Edible Wild Plants in the Rocky Mountains and Beyond
Edible Wild Plants
One of the most important, if not THE most important things to remember when consuming indigenous edibles is that if you are wrong, it may cost you your life.
Below is a short summary of a few wild edibles, you can view the complete list here
Some edibles are very obvious, cat tail roots, dandelions (one tastes similar to the mud is comes from, the other is quite bitter), but both are very edible and very obvious.
A very sage piece of advice for anyone that wishes to consume local wild consumables is to not trust your memory for a very long time. By this I mean carry a guide with pictures. Some wild edibles that are perfectly harmless may be closely resembled by not so friendly plant life.
So what are some wild edibles that can be found in the area in and around the Rocky Mountains?
The Golden Currant as a Wild Edible
A great example of a wild edible plant is the Golden Currant (Ribes aureum), this is a thick growing shrub that reaches heights up to six feet. Blooming from February through April, it’s identifiable by its yellow blooms and small berries whose colors range from yellow to orange to bluish black. The berries are edible from April through June, but caution should be used when gathering wild berries in this area as there are some rather large, hairy, heavy set, clawed creatures that also like berries, bear.
The Pine Tree will provide food and Nourishment
Another very common and easily identifiable edible in the Rocky Mountain region are pine nuts. Pine nuts are the little seeds that are in pine cones, these are edible and plentiful with anywhere from 10-34% protein content, depending on the variety. They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. Picking the pine cone from the tree is useless though (as it takes a couple weeks to sundry the cone before the seed is edible), a good chance to get some edible seeds would be to find intact and clean dry cones on the ground.
You Can Also get Benefits from Pine Needles (Food and Tea)
Certain Pine needles are not only edible, but provide high Vitamin C content (5x more vitamin C than a lemon). A common Pine needle to be eaten and made into tea is the white pine. These are distinguishable by the soft long needles. These will make a nice tangy tea that will provide you with much needed energy in the wilderness.
Edible foraging in the Rocky Mountains
The Golden rod (goldenrod) is Edible
Here’s another edible that may not be for some. There are many people allergic to the pollen from the goldenrod, but it is edible. The flowers and seeds of golden rod are both edible raw right off the plant. The plants themselves can be cooked and eaten. The Goldenrod is a great example, there are several varieties that are considered edible wild plants. Some species found in the Pacific Northwest include Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea), and Northern goldenrod (Solidago multiradiata), Missouri goldenrod (Solidago missouriensis), and Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis).
Another tasty tidbit that grows as a ready-made salad is “miner’s lettuce” (Montia Perfoliata). This can often be found growing close to the ground in moist, shaded areas in little colonies of small clumps. Easily identified by light reddish/purple-ish colored stems, and light green, almost round leaves that are really more of a flower, the round green leaf has little sprouts or shoots coming out of the center that have white flower tips on them. Just reach down and grab the whole thing (less the roots unless you just like to eat dirt) and viola’ salad.
Various Types Of Wild Voilets
Another common edible wild plant that makes for a ready snack is the violet. Varieties that can be found in the Pacific Northwest are the Early blue violet (Viola adunca), the Canada violet (Viola canadensis), the Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor), the Marsh violet (Viola palustris) and the Yellow prairie violet (Viola nuttallii). The plant is edible raw.
Other Potential Food Sources
Now, we have a lot of veggies in the wild but you have to have protein too. If you are just hiking and camping and want to make a salad then gathering some wild edible plants will fill the bill, or should I say bowl? But if one were to be lost and struggling to survive, one MUST have protein. But where to get a cheeseburger in the wilderness or a nice piece of baked fish?
Well, you might get the fish if you brought along a little fishing kit, and if you are hiking you should have at least a little line, a few hooks, and sinkers. A nice green bough makes for a handy rod. But if you have no fishing line or no stream then what?
Bugs. That’s right, bugs. The easiest insects to obtain in a moist wilderness environment are grubs. Rotting logs are typically lying all over the place in the wilderness, and all you have to do is start pulling the bark off. a big ol’ grub can be munched right out of the log, it has a nice squirt when you bite into it. It is kind of rubbery and tastes like, well rotten wood, but it is packed full of protein. For the more faint of heart if you can’t eat it raw, you can cook them on the hot coals of the campfire until they sizzle and pop ( they sort of taste nutty and are a little more crunchy that chewy), but either way they are edible and an excellent source of clean protein.