Kenton and I love wild edible plants. Mostly we rely on Kenton’s training from his survival school days, as well as the mess of edible plant guides that we have in our personal library. But these guides always seem to be lacking something — whether it’s good photos for identification, sufficient descriptions about gathering and preparation, or guidance as to what plants can be found in what geographic location.
Well, we’ve finally found our dream guide to edible wild plants. Samuel Thayer has put together a guide that has added considerably to our wild edible harvest.
Samuel has obviously actually tried all of the edibles he writes about. He writes about each one intimately, sharing stories of different encounters with each plant. He explains exactly how to harvest the plants, and has great photos of the plants’ different edible stages. For instance, in the chapter on milkweed (in which he debunks the great ‘bitter milkweed myth’), you’ll see photos of the young shoots (and detailed instructions on how to differentiate them from the toxic dogbane shoots), the flower buds, and learn all about ‘milkweed white’, which we’re very eager to try this summer.
Mr. Thayer has chosen to include fewer plants and give more detail, and he’s chosen plants that are local to his location (since he’s from Wisconsin, the plants are also local to us :), but a quick browse through his book should tell you if the plants are relevant to your ecosystem. Luckily, he’s chosen many common plants that grow throughout the United States and Southern Canada, and you’ll likely be surprised at the delicious edible treats offered by some of your favorite and most familiar plant species.
One of the best features is the wild edible calendar he includes in the book. It serves as an easy-to-use guide that lets you know what’s available out in the woods and fields. It’s based on a 45 degree latitude and 1000 ft. elevation in the U.S., and is going to be most accurate in ecosystems similar to Wisconsin’s. The book also includes tons of info for beginning foragers, including tools, harvest methods, and identification tips.
We’ve experimented with many new edibles this spring and early summer, thanks to Samuel’s book. It’s a must-have in any naturalist’s library, and will add a whole new dimension to your hikes and wanders, whether you’re currently familar with wild edibles or not. You can purchase your own copy here. Enjoy!
Posted on June 27th, 2009 by Rebecca Whitman
Filed under: Reviews