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Old 07-21-2018, 01:44 AM
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Default Fool-proof wild edible/medicinal plant ID method



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In the hands of the inexperienced, guidebooks and videos can be dangerously confusing when it comes to properly identifying wild edible and medicinal plants. (There are so many look-alikes, and some are deadly!)

So what is a budding wildcrafter to do? Aside from finding a knowledgeable mentor, one sure way to identify certain plants is to grow them from seed. That way you can observe plants in all stages and seasons of life, from seedling to maturity.

As a bonus you will have on your home turf, a source of naturalized plants that will readily re-seed themselves, or spread from rhizomes (roots), or are perennials (come back every year). Some are beautiful enough to occupy a place in your flower garden, or functional enough to deserve a spot in the corners of your garden.

There are a few seed companies that sell seeds for wild edible and medicinal plants (and more). Some are generous with sharing lots of free information about how to grow and use them.

Here are some of my favorites:

https://sheffields.com/

https://strictlymedicinalseeds.com/

https://www.rareseeds.com/

https://www.sandmountainherbs.com/ (Complete catalog: https://www.sandmountainherbs.com/Catalog.html)

Do you know of any other seed companies you could add to this list (preferably have personal experience with)?
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Old 07-21-2018, 08:47 AM
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Thanks for the info.
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Old 07-28-2018, 12:38 AM
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I edited my list to include another great source of seeds to grow wild medicinals:

https://www.sandmountainherbs.com/

The complete catalog is here: https://www.sandmountainherbs.com/Catalog.html
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Old 07-28-2018, 12:29 PM
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Great resources! Iíve bookmarked to order some for next year. I found a few that should work well in my region.
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Old 07-28-2018, 05:00 PM
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Friends, as I have mentioned before in another thread, please be careful where you get your wild edible & medicinal plant information. The sad thing is, many articles, books, websites, and forum posts are worn-out repetitions of what some authors have read on the internet and in other books...and believe it all to be true.

The unforgivable thing is that some of the parroted misinformation can be downright dangerous.

I can help you find sources with good reputations. I will come back later with more in this thread, but for now here are some excellent books to try. (Sometimes you can save a bundle with Amazon's used books...but be aware of the seller's ratings; if they have poor ratings leave them be, and just get the book new straight from Amazon.)

Note: These two books were the very first ones I learned plant identification from many years ago, but now they are also available for other regions as well. (Peterson's are the "gold standard" and are best-selling field guides of all time!)

I prefer the older versions of the first book listed here, which include detailed drawings of critical identification features. But, I also like the newest version for more detailed usage information.

Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition (Peterson Field Guides) 3rd Edition by Steven Foster and James A. Duke

From the Amazon description page: "Medicinal plants are increasingly well regarded as supplements and sometimes as alternatives for prescription drugs. Steven Foster and James A. Duke have used recent advances in the study of medicinal plants and their combined experience of over 100 years to completely update the Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. The clear and concise text identifies the key traits, habitats, uses, and warnings for more than 530 of the most significant medicinal plants in the eastern and central United States and Canada including both native and alien species. Seven hundred plus images, the organization-by-color system, and simplified warnings make identifying medicinal plants fast and easy.
Sponsored by the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute."




Edible Wild Plants: Eastern/Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) Paperback – September 1, 1999

by Lee Allen Peterson and Roger Tory Peterson

"More than 370 edible wild plants, plus 37 poisonous lookalikes, are described here, with 400 drawings and 78 color photographs showing precisely how to recognize each species. Also included are habitat descriptions, lists of plants by season, and preparation instructions for many different food uses."


As companion books to the critically important Edible Wild Plants book, I recommend any of Samuel Thayer's books for detailed information and uses of selected plants.

Although I have been a wildcrafter for decades and have TONS of books on the subject, I have learned lots more from Thayer's books. I highly recommend all three! I guarantee that he will make you fall in love with the idea of eating wild edibles.

Beginners and experienced wildcrafters will like Samuel Thayer's Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Wild Edible Plants. He covers 41 plants in this edition, including tons of important information about acorns.

His book, The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants, covers 32 plants.

His latest book, Incredible Wild Edibles, covers 36 plants and is very good, too.


It took me a long time to commit much of the info that I learned from books into "muscle memory," meaning actual use. I highly recommend that you start slow with basics such as fool-proof acorns, hickory nuts, mulberry, etc. Learn how to use them in your everyday diet (I love my acorns!).

Take your time getting to know your wildlings. Observe the plants in all phases of growth. Make SURE that the plants fit the Peterson's Field Guide descriptions EXACTLY. "Close enough" won't cut it, and this kind of thinking can fool you into believing that a poisonous look-alike is safe.

Do not rush the process but please do get started with learning this new skill ASAP. Don't wait for hard times because, as you can imagine, that will be the worst time to learn survival skills.


I'll be back with more, later...

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Old 08-13-2018, 07:39 AM
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Another good way to identify wild edibles and medicinals is to learn from an experienced two-legged guide.

Some possible ways to find one:

Facebook has tons of foraging/wildcrafting/plant identification groups in just about every state. Join a few and ask around...but make sure that the person doing the teaching is reputable and not some airy-fairy, blow-smoke-up-your-backside wannabe. I have heard more than a few individuals who have spouted ridiculous and dangerous info. Always double check everything you learn with the Peterson's Guide book (mentioned in the previous post).

Also, check out https://www.meetup.com/ Plug in your search terms to find like-minded groups of people in your area. You may be able to find knowledgeable people by networking through local groups.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:44 AM
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Or just watch YouTube!

Just kidding. Growing some is a great idea. Thanks for the links.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:53 AM
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Yes, Youtube is another way, but oh maaaannnn, there's a lot of crap and misinformation Out There, and not enough emphasis on deadly look-alikes. Often it's just enough information to get you killed, or very sick.

Be careful with Youtubers...

OK, that will be my next project: find reliable Youtubers who do a good job of teaching the right stuff, and share it here in this thread.
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Old 08-13-2018, 08:41 AM
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Just remember just because a wild plant is determined to be edible doesn't mean you can eat it. Allergic reactions can still be possible.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzlyetteAdams View Post
Yes, Youtube is another way, but oh maaaannnn, there's a lot of crap and misinformation Out There, and not enough emphasis on deadly look-alikes. Often it's just enough information to get you killed, or very sick.

Be careful with Youtubers...

OK, that will be my next project: find reliable Youtubers who do a good job of teaching the right stuff, and share it here in this thread.
You know I was being sarcastic with the YouTube comment right?
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:50 PM
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Yes, because you said, "just kidding."

My response was more for folks who rely on Youtube for their education, including wild edibles.

I have seen some decent videos that do a good job of identifying plants, and will try to find them again and post links here.
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Old 08-13-2018, 09:24 PM
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Thanks very much for a lot of good information. Looking forward to more
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Old 09-08-2019, 07:24 PM
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I highly recommend getting a field guide to poisonous plants and studying it well. Study it as if your life depends upon it because it very well could save you from mistaken IDs. I cannot stress enough how common it is for wild edible and medicinal plants to have poisonous look-alikes. Some are deadly.

I got a used (but like new) edition of this book from Amazon.com and highly recommend it for North American plants. Got it for $9 (shipping included).

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Old 09-14-2019, 12:23 AM
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My go-to youtube guy is Green Dean- Eat the Weeds. I have actually followed him around the woods several times and he is quite knowledgeable, been foraging all of his life. It is an excellent way to spend a Sunday morning.

I usually find an edible plant when out tramping and if I'm not sure I'll photograph it then go to see Green Dean on youtube to confirm before trying it, has worked out pretty good so far. Don't eat anything you are not sure of.

Now mushrooms= No Way!.. Eat the wrong weed and most times you just get sick or get the poops, Eat the wrong shroom and you die.

Good thread!
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Old 09-22-2019, 12:01 PM
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There are a couple of near foolproof mushrooms that I eat. One is Chanterelle and the other we call pink bottom as it has pink gills.
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Old Yesterday, 05:02 PM
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We have most of the Chanterelle species here in Arkansas. The toxic jack-o-lantern mushroom bears some resemblance to the Golden Chanterelle but jack-o-lanterns grow from a single stem and grow directly from wood unlike the Chanterelles.
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