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Native edible plants of the Continental US

 
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Thanks for all of that, D!!  

I have some questions though:  Ginger is on your list for Ohio!  But not a word about it.  Is this the regular Chinese ginger, and I guess freezing doesn't kill it?!?  

And, for the Southeast (where I live) - you have Okra: this is an annual plant, right?  Just checking; the list has mostly perennials on it...

Also you mentioned "magnolia fruit"...what the heck?!?  Will you please give a link to this, or more info? I am aware that the red seeds were used by the Cherokee and others as a febrifuge, but never heard of the ovary as a "fruit" as in, Edible; at what stage?  Cooked?  Eager to know this!!

Thanks, Betsy
 
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Someone told me the ginger is not as good quality as an edible to the kind we normally use for cooking, today & it might not be best to use it often as a source of food, but it is OK in small quantities. I don't know what issues there may have been with it.

Magnolia was some slightly off information I got off the internet while doing my initial research. The fruit is OK to eat in some species, but not all. Where the confusion comes in is that the flowers are apparently usable as a spice in all species. I can't find any specific info on which fruits are OK, though & a lot of conflicting info- some saying only certain ones are good, but the rest are poison, some saying they're all safely edible, but they taste bad. Who knows.
 
D Tucholske
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Apparently, the ginger you buy from the store (Zingiber Officianale) isn't that closely related at all & is in an entirely different genus. The plant we have is Asarum Canadense.
 
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The western North American equivalent species of wild ginger is Asarum caudatum. Both A. caudatum and A. canadense are edible but should not be eaten in large quantities. I've never eaten any caudatum, but years ago when we lived in Ontario we used to collect the rhizomes of canadense and make candied ginger (boiled up with maple syrup). It's good, and does taste like thin sticks of culinary ginger. A good sized piece of canadense is about the diameter of a chopstick. It's an interesting plant, pollinated by ants.

Wild ginger has now been found to contain a chemical called aristolochic acid, which is in the carboxylic acid group. In large quantities, this is considered a carcinogen and renal toxin.  

The following article  https://honest-food.net/wild-ginger-edible-toxic/  has a nice discussion of wild ginger toxicity, with a couple of interesting takeaways: (1) the doses used in lab testing are not unreasonable, in other words it is possible to consume enough wild ginger in real life to experience the toxic effects, (2) the western species has less of the toxin than the eastern, but neither is risk-free, (3) the toxin is not very soluble in water so a tea used in moderation may be safer than consuming the whole rhizome or cooking in non-aqueous solutions. Like a lot of other plants, this is one where each person needs to consider their own situation and risk tolerance.
 
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Blake Lenoir wrote:What's happening! D you forgot to add Virginia and pitch pines which are native to your Ohio, as well as some rhodendrons and azeleas. You ever saw an American chestnut tree before? There's a rare magnolia tree in your state called the bigleaf and whether you've seen it. I've got some unique trees found in my Illinois including bald cypress, shortleaf pine, red pine, American chestnut, water hickory, tamarack and American mountain ash. There's also rhodenrons and azeleas in the La Rue hills area of the Shawnee forest. Here in the Chicago area, I have jack pine, black gum, redbud,  sassafras, flowering dogwood and paper birch. Universal list you got!



This appears to be a list of native trees and shrubs with ornamental value, which is useful. But do be aware that rhododendron and azalea (they are mostly in the same genus now, rhododendron) are NOT edible.
 
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Betsy Carraway wrote:Thanks for all of that, D!!  

I have some questions though:  Ginger is on your list for Ohio!  But not a word about it.  Is this the regular Chinese ginger, and I guess freezing doesn't kill it?!?  

And, for the Southeast (where I live) - you have Okra: this is an annual plant, right?  Just checking; the list has mostly perennials on it...

Also you mentioned "magnolia fruit"...what the heck?!?  Will you please give a link to this, or more info? I am aware that the red seeds were used by the Cherokee and others as a febrifuge, but never heard of the ovary as a "fruit" as in, Edible; at what stage?  Cooked?  Eager to know this!!

Thanks, Betsy



What part of the southeast are you from? I've been looking to network with other permies from the region.  I'm in Central Mississippi near Alabama.

Okra was probably introduced to the South from somewhere like Ethopia. I believe watermelons, colards and a few other Southern food staples were as well. Corn, squashes, and beans are the annual food crops native to the region. I believe sweet potatoes as well. Peppers and potatoes hail from South America.

I haven't heard of magnolia fruit being edible, but I read a blog where someone had pickled various kinds of magnolia leaves with good results. I have a few Magnolia Grandiflora near my property in the right of way I plan to transplant soon, they have the largest leaves and flowers in North America.

I've got some LSU groundnut tubers I searched high and low for. Of the native edibles, I'm most excited about these as they are nitrogen fixers with tons of vining foliage. Ironically I moved back to my hometown recently and there are just tons of native groundnuts on the property.
 
D Tucholske
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Yeah, we may have to take okra off of here. It was presumed for a long time to have been of Native American origin, but that seems to be disputed, now.

Watermelons, I believe, were traced back as far as the Ancient Egyptians. The watermelons the Natives had are all tracable back to one's the Spanish gave the Mexican Natives, so unclear where they sourced those specific watermelons from, but they should have had them in Spain, at the time, irregardless.
 
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Muscadinia rotundifolia  (formerly Vitis rotundifolia) or Muscadine is native to the southeast US. The Scuppernong "Mother Vine" on Roanoke island is 400 plus years old and is likely the oldest cultivated grapevine in North America.
 
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Anybody had strawberry blite or strawberry spinach before? Some indigenous people had some for food, cosmetics and medicine. It was native to the U.S and been cultivated in Europe for other uses. Check out the benefits of the plant and please let me know how you all use it.
 
D Tucholske
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No, I haven't. I put some seed out this spring, but to my knowledge, none grew thus far. I figured they'd like it better by the railway, where it's rocky.
 
Blake Lenoir
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I'd like to grow some strawberry blite for my Potawatomi garden next season to make mine more cultural and authentic. How could I make my indigenous gardens more culturally effective to touch the minds and eyes of my community and region?
 
Andrea Locke
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Dusty Ezell wrote:

Betsy Carraway wrote:Thanks for all of that, D!!  

I have some questions though:  Ginger is on your list for Ohio!  But not a word about it.  Is this the regular Chinese ginger, and I guess freezing doesn't kill it?!?  

And, for the Southeast (where I live) - you have Okra: this is an annual plant, right?  Just checking; the list has mostly perennials on it...

Also you mentioned "magnolia fruit"...what the heck?!?  Will you please give a link to this, or more info? I am aware that the red seeds were used by the Cherokee and others as a febrifuge, but never heard of the ovary as a "fruit" as in, Edible; at what stage?  Cooked?  Eager to know this!!

Thanks, Betsy



What part of the southeast are you from? I've been looking to network with other permies from the region.  I'm in Central Mississippi near Alabama.

Okra was probably introduced to the South from somewhere like Ethopia. I believe watermelons, colards and a few other Southern food staples were as well. Corn, squashes, and beans are the annual food crops native to the region. I believe sweet potatoes as well. Peppers and potatoes hail from South America.

I haven't heard of magnolia fruit being edible, but I read a blog where someone had pickled various kinds of magnolia leaves with good results. I have a few Magnolia Grandiflora near my property in the right of way I plan to transplant soon, they have the largest leaves and flowers in North America.

I've got some LSU groundnut tubers I searched high and low for. Of the native edibles, I'm most excited about these as they are nitrogen fixers with tons of vining foliage. Ironically I moved back to my hometown recently and there are just tons of native groundnuts on the property.



The ginger on this list would be the native wild ginger not the ginger you normally see in stores. I imagine in Ohio it’s the same one I grew up with in Ontario, Asarum canadense. The rhizomes are good and gingery but I’ve recently read some cautions about eating them in quantity, or maybe at all.

I don’t know about magnolia fruit but the flower petals, leaves and bark are used for edible and medicinal purposes.  
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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