Edible Plants

Previous Page  Wire Weed               Next Page  Bedstraw

Edible Plants, Pacific Northwest

Chocolate Lily, BC Coastal Region, Edible Plants
Chocolate Lily, Choice Edible Plant, Photo By Bud Logan

The Pacific Northwest has many choice edible plants that can be harvested from the wild. Some plants are very healthy and some can add a flavor to your table that can not be bought. But please be careful when gathering wild food as some may not agree with you and some can make you quite ill. Some plants can be confused with inedible or poisonous plants so be sure you know what you’ve harvested before eating any wild plant. There are many great field guides for edible plants, so find a decent one for your area and take it out with you.

Don’t over harvest a single species in one location and never harvest endangered species. Only take what you need. Even though a plant may be edible, its flavor may not be to your liking so before harvesting a plant that is new to you, gather a little and try it out beforehand.

Be careful about gathering wild plants in areas that have been sprayed with pesticides, or in areas where you don’t know if spraying has occurred. I don’t gather wild plants along any roads,  the dust from the roads and pollution from exhaust fumes can contaminate the plants. Making them unhealthy for consumption.

So get your book on edible plants and head out into the field, you will have fun, learn about plants and get healthy from both the plants and the walk in the forest.

Bedstraw, Pacific Northwest
Bedstraw, photo by Bud Logan

You can use all parts of this plant, collect for food before fruiting but let grow until seeds are produced if using as a coffee substitute. Cooking improves the medicinal effects of this plant. You can find this plant everywhere but it likes disturbed soils.

Bedstraw is also known as cleavers. It is a very valuable plant, a tonic made from cleavers is great for the lymph system. As a lymphatic tonic, it can be safely used as a lymphatic tonic and it works on a wide range of problems where the lymph system is involved, works especially well on tonsillitis and adenoid trouble.

It is helpful in skin conditions, works well on psoriasis and other skin problems. It is helpful in the treatment of  urinary conditions where pain is involved. It also works well in the effective treatment of ulcers and tumors. For lymph issues, combine this herb with herb robert. For psoriasis, combine bedstraw with burdock.

The seeds are a great alternative  for coffee, just pick off the seeds, dry them and then place on a cookie sheet, roast in oven until light brown in color, grind them and then you can use as you would any other coffee.

To make a tonic, use scissors to cut up enough to fill a cup container. Use only leaves and stems, no roots or seeds. Place in a  suitable container that has fine holes or a piece of cheesecloth tied together and suspend in a litre of water. Place in your fridge and let infuse for 8 to 12 hours. Remove the cleavers, sweeten and drink. This is an awesome spring immune system booster.

Clasping Twisted Stalk, Pacific Northwest
Clasping Twisted Stalk,photo by Bud Logan

The Clasping Twisted Stalk was used as a food plant by the First peoples of the Pacific North west and as a medicine. The tender young shoots of this plant were eaten by the First Peoples as a salad green. The entire plant is sweet with a cucumber like flavor. The berries are juicy and sweet, with a cucumber like flavor.

The plant was referred to by early settlers of the Pacific North west coast as the wild cucumber and as scoot berries for the mildly laxative effects of the plants berries if they are eaten in excessive quantities.

The juice of the berries was used as a soothing treatment for burns by coastal First Nations.Clasping Twisted Stalk has a superficial resemblance to False Solomon’s Seal, however, Clasping Twisted Stalk produces auxiliary flowers and fruits along the stem, where False Solomon’s Seal produces a terminal inflorescence.

Also False Solomon’s Seal is always a single stem, while Clasping Twisted Stalk can be branched at the bottom.

Clasping Twisted Stalk is easily identified by its large, juicy red berries which grow from each leaf axil and boldly contrast the surrounding foliage, and the berries are highly visible, even in the thickest undergrowth.

When i was a young man, just learning the ways of the forest. I always enjoyed finding this plant. When you chewed on a stem and tasted the cucumber flavor, it was not only tasty but helped cure thirst as well and the berries are sweet and tasty.

Pink Fawn Lily, Pacific Northwest
Pink Fawn Lily, photo by Bud Logan

The Pink Fawn Lily is a perennial herb that grows over most of the BC coast. It grows from a narrowly egg shaped, 3 to 5 cm long bulb attached to a chain of rhizome segments. The flowering stems are up to 35 cm tall and smooth.

The basal leaves are dull dark green mottled with brown or white. They are up to 20 cm long, smooth, gradually narrowed to short, broad, narrowly winged stalk.

There are 1 to 3 flowers atop a leafless, smooth stem. The flowers are rose pink with gold bands at the base on the inner surface, the flowers are nodding. The fruit comes in capsules which are narrow and club shaped. The capsules are erect, up to 4 cm long with seeds several to many, they are brown and egg shaped.

Found commonly on the coast. It occurs in wet maritime to sub maritime climates. Occurrence decreases with increasing latitude and elevation.

The Kwakiutl and possibly the Nuu-chah-nulth ate the bulb. The bulbs were dug when they first sprouted in the spring and eaten raw or steamed in tall cedar boxes and served with large quantities of grease.

They could also be dried in the sun and then boiled in water or baked and served with grease.

Wild Ginger, Pacific Northwest
Wild Ginger, photo by Bud Logan

Wild ginger is a native North American perennial found growing in moist rich soils in shady woodlands on the Coast. It prefers a rich moist neutral to acidic soil in a shady woodland setting. It grows up by Buttle Lake, along the Ralph River.

The large heart or kidney shaped leaves are hairy, dark green and deeply indented at the stem they grow in opposite pairs to a height of up to 30cm. Deep bowl shaped flowers grow at the base, between the leaf stems, it is single short stemmed and hairy outside and seems to split open into three outwardly folded petals, flowers bloom from March to May.

The root is a long rhizome, it is light green and tender, when crushed it has a strong antiseptic smell. As its name indicates, wild ginger tastes like the Asian ginger found in grocery stores. However, it is more bitter and therefore judged unpleasant by some. It is eaten raw, dried or powdered.

An aromatic oil is extracted from wild ginger and used in recipes. Many claim that it is best in candied form. The syrup obtained during the preserving process is delicious on pie or ice cream.

Previous Page  Wire Weed               Next Page  Bedstraw

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.