Wild Food Foraging: How to Identify Four Common Edible Plants

Learn how to identify, harvest and use four common edible wild plants: chickweed, ground elder, meadowsweet and perennial stinging nettle.

| February 2012 Web

  • Chickweed has abundant soft, bright green oval leaves.
    Photo By Cotinis/Flickr
  • Wild food foraging is becoming more popular as people become increasingly interested in eating local fresh food. Divided into wild plants, herbs, fruits, nuts, mushrooms, seaweeds and shellfish, "Foraging: Self-Sufficiency" has all the information you need as well as clear instructions to help you identify a wholesome and natural food source—all without spending a dime!
    Photo Courtesy Skyhorse Publishing
  • Ground elder has long, medium to dark green leaves with fine-toothed edges.
    Photo By Dave/Flickr
  • Meadowsweet has aromatic, dark green leaves with greyish-white undersides.
    Photo By Pascal/Flickr
  • Perennial stinging nettles have upright stems and are covered with stinging hairs and somewhat heart-shaped, tooth-edged leaves.
    Photo By Brewbooks/Flickr

Foraging for wild food has become more popular as people have become interested in eating fresh, local food—for free! You'd be surprised at the bounty of wild food you can find practically just outside your door: roots, edible weeds, wild fruits and nuts, mushrooms and even flowers and leaves. In this excerpt from Foraging: Self-Sufficiency, (Skyhorse Publishing, 2011) author David Squire offers information on finding, identifying, harvesting and using four common edible wild plants—chickweed, ground elder, meadowsweet and stinging nettle—helping you to preserve the art of wild food foraging in your kitchen. This excerpt is taken from the Chapter "Edible Wild Plants." 

Chickweed

(Stellaria media)

Also known as: Chicken’s Meat, Chickenweed, Stitchwort

Birds and chickens love to peck at the flowers and seeds of this widespread and abundant sprawling annual, which persists throughout winter in mild climates. It spreads and forms masses of leaves on weak stems that creep over the soil, forming clumps up to 35 cm (14 in) but usually less.



The plant produces white, star-like flowers about 9 mm (3/8 in) across throughout the year, but mainly in summer. With a cosmopolitan nature, it is found throughout the world; indeed, claims have been made that it is the most widespread and abundant of all wild plants.

You’ll find it: on bare ground, especially in light, cultivated soil where seeds quickly germinate and create carpets of leaves, stems and flowers.

ChrisB57
2/27/2015 12:22:11 PM

Would have been nice to have had the pictures of the plants to go with the names of them







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