Dave's Garden Book Review: Edible Wild Plants
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide
by: Thomas S. Elias and Peter A Dykeman
Before there were markets and farming, humans depended upon what they could gather from the wild. For centuries, food and medicine was dictated by what grew in the region and knowledge passed down for generations. Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide is a great little field guide that encompasses all of North America, as the range maps include Canada and Mexico, along with the continental U.S. Many of these edible plants were introduced from Europe and Asia, so readers around the globe will find useful information too.
The authors stress proper identification and urge readers to carefully compare their potential meal to the images and information in the book. They stress; "When in doubt, leave it out." Readers should be aware that many unrelated plants in different areas share common names, so learning scientific names is another safe thing to do. This book also covers and describes in detail 20 poisonous plants as a safety measure. Plants that are threatened or endangered are omitted, as they should never be harvested or disturbed.
Over 200 edible plants are arranged by season for handy reference and the unique Key indicates the best usage for each plant. Every plant listing has its preferred habitat, detailed description and photograph. Harvesting and preparation instructions are comprehensive and many plants even have recipes included. Each entry also has a list of related edible species and poisonous look-alikes.
The book contains charts for jam and jelly making, since many commercial cookbooks fail to include instructions for fruits such as buffaloberry or rose hips.
This handy little soft cover book fits easily into a backpack or jacket pocket. The information is presented in an easy to understand format and the images are excellent.
Whether you are interested in the historical significance of wild edibles or just want to pick a few interesting snacks while hiking, Edible Wild Plants is an excellent choice. It makes a unique gift for the camper or backpacker in your life and chances are, they will not receive a duplicate.
If you are new to harvesting wild edibles, please do so slowly and with caution. Make sure that plants are clean and free from automobile exhaust. Gradually introduce new foods to prevent unhappy experiences due to allergy or other sensitivity. Wild foods can be fun as long as they are consumed carefully and in moderation.
Discussion about this article: