Saturday, April 13, 2013

Using the Forest's Free Resources (edible or not)

How many of you have heard of cultivating an edible forest (or perhaps gleaning from its yields if you already have one)?

I have been trying to learn what edible or medicinal wild plants, nuts and berries are growing in our region that we could potentially harvest from the wooded land that surrounds our property. I love foraging. I think it's so cool to identify the useful plants growing right under our noses.

Here's what I've found so far:

  • Lots of hickory nuts.....

  • Wild poke weed. The only parts that are harvestable are the baby greens. Once the stems have turned a pinkish red color, the plant is already too mature and very toxic if eaten. The greens are quite good sauteed or with soups or stews.

  • Chickweed. Chickweed can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes. It can also be eaten as a nutritious addition to salads. 

  • Wild onions (use them like scallions)

  • Dandelion greens

  • Other Greens. I'm not sure what this is but we have several patches of it growing in our yard. It grows in clumps. Anyone have any ideas? 

There aren't as many wild berry bushes and vines as I'd hoped, but I did find a few that might yield something for us as long as we can get to them before the birds do.

We have found lots of plants in our woods that we are using just as much even though they are not edible. For instance, we kept finding these growths of some type of bushy ornamental grass. It was all over the woods in our yard, grows well in shade or sun, and seems to like our soil conditions, so we dug up several of them and planted them all around our house as free landscaping!

We also have done this with wild fern, which is beautiful and grows all over our woods. Fern is also great for adding to flower arrangements and for decorative use, such as botanical framing or pressed leaves for artwork.

Additionally, BJ uncovered tons of native rock and stone that was dumped and covered when our house was moved and put upon its new foundation. He dug it up and has been using it as a nice border for the flower beds. More free landscaping!

A great article on creating an edible forest or working with a semi-existing is located here. Do any of you have a type of edible forest or plan on growing one?

Linking to:


  1. Check with your local park service/Dept.Natural Resources. Ours offers classes in finding, and preparing, wild edibles.
    Love the idea of using found things in your landscape. Native plants are often less fussy and more likely to thrive.
    Love the blog!

  2. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing.