Oregon wild edibles (Cattail, Salmon berry, and Fireweed)


Luckily in Oregon there is a large assortment of edible plants that are easy to identify. As with anything you are eating for the first time make sure of your identification and only eat a small amount at first to make sure you do not have type of reaction to the new food. The list of edibles for the area is large enough that I am not going to list every thing. I will hit the most prolific ones that we have with the highest nutritional benefits either for a survival emergency or just if you want to try something different then generic store bought vegetables.

Cattails

Cattails

These swampy area plants are probably the most important of the wild edibles. Every part of the plant is edible depending on the time of year you are getting them. In the spring the new shoots can be cut off near the roots and peeled and eaten raw or steamed (some people have been known to pickle them). In the summer you can collect the pollen to use as a flour. The pollen is very high in testosterone just in case you are sensitive to consuming it. In late summer and into fall you can eat the seed heads like you would an ear of corn. The fluff from the ear can be used as stuffing for pillows, fire starter, and burned to keep mosquitoes away. From fall and through winter the roots can cleaned and roasted or pounded and soaked for the high amount of carbohydrates locked inside. If you pound and soak them them you can dry the mix up and get a flour out of them, this and the pollen can be mixed into breads for a unique set of flavor. It makes a good pancake mix.

Salmon berry’s

SalmonberryA good treat along rivers in streams throughout western Oregon.  All of the plant can be eaten.  Young shoots in the spring can be pealed and eaten raw or cooked.  They are very sweet and tasty.  A healthy high vitamin C tea can be made out the leaves and flower buds.  And of course there is the yellow to red berries that are delicious if you can get to them before the wildlife does.  The berries come ripe from June through August.  They can be made into jam, jelly, and wine.  Because they have such a high water content they are not very easy to dry.  I learned this the hard way when I put a quart on a dehydrate. Salmon berry patches are a favorite hiding place for many wild critters.  You could be standing 20 feet from an elk and never see it in the dense patches that form

Fireweed

FireweedFireweed is a very distinctive herb that grow quickly in burned area.  Young plants can be eat as spring greens either raw or cooked.  By summer the leaves become bitter, but can still be dried to make a tea that is high in vitamin A & C.  During the summer the stems can be pealed and eaten raw.  They kinda remind me of raw asparagus. Honey produced from fireweed fields has a very distinctive spicy taste.  This is my favorite honey.  It is hard to find in Oregon though.

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