Forage discussion

Continuing the discussion from You know you're seriously into iNat when:

I know I’m no fun but I’m so seriously into iNat (and “rules”) that I’m moving this conversation about foraging into a new topic!


Not sure if this is due to iNaturalist or quarantine cabin fever, but I picked some dandelion leaves (pulled up the rest of the plants) and red deadnettle with the intention of making salad and tea, respectively. I’ve gone from photographing and identifying to consuming!


Mmm. I like stinging nettle too, in addition to those. Pinch the tops and roll in a ball and eat raw. Delicious!

Just jumping on the foraging bandwagon here: while many people are no doubt aware that you can eat the paddles (nopalitos) and fruit (tuna) of the prickly pear cactus, I am personally partial to eating the petals of the flowers when I’m out and it’s hot. They’re bland, but cool and moist (like eating an iceberg lettuce leaf).


Common Wood Sorrel and Common Sorrel (love those English names) are the best, probably I’m in fond of oxalic acid. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:


Yes! We’ve made jelly, candy, smoothies, out of those tunas, eggs and nopalitos, and I snack on those flowers any chance I get.


Yup. I probably am too, lol.

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Nettles also make great pesto!

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Yes, I’ve heard! Have yet to try my recipe though. My family doesn’t like pesto. They don’t know what they are missing, lol.

A friend of mine is using the pandemic to get really into foraging, especially of invasive species. So far she concludes that both garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed shoots are pretty tasty. (Apparently you can prepare knotweed shoots like rhubarb, so she made a pie…)

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Ooh! I need to try that! Thanks!

We’ve got plenty of invasive Oxalis pes-caprae, so by eating it you’re also helping the environment :smile:


I brew mead, and I really want this to be the year I make elderberry mead. The recipe I have calls for black elderberries – which, to be fair, is the only kind I’ve ever observed.

But the problem: finding the plants. There are none that I’ve seen on my property, and the ones I have observed have been on land owned by the town. I’m not sure what the ethics of foraging on town land are… generally I would assume it’s forbidden, but I understand there are “fallen fruit” laws in place in some place that allow such things.

(I guess this is where I admit I should probably just email the town and ask…)


I don’t think it’s forbidden, but harvesting anything in town will lead to poisoning with heavy metals anyway if the closest road is not far enough.


Years ago, we lived in a town full of mulberry trees. We always picked the mulberries for pies and loved them. The town we live in now also has some mulberry trees but life got too busy for picking. This spring, I’m hoping to do it again. We used the recipe from Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons but it’s a standard berry pie recipe. Folks might check out his series of books if they’re not familiar with them. Also, around the same time, I loved reading the series of Foxfire books which were a collection of students’ interviews with local people about aspects and practices in Appalachian culture. (both book series were US based). The foraging aspect would be smaller in the Foxfire books but the ethos is similar and, to me, pretty interesting. I was quite into the thought of foraging in the early 70s although I read more than I actually did.

Edible blossoms intrigued me and I once collected wild violet blossoms to decorate a birthday cake I made.

As a kid, my dad used to take me hunting for Morel mushrooms. yum. I don’t even try for those, these days. But I remember them fondly.

*foraging on various park and public lands is permissible around here with a few restrictions.


I just decided to grow my own when my extension service offered bare roots last spring. The two I have both survived their first winter in nursery pots but it’ll be another bunch of years before any mead happens (I’ve never brewed before, do the pickling and the jamming and such so far)…I mostly just liked the idea of growing elderberries because in sixth grade I played Abby Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace and my association with elderberries began there.

I have a lovely little cookbook called Wild in the Kitchen too which has had me experimenting with daylily flowers, and other fun stuff. More northern U.S. climate wise.

I will echo @melodi_96 's warning about soil toxicity though. Generally a good idea to avoid road sides but also many houses had lead paint that has leached into the soil. Exercise caution especially if you’re repeatedly using the same forage sites.

One more warning from a worrier: don’t forage/ eat anything you aren’t really sure about!


We own that book, and we collect and eat the asparagus that grows along our roadside. It was growing just this past week.

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Same here!

I picked some red deadnettle for the first time on a hiking trip not long ago thinking it was some kind of mint and took a good whiff. I found it to be very unpleasant. With a smell like that I really have to wonder what possessed you to eat it? I can only hope it tastes better than it smelled.


A few reliable sources online said it could be eaten or made into tea (technically tisane). And curiosity. Maybe cabin fever.

It is related to mint. It does not taste or smell like other mints.

Anyway, I added dandelion leaves to salad and they tasted pretty good. The red deadnettle was steeped for tisane and it was… um… interesting. Not a strong flavor, which in this case is a good thing. It’s 16 hours later and I’ve suffered no ill effects.

Curiosity satisfied.