4:03PM
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well i8 was assuming that no one would spray their veggies herbs etc with toxic chemicals and I guess I wasn't thinking more than herbs and veggies and a few flowers. opps! that's why I recommended the edible landscape forum here.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 4:04AM
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thorspippi(z9/s14 CA Sacramento)

I guess I wasn't thinking more than herbs and veggies and a few flowers

yeah, that occurred to me later. :-)

There isn't much traffic in the edible landscape forum, unfortunately. I don't know why. I've found it more helpful to combine the herbs, herbalism, veggies, fruits forums.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 3:54PM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

A list of all edible plants would be very long. You would be more likely to get answers if you ask about specific plants.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 7:59PM
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Judy B is spot-on. Please ask about specific plants. There are around 20,000 herbs, and goodness knows how many thousands of other plants on the planet!

As for Smilax, it's one of many plants in a large family. Check out the site below.

Rule Number ONE with plants, is to make sure they are correctly identified before you start eating them or using them as medicines. Some horribly poisonous plants very closely resemble edible ones, and it takes an expert to sort out which is which. When in doubt, leave it well alone.

It's also very important to know a little about the plants you are dealing with. For instance, tomatoes are a commonly grown plant whose fruit is eaten, but its leaves are poisonous. Elder trees have fruit which is edible only when fully ripe (and preferably cooked), whereas you can get quite ill if you eat any other part of the plant, or the green berries. Sumac is a safe popular spice in the Middle East and elsewhere, derived from berries of a tree of Rhus family - to which Poison Ivy also belongs.

In short, ask about specific plants. If you have a botanical name for it, all the better!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sarsaparilla/Smilax

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 6:52AM
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Thanks for the responses.
And thanks for the website! That was exactly what I was looking for.
Some examples of the plants I am wondering about:
Ginko biloba- I have the tree, I've read how to make the herbal remedies, but can I eat leaves right off of the tree and get any benefits? My mother does this and it doesn't kill her, but does it help in any herbal way?
St. John's Wort- again, I've read the herbal medicine guides, but am wondering if it can be eaten raw.
I am assuming that all of my mints, sages, monarda, etc. can be eaten without harm.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 10:17AM
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I always like eating the johnny-jump-ups, they have a
pleasant flavor and are good for the respiratory system;
Dandelion roots are good to eat about 5 hours before going
out drinking--you get a milder hangover; Daylily buds taste
kinda like a spicy green bean; Echinacea is best eaten raw
the leaves can be used for infection, just eat 4 or 5
several times a day; chrysanthamums can be made into tea
for heart health, the Japanese and Chinese use the flowers
for this; violets are good and so are honeysuckles;
forsythia are edible but I haven't tried them yet; clematis
leaves have a peppery taste--the wild ones are best and can
be of use for frontal headaches; nasturtium is popular with
cooks, there are numerous salad recipes using them; I don't
use St. John's wort, are the chemical constituents of it
volitile? If so, then it may be more potent raw. If,
however, the constituents need to be exracted to work then
you are better off with the tea or tincture. I may think of more to add to this later.
Feel free to contact me at

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 7:14PM
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This web site mentions lots of herbs you can eat.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 1:06AM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

Here's a great resource that you should be able to find in a library -- see the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Useful Wild Plants of Texas

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 3:24AM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

I love borage flowers -- borage is said to lift the spirits and give courage. At the end of the afternoon, after the bees are more or less done with them (and when I have time for a borage break), I eat all the borage flowers from one plant.

Most herbs can be eaten fresh from the garden (rather than as teas or tinctures -- is that what you're asking?). As far as I know, any tea herb is just as beneficial eaten raw as in tea, though most have such strong, concentrated flavors that tea is often a way to make the herb more palatable. A few herbs are best used as alcohol extracts, but again, can often be used fresh as well.

When I'm in the garden, sometimes I can't resist eating a few lavender buds or an echinacea leaf.

Some of the witchier herbalists (in the sense of being closer to the garden) whose books I enjoy are Kathi Keville, Juliette de B. Levy, and Rosemary Gladstar.

Another GREAT source of this kind of info is conferences where herbalists share their knowledge. I know of annual herbalists' conferences in Calif. and New England, but haven't heard of other regional gatherings. Seek out local herbalists.

One of the best things I learned from herbalists at one of these conferences: get to know 3 or 5 or 10 herbs really well. Eat them from the garden, drink them in tea, bathe with them, use them in as many ways as possible. Choose herbs that speak to you. Learn all the different uses. Become aware of the range of conditions they can treat, and of how your body and mind and spirit respond to them. One herbalist used to do a one-herb immersion for a few days: eat, bathe, drink that one herb.

I love reading about all the different uses of herbs, not only teas and tinctures but also flower essences and essential oils. An herbalist who has a local radio show (also on KPFA on the web) often talks of spirit doses -- a drop or two of a tincture to treat emotional/spiritual stuff.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 3:44AM
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I was laughing remembering that when I was little my sister and I used to wait for my grandsmother to plant pansies and then when she left we would eat all of the flowrers. Was she ever mad! Chased us uip the street brandishing a rolled up newspaper. We also ate all of the magnolia flowers! I still can't resist a pansy they have a soft and velvety texture whixh is pleasing in the tongue. The amgnolia tasted nice also. I like nasturtium leaves and flowers in a salad has a peppery taste.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 11:16AM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

See what wonderful information is on this thread. There are no "know it alls" that know nothing and everyone gets to take part. and everyone learns.and it's not boring everyone to death.Plus there are comman sense warnings. Some one is going to say-N-N-N O-O-O, y-y-ou-u c-ca-n-t dddo t-h-a-t wi--th-outtt
ttto m-e-d-ical
Which does the forum prefer? Which is the more educational?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 11:55PM
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