What native/wild plants are edible or useful?

khawk77(7)November 8, 2009

I live in what I guess you could call the foothills of the appalachian mountains in North Alabama. I live in a very rural area and my property is wooded on 3 sides. I'm interested in foraging for edible, medicinal, and otherwise useful herbs and plants, but I can't seem to find a decent book to guide me. Does anyone have any suggestions? Also I would like to know what Native Americans might have used some of these wild plants for.

Thanks for the Help!

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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Petersons publishes both a medicinal plant and edible plant guide that are invaluable resources but if you are a novice to wild plants and identifying them, I would suggest starting your learning from someone in person. Books are wonderful and I have taught myself much from them but my first teachers about plants, plant safety, and plant identification were my parents when I was very young. I also have taken many in-person identification and herbal medicine classes as well as guided walks and tours. Please look for classes or perhaps herbalists in your area. Wildcrafting and processing the plant material is time-consuming. I'm sure many herbalists would trade learning for help in collecting and processing botanical material.

And in learning about your wild resources, be sure to check out United Plant Savers for a list of plants that are "at risk." These are native, medicinal plants that have been decimated in the wild. Be sure to temper your collecting with good stewardship.

Good luck in your endeavors!


Here is a link that might be useful: Amazon link to Peterson's Medicinal plant book

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 10:52AM
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bogturtle(SE NJ 7a)

Two useful plants, among many, are pokeweed and greenbriar.
Pokeweed plants and berries are quite poisonous, but we have boiled the new Spring sprouts, when less than a foot tall and found them very good. The newest, youngest leaves of the greenbriar are sour tasting and good in salads. Books, nearly antiques, by Euell Gibbons, are about wild plants as food.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 10:29AM
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I know this is an old post but there is a site that deals with a lot of this subject matter. altnature dot com. They are in TN so many plants are the same as AL.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 10:30AM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

This is an excellent book on Amazon, Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie, by Kelly Kindscher. You can view the entire index online, and can then look up individual plants on PFAF (through google) and read a lot about their uses.

Here is a link that might be useful: index

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 4:37AM
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Almost everything has some use.
Edible fungi, weaving baskets with cat-brier or kudzu. Acorn coffee & flour, cat-tails, ground nut, beech nuts, watercress & lilies, flags, willow bark aspirin, sassafras, chicory & dandelion, wild mints, prickly pear, the list is endless. Heck, your living in a natural restaurant & drug store! You can even use the green pulp from black walnuts to stun fish to the surface.

The Peterson field guide to edible wild plants is the best for your area. It not only list edible plants but also their poisonous look-a-likes. I grew up in Franklin County 'Bama, born in Russellville.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 9:51PM
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