Episode 225 S6-25
Wild Foraging in the Central United States
The Endless Night Ch 25
Missouri and the surrounding states offer a unique variety of wild forageables. I came across an outstanding resource for residents of this region. It is a book that is now only available in PDF format entitled Wild Edibles of Missouri by Jan Phillips. Jan has done her homework on edibles in the central region. Her work not only identifies the plant but gives some delicious recipes and priceless tips.
The first plant that Jan highlights is the Arrowhead plant. This water plant lives in the shallows. They have arrow-shaped leaves that stand tall. Under the ground, they produce a tuber or duck potato in Autumn. The root is 1” to 2” wide and won’t be right at the base of the plant. They will be several feet away. Jan warns us not to eat these raw. She says they have a bad tasting, white juice. The tuber is best when boiled or roasted like a potato.
The yucca is more prone to desert regions but also inhabit the central area of the United States. Its leaves are touch and sharp like the blades of a knife. Exercise extreme caution when harvesting the flowers. The plants grow along roadsides, in open banks, and other urban areas, making them readily accessible. The flowers bloom in May to August, and the petals make a great addition to salads and fritters. The pods are edible, but Jan warns about the bitterness of them.
False Salomon’s Seal is another plant that Jan highlights. Flowering from May to June, it grows in rich woodlands in many parts of the country. Jan indicates that harvesting should take place in late March to May. The berries appear in the midsummer. The fruit, when eaten fresh, works as a purgative. False Soloman’s seal looks similar to True Solomon’s seal. Cook both like asparagus or include them in a casserole. True Solomon’s seal has flowers that attach where the leaves do. False Solomon’s seal has flower clusters at the top of the stem. The true also has more leaf veins. Falso Solomen’s seal berries are white when unripe and have spots of purple when ripe. The berries will aid with constipation and can be a welcome relief.
Amongst elders who wild forage, the plant, Poke Weed, is a favorite. Also known as poke salat, it has large leaves with pointed tips that grow alternately on the stem. This plant grows in wastelands, farm lots, roadsides, and other border areas. Jan recommends harvesting the greens from April to June and the berries from August to frost. If the berries are green, the taste is not good. Pokeweed greens are a great addition to a survival stew. It adds bulk without a strong flavor. Do not eat the root of the plant. It is poisonous! However if you cut the plant off at the ground, they regrow! The stem can be cooked like asparagus or rolled and fried like okra. Use green stems without any purple. The elders say that when you see purple it is poison.
Chickweed is another edible plant that is very common throughout the U.S. It flowers from January through December. The deeply cut five petals compose the small flower, and the leaves occur in pairs. This plant grows in lawns, gardens, and around dwellings. You can collect it from January to December! Use in survival stew, soup, casserole, or salad. Its availability year-round makes it highly valuable.
Another unusual plant is a May Apple. This small plant flowers from April to May. Topped with large, umbrella-like leaves, the May Apple only has one to two leaves per plant. The May Apple plant will only produce a single flower, but the fruit is a wonderfully edible treat. The fruit’s size is equal to that of a small lemon, and it will fall on the ground. It has golden brown tones. Jan describes a thick flesh that surrounds the seeds. The root and the rest of the plan it poisonous, so leave it alone.
For a spicy treat, peppergrass can be foraged and added to salads and as a seasoning for any meal. It’s found in lawns and can be eaten raw.
Some other plants that grow not only in the central U.S. but in most of the U.S. are shepherd's purse, which is another plant valued for its nutritious leaves. Watercress is a common plant in most of the U.S. it grows in water, so it should be soaked in a water purification tablet mixture of water to ensure it is safe to eat. Also water hemlock looks a lot like watercress. Dandelion, nettles, thistle, mint, wild onions, dock, and cattails also frequent most of the U.S.
Gooseberries also grow in the central U.S. It is a beautiful berry that has a sour tart taste when green and a sweeter flavor when red or purple. They make a yummy addition to a pie. Pick off the stems and whiskers.
An impressive list of berries grows in the central United States. Serviceberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, dewberries, black cherries, deer berries, squaw huckleberries, elderberries are a few of the species available for harvest. The Kentucky coffee tree can make a tasty drink. The shells are hard to crack open, and there are seeds inside a pod. Jan recommends roasting them for easier access.
Queen Anne’s Lace looks similar to water hemlock but produces a wild carrot. Queen Anne's Lace will have small hairs on the stem, and the water hemlock will be smooth. This geographical region contains delicious persimmons. Plantain will be dotting the urban and woodlands as well. Wild chamomile grows here. It produces a calming tea for anxious nerves.
Some other exciting plants dotting this area are prickly pear cactus, ground cherry, sunflower, Jerusalem Artichoke, Willow, Black Walnut, Hickory, White Oak Acorns, wild grapes, ginseng, garlic, crab apples, and Maple trees. Jan’s book Wild Edibles of Missouri is a must have for residents of the central United States.
Up north in Indiana, they forage morels, puffball, dandelion, plantain, mulberries, black raspberries, autumn olives, and blackberries. Beyond the plants, up in Indiana, they also harvest bluegill, deer, turkey, and morning dove.
To learn more and share experiences, check out
False Soloman's Seal
Featured Quote From Today's Chapter:
"I've been checked out for too long and if we're going to succeed it's going to be together."
Featured Survival Product:
Outdoorsman Kit (37 Piece)
Kit Contains: 1 T55 (CAMP MIRROR), 1 SH88 (ADULT EMERGENCY PONCHO), 2 FA-OD1 (BUG X – INSECT REPELLENT WIPES .27 OZ), 1 L88IM (12 HR LIGHT STICK – GREEN), 9 PP100-S (WET NAP – SINGLE), 3 FA-OD2 (POISON OAK CLEANSER TOWELETTE 7.8 GR. (Each)), 1 FA-TK3B-RC (MAYDAY 37 PIECE FIRST AID KIT), 3 FA-38S (SPF 30 FOIL PACK), 1 FA-15 (INSECT STING RELIEF (Box of 10)), 1 C-89S (5 IN 1 SURVIVAL WHISTLE -), 2 PP66-CMB (TOOTHBRUSH W/ .85 OZ OF TOOTHPASTE), 3 FA-OD3 (POISON OAK & IVY PRE-CONTACT TOWELLETT 7.8 GR.), 1 T100 (SWISS STYLE ARMY KNIFE), 1 FA-38M (CHAP STICK ~~ (Each)), 1 L21 (WATERPROOF MATCHES – BOX OF 40), 1 LH003 (HAND WARMERS – PAIR – 8 HOURS OF HEAT), 1 T220 (KNIFE / FORK / SPOON COMBO), 1 SH77BG (EMERGENCY SLEEPING BAG – MYLAR 84 X 36), 1 ST88OD (SLEEVE FOR OUTDOORSMAN (NO LOGO)), 1 FA-OD6 (SNAKE BITE KIT), 1 PP88S (CAMPERS SINGLE ROLL OF TOILET PAPER)