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Five Examples of Edible Wild Plants in Oregon

Foraging wild edible plants can increase knowledge about the local ecology and strengthen connections with nature. Trackers Northwest offers a class on plant taxonomy with hands-on instruction in identifying wild edible and medicinal plants. Here are five examples of wild edible plants found in Oregon.

Morels are substantial mushrooms that grow in Oregon’s forests. Most abundant in the spring, morels grow best in logged out or burned areas. These mushrooms must NOT be eaten raw.

Fiddleheads are the edible new growth of ferns. Fiddleheads are found in moist, shady areas. It is best to gather the youngest fern fronds, which have curled-up heads. They taste like asparagus with a similar texture. Fiddleheads may be boiled or steamed, but they are especially delicious sautéed in butter.

Dandelions grow in a wide range of terrain, and foragers should look for them in cultivated areas. The entire plant is edible raw. Younger leaves are the least bitter and should be picked before the plant’s flowers have formed. Many people boil these greens, particularly the older leaves. Dandelions provide ample vitamin A and C and the mineral potassium. Additionally, a serving of these greens provides the equivalent of calcium as a half cup of milk.

Nettles (or stinging nettles) grow in moist soil in a variety of areas: the plains, foothills, and mountain regions. Foragers should protect their hands from the stinging needles by wearing gloves. Nettles may be consumed raw, but to avoid stinging, they are best when boiled or steamed. Nettles have a high vitamin content, and cooks often add them to soups.

Elderflowers are found on the blue elderberry tree. These fragrant flowers bloom from spring into early summer. The petals are gathered to infuse their sweet scent in syrups, spirits, and cream.

About Trackers Northwest: Established in 2004, Trackers Northwest offers outdoor education programs and organized outdoor activities in Oregon and Northern California for all age groups. Since 1992, founder Tony Deis has taught and developed outdoor learning education programs in conjunction with other Oregon institutions.