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Native edible plants of the Continental US

 
pollinator
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I found a few more, but was holding off until I felt a I had enough to warrant another post & kind of forgot about it. Discovered a while back that the east has a native gooseberry, after all- Eastern Prickly, aka Dogberry.

Also:

Canadian Honewort (Eastern US/ Canada)
Trout Lily Bulb (Eastern US)
Virginia Waterleaf (Eastern US)
Water Parsnip (Eastern US- very easy to confuse with invasive Poison Hemlock if looking at flower. Pay more attention to differences in shape of leaves & root instead)
Chinkapin Nuts (Pacific NW)
Epazote (American south, possibly)
Mayhaw (American SE)
Oyster leaf (northern Atlantic coast)
Prairie Parsley (survival food only)
Redroot Seeds ( American SW- only use is additive to make Pinolé)
Thyme Leaved Spurge ( American south, Great Plains)
Wild Parsley Root (Rocky Mins, Great Plains)

With mushrooms, I want to add:
Truffles- American Imaia, Michigan & Pecan
--------------------------
If a more complete list all in one place helps, (other names for same plant after /, other species in () )we have:

Nuts/ Seeds:
Acorn, American Lotus, Beech, Blow Wife, Bodark/ Osage Orange/ Monkeybrain, Buckeye, California Poppy, Chestnut, Chia, Chinkapin Nuts, Hazelnut/ Filbert, Hickory Nut, Pecan, Pine nut, Quinoa/ Goosefoot, Sunflower, Virginia Sweetspire, Walnut (Butternut)

Spice:
American Lovage, Bergamot, Bayberry (Bog Myrtle), Calamint/ Wild Basil (Wild Savory), Eastern Redbud, Eastern Sweetshrub/ Carolina Allspice, Ginger, Goldenrod, Hyssop, Indian Potato, Juniper Berry, Maple Syrup/ Sugar, Mint (Whorled Mountain, Downy Wood, American, etc), Prairie Tea, Prickly Ash Pepper, Rock Cress, Sage, Saltbush, Sassafras/ Filé, Spicebush berries, Spikenard, Sweet Anise, Tarragon/ Wormwood, Toothwort, Virginia Pepperweed, Wintergreen/ Teaberry/ Checkerberry, Violet petals, Wild Tansymustard, Yampah/ Wild Dill

Vegetable:
American Licorice, American Lotus, Bamboo, Basswood Leaves, Bearberry/ Kinnikinnick/ Manzanita, Biscuit Root/ Kouse, Bitterroot, Black Nightshade, Black Tree Lichen, Brook Lettuce, Buckbean, Buffalo Gourd, Bur Cucumber, Cabbage Palm Heart, Camas, Canadian Honewort, Cattail, Clearweed (Stinging Nettle), Common Milkweed, Cow Parsnip, Creamcup Leaves, Creeping Cucumber, Dandelion, Eastern Redbud, False Solomon's Seal, Fern Fiddleheads (Lady, Cinnamon), German Rampion/ Primrose, Ginger, Greenbriar, Groundcone, Groundplum, Harbinger of Spring Root, Indian Breadroot, Indian Cucumber Root, Indian Potato/ Potato Bean/ Hopniss/ Groundnut, Jack in the Pulpit Root, Jerusalem Artichoke/ Sunchoke, Lake Cress, Lily Root, Marsh Marigold, Miner's Lettuce, Ocotillo, Okra, Oyster leaf, Pine tips, Pokeweed, Prickly Pear Cactus, Pea, Prairie Parsley, Prairie Potato, Purplestem Angelica, Saltbush, Samphire Greens, Seaweed/ Dulse, Shooting Star Root, Shorebay leaf, Skunk Cabbage, Solomon's Seal, Spikenard,  Sweetflag, Sweetvetch Root, Thyme-leaved Spurge, Tinpsila, Tockwogh/ Tuckahoe, Triplet Lily Root, Tule, Virginian Dwarf Plantain, Virginia Waterleaf, Wapato/ Duck Potato, Water Horehound/ American Bugleweed/ Gypsywort, Water Parsnip, White Alder Catkins, White Avens, White Chervil, Winter dress/ Yellowrocket, Wood Sorrel, Wild Beans (Wild Kidney, Wild Trailing, Rattlebox, Mesquite), Wild Chili Peppers, Wild Onion (Meadow Garlic, Ramps, Nodding), Wild Sweet Potato/ Morning Glory Root, Yampah, Yucca

Fruit:
Alligator Apple, American Olive, Beautyberry, Black Cherry (Sand Cherry), Black Huckleberry, Black Raspberry (Red Raspberry, Blackberry, Salmonberry, Cloudberry), Blueberry (Western Huckleberry, Sparkleberry), Buffaloberry, Bunchberry, Carolina Buckthorn, Chokeberry/ Aronia, Chokecherry (Pincherry), Cocoplum, Crabapple, Cranberry (Lingonberry), Creek Plum, Crowberry (Rock berry), Currants, Deerberry, Dewberry, Elderberry, Gaylussacia/ Eastern Black Huckleberry, Fairybell Berry, Figs, Goji berry/ Wolf Berry, Gooseberry, Gopher Apple, Hackberry/ Sugarberry, Haw, Hogpeanut (actually not sure what to classify it as), Honeyberry/ Fly Honeysuckle, Magnolia Fruit, Mayapple, Mayhaw, Maypop, Mesae-Verde Cactus Fruit, Mulberry, Oregon Grape, Osoberry, Papaw/ Hillbilly Mango, Partridge berry, Pigeon Plum, Plum, Prickly Pear Cactus, Red Huckleberry, Rowan Berry, Saguaro Cactus Fruit, Salal, Saw Palmetto Berry, Sea Grape, Serviceberry/ Juneberry/ Saskatoon, Sourberry, Strawberry, Strawberry Blite, Texas Persimmon, Tupelo fruit, Viburnum Berry/ Highbush Cranberry/ Mooseberry (American Cranberrybush, Blackhaw, Nannyberry), Virginian Groundcherry, Virginia Persimmon, Wintergreen/ Teaberry/ Checkerberry

Grain:
Buckwheat, Little Barley Pampas Grass, Mountain Rice, Wild Rice

Beverage:
Appalachian Tea/ Inkberry (Yaupon Holly), Bergamot, Bog Rosemary, California Laurel, Eastern Red Columbine, Eastern Redbud, Florida Pennyroyal, Goldenrod, Grape, Honey Locust (Black Locust), Hops, Hoptree/ Wafer Ash, Indian Potato, Kentucky Coffeetree, Leatherleaf Tea, Pine tea/ Nettle beer, Pacific Madrone/ Madrona, Prairie Tea, Senna tea, Sourwood tea, Spicebush tea, Sumac, Wild Rose Rosehips, Yarrow, Yerba Buena
 
D Tucholske
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Nothing new, but one quick correction.

Buffalo Gourd is not the wild ancestor of domesticated squash/ pumpkins in the Eastern US & it's highly possible that no species is or ever was considered edible.

The actual wild plant in question is Cucurbita Pepo Ozarkana, which was only identified a few years ago & grows naturally in the general area around where the Ohio, Mississippi & Missouri Rivers converge.
 
D Tucholske
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Someone brought up a new tree with edible fruit that I'm just going to arbitrarily call Torreya Nuts.

There are two North American species- one on the west coast (Torreya California) & one in extreme SE US (Torreya Taxifolia). They are sometimes called Nutmeg trees, albeit I haven't seen a given reason & they are not related to the actual plant we get nutmeg from, but as a sort of conifer. Both species are in a pretty bad place, with the west coast species being highly threatened & on the verge of being added to the endangered species list. The east coast species is already there & are only known to still exist in a tiny little pocket of northwestern Florida, according to Wikipedia.
 
D Tucholske
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OK, at one point I brought up the plant American Olive (Cartrema Americana) & confusion as to whether this plant was edible or not. I think I may have uncovered the solution.

We have a somewhat rare species of tree Native to the south & much of the Mississippi River Valley, plus down through Texas & into Mexico called the Gum Bully Tree (Sideroxylon Lanuginosum), among other names. The fruit is edible, but only in small quantities. People are known to often call the fruit of related species "olives." They are edible, though don't taste good, (the foreign species I found a video on, at least, foetidissima), though have a high sugar content & seem to ferment really well.

So, probably don't attempt to eat the fruit of American Olive.
 
D Tucholske
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Navajo Spinach (cleome serrulata)
Great Plains & Southwest
Edible leaves

Turk's Cap Mallow (Malvaviscus Arboreus)
Deep south states, from Texas east.
Edible leaves & flowers. Berries technically Edible, but more often used to make syrups & teas, like rosehips.
 
D Tucholske
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Pickerelweed (pontederia lanceolata)
Eastern swamps
Stalks edible raw or cooked

Tobacco root (valeriana edulis)
Most of Great Plains region
Actually a once very commonly eaten root by natives across the Great Plains, from western Ohio, all the way to the Rockies. Had a strong, disagreeable scent when cooked. Unsure if the name tobacco root is because of smell or possible use as a kinnikinnick. Not really tobacco, but a species of valerian.

American sea rocket (cakile edentula)
Eastern Sand & Beach areas of North America
Technically Edible in small quantities when cooked. Not preferable.

Devil's claw (proboscidea louisianica)
Unknown range, but probably around US-Mexico border region
Young fruits can be pickled & Native people allegedly ate the seeds, though the plant had numerous uses, including in making a black dye.
 
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I didn't see Miner's Lettuce (Montia perfoliata) in the list for California and the Pacific coast. While many of the plants mentioned are unpalatable except as survival fare, Miner's Lettuce is delicious, mild, and juicy. It is in fact offered by several seed companies for growing as salad. https://www.quailseeds.com/store/p2/Miner%27s_Lettuce_%28Claytonia%29.html

You may want to draw a little firmer line between edible and medicinal plants. I guess medicinal herbs are somewhat edible, in that you ingest them. And there are certainly a lot of medicinal foods--burdock comes to mind. But most medicinals  are taken in small quantities to work a change in the body, and some of those changes can be pretty serious if used at the wrong time, in larger quantities, or too often. California Poppy is a strong sedative for example. It is not technically an opiate, but it has the same effect, I can tell you from experience that it will knock you right out. The active dose is much smaller than a  portion of food, so it's hard to imagine a situation where eating it for food would have any point.

Even more worrisome is the inclusion of Andromeda, bog rosemary. This may be one of those situations where the common name is creating a dangerous situation; while most sources list Andromeda sp as having the common name Bog Rosemary, it is possible that there is some confusion there. Andromeda is truly poisonous, and has no flavor or scent to recommend it as a tea. Why advise people to make tea out of a plant known to be seriously poisonous?  Where I live, sun tea can reach temperatures near boiling, so that is not much of a safeguard.
However, Bog rosemary almost always grows in close proximity to Labrador tea (Ledum sp), which is a first-rate tea plant.  It is easy to imagine someone calling Ledum Bog Rosemary--it grows in bogs like the Andromeda, but has a strong spicy odor not unlike true rosemary, while Andromeda has none. However, mixing them up is a potentially bad mistake.
In Alaska, children are taught from an early age how to tell them apart, so they can gather Labrador tea for the family.  The leaves of both Bog Rosemary and Labrador Tea are simple oblongs with a waxy texture and edges that are rolled under. However, Bog Rosemary is white underneath with no odor. Labrador Tea can be told by  it's strong, spicy smell and rusty fur on the underside of the leaves. It makes a wonderful tea, which is widely popular in the north due to its great flavor, and is safe to ingest. (Ledum should not, however, be tinctured, as alcohol extracts some undesirable compounds that are not water-soluble. Some sources recommend against long boiling as well.) I wonder if Ledum is what your source had in mind  in the first place......
 
D Tucholske
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Good to know. It's not something I've tried myself, as we don't have any around here. Another plant called Leatherleaf is supposed to work the same way. One of the two, the source was from a Native person & I can no longer remember which one. Frankly, it wouldn't be the first time I've had to back up or rescind something.

I'm pretty sure someone did put Miner's Lettuce on here. I think I must have forgot it in that last big list I compiled on this page.
 
D Tucholske
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We are preparing to start a new thread which will have an updatable list at the first post to make it easier to understand where we are with things.

Interesting thing is, while crafting the page, I discovered a few more edible plants which were hiding behind similar common names, so those will be on the new thread, once its up.
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